A Big Night Ahead
The NFL will announce the 2016 regular-season schedule on Thursday night, and it is always an event fraught with anticipation.
Which is just a little bit strange because we already know every team’s opponents for the season ahead. We just don’t know the order of the games.
The NFL matches divisions against each other on a rotating basis and by the end of one season’s Week 17, the following year’s opponents are determined. It’s the dates and times, the sequencing and the travel, that make the announcement dramatic.
Take, for example, the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. They play each team in the AFC West home and away. They’ll play the AFC South teams, two at home and two away. They’ll play the NFC South quartet, two at home and two away. They’ll also get the New England Patriots at home and the Cincinnati Bengals away.
Much of the focus will be on the Kickoff Weekend, when the Broncos debut their current team at home on Thursday, Sept. 8. They could be matched with the Carolina Panthers, whom they defeated in Super Bowl 50. Or how about a tasty meeting with the Houston Texans, who pilfered quarterback-in-waiting Brock Osweiler in free agency? Or even the Patriots, though this won’t be the same with Tom Brady squaring off against someone not named Peyton Manning.
Teams will moan about their bye week (either too early or too late, never just right) or back-to-back trips to either coast, or night games or Thursday nights or playing on Thanksgiving or not playing on Thanksgiving. Too many road games to start the season, or too many road games to end it. There’s just no perfect schedule. Sometimes it seems there are only imperfect schedules designed to make life harsh.
Rest assured that after the whining is over, the teams will get down to business and play everyone in order, from Week One to Week 17. They always do.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman