Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NFL schedulers need a flux capacitor


Nobody promotes its product ahead of time like the NFL.

The 2012 regular season NFL schedule was released this week, with the first kick-off featuring the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants on Thursday, September 5. The last time somebody advertised this far in advance, Hollywood ended up with actors much older than their characters - but because it was a movie about a time travelling DeLorean nobody cared.

It's surely an arduous decision locking in the season's initial game, finding the right balance of nationwide appeal, competitiveness, rivalry, and high-caliber cheerleaders. In the current instance, the Giants are the champs, and presumably the Cowboys are in the, er, best position to topple the champs? Sure, there's a rivalry here but who are we kidding? I'd rather see Calvin take on Hobbs on opening night.

If we run down the first weekend schedule, a couple of other games are decidedly more enticing. For a start, 49ers - Packers, a renewed rivalry with cheese melting potency, will be a cracker, with Aaron Rodgers battling the Niners stout defense, and Alex Smith vying for real credibility following a strong playoffs. Or how about Cam Newton slinging deep balls and wielding spin moves against Josh Freeman and the Bucs? That'll be more compelling than Tony Romo hitting the deck and shoving his shoulder pads back under his jersey every second play.

The Monday nighters feature sexier rivalries than long-legged label touters on the red carpet, despite the fact that both Carson Palmer and Phil Rivers have been about as effective lately as Bobby Valentine in the Red Sox clubhouse. Fried chicken and beer don't look so bad now, right?

Peyton Manning's Broncos play Big Ben's Steelers on the Sunday night, which might even give Megan's party for Don on Mad Men a run for its money, as the best ways to cap off a weekend. Congratulations to the league on that one.


Looking down the list, there are some other regional contests that will appeal to an excitable few, like the Jets and Bills, or the Rams and Detroit - the latter, especially, feels like a matinee must-see. You be the judge.

Sunday, Sept. 9

Colts at Bears, 1 p.m. ET
Jaguars at Vikings, 1 p.m. ET
Bills at Jets, 1 p.m. ET
Dolphins at Texans, 1 p.m. ET
Patriots at Titans, 1 p.m. ET
Rams at Lions, 1 p.m. ET
Redskins at Saints, 1 p.m. ET
Eagles at Browns, 1 p.m. ET
Falcons at Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET
49ers at Packers, 4:15 p.m. ET
Seahawks at Cardinals, 4:15 p.m. ET
Panthers at Buccaneers, 4:15 p.m. ET
Steelers at Broncos, 8:20 p.m. ET

Monday, Sept. 10

Bengals at Ravens, 7 p.m. ET
Chargers at Raiders, 10:15 p.m. ET

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