Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Apr 2008

2008 NFL Schedule Released

Which team gets a brutal stretch of road games? Which team deserves more prime time appearances? Leave your thoughts on the 2008 schedule in comments.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 15 Apr 2008

74 comments, Last at 21 Apr 2008, 5:19am by UTvikefan

Comments

1
by LocalBoyMakesGood (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 2:44pm

The Broncos stretch-run is very difficult with multiple away games and a conclusion at San Diego. The teams they play aren't juggernauts (at this time of the year) but it is the three East Coast trips in five weeks that will be tough. Not calling it the most difficult but at least a candidate.

2
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 2:53pm

The Bears schedule is weird. Starting in week 7, they have 3 straight home games (with a bye after the first one), followed by 3 straight road games, followed by 3 straight home games. The last of those home games (in week 16) is the last Monday night game of the year, against the Packers. (If Brett Favre returns, the hype meter will be set to 11 for his annual last MNF game.)

3
by Tom D (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 2:55pm

The Bears have 5 primetime games, that's a little surprising after last year.

4
by Charger Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 2:56pm

By my quick count, the Bolts face a total of 10 playoff contenders. That's not a bad schedule at all. 5 prime time games, 4 of which are at home.

This year is setting up nicely for the Chargers.

5
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:07pm

3: The Bears' November 30 game against Minnesota could be switched from prime time under the flex schedule.

6
by zzyzx (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:14pm

I have to say that I love the Seahawks schedule. Other than the Thanksgiving/Pats segment, it doesn't look bad at all. I could easily see 12 wins in it. No Monday night games though which bites, but what can you do?

7
by Jon (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:14pm

Looks like the Giants are backloaded again.

8
by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:15pm
9
by TED F!@#ING GINN!? (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:17pm

Was the information regarding the Bills playing a game in Toronto this year widely known, or is this the first time it has been publicly released?

10
by BC Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:21pm

I am decidedly nonplussed about the Patriots' pair of back-to-back west coast trips, both of which occur after the early bye.

11
by MarkV (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 4:00pm

RE 9:

Yes

12
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 4:01pm

I'm completely plussed about them myself. I can't recall getting to see the Patriots play a game out on the Left Coast, against teams I know well.

13
by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 4:06pm

N.F.L. executives must be praying that the NFC East race comes down to the Cowboys and Eagles, scheduled to play each other Week 17. If that rivalry makes the difference between going to the playoffs and going home, it will be a ratings bonanza.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh ain't bad either.

14
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 4:19pm

I'm shocked, shocked, that Miami don't have a prime-time game this year.

We'll still see them a minimum of 3 times in the UK though, so it's all good.

15
by Tom D (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 5:41pm

I thought every team was guaranteed at least one primetime game.

16
by mattman (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 5:54pm

Figures the Eagles get an NFL Network game AFTER Gumbel leaves. I was looking forward to watching Michael Westbrook run wild on the St. Louis Cardinals.

17
by Quentin (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 6:08pm

I'm happy about the Bucs schedule. No cold weather, a late bye, a full slate of beatable opponents, no Thursdays, only like 1 or 2 trips out west, two Sunday nights and one MNF game. Very doable. No reason to think we shouldn't make the playoffs again.

18
by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 6:33pm

Cleveland at Pittsburgh ain’t bad either [as a possible week 17 prime time game].

If that gets moved to NBC, the Steelers will play one home game at 1:00 this season, and that'll be in week 1.

What's the maximum number of primetime games a team can play?

19
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 6:34pm

very favorbnale schedule for Raiders. 11-5 or 12-4 are still definitely possible.
Raiders are definitely going to playoffs. There should be no question about it when you look at personel; coaching, and schedule. Playing two games against Chiefs and 2 games against Broncos is very good too. That is 4-0 right there.
Lets see Sierra Nevada pale ale or Tullamore dew- how should I celebrate tonight?

20
by DP (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 6:44pm

Re # 19:

Raiderjoe, why choose when the two beverages go together so well?

21
by TomHat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 6:53pm

Cowboys Redskins game snubbed from monday night football for second year in a row. most stupid list shows that have "best rivalries of all sports" have Redskins cowboys at #2 behind the obvious Yankees Redsox. You would think they would get a MNF game... like anyone cares about redskins vs STEELERS...

Oh, by the way: if you are going to tell me about how teams X and Y are bigger rivals, I really dont care, im just saying they are big rivals. Big enough to be ranked as #2, whether or not they are actually #2.

22
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 6:54pm

The Patriots MAY start 4-0, but the schedulers didn't do them any favors. A painfully early bye, the only warm weather/dome team they get to host in December is the Cardinals, and two DOUBLE road trips to the West Coast, both after their bye.

I know how they determine who plays who, but how do they determine which teams play which games where? For example, the AFCE gets to play the AFCW and the NFCW. How do they decide that NE has to play AT OAK, SD, SEA, and SF, while hosting the nearer DEN, KC, STL, and ARI, while BUF gets to host the four further away teams and has to travel to the four closer teams?

23
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 7:08pm

Nov. 16 Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins. # 1 pick 2009 could be decided!

24
by Dr. Mooch (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 7:12pm

22: Please, no sympathy from over here. Raiderjoe's "favorable" schedule is a -3.3% average 2007 DVOA. The Buffalo Bills' schedule (thank you AFC West) is -4.3%. The Tom Brady Bestest Ever Team Go USA's schedule is a freaking -9.9% average DVOA. Good lord, they should be playing games in Japan.

25
by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 7:22pm

#22:

The rotating division matchups alternate home and away. In your example, the Pats are @ OAK & SD because the opposite was the case the last time the AFCE and AFCW played each other in 2005. The same is true for the AFCE-NFCW matchups-- they're in the opposite of the locations they were in 2004.

26
by ElJefe (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 7:26pm

Re: #22

Home/Away should alternate each time two non-division teams meet. So you know right now which NFC West teams NE will play at home in 2012, and that NE will be at SEA and SF again in 2016.

It gets a little trickier in-conference, since teams can play more often than every three years. But they do attempt to alternate home teams when possible, subject to the conditions that each team plays 2H/2A against their "different division, same conference" opponents and 1H/1A vs. "same conference, same division finish" opponents.

Or you can just imagine conspiracy theories like most people ...

27
by JoA (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 7:37pm

#22 - MJK, I believe it's based on what happened in the first iteration of this schedule. So if team 1 played team 2 at home in the beginning, it keeps flip/flopping every four years.

The Saints have to have one of the easiest schedules. They play the NFC North, AFC West, San Francisco, and Washington. The "home game" against San Diego will be hard, but other than that, they avoid most of the strongest teams. The only teams they play who had a positive DVOA last year are:

Tampa twice
Green Bay (minus Favre)
@ Washington
vs Minnesota.

That means the Saints will probably get only 5 games vs above average teams. Meanwhile, they get to play Atlanta twice, Carolina twice, Detroit, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Oakland. That's 8 games vs the some of the worst teams in the league last year, with all -20% DVOA. Well, Detroit had a -19.9%.

28
by Kai (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 9:35pm

Anyone check strength of schedule yet? Pat's win with the weakest at .387

Somebody explain that to me (actually don't). Just surprising.

29
by drobviousso (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 10:20pm

I'll call any schedule that involves a Cleveland/Steelers game in the last week exciting. Playing at Heinz is favorbnale.

30
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 10:53pm

With their schedule and the general not-so-good-anymoreness of everybody not named Ben Roethlisberger on the team... well, what Steelers unit is likely to be better in 2008 than 2007? The offensive line lost Faneca, Hines Ward is older... maybe the defense will improve a little, but it was pretty good last year.

Point is, I think it's likely a lot of people will be surprised when the Steelers roll into week 17 6-9. And if Roethlisberger gets hurt and misses most of the year, more like 3-12. Their schedule is very tough.

31
by krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 11:41pm

28, actually not surprising at all given that the teams in their own division won only 12 games total this year(mia-1, nyj-4, buf-7). That takes care of 6 games and a good chunk of that percentage right there

32
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:15am

re23
You are crazy if you think Raiders playing for #1 pick in 2009 draft. Raiders going to playoffs in 2008. Look at roster. Lets see Javon Walker Curry leading very good WR corps, RB corps very good, QB position good, TE great up and cominger, offensive line solid. lets see the defense is great, one of the best in whole league. secondary is bets in league- Hall, Wilson, Huff, Asomugha, Routt, Washington- that is a great. T Howard one of best young veersatile Lbs in league, d burgess excellent, t kelly great, defense is going to be a great unti all over
I'm saying the Raiders will go at least 11-5, maybe 12-4. Should win division and get 1 or 2 seed (colts are other team that could get 1 or 2 seed. Patriots should be like 10-6, lost too many players, schedules is not as easy as other posters think it is. also time for Tom Beady to get a injury sooner or later. No way can Pates win if Matt Cassel or the other guy has to play Qb. Team would be crap.
Jets- junk
Bills- crap
Dolphins- joke
Browns- okay
Steelers- scheudle id too hard
Texans- average
Jaguars- wont be as good
Chargers- playoffs
Chiefs, Broncos- sucky
Bengals- dumb team
Ravens- don't have good QB, sorry
Titans- could be good

playoff teams- Raiders, Colts, Chargers, Pates, Browns, Titans

33
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:28am

The Pats have the easiest schedule, the Colts the second hardest. Thus it will be all the more impressive when the Colts beat the Patriots on Nov. 2 and go on to win the Super Bowl.

34
by Solomon (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:41am

Colts fan here. Looks like the Colts have a difficult schedule, but I will optimistically venture a 14-2 season (losses to Chargers and one other road loss, probably the Jags), which should be good for a #1 seed. Of course, this means they will probably lose their playoff opener. Since Manning arrived in Indy, the Colts are 7-7 in playoff games, with all the victories coming as a #3 seed. They are 0-3 as a 1 or 2 seed. I suspect that their proclivity to shut things down once they clinch their playoff seed hurts them when they have byes, but I cannot prove or disprove that.

Call me crazy, but I prefer that the Colts play all their games on Sundays at 1 pm. This is especially true if I attend a home game.

Raiderjoe -- I do not agree with everything you write, but you never fail to entertain.

35
by shake n bake (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:44am

Colts @ Jags week 17 on NFL Network, likely to decide the division championship. Or just another chance to watch Jim Sorgi get crushed by defenses built to stop Peyton Manning.

36
by the K (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:52am

MDS: Miami fans never like seeing their team travel to Buffalo in December. This year they’ll have to travel even farther north.

The Toronto game is in a dome. I think Miami fans likely prefer this.

#24: That's freaking bizarre, since the schedule is pre-set before the year begins. Did a lot of 1st place teams finish with worse DVOA than second place finishers? Or possibly NE's DVOA skews the difference between theirs and Buffalo's that much.

I sure don't agree with everything Raiderjoe says either, but I may have to agree the secondary could be the best in the league. Asomugha+Hall at corner is going to be tough to throw against.

37
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 1:15am

#33 Chad shut up! Shut up! Shut Up! Sorry to be so blunt, and I am not superstutious, and I am pretty sure Indy will manage 12 wins against a tough sked once more, but let's not ... ahem, WHAT was it Harvey Keitel said in Pulp Fiction? Never mind. We can discuss the post season after 11/2.

Also, I find it hard to believe SD will beat them again. I found it hard to believe last year's playoff fold-a-rama, too, so I guess my predictive skills are none too sharp. I'd be happy with 12 wins and a 3rd seed. Higher seed will make me more nervous.

And it's hard to fault the league for "making" the Pats' sked easy and the Colts' sked tough, when much of that comes from their own division sucking or being good. Can't do much about that, can you? I can still gripe, though. gripe gripe gripe. There, I'm done.

38
by Tom D (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 1:15am

Re 36:

It's not that bizarre. I bet most division winners have an easier schedule DVOA wise. The difference is that Buffalo has to play New England twice, while New England gets to play Buffalo twice. New England had an astronomic 51.8% DVOA, while Buffalo had a middling -3.8%.

Otherwise the difference between 1st and 2nd place schedule is playing Jacksonville (23.7%) and Cleveland (5.8%) instead of Pittsburgh (17.5%) and Indy (33.0%).

39
by DP (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 4:11am

Re # 32:

Raiderjoe, I'm pleased to see that you took my advice (# 19 & 20)about combining beverages!

40
by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 8:00am

21 - Sunday night with Madden and company is now the highlight game of the week. That's where you'll find Dallas/Wash (11.16) along with GB/Dallas, NE/SD, NE/Ind, NYG/Dallas, Pitt/Jax, & NYG/Phil. Monday night you might get two good teams or matchups like SF@Ariz or Jets@SD. As a Packers fan, I'm fairly happy with the schedule.

41
by MatMan (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 9:55am

Lets see Sierra Nevada pale ale or Tullamore dew- how should I celebrate tonight?

Either would be favorbnale, but consider a Widmer. Smooth as silk. And skip the lemon slice!

Changing gears, I'm surprised to see the Cowboys getting just one Monday game. I understand they get Thanksgiving every year (though the significance of that is being diluted somewhat by the NFL), but isn't that franchise one of the league's (and the networks') biggest cash cows? I'm not complaining, since my personal schedule usually makes prime-time games difficult to watch, I'm just surprised.

42
by David Mazzotta (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 9:57am

raiderjoe: "I’m saying the Raiders will go at least 11-5, maybe 12-4."

the Raiders? the? You better quit mixing your beverages.

43
by Joseph (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 10:15am

Re:27
As a Saints fan, I think our sched is pretty easy--EXCEPT for getting screwed in the middle of it. 43!!! days between true home games!!! This is the 2nd time in 4 years we LOST a home game--and it's not like we only half-fill the stadium. There is a waiting list for season tickets, and I don't think there were any individual game seats left last year by the start of pre-season. Other than that, I'm cool with it. My personal (slightly biased) prediction--if the Saints start 3-0 (not easy, but doable), then they will be undefeated going to London.

44
by rageon (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 10:28am

The genius of Raiderjoe for being satisfied the Raiders got two games each against the Chiefs and Broncos cannot be overlooked.

45
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 10:39am

Ugh. I think the Texans will be a slightly above average team next year, but they could easily start the season 1-4, or even 0-5 if the Ravens are good. @PIT, BAL, @TEN, @JAX, IND. That's the sort of thing that could demoralise a young team. And we have to play in Green Bay in December and Cleveland in late November. Could we not just have left the Seahawks where they were and played in the NFC West?

46
by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 10:59am

"Changing gears, I’m surprised to see the Cowboys getting just one Monday game. I understand they get Thanksgiving every year (though the significance of that is being diluted somewhat by the NFL), but isn’t that franchise one of the league’s (and the networks’) biggest cash cows?"

The reason for that is simple: As pointed out in #40, Sunday night is the highlight game of the week and has been since NBC got the Sunday night game and ESPN got the Monday night game. At that point, Sunday night simply became the new Monday night, and vice versa. Just look at the games over the past few years - Monday night has had some real dogs compared to Sunday night (and not just because some teams were unexpectedly bad and not just because Sunday has the flex schedule now - I'm talking about how attractive games look in April when the schedule comes out).

Just look at the Patriots-Colts game. In the recent past, that has been the most anticipated/hyped regular season game every year. In the past, that meant it would be on Monday night. Now, that means it is on Sunday night (which it is on November 2).

47
by RugbyRuss (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 11:52am

Someone at the NFL schedule making office must be mixing RaiderJoe's drinks for him. The 49ers and Cardinals on Monday night in week 10? Are they serious?

48
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 11:53am

Whoa...somebody needs to tell Goodell that they forgot to schedule Washington at Tampa Bay, the recurring non-rivalry. These two teams have met, what, 12 times in the last 3 seasons?

49
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 11:55am

28:
On top of all the other strength of schedule effects, unlike the other AFC division winners, the Patriots don't have to play...

...the Patriots!

Actually, I don't think it's as bad as you make it out to be. In part, the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins look weak because they had a tough schedule in 2007. It's a near certainty that they will combine for more than twelve wins in 2008.

50
by dmb (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:05pm

27, 43: I really can't believe what the league did to the Saints. They already had one recent season with only seven "real" home games; making them do it again is just ridiculous. On top of that, their trip to London comes in the middle of a FIVE-week stretch between games in New Orleans! Admittedly, one of those weeks is a bye (it would've been absolutely indefensible to not at least give them a rest after the London trip) . . . but still, I'm a little peeved about it. And I'm not even a Saints fan.

48: When they announced teams' opponents a while back, I looked through the Redskins' list three times; I wanted to see if the WAS-TB game would be in Tampa, which could possibly open up the opportunity of getting tickets. It was only the third time through that I realized that they might not be playing at all!

51
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:20pm

Here's my prediction for the divisions this year, for all of the $0.02 that it is worth:

The AFCE will go from a weak division with one strong team to an average division with one strong team. Buffalo is on the rise, and got hurt last year by a tough schedule (as did Miami and the Jets). I wouldn't bank on Miami being "good", but Parcells has a history of turning teams around quickly and so they may well be "scrappy". And the Jets are probably an 8-8 or 9-7 team next year. New England should still win the division, but probably won't be as amazing as last year.

The AFCN will probably be a division of mediocrity. Baltimore will be better, but probably only average. Cleveland should win the division, but not amazingly so. I expect Pittsburg to regress--they're getting old fast, and those line problems won't go away. I havent' a clue about what Cincy will do, but historically, they've been a 7-9 to a 9-7 team, and will probably continue to hover there.

The AFCS will continue to be a tough division. Indy is still great, Jacksonville is still great, and Houston should be better (going 8-8 versus a tough schedule with nasty injuries last year is a more impressive result than I think most people realize). Tenessee should regress somewhat as Vince Young has and as they have bled some defensive talent, but this is still probably the toughest division in the AFC.

The AFCW is hard to call. San Diego is still probably the class of the division, and the Raiders will improve. Not division winning improve, but certainly an 8-8 or a 9-7 season is possible. I haven't the slightest clue how Denver and KC will be.

The NFCE will continue to be the best division in football. I'm now sold on the Giants, and I think last year was an aberration for a very good Philly team. Dallas will also have a shot at the division title. Washington is harder to call, but even if they are only average, this is a very good division.

The NFCN will regress. Green Bay and Minnesota are both exciting teams with diverse (and very different) strengths, but both have a couple of glaring weaknesses and big question marks at QB. Figure they'll fight it out for the division crown. Chicago I don't see doing much of anything, and Millen is still running the Lions.

In the NFCS Carolina and Atlanta should rebound (how could Atlanta not?). NO will probably be a middling team. I don't have a read on TB--they defy my analysis.

Poor NFCW. I still don't see any signs of Saint Louis pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. I like Arizona's coaching staff and what they are doing, but I don't think they've had a very good offseason. San Francisco, sadly, still seems to be a bit of a clown show, although the defense should be exciting. But Seattle should win the division, again.

There. My wildly uninformed predictions have been made. Feel free to flame me all you want. :-)

52
by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:36pm

51 MJK:
Did I read that right? You only predict the division winners for AFC East (Patriots), AFC North (Browns), and NFC West (Seattle)? Or did you mean to pick the Chargers, with the uncertainty for Denver and Kansas City being in the terrible-to-a-little-above-average range?

53
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:40pm

I really like the Texans to sneak into the playoffs this year. I think they're maybe 2 defensive players away from having a top 10 D, and their O is at least above average.

Something has to give in that division (I think the Titans have to be the most likely candidate to drop to 5-11/4-12).

I also want to go on record that I think the Browns underachieve. I think Derek Anderson was coming down to earth towards the end of last year and their schedule this year is harder.

Also, I think every fringe playoff team looks enviously at Seattle.

54
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 1:56pm

With you on the Browns. They may win that division, but it looks to me like a division with no top ten teams and no bottom ten teams - they could all have records in the 7-9 to 10-6 range, and I wouldn't even be surprised if the winning team was 9-7.

As for the Texans defense, I'm not sure 2008 is the year. Dunta Robinson is likely to start the season on PUP and may not feature at all. The overall depth at CB is improved, but the safeties still suck and the OLBs are nothing to write home about. They also need a nose tackle and a pass-rush specialist. Williams, Ryans and Robinson are terrific players, and Bennett and Okoye both look promising, but the rest are mostly dross. However, the way the first two draft classes of the new regime look now, I'm very positive about the franchise's direction. Peyton has to decline some day, right?

55
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 1:56pm

nat,

Yep, I only make nice safe calls. That way, no one can hold it against me. :-) Ah, so you really want me to go out on a limb? OK, here's goes:

AFCE: Patriots
AFCN: Browns
AFCS: Indy (Still the best team in a very good division)
AFCW: San Diego (KC and Denver are too uncertain, and the Raiders won't make enough progress)
NFCE: Philly (I'm really torn here...the Giants are legit, but I put more faith in Andy Reid and McNabb than in Coughlin and Manning)
NFCN: Minnesota (Basically, I'm flipping a coin between MN and GB, since one team has a bad but not horrible QB and one has a QB we know NOTHING about)
NFCS: Ummm, I know nothing about this division, soooo... Carolina.
NFCW: Seattle

56
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 2:12pm

It may be ludicrously early for this, but I'm going to join in . . .

NFCN: Packers. I like Rodgers a whole lot better than Jackson. I might change my mind if the Rosenfels trade was resurrected on draft day.

NFCE: Cowboys. Romo's the best quarterback in the division, and that's the thing that carries over most reliably season-to-season.

NFCS: Saints. Their offense should be good, and their defense pretty much has to improve. Like DVOA and everyone else, I have no idea what to make of the Bucs. They're a threat if Garcia can maintain his level of play and stay healthy. I don't like the Panthers' chances.

NFCW: '9ers. The defense has a lot of good young players, and Mike Martz will pull a competent passing attack out of his ass. Also, I want to be controversialist and look clever if I'm right.

AFCN: Browns. But it could be any of them. Division's wide open.

AFCE: Patriots. Given the schedule, I'd back them to go 14-2 at least. Even if they lose to the Colts and Chargers, they may still have home field.

AFCS: Colts. I think Garrard regresses a little, and the Jags, while good, are a wild card yet again.

AFCW: Chargers. The most talented team in the league, and no-one in the division is good enough to challenge them.

57
by TomHat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 2:21pm

The 2008 NFL schedule was revealed yesterday to an American sports public hungry for NFL news. Our crack team of analysts here at TSC break down some of the more interesting match-ups:
The Buffalo Bills will play only one home game in 2008. The rest of their games will take place in other countries such as Canada, Iceland, and Mexico as the NFL continues to search for a place that doesn't know enough about football to come out and watch this horrid team.
The Miami Dolphins will take on the Florida Gators, as they have officially been downgraded to a Division-I college team. They are currently ranked 43rd in the BCS.
The Patriots take on the Colts in week 9, and the government has given everyone the week off as a holiday to listen to the talking heads discuss how great Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are nonstop for 7 days.
The wonderful Thanksgiving day tradition continues of having the Lions host a home game in the afternoon. This allows everyone to take a nice turkey and boredom induced nap after dinner.
The Cleveland Browns appear on every Primetime game this year. Even during their bye week Monday Night Football will not air a game, but instead just follow them around town for 3 hours. I'm glad everyone is on this bandwagon. They've been such a good franchise over the years, why can't they be great this time?
A big shocker in that the Oakland Raiders even received a 2008 schedule. There was a lot of discussion in the offseason about giving them a year off to figure out what they really wanted to do with their lives. A team spokeman said he is happy to have a matchup with anybody.

The New England Patriots have the easiest strength of schedule in the league, 4 games against Miami at home, 4 against the Jets at home, 4 against Buffalo also at home, 1 against Indianapolis, and then 3 automatic wins so they can be sure they get into the post-season to play the Colts again.
The St. Louis Rams did not get a primetime game for the second year in a row. But even worse, their games are not even going to be carried on local television, as the station said it will air old Hogan's Heroes episodes instead. They will also not be heard on radio, and even their live games will be blacked out for those in attendance. A large black curtain will be hung around the field preventing anyone in the stands from watching the horror. Beer will still cost $11 dollars.

58
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 2:30pm

re 18: I realize that we all like to watch the games in prime time, but I'm old enough to remember when Sunday afternoon at 1:00 was really special. It also seemed to make the occasional appearance of your favorite team in prime time a more special event. I regret that more and more are being played at other times. Sigh. On the same theme, I understand that some of these games are being broadcast in color.

59
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 4:36pm

curmudgeon,

Except that games at 1:00 are at 10:00 AM out here on the West Coast. Not quite the same thing...

60
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 5:01pm

It looks to me like six wins is the most likely outcome for the Vikings. Maybe seven. If Tavaris Jackson makes huge strides, a lot of things change, but I don't see much reason to expect that to happen .

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by Jerry (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 5:51pm

Except that games at 1:00 are at 10:00 AM out here on the West Coast. Not quite the same thing…

We don't see any 10 AM West Coast starts, nor do we expect to. It would be nice to see more 1:00 starts in the east, especially during the second half of the season when the extra few degrees can make attending a game a bit less uncomfortable. (We've also discussed in the past how changed starting times screw up travel plans; at this point, even a 4:00 start makes it difficult to return to many cities on Sunday night that would be easily reached after a 1:00 game.)

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by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 6:34pm

Maybe I'm nuts but I really doubt that NE and Indy will once again be the best two teams in the AFC again. It appears that NE has a very easy schedule but I think they have very likely peaked (about mid season 2007 is my guess). Prediction: a good year but early exit from the playoffs.

Indy is clearly sliding as well. The NFL runs in cycles - I think both these teams have clearly peaked and the slide has started. I don't think Indy will make the playoffs.

As for the Vikings - tough schedule but I think the Vikings are an improving team. My bet is that they will be a playoff team and win the Central - but if they don't my bet is the defence will be the reason not the offence. I suspect the offence will rank as one of the best in the league.

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by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 6:50pm

Will Allen - I think you're a tad pessimistic. The Vikings have a higher efficiency rating than their opponent in 10 games next year. I will grant you that this years schedule looks tougher than last years

Avg DVOA 2008 opp: .9
Avg DVOA 2007 opp: -3.95

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by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 7:46pm

jimm,

Barring significant injuries (and even then not necessarily--look at New England in 2004) I just don't see Indy and New England sliding off. These are two teams with very smart front offices that know how to build teams that last. Philly is a similar sort of team--they've been competitive every year in recent memory except for years where their starting QB missed significant time due to injury (which would derail any team), and even then managed to be competitive some times.

Indy is returning almost all of it's most important offensive talent pieces from last year, and somehow managed to smoothly and seamlessly replace age with youth, most notably with Ugoh replacing...umm...that guy who retired (excuse my brain lapse...I'm a Pats fan, not a Colts fan, so the Colts roster isn't on my brain's quick recall list, and it's almost 5:PM at work and I'm tired), and that nifty young reciever replacing Stokley. Manning is still in his prime. At the same time, the Indy defense is clearly on the rise.

New England is returning it's entire record-setting offense in tact from last year, minus the #4 WR and a backup blocking TE, and it's a relatively young offense. Brady is still in his prime, Morris and Maroney are young enough to get better, not worse, with age, and the entire O-line is young to prime and has been (and will be, barring injury) together for some time. Barring catastrophic injury, the only offenseive need area is depth at TE, which is kind of a luxury item. The New England defense is certainly due to decline a little, but they have a very good D-line and are in the process of getting younger elsewhere, especially in the secondary. The LB problems will likely be masked by the strong offense, good D-line play, and a much easier schedule than last year.

(Footnote: it's really weird to think of Indy as a balanced team with a rising defense, and New England as an offensive powerhouse that uses a fast paced, finesse offense to hide deficiencies in its defense, but that seems to be what has occurred...)

I really have a hard time imagining that both New England and Indy will not be among the top five teams yet again this year. I'm not saying that some other team won't surprise and be better than both of them, but name any other team, and I can think of some reasons why they might not be as good as Indy or New England.

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by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 10:41pm

re60
You are riht. Vikings are not good. They will sturggle to win 8 games. They should be 7-9 if everything goes well. Lets see Adrian Peterson and a couople good lineman, nothing else on offense is good. C Taylor good backup, but he's just a backup so can't get excited.
defense alright but not on top level of league like Giants, Raiders, Packers, Titans, Bucs, and a couple other pmes.

for those counting at home, I am drinking a root beer with a brandy called Raynal mixed in.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 2:18am

jimm, they start the year lacking depth on the defensive line, and Mckinnie could get eight games. Factor in that they are a uniquely one dimensional team, absent some big strides at qb, and I could see them losing to less efficient teams more than one would expect.

A big draft and huge improvement by Jackson changes things, but that is entirely unpredictable.

Raiderjoe, the fact that you are agreeing with me gives me quite a bit of hope. Thank you.

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by nat (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 8:30am

55:
Not bad at all. I like your Eagles pick - plausible but sure to tick off Cowboys and Giants fans.

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by Boesy (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:04am

Re: 60

Let's all remember Will's prediction going into the 2007 season...6 wins! There's hope for Vikings fans everywhere!!

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 11:32am

Hey, Boesy, I picked six wins last year too, and was happily surprised. If you would have told me that Adrian Peterson would turn out the way he did, of course, I would have predicted more wins. This year, I could be surprised by a rookie again or by Tavaris Jackson, but those matters are unforseeable. Who knows? Maybe they'll draft an edge rusher who plays at a near Pro Bowl level, Tavaris jackson we'll be an above-average qb, and they'll win ten games. Doesn't seem likely, though.

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by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 11:49am

It looks to me like six wins is the most likely outcome for the Vikings. Maybe seven. If Tavaris Jackson makes huge strides, a lot of things change, but I don’t see much reason to expect that to happen.

Come on, Will, Tavaris Jackson was (astonishingly) a replacement level passer last year. In fact, the Vikings had three QBs that were above replacement last year. Who would've believed that at the beginning of the season?

But seriously, they'll win more than 6 games. So they have a gaping black hole at QB. Big deal. That was true last season, and they still won 8 games.

Factor in that they are a uniquely one dimensional team, absent some big strides at qb, and I could see them losing to less efficient teams more than one would expect.

Yes, but they might win against more efficient teams to offset that. I mean, last season they beat 2 teams that made it to conference championship games (including the Super Bowl champion), by 14+ points.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 3:52pm

Alex, you really have to be careful when employing even advanced stats, in regards to individual performance. Jackson was a replacement level passer with defenses commonly putting eight, and sometimes nine or even ten guys in the box, to stop the Vikings running game. This is not an endorsement of Tavaris Jackson's passing skills. Look, he could make big strides. Then again, he could just as easily not make such strides, or even regress. There is no way on earth for you and I to know with anything approaching confidence.

Yes, they won eight games last year, against what will likely prove to be a much weaker schedule. They have less depth now at defensive line, and they could easily be missing their starting left offensive tackle for eight games. Sure enough, they stand to be improved at wide receiver, but that just brings us back to the qb question.

Now, on the other hand, I just read that Jared Allen is visiting Minnesota today, and the rumoured asking price is the Vikings' 1st and 2nd round picks. If they can build some drinking behavior bonuses into the contract, I'd say the Vikings should pull the trigger, because a dominant edge pass rusher who can command a double team would change everything for their defense and their offense.

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by jimm (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 4:44pm

Will - rumours of the Vikings trading for Jared Allen certainly could fill a huge hole on defence. I have high hopes for Ray Edwards - I thought he was by far their best defensive end last year in the 12 games he played. He's still only 23 years old. Many players are just entering the draft at his age.

Although, Jared Allen doesn't exactly fit the "character" requirements Childress has preached.

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by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 10:45pm

If that trade is on the table, the Vikings should definitely pull the trigger. The only way it makes sense for the Chiefs is if Long (or possibly Gholston, though he's a less good fit for their defense) is on the board at #5. I guess if the Raiders take McFadden it could happen.

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by UTvikefan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/21/2008 - 5:19am

I DO hope they pull the trigger on Allen. As bad as I want Childress and his KAO outta MN....I have to say he HAS to know QB's more than you, me, or DVOA. Nice to have Vikes fans on board, even if, they are pessimistic.