The NFL released the 2015 regular season schedule, which means there is plenty of analysis to happen. And with a week remaining until the NFL Draft, we've got time to fill!
We'll have plenty of angles on this, but as we did last year, I thought I'd provide a table comparing the NFC West schedules. Here is a rundown of schedules for the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams. Each link is to the article at the respective SB Nation blog.
|Week||49ers schedule||Seahawks schedule||Cardinals schedule||Rams schedule|
|1||vs. Vikings (MNF)||@ Rams||vs. Saints||vs. Seahawks|
|2||@ Steelers||@ Packers||@ Bears||@ Washington|
|3||@ Cardinals||vs. Bears||vs. 49ers||vs. Steelers|
|4||vs. Packers||vs. Lions (MNF)||vs. Rams||@ Cardinals|
|5||@ Giants||@ Bengals||@ Lions||@ Packers|
|6||vs. Ravens||vs. Panthers||@ Steelers||BYE|
|7||vs. Seahawks (TNF)||@ 49ers (TNF)||vs. Ravens (MNF)||vs. Browns|
|8||@ Rams||@ Cowboys||@ browns||vs. 49ers|
|9||vs. Falcons||BYE||BYE||@ Vikings|
|10||BYE||vs. Cardinals||@ Seahawks||vs. Bears|
|11||@ Seahawks||vs. 49ers||vs. Bengals||@ Ravens|
|12||vs. Cardinals||vs. Steelers||@ 49ers||@ Bengals|
|13||@ Bears||@ Vikings||@ Rams||vs. Cardinals|
|14||@ Browns||@ Ravens||vs. Vikings (TNF)||vs. Lions|
|15||vs. Bengals||vs. Browns||@ Eagles||vs. Bucs (TNF)|
|16||@ Lions||vs. Rams||vs. Packers||@ Seahawks|
|17||vs. Rams||@ Cardinals||vs. Seahawks||@ 49ers|
Plenty is going to change between now and Week 1, and plenty more will change once the season gets going. With that in mind, our easiest task might just be looking at the September games. The NFL will get through three weeks of football by the time September comes to a close. There will be injuries and breakout performances during that time, and they will dramatically affect the rest of the season. For now though, those first three games provide each team with a chance to get out of the gate strong.
The 49ers and Seahawks have to travel twice during that opening stretch, the schedule-makers did neither any favors. The 49ers host an improved Vikings squad (albeit with questions about AP), and then go on the road to face the always tough Steelers, and the much improved Cardinals. The Seahawks travel to face the Rams and Packers, and then host the Bears. The Rams are always tough at home, and seem to give the Seahawks a particularly tough time at the Edward Jones Dome.
The Cardinals and Rams both get two home games, and all three are winnable for each. That's not to say the 49ers and Seahawks don't have early winnable games. But I have to say, I would not be entirely shocked if the Rams had some kind of hold on first place after the first three weeks. That defense is improved, and maybe they can get some consistent QB play from Nick Foles.
It is interesting to note that none of the four teams has more than two-straight road games at any point in the season. The Seahawks and Rams both get three straight home games at one point in the season, while the 49ers and Cardinals never get more than two in a row at home.
The Rams get the early bye in Week 6. The Seahawks and Cardinals have a bye in Week 9. The 49ers bring up the rear with a bye in Week 10. It is too early to really make much of the bye weeks. Injuries will tell us more about those timelines.
Finally, the Seahawks and Rams both finish with back-to-back divisional games. On the other hand, the 49ers and Cardinals get a Week 17 divisional game, but are out of the division prior to that. The 49ers and Seahawks are the only NFC West matchup on Thursday Night Football.
What do you think of the four divisional schedules? Does one jump out as hardest or easiest?