With the unveiling tonight of the 2012 NFL regular season schedule on NFL Network, ESPN’s three-hour special and NFL.com, it’s clear that no other sports league knows how to make each and every announcement into a major event to dominate conversation. The Chiefs finally found out when and where they will be playing this evening, which has many of us looking closely to see how it affects them. Here are a few quick thoughts on what the 2012 season could hold:
1. Christmas Comes Early
The Chiefs have their easiest month at the very end of the season. If they can keep their head above water through two tough five-game stretches (we will get to these later), the Chiefs should be able to really take hold of any playoff positioning heading into the final week of the season.
The Panthers should be tough with Cam Newton at the helm, but let’s not forget they’re only a year removed from being the worst team in the NFL. Then come a trio of the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. All of those games are very winnable and could provide some great momentum heading into Denver for the season finale. At this point, it’s impossible to even guess whether Denver will tank at 2-13 or be 13-2 at that time.
2. The Gauntlet, Part One
The opening of the season is going to be the first of two tough five-game stretches. The Falcons in the season opener is going to be a difficult game itself, but the strech continues with the Saints, Chargers and Ravens in the front five. An early trip to Buffalo saves KC from having to brave the cold weather, but the team could be 1-4 after that stretch. Let’s hope not.
The good news is that Buffalo could be a win, and the Chargers usually take some time to get moving under Norv Turner. The Saints are, well, who really knows what they will be like early in the season when many of their defensive players could be suspended. The Ravens will still be the Ravens. If the Chiefs are 3-2 through this, I’m buying an AFC West Champions shirt already.
3. The Gauntlet, Part Two
This part is even worse for the Chiefs. From Week 9 to Week 13, check out the quarterbacks the Chiefs defense will face: Phil Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton. That’s a rough stretch by most standards.
Then again, the sunny side could hinge on whether or not you believed in the Bengals quick turnaround last year (think Rams under Bradford in year one versus year two). The Chargers and Broncos are divisional contests that always are up in the air, and we’ve already covered the Panthers. However, if you live and die by the quarterback in this league, the Chiefs will see five good ones in this time.
4. Brian Daboll And The Great Second Half Adjustment
Nobody asked me, but I love the amount of rest the Chiefs will get at the right time. The bye comes in Week 7 for the Chiefs, but then they will also have 11 consecutive days off just two weeks later in between a Thursday night game (Nov. 1 against the Chargers) and a Monday Night Football game (Nov. 12 against the Steelers). That’s nearly two two-week stretches where the Chiefs can heal, if need be, and make mid-season adjustments.
The timing is also good because the Chiefs have two new guys at the helm. No matter how much work he gets in with his players, Brian Daboll is going to need time as the Chiefs offensive coordinator to know how best to use his pieces. Remember how the Miami Dolphins came on strong near season’s end? Yeah, me too. Think about giving Daboll two long stretches to tinker with what he’s learned before the second half of the season. I trust you’re smiling like I am.
5. Crennel’s Second Time Around
The same can be said for Romeo Crennel. Running the defense is one thing, but running the team is another. The rest comes at the right time for a head coach in his first year by any definition. Crennel and his staff will have two prolonged sections of the schedule where an upcoming game is not looming immediately and they can observe things from a larger perspective. That’s always a good thing.
For more on the team's schedule, check out Arrowhead Pride for the best Chiefs online community around.