The 2012 NFL season schedule provides some rough roads for a number of squads. The key is to turn that difficulty into prosperity.
There are a number of ways that this goal can be achieved.
The constant challenges of quality opponents can be used as a rallying cry to keep the team locked in on the task at hand. Or, the schedule can separate the real deal from the frauds, enabling franchises to make easier decisions regarding their future.
Click through to see which teams will benefit from a difficult 2012 schedule.
While a real hangover isn't conducive to taking any tests, there may be no better cure to one induced by a Super Bowl victory.
I'm not saying that the New York Giants aren't focused and ready to go this season. But it's inevitable that some time during the offseason is spent going on talk shows, attending amusement parks and a party or two.
Those types of events are the well-deserved rewards for the years of effort it took to reach the mountain top. However, they aren't helpful in preparation for the season.
Thus, if every week brings an especially difficult opponent, the Giants will be quickly reminded that many teams are aiming for their crown.
With apologies to the Dawg Pound, the Cleveland Browns are not going to compete for a playoff spot in 2012. The AFC North is one of the best divisions in football and the NFC East is also on the schedule.
However, there is an unlikely upside.
The Browns are a young team. If they can keep their confidence despite a lack of victories, they'll learn valuable lessons that should benefit them for seasons to come.
Cleveland is likely to start a rookie 28-year-old quarterback. He can make mistakes with a relatively low level of pressure that should set him up for success in 2013 so long as he doesn't repeat them.
The annual Super Bowl expectations are just getting started for the Philadelphia Eagles. But there is surely some apprehension regarding their difficult division and schedule.
Longtime head coach Andy Reid will surely use this to his advantage. Every week, he will be able to hammer home that his boys need to be prepared and focused if they are going to make the playoffs in a loaded NFC.
That's good. The Eagles are going to need an efficient and smart Vick to survive their schedule.
The benefit of this experience might not be one the fans enjoy.
It is imperative that the Minnesota Vikings find out if Christian Ponder can be the next quarterback to lead them to the playoffs. This certainly won't happen in 2012, but the foundation can be laid this year.
If Ponder plays well in what will undoubtedly be continuously difficult situations, the Vikings can focus their attention on the rest of the team. His stock won't be fraudulently inflated by beating up on cupcakes.
If he struggles, the Vikings might need to use their high draft pick on Ponder's successor.
The San Diego Chargers' Christian Ponder is comprised of two people: head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith.
The nine-year tenure of Smith has produced zero championships despite his ability to stockpile talent. The criticism might not be warranted, but that won't quell the calls for a change of culture.
Turner's head is squarely on the chopping block. His lack of playoff success is not offset by his 52-34 record.
The 2012 schedule will either earn both men an extension, or a place in the unemployment line.