The 2012 NFL schedule has been released, and experts and fans alike are analyzing the games and dates.
Here’s my evaluation of the schedules based on the number of last year’s playoff teams that each team faces on its 2012 schedule.
First is a look at how many 2011 playoff teams are on each team's schedule. After that is a quick breakdown of how those games against last season’s playoff teams fit into the structure of each team's 2012 schedule.
For those of you who have forgotten, here are the 2011 playoff teams: AFC—New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston and Denver; NFC—New York Giants, Green Bay, Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta and San Francisco.
Number of 2011 Playoff Teams on Each Team's 2012 Schedule
7: Denver, New York Giants, Philadelphia
6: Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego, Washington
5: Arizona, Cleveland, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, San Francisco, Tennessee
4: Atlanta, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Miami, Minnesota, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Notes About Each Team's 2012 Schedule and Games Against 2011 Playoff Opponents
Arizona: Plays three straight games against 2011 playoff teams (San Francisco, Green Bay and Atlanta).
Atlanta: Only plays two 2011 playoff teams in its first 11 games—vs. New York Giants and Detroit in Weeks 15 and 16.
Baltimore: With two games apiece against division foes/fellow 2011 playoff teams Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, half of its 16 games in 2012 are against 2011 playoff teams.
Buffalo: Its last game against a 2011 playoff team is Week 11 against New England.
Carolina: Three of its first four games are against 2011 playoff teams.
Chicago: It faces three 2011 playoff teams in a five-week span.
Cincinnati: Faces off against Denver and the New York Giants at home the first two games in November after its bye week.
Cleveland: Half of its 16 games in 2012 are against 2011 playoff teams.
Dallas: Plays Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and New Orleans in three consecutive weeks in December.
Denver: NFL schedule-makers are going to make Peyton Manning work early in the schedule: Six of the Broncos' first eight games are against 2011 playoff teams, including four of their first five.
Detroit: Plays 2011 playoff teams Green Bay and Houston five days apart in November.
Green Bay: Three away games against 2011 playoff teams in six weeks between Week 6 and Week 12.
Houston: Plays Green Bay and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks in October.
Indianapolis: Four games in five weeks against 2011 playoff teams from Nov. 18 to Dec. 16.
Jacksonville: Faces NFC Central teams Green Bay and Detroit in consecutive weeks (Week 8 and Week 9).
Kansas City: Brutal three-game stretch, playing Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Denver in three consecutive weeks.
Miami: Opens December with back-to-back games against New England and San Francisco.
Minnesota: Two of its first four games are against 2011 playoff teams.
New England: Doesn't face a 2011 playoff team from Oct.14 to Dec. 2.
New Orleans: Plays San Francisco, Atlanta and New York Giants in three consecutive weeks.
New York Giants: In an eight-week stretch from Nov. 4 to Dec. 23, they play six 2011 playoff teams, then Washington and a bye.
New York Jets: Four of their first seven games are against 2011 playoff teams. A rematch against division foe New England is the only 2011 playoff team they face over the last 10 weeks of the season.
Oakland: Six of its nine games from Sept. 23 to Nov. 25 are against 2011 playoff teams.
Philadelphia: The first half of its season is against six 2011 playoff teams.
Pittsburgh: Opens against Denver and then doesn't play a 2011 playoff team until Week 7.
St. Louis: Plays Green Bay and New England prior to its bye and then faces San Francisco after.
San Diego: Plays the three AFC Central playoff teams (Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati) in three straight weeks (Weeks 12, 13, 14).
San Francisco: Opens the season against NFC Central playoff teams Green Bay and Detroit.
Seattle: Last three games in October are against 2011 playoff teams New England, San Francisco and Detroit.
Tampa Bay: Back-to-back games against 2011 playoff teams Atlanta and Denver in Weeks 12 and 13.
Tennessee: Four of its first six games are against 2011 playoff teams.
Washington: Five of its eight games in the first half of the season are against 2011 playoff teams.
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