NFL Schedule 2012: Packers, Patriots Have Easiest Road Ahead

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 01: (L-R) Head coaches Romeo Crennel of the Kansas City Chiefs and John Fox of the Denver Broncos chat prior to their game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The 2012 NFL schedule has yet to be officially released, but next season's opponents are already known.

It's a quick anecdote that makes you wonder if the NFL powers-that-be are trying to set up the next Super Bowl before the season even starts. The automatic question you likely have after the reading the headline is, 'How can the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots receive the easiest schedule in 2012?' That's worth exploring.

According to the strength of schedule from last season, the Patriots have the weakest slate of opponents in 2012 and the Packers are immediately following. The Patriots' opponents had a combined 116-140 record in 2011. Compare that with the New York Giants at 140-116, who have the toughest road ahead, and you see how this works.

Then again, as upside-down as NFL expectations can be against the reality of the new year, none of these things really matter. Several teams that made the playoffs last season will lose more than expected. Others will rise up to take their place. The Broncos went from picking second in the draft to the second round of the playoffs last season. Cam Newton took the Panthers from also-rans to a formidable opponent in one season. The same will happen this year.

As for the Chiefs, they are tied at No. 20 overall with one of the weaker schedules in 2012. The official schedule has not been released in terms of order of opponents and dates and times. However, it's possible to tell right now that the Chiefs will have it easier than division rivals like Denver (who has the second toughest schedule) or San Diego (No. 6).

For more on the team's offseason and the road ahead, check out Arrowhead Pride for the best Chiefs online community around.

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