Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Schedule Thoughts

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 15, 2009

It says something about the popularity of the NFL that the release of the schedule is now a two hour prime time event.  I somehow feel less stupid knowing I can’t possibly be the only one who eagerly anticipates the release of the schedule.  If nothing else, it’s nice to know what it is so I can plan around it.  For instance, I know that the Broncos will be playing on Thanksgiving night, so my family will know they shouldn’t plan to see me, things like that.   At any rate, my initial thoughts on the Broncos’ 2009 slate:

– Somehow it seems ridiculous that the Broncos will be opening on the road for the fifth straight year and the seventh season in the past eight.  That being said, the reason for this is actually relatively simple.  CBS always has the final round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament during week one of the NFL season, and they always air the men’s final in the late afternoon slot where the second wave of games normally takes place.  Since the Broncos will never be required to have an 11 a.m. home kickoff, the only way they could open at home would be if they host an NFC team on Fox (which was actually thought to be taking place this year, since sources had speculated the Broncos would host Dallas in week one), or if they hosted a Sunday or Monday night game.  Since the Broncos aren’t an elite team these days, the latter option is clearly out, and since the league put Cowboys-Broncos in week four, you’ve got Denver on the road in an early game again.  But hey, at least it’s in Cincinnati against the hapless Bengals.

– It is imperative that Denver gets off to a fast start, since they open with the two Ohio teams (both of which figure to be down again, at least the way things are looking now) and the Raiders.  If the Broncos start 1-2 or 0-3, they will be in huge trouble.

– That’s because the Broncos have a very rigorous five game stretch after that.  They have two home games against Dallas (who could be an elite team without the distraction of Mount TO) and New England (certainly a tough chore since Bill Belichick figures to have an idea of how to slow down Josh McDaniels’ offense).  After that is a Monday nighter in San Diego, a place where the Broncos have been soundly humiliated each of the past three seasons, not to mention a place where the host Chargers will be really fired up for a prime time national audience.  After that game, the bye could be a huge help for the Broncos, because they will then deal with a trip to Baltimore (where the nasty Ravens D awaits) and then a Monday night home game against defending champ Pittsburgh.  If the Steelers are as good as last season, the home field edge may not be much help if the Broncos are banged up heading into that game.

– The Broncos do not have a division home game until late November.  In fact, four of their final seven games will be against AFC West opponents.  The good news is three of those four games will be at Invesco Field at Mile High.  If the Broncos are stumbling midway through the season, they will have a chance to pick up ground in the division late.  On the flip side, the Broncos can’t afford to stumble late this year even if they do start fast out of the gate.  

– Both meetings against Kansas City will be in the final five weeks, so we’ll have to wait to see what happens when McDaniels coaches against former protege Matt Cassel.  It will be interesting to see how that matchup unfolds considering that McDaniels tried to acquire Cassel in late February.  

– The Broncos have two very difficult December road trips to Indianapolis and Philadelphia, not to mention the trip to Arrowhead Stadium is also in December.

– I for one am excited about the Thanksgiving night home game against the Giants.  I think it could be one of the most electric atmospheres the Broncos have experienced since moving into their new digs in 2001.  When the Broncos played a Thanksgiving night game in Kansas City in 2006, it was clearly a playoff atmosphere.  If the Broncos are going to play on Thanksgiving with a short week, they might as well reap the benefits of playing at home while the other team is the one dealing with travel and less time to rest and get ready.  I realize that many people don’t think games should be played on holidays at all, but I’m not one of them.  I think it’s a great idea that fans all around the league, not just those in Detroit and Dallas, can now experience Thanksgiving football.  

– It’s nice to see the Broncos get a little prime time love, with two Monday night games and the Thanksgiving game.  

– A couple of members of the Broncos’ secondary can look forward to some reunions.  Champ Bailey will play his first game in Washington since being dealt from the Redskins to the Broncos in 2004 (the Broncos will also see old friend Clinton Portis).  Brian Dawkins will make an eagerly anticipated return to Philadelphia in week 16, and I suspect he should get a very warm reception from the Eagle faithful that never wanted him to leave.  

– It is unknown at this time which two games will feature the Broncos in their 1960 throwback unis, but I am actually looking forward to seeing the ugly mustard jerseys with brown pants and the vertical striped socks.  It should easily be the most unusual of the eight original AFL teams that will don throwback unis this season.  I would suspect the throwback games will be games within the division since all four AFC West teams are original AFL clubs.  

I say throw out winning percentages from 2008 when looking at the schedule.  Those will mean nothing, and have no impact on how good a team will be in 2009.  Considering this bit of information, it is impossible to truly evaluate how difficult the schedule could be, but it certainly seems on paper that the Broncos will have a difficult slate in 2009.  Of course, the fortunes of many teams will change on draft day in two weeks, and it’s safe to say that many teams will have a very different look when they actually take the field in week one.  Regardless, it’s fun to see what the schedule actually looks like, especially for those of us who are going through football withdrawal these days.


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