For the head coaches, players and general managers of NFL teams, they can now begin making plans about player personnel packages that they want to have in place for specific weeks or certain phases of the schedule. That could range from coordinating injury rehabs to players coming off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
For teams like the New Orleans Saints, the new schedule announcement will let them know what key games their suspended personnel and coaches will be missing due to their bounty-related suspensions. That knowledge could very well shape what they do at the NFL draft as well as the remaining time in the offseason to sign free agents.
Creating a regular-season schedule for any major sports organization is always a difficult assignment. Just some of the factors that you have to work out include travel considerations, teams that are playing on nationally televised games on Thursday nights, or Monday nights.
You don't want a team to have too long of a homestand, because then it means that they would also have a long road trip. You want to keep key rivalry games for specific dates that will draw maximum size audiences.
Teams that play in inclement-weather cities in December, would ideally be on the road for the majority of December. Tradition suggests that Detroit and Dallas have games scheduled for Thanksgiving and the conditions just continue to tie the schedule maker's hands.
Well, now that the 2012 schedule has been released, we can do some analysis and see which teams got the raw end of the deal. Here are the top eight teams that got screwed by the 2012 NFL schedule.
Call it the luck of the draw if you prefer, but the schedule maker didn't do the Cleveland Browns any favors in 2012.
The Browns have the third-hardest NFL schedule according to this strength of schedule chart, courtesy of ESPN.com.
For the Browns to ultimately get ahead as a franchise, maybe they can have qualify for enough top-five draft picks every year until they have such a powerhouse franchise, that they can't lose. As things appear now with this schedule, they are headed for another top-five draft pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
With the Browns' 2012 regular-season schedule, you will notice that the soft spots are few and far between.
But as for the 2012 regular-season schedule for the Cincinnati Bengals, they have a killer month of December. The final five games in 2012 are: at San Diego, home against Dallas, at Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh and closing out the season home against Baltimore.
Unless the Bengals have a playoff spot sewed up by Thanksgiving, they could have an extremely difficult run down the stretch if they have any aspirations of going back to the playoffs.
NFL teams and the players know that they have to play half of their games on the road. It is tough to be away from your family and your favorite bed for an extended period.
Being gone two straight games on the road is harder, but the Houston Texans are one of two NFL teams that will be gone for three straight road games in 2012.
The schedule maker didn't do the Texans any favors. Here is a link to their schedule, from ESPN.com.
You will notice that in Weeks 12-14, the Texans are traveling in three straight weeks from Detroit to Tennessee to New England. In fact, if you factor in the road game at Chicago in Week 10, the Texans are on the road for four of five games.
That is stacking the deck against your team.
In what will be a very strange year for the New Orleans Saints in 2012, the NFL schedule maker, seemed to also do his part to keep the Saints floundering just a little bit more.
The Saints will be a mess in terms of transition, as they go from Sean Payton to learning what life is like without him. They will do what they need to in order to get by, waiting for Joe Vitt to finish his suspension before he can take over as interim head coach.
But since he is suspended for the first six games, and the Saints' bye week falls on Week 5, that means that Vitt won't even have the benefit of the bye week to get up to speed and find out from the other coaches what areas he needs to tweak, or fix.
Whatever could go wrong has gone wrong for the Saints in 2012, and the end doesn't appear to be in sight anytime soon.
Peyton Manning has a ton of fans around the NFL that are probably going to be rooting for him to have a successful comeback in 2012. Mark that everybody but the NFL schedule maker.
If you check out this link to the Broncos schedule in 2012, you will see that they are facing a murderer's row of opponents to begin the year.
You will see that the Broncos are playing against seven teams that made the playoffs in 2011 in their first 10 games outside the division. The Broncos will have their work cut out for them just to repeat as AFC West division winners.
The Dallas Cowboys might want to consider changing their team name in 2012 to the Road Warriors.
The NFL schedule maker didn't do the Cowboys any favors by hauling them out on the road to play six of their first nine games away from Dallas.
Depending on how the Cowboys are able to play on the road in 2012, they could be out of it before we even get to the games in Week 10.
Here is a link to their schedule.
As we noted earlier with the Houston Texans, nobody likes to be away from home for three straight games. Well, that is also the case with the Green Bay Packers, who have a three-game stretch in 2012 where they are away from the friendly confines of Green Bay.
In Weeks 5-7, the Packers are at Indianapolis, at Houston and at St. Louis. While the opponents that the Texans are playing in their three-game trip are more difficult, the road can turn really good teams into just average teams.
Here is a link to the Packers schedule for 2012.
The Jets open up at home against the Buffalo Bills. The Jets have owned the Bills in recent years, but the Bills have made some significant improvements to upgrade the defensive line. If those changes are sufficient to get to Mark Sanchez and force him into mistakes that costs the Jets the game, fans will begin clamoring for Tebow.
The following week, it could get worse when the Jets travel to meet the tough Steelers defense in Week 2. If things don't go well there, the gauntlet is just starting. Week 4 sees the Jets hosting San Francisco and then Houston comes to town in Week 5.
If you look at those defenses, it would not be a major surprise to see Sanchez struggle to a degree against them. With every struggle comes more fans wanting to see Rex Ryan giving Tebow a shot.
Here is a link to the Jets 2012 schedule.
Thanks for checking out the presentation.