A Quick Take on Each Team’s Schedule Layout, at First Glance (for Fantasy and Handicapping)…
I went through the schedule order announcement team-by-team to get a quick/gut reaction…and I wrote 32 sets of quick notes (one for each team).
We’re loading the schedules into the system for full analysis, and I’ll have more to say on what The Computer says about the schedule coming up – our Faux 1.0 computer sim season and the first projection adjustments for the schedule order all coming up in the days/weeks ahead.
For now, just a quick-ish first reaction looking at each team’s schedule order for 2021:
Out of the gates with Tennessee and Minnesota is a good thing for the passing game.
Three of the first 4 games on the road is not my favorite thing, but home-away is getting to be more irrelevant except for weather.
In a dome from Week 14 on…good later-season weather avoidance overall.
You don’t want to face WSH-TB-NE-NYG-LAR-BUF-MIA defenses (in no particular order), especially for the passing game. The Falcons drew defenses from that ‘avoid’ group Weeks 2-4…a tough early stretch. Then a Week 6 BYE…then at MIA Week 7. The Falcons schedule is really set up to punch them in the gut/halt the passing game upside right out of the gates – not good for Matt Ryan or Ridley-Julio-Pitts on an upside, unless they garbage time.
Of those six defenses to worry about, Atlanta faces five of them…six times (TB 2x) this season. Not a favorable thing for the Falcons passing game.
Has cold weather/messy weather risks from Week 11-18…not one dome or break in there – all Midwest and Northeast games. Good for the run game…Dobbins, Lamar, Gus.
MIA and WSH defenses Week 2-3…not optimal for Josh Allen out of the gates.
Weather risk (cold and/or messy) Week 13 on except Week 14 at TB.
I do not love this schedule for FF upside in the passing game…not that it will be bad, but that it doesn’t have favorable conditions for an extra push forward.
First three QBs they face to start 2021…rookie debut Zach Wilson, Taysom Hill(?), and Tyrod Taylor. Early contender for stream DST to start the season with.
Remember when I wrote (a few lines ago): You don’t want to face WSH-TB-NE-NYG-LAR-BUF-MIA defenses (in no particular order)? Darnold and friends have 7 matchups with them…all in a 11-game stretch from Week 7 to the end of the season. It’s going to be ugly for Sam and friends, for FF (and wins and losses).
I suspect Andy Dalton will start Week 1 so Justin Fields doesn’t draw @LAR Week 1…and the Chicago v. Cincy Week 2 will be Dalton, and then all bets are off with Dalton getting benched.
The Bears will be in miserable weather risk from Week 13 on except maybe Week 16 at SEA will be decent, but – it’s the Bears, so who cares?
Five of 6 games Weeks 12-17 at home…not good for optimal passing game weather. From Week 12 to the end of the season it is all weather risks/cold…either at Cincy or at DEN Week 15 and at CLE Week 18.
After at KC Week 1, the Browns have three winnable games Weeks 2-4 = HOU, CHI, at MIN. The Browns could get out to a (3-1) start before then start drawing some trouble after that all the rest of the way.
Solid start on the schedule for the offense through Weeks 4-5-6 then it turns much tougher Weeks 7-14.
Remember when I wrote (a few lines ago): You don’t want to face WSH-TB-NE-NYG-LAR-BUF-MIA defenses (in no particular order)? Dak is getting three of them the first 6 games…and then a Week 7 BYE…not a great setup.
WSH-NYG-WSH Weeks 14-16 is not good…and two of them on the road in December.
Mixed bag schedule…OK early and then turns tougher on them 2nd-half.
The Denver-DST gets a good run early on: Dan Jones, then Lawrence, then Z. Wilson (two rookies early), Lamar the first 4 games.
Three theoretical playoff teams right off the bat (SF-GB-BAL), Weeks 1-2-3…a nice (0-3) start looming…but then a decent-ish schedule strength the rest of the way.
Not a great setup later in the season – all cold/sloppy weather worries from Week 12 on: home, BYE, home, at BAL, home, home Weeks 12-17. Not that Aaron Rodgers minds it…but what if he isn’t there?
Without Watson (and with) this is a really bad team, so who really cares about their schedule set up?
I don’t really see anything special to discuss here anyway.
First five games of the season are vs. playoff teams from 2020…not helpful to get the Carson Wentz era off to a fast start.
The 2nd-half of the season looks more prime: from Weeks 8-17 on, Indy plays in a dome eight times in a 9-game stretch.
The way to play Indy assets might be to bypass to start, then acquire on a dip ahead of the Week 6-8 range schedule run.
A favorable first 6 games to start the 2021 season…but the Jags may not be enough of a team to capitalize on it.
An overall soft schedule, a tough nugget part Weeks 8-11 but really advantageous for wins/losses on either side of that – but are they ready?
Master’s of the Week 12 BYE…why is it KC and ARI are back-end BYE week teams again?
Weeks 5-6 vs. BUF-WSH is a rough patch I’d rather not have for my Mahomes or Tyreek or Kelce. Cold weather risk from Week 13-18 with a break Week 15 at LAC, and Midwest and Northeast games otherwise.
Vegas has struggled the past two seasons in the colder weather – a warm weather, now dome team is bound to have trouble adjusting to harsher Midwest weather. Well, the schedule hit them again – at KC, at CLE Weeks 14-15. Washington at home right before that – not an easy late stretch. Overall mixed bag schedule with the nice advantage of 12 dome games on the schedule (but two of them Weeks 16-17).
11 dome games this season, which is nice…but one of them Week 18 at the Raiders. Good for Herbert overall.
Weeks 14-18 all dome games…good for Herbert/LAC late.
At Washington Week 1…I wish it didn’t start that way for Herbert. Weeks 5-8 is not favorable either, for Herbert, with CLE-BAL-BYE-NE defenses.
Dalton-Wentz start…great for the LAR DST. TB-ARI-SEA after that is not as favorable.
Dome (home or away) games Weeks 13-16 is nice.
A Week 14 bye…how weird to see…!
Playing at Miami five of 6 games Weeks 9-15 with a BYE…Week 16 at the Saints, more good weather later in the season. Week 11 at NYJ is their one late weather issue.
A really nice schedule start…the first 6 games are a collection of wobbly secondaries from 2020, who mostly didn’t get better this offseason: at CIN, at ARI, SEA, CLE, DET, at CAR before a Week 7 BYE.
Tough draw…the ‘at’ CHI and GB games got into December, not good for FF upside those weeks (15 and 17).
11 dome games on the schedule this season.
Rough weather outlook Week’s 12-17…home TEN, at BUF, BYE, at IND (good), home BUF, home JAX.
Tua, rookie Zach Wilson, Taysom(?) the first three games of the season – good start for the NE-DST.
Weeks 3-6…at NE, NYG, at WSH, BYE terrible setup for the New Orleans offense early in the FF-season.
Weeks 12-18, NO is either in a dome or playing in Florida for six of their last 7 games of the season.
Not that you’re liking anything NYG offense related, but DEN and then at WSH the first two weeks is a bad start to 2021 for the bad offense.
Darnold-Cam-Teddy-Tannehill isn’t a ‘Murder’s Row’ to start 2021 off with Weeks 1-4. The Jets may get out to a respectable start. The schedule turns too tough in the 2nd-half and will likely prevent NYJ from making it to .500+, but I wouldn’t be 100% shocked if they did get to 8-9 wins.
Weeks 13-17, four home games in a 5-game stretch…not great weather conditions likely to boost the offense/passing game.
SF-KC-TB are three of their first 6 opponents…not good out of the gates for Philly.
Weather concerns/risks from Week 9 to Week 18/rest of the season…all home games or DEN, NY 2x, WSH on the road.
At Buffalo season opener is not a great way to begin for the Steelers offense, but then kinda smooth sailing until Week 13 v. BAL. After Week 1, the Steelers have a great FF run on strength of schedule all the way home except the two BAL games (Weeks 13 and 18) are always tough, but Week 18 isn’t an FF factor for most.
The Steelers are the first schedule I’ve seen, at a glance, going alphabetical order, where I like how it sets up for a long stretch/all season…just the worst game first (at BUF).
The 49ers also have a really nice schedule set up for the offense…their first real challenge is Week 7 vs. IND and then Week 10 LAR and outside of the second Rams game Week 18…this shapes up to be an advantageous schedule for the 49ers.
At DET, at PHI, GB, SEA, at ARI before a Week 6 BYE is a nice opportunity for the offense.
A fairly favorable early season schedule for them/their DST…Wentz-Tannehill-Cousins-Garoppolo, Stafford-Ben-Taysom-Lawrence before their Week 9 bye.
IND Week 1, SF-LAR-PIT Weeks 4-6 could be a rough patch for the offense to fly high.
Three dome road games in the final 5 games of the season.
Brutal travel schedule most of the season… home the first two weeks, then off to the West Coast (ALR Week 3) then all the way to the east coast with NE Week 4, then down the coast home Week 5 then back up the east coast to Philly Week 6, then back down the east coast to home Week 7.
After a Week 9 BYE…up the coast to Washington, back down the coast to home Week 11, over to Indy Week 12, back over east to Atlanta Week 13, home with Buffalo Week 14, Weeks 16-17 at CAR then up to NYJ then back home Week 18. They have to have the most miles travelled on their schedule (ignoring the Euro games).
Weeks 6-10: BUF, KC, at IND, at LAR, NO…a very rough strength of schedule stretch that may wipe them out of winning the division this season.
Facing Justin Herbert Week 1 is not an easy start to the season, and then Josh Allen Week 3 is bad too…and then Patrick Mahomes Week 6, then Aaron Rodgers (maybe) Week 7 – the best defense in the NFL has a horrific first 7 weeks of opponents.