Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Breaking Down the 2009 NFL Schedule Release

Well, if it's April then we must be getting ready for another NFL season already. I like how the NFL opens the new season every year with the free agency period at the beginning of March, the NFL schedule release in the early weeks of April and then the Draft at the end of the month.

It's keeps you invested the whole year.

I actually just sat through ESPN's brutal hour long coverage of the 2009 schedule release and a few things jumped out to me.

(Click here for the entire 2009 schedule)

First of all, I'm not really impressed with the Monday Night slate of games this year. The past few years, we've begun to see a migration of the good primetime games going to Sunday Night on NBC (especially with the flex schedule at the end of the season) and the JV list of matchups playing out on Monday Night.

Here are some of the Monday Night noteables:

- Miami plays twice on Monday Night in first five weeks of the season (at home vs. Colts in Week 2 and at home vs. Jets in Week 5).

- Denver plays on MNF twice in second five weeks (at Chargers in Week 6 and vs. Steelers in Week 9). Based on their list of opponents, I'm seeing a tough year ahead for the Broncos; but they did draw the Bengals (away), Browns (home), and Raiders (away) in the first three weeks so if they could somehow build up some confidence, these primetime matchups could be interesting.

- My Eagles make their only MNF appearance Week 7 at Washington.

- The Week 12 showdown featuring that New England at New Orleans should be fun.

- Jay Cutler could be fighting Adrian Peterson for the Black and Blue Division crown in Week 16 as the Vikings visit the Bears.

- The Cowboys and Super Bowl champion Steelers only make one MNF appearance each this year (don't worry, both have multiple primetime games)

Elsewhere, there are some very intriguing Week 1 matchups:

- Titans at Steelers (Thursday Night). I like how the NFL has gone to giving the opener to the defending champ and unless the Titans were one year wonders, this should be a good one.

- Eagles at Panthers. Tough opener for two teams that both had their seasons ended by Arizona in the playoffs.

- Dolphins at Falcons. Interesting game between two surprise teams from last year.

- Jaguars at Colts. Indy has a new head coach and it's always tough to start the season with a division game.

- Redskins at Giants. Again, someone will be down in the division race right out of the gate.

- Bears at Packers (Sunday Night). Cutler makes his Chicago debut on the road in another compelling division game.

- Bills at Pats (Monday Night). Maybe the best one on the list - we get T.O.'s Buffalo debut, T.O. vs. Moss, AND the return of Tom Brady all in the same game?? Nice.

Other Noteable games throughout the season:

- Steelers at Bears (Week 2). Cutler and the Bears could be 0-2 after this one if they don't look out or they could really be making a statement that they got the better end of the trade with Denver.

- Giants at Cowboys (Week 2). Dallas opens their new stadium against a tough division foe.

- Patriots at Broncos (Week 5). Hoodie Sr. and Hoodie Jr. face off in the Mile High City.

- Patriots at Colts (Week 10). Pats travel to Indy for the third straight year, but the first during this era without Dungy on the sidelines.

- Another bad bunch of games on Thanksgiving this year. Green Bay at Detroit, Oakland at Dallas, and Giants at Broncos. That third one has a shot at being decent, but who is in charge of picking these games every year? Terrible.

- I like Week 15's pre-Sunday games with the Colts at Jags on Thursday night and the Cowboys at Saints on Saturday night.

- Broncos at Eagles (Week 16). We have to wait until the second to last week for Brian Dawkins' return home to Philly?

Looks like it's going to be another great year of football. Can't wait for the draft next weekend and can't wait to get this season underway!

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