The NFL released the 2013 schedule this evening, and it provides plenty for us to dissect and analyze. We have a few months before the preseason gets going, so there will be plenty of dissection to be had. In the meantime, we'll take a look at a few tidbits that are of note on the schedule.
The 49ers return to prominence has gotten them out of too many of the dreaded 10:00 a.m. PT starts. As a West Coast team, 1:00 p.m. ET kickoffs result in some early game times. Although the 49ers have done a good job with those games under Jim Harbaugh, the fewer early starts, the better. Last season, the 49ers had three such starts against the Vikings, Jets and Rams. This season, the 49ers have two of them, against the Jaguars and Buccaneers. The Jaguars game is in London, so the 10:00 a.m. issue can be brushed aside for the most part. Both teams will be dealing with jet-lag and whatnot on that trip.
Speaking of London, the 49ers will be flying out of Nashville the week before, facing the Titans on the road. That is followed by a Week 9 bye, setting up a pretty loaded stretch the final two months. The good news though, is the team avoids any extensive road trips. They have back-to-back road games twice. We know they'll travel on to London from Nashville, but I am curious how they will handle their November road trip at New Orleans and at Washington in Week 11 and 12. They do get an extra day since the Redskins game is on Monday Night Football, so maybe they'll elect to fly back west between games.
Speaking of the Redskins on Monday Night Football. Having relocated out here to Washington, DC, I'm excited to see the 49ers come to town. I'll definitely have to work on MNF tickets for Kap vs. RGIII!
That closing couple of months has the potential to be a tough test for this 49ers team. They are facing teams with a mixed bag of records in 2012, but all those teams could be improved (for the bad teams), or at least as good as last year (for the good teams). The 49ers can win plenty of these games, but it strikes me as a potentially tough gauntlet on the road to the playoffs. The Panthers, Bucs and Saints all finished 7-9 last season, but we know that won't be the same this year. The Saints should be back in stride with Sean Payton back, and the Bucs and Panthers both are talented teams trying to find their way. That could be a sneaky tough stretch.
So, what do you think about this schedule? Any road games you might try and get to? I need to plan my now annual football season trip to the Bay Area. I'm incredibly tempted by 49ers-Packers to start the season. Time to start planning.
Week 1: vs. Green Bay Packers - Sunday, September 8, 1:25 p.m. FOX
Week 2: @ Seattle Seahawks - Sunday, September 15, 5:30 p.m. NBC
Week 3: vs. Indianapolis Colts - Sunday, September 22, 1:25 p.m. CBS
Week 4: @ St. Louis Rams - Thursday, September 26, 5:25 p.m. NFL Network
Week 5: vs. Houston Texans - Sunday, October 6, 5:30 p.m. NBC
Week 6: vs. Arizona Cardinals - Sunday, October 13, 1:25 p.m. FOX
Week 7: @ Tennessee Titans - Sunday, October 20, 1:05 p.m. FOX
Week 8: @ Jacksonville Jaguars (in London) - Sunday, October 27, 10:00 a.m. FOX
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: vs. Carolina Panthers - Sunday, November 10, 1:05 p.m. FOX
Week 11: @ New Orleans Saints - Sunday, November 17, 1:25 p.m. FOX
Week 12: @ Washington Redskins - Monday, November 25, 5:40 p.m. ESPN
Week 13: vs. St. Louis Rams - Sunday, December 1, 1:05 p.m. FOX
Week 14: vs. Seattle Seahawks - Sunday, December 8, 1:25 p.m. FOX
Week 15: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sunday, December 15, 10:00 a.m. FOX
Week 16: vs. Atlanta Falcons - Monday, December 23, 5:40 p.m. ESPN
Week 17: @ Arizona Cardinals - Sunday, December 29, 1:25 p.m. FOX