Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.
San Diego Chargers 2012 Schedule:
Week 1: at Oakland (Mon.)
Week 2: Tennessee
Week 3: Atlanta
Week 4: at Kansas City
Week 5: at New Orleans
Week 6: Denver (Mon.)
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: at Cleveland
Week 9: Kansas City (Thur.)
Week 10: at Tampa Bay
Week 11: at Denver
Week 12: Baltimore
Week 13: Cincinnati
Week 14: at Pittsburgh
Week 15: Carolina
Week 16: at New York Jets
Week 17: Oakland
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- Fans have to go back to 2007 to find the last time that Week 1 of the NFL season didn’t end with an AFC West Monday night divisional showdown. The Chargers will begin the season on primetime TV as the second Monday night game by visiting the Raiders. As a fan without a dog in the hunt, I am a huge proponent of the late night West Coast divisional battles to wrap-up the season’s first weekend. The last three have been decided by one touchdown or less with a grand total of 14 points separating victory from defeat.
- The off week is located in Week 7 and should provide a nice respite from the relatively tough first six weeks of the season — that will feature Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Carson Palmer. However, after resting up, the Chargers should make a big playoff push over the next three weeks. Cleveland, Kansas City — which will feature short rest on a Thursday — and Tampa Bay provide the easiest three-game stretch of the year.
- The divisional slate will be fun to watch this year, and not simply because the AFC West could be wide open. San Diego will play five of its first 11 games within the division — three of which won’t be played on a Sunday. The Chargers will wrap-up the year with a home division game with the Raiders.
- The AFC North will be the AFC round-robin for the Bolts this season. Not an easy draw. A road trip to Cleveland isn’t daunting following the bye week, but three straight games against AFC North playoff teams will be. From Week 12 to Week 14, the Super Chargers will play three Super Bowl contenders in Baltimore, Cincinnati and at Pittsburgh — an odd scheduling twist. Having to visit fellow AFC foes Pittsburgh and New York in the final four weeks of the year won’t be easy.
- There are much worse divisions to face from the NFC than the South (like the North or the East). And the Chargers will get the two tough tests — Atlanta and at New Orleans — out of the way within the first five weeks of the season. This give the Bolts Tampa Bay and Carolina for the second half of the season.
- The home-road schedule doesn’t offer any unique scheduling twists for the Bolts. There are only four truly lengthy trips across the country — at Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and New York. Road games at Denver, Kansas City, Oakland and New Orleans are not as long as the others. And the final playoff push could provide some home-cooking for Norv Turner and Company. Four of the final six games will come at home, including potential wild card showdowns against Baltimore, Cincinnati and Oakland.
- The two floating games for San Diego fit their level of expectation perfectly. While a team like Baltimore must face New England and Houston and a team like the Colts must face Kansas City and Cleveland. Getting the Titans and Jets, two teams that missed the playoffs but were in contention late in 2011, provides appropriate wild card competition for a team like San Diego.
Fantasy Focus: Philip Rivers turned the ball over entirely too much a year ago and fans can bet he won't play nearly as poorly in 2012. And the start to his schedule helps. While there are some potentially "okay" fantasy defenses on the schedule (Tennessee, Denver), the first nine games of the year provide plenty of "must-start" situations for Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Antonio Gates, etc. All Chargers might be moving up my draft board.
- By Braden Gall
2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis: