I wanted to post a few thoughts on the release of the 2011 NFL schedule - specifically, the Buffalo Bills' 16-game slate.
- First and foremost, I love that Buffalo is starting the season off in Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills have performed well in Arrowhead over the last several years, the crowd will be absolutely bonkers, and the Chiefs represent kind of the next phase of where the Bills want to be as a franchise - a playoff contender on the cusp of something more. Fantastic, if difficult, way to start the year.
- I'm also quite thrilled that the Bills will get to host the New England Patriots early in the season (Week 3 at The Ralph), rather than visit them as has seemed to be the norm. Buffalo snuck up on the Pats in Week 3 last year after two horrid defeats to start the year; here's hoping that trend continues, or even accelerates.
- The Bills won't be starting 0-8 next year, because they'll get the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. Buffalo hasn't lost to Cincinnati, home or away, since 1988.
- Count me among those glad that it's the Washington Redskins, and not the Philadelphia Eagles, playing in Toronto. The Redskins are boring. The Eagles are not. Plus, it'll be the return of Jason Peters!
- I'm not thrilled about the fact that the Bills follow up a three-game road stretch in November with three home games in December. The Bills haven't been to the playoffs in 11 years, and in the (likely) event that they're out of the playoff race again by the end of November, those last three games are going to be extraordinarily difficult for the team to sell out. It'd have been nice to see the season front-loaded a bit with home games to try to work around that issue - but I'm betting on more blackouts next year.
- Speaking of that three-game road stretch, it's definitely the toughest spot on the schedule for Buffalo. Consecutive visits to Dallas, Miami and the Jets are going to be brutal, and they'll be lucky to escape that run with one win, no matter how good or bad the team is.
- On those December home dates: I won't complain at all about getting the Dolphins at home in December. That's when (and where) the Bills are supposed to play Miami for the second time in a given season. Even if the team is struggling, that is a game that Bills fans will probably push hard to sell out.
- The entire NFL, save six exceptions (three games' worth of teams), will be playing Week 16 on Christmas Eve - a Saturday. That includes the Bills, who will host the Denver Broncos. The league scheduled games on that Saturday so that team members and employees could spend Christmas with their families.
- I'm not big on the idea of closing the year with a trip to New England. It's bad if the team stinks, and it's worse if they're miraculously in a playoff race.
|1||9/11/11||1:00||at Kansas City Chiefs||Arrowhead Stadium||CBS|
|2||9/18/11||1:00||OAKLAND RAIDERS||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS|
|3||9/25/11||1:00||NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS|
|4||10/2/11||1:00||at Cincinnati Bengals||Paul Brown Stadium||CBS|
|5||10/9/11||1:00||PHILADELPHIA EAGLES||Ralph Wilson Stadium||FOX|
|6||10/16/11||1:00||at New York Giants||New Meadowlands Stadium||CBS|
|8||10/30/11||4:05||WASHINGTON REDSKINS||Rogers Centre (Toronto)||FOX|
|9||11/6/11||1:00||NEW YORK JETS||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS|
|10||11/13/11||1:00||at Dallas Cowboys||Cowboys Stadium||CBS|
|11||11/20/11||1:00||at Miami Dolphins||Sun Life Stadium||CBS|
|12||11/27/11||1:00||at New York Jets||New Meadowlands Stadium||CBS|
|13||12/4/11||1:00||TENNESSEE TITANS||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS|
|14||12/11/11||4:15||at San Diego Chargers||Qualcomm Stadium||CBS|
|15||12/18/11||1:00||MIAMI DOLPHINS||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS|
|16||12/24/11||1:00||DENVER BRONCOS||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS|
|17||1/1/12||1:00||at New England Patriots||Gillette Stadium||CBS|