In light of the probably fake 2012 NFL schedule making the rounds today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the opponents the Chiefs have this season and try to determine which games, if any, will be in primetime.
We know that the Chiefs will have at least one primetime game as the NFL has expanded its Thursday night football schedule to include Thursday all 32 NFL teams. Every team will now play a game televised on NFL Network. If you have Time Warner Cable and live outside of Kansas City, you won’t get to see it.
While we don’t know what order the games will be played in, we do know what teams the Chiefs will be playing. That can give us a clue as to which games might be broadcast nationally.
The NFL tries to keep terrible teams and poor draws off the national stage. There are exceptions of course. The Dallas Cowboys, for instance, could go 0-16 for a decade and they would still get multiple primetime games.
The Chiefs are a popular team but aren’t a big draw like the Cowboys so they need to be competitive to find themselves bathed in the national spotlight. Last year’s 7-9 season could hurt them, however, I think they could project to be good enough to snag an extra primetime game or two.
Let’s look at the possibilities. Here are the teams the Chiefs will play next season:
Raiders, Chargers, Broncos, Steelers, Browns, Ravens, Bengals, Bills, Colts, Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers.
Most Likely Primetime Games
Saints, Falcons, Broncos, Steelers
Any one of these games could land on primetime. The Steelers are always a popular draw, the Saints and the Falcons have been consistently good the last few years and are thus featured quite a bit in primetime. The Broncos now have Peyton Manning and are likely to find themselves on TV quite a bit.
The two most likely here, I think, are the Broncos and Steelers. The Broncos are a division rival and Arrowhead has made two great showings in a row on Monday Night Football. Peyton Manning going to Arrowhead on MNF would give the opportunity for the TV crews to put together a ton of Joe Montana/Elway/Chiefs/Broncos footage to hype up the game.
As for the Steelers, the network’s can bill that as a Todd Haley revenge game. I see that game as more of a Sunday night option, rather than a MNF contest.
Ravens, Raiders, Chargers
These games could also end up in Primetime. The Ravens and the Chiefs have a little history thanks to their 2010 playoff game and the Ravens are always a possibility to be in primetime. Still, I think that game reeks of an early season 1PM eastern game. If the NFL is going to put the Ravens on primetime, they probably want them playing the Steelers or Patriots.
The Raiders and Chargers have to be included for a couple of reasons. The season opener on MNF always features two games and usually the late game features a west coast team. The Chiefs and Chargers put on a good show in 2010 and the Raiders are another popular choice for the NFL. A Chiefs/Raiders matchup would be possible, though I think the NFL is going to try to squeeze Peyton Manning in wherever they can. Saving his debut with the Donkey’s until the last game of the first week of the season would be a nice tension-builder. So while a Chiefs/Broncos or Chiefs/Raiders MNF opener is possible, the NFL would probably go with Raiders/Broncos due to Oakland popularity.
Still, Raiders/Chiefs always has to be considered a possibility.
Not Going To Happen
Browns, Bengals, Colts, Bills, Panthers, Bucs
I just don’t see any of these games being televised nationally. There is a minor possibility that the NFL will want to get Andrew Luck on the big stage once or twice but likely not against the Chiefs. Nobody outside of KC or NY cares about the budding Chiefs/Bills rivalry and despite the fact that the teams seem to play every season, it is usually because they both finished in last place and the games are traditionally awful.
It is possible that one of these games could be the one that ends up in the guaranteed Thursday nigh slot but I doubt it.
The good news is that all six of those games should be pretty winnable for the Chiefs. Winning those six and splitting the division would give KC nine wins.
The Ravens, Saints, Falcons and Steelers are going to be tough. If the Chiefs are truly ready to win a playoff game, they’ll need to show they can hang with those teams.
KC’s schedule will be challenging this year but it doesn’t look to be quite as tough as last year’s gauntlet.
What do you think Addicts? Outside of the one Thursday night game, will the Chiefs see any primetime action?