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2013 NFL Season: Ranking the schedules from most watchable to Browns

I looked at all 32 team schedules and decided which teams had more watchable games than others. (Thankfully the offseason is almost over.)

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People watching stuff
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

I think that one of the most underrated aspects of football, or any sport, is strength of schedule. Analysts on TV don't even talk about it. Why wouldn't they talk about it?

It might be because it's something that so dramatically effects the outcome of the season that they know it almost cheapens the results. It makes winning the Super Bowl seem like less of an accomplishment because frankly the Ravens were not the best team in the NFL last year. They might not have been one of the six best teams in the NFL. Fair is fair though, they beat the Colts, Broncos, and Patriots to get there and that's good enough for me.

But if they played in the NFC, the Ravens would have finished 8-8 at best. They went 2-2 against the NFC East, with a 31-29 win over the Cowboys and a 33-14 win over the Giants, both at home. But they lost to the Eagles and Redskins. The NFC is dramatically better than the AFC right now, despite the Ravens beating the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

That was just San Francisco screwing the rest of us over again.

So I decided to look over every NFL schedule and decide which teams have the most interesting and watchable schedules in the NFL. This is not strength of schedule. It's not because:

- I don't know how to do that

- Others do it better

- It's impossible to tell you which teams are going to be good and bad this year as a fact

We can look back at last season and tell a lot more about the teams than we can to look ahead and say "Oh yeah, the Dolphins suck!" or maybe they don't. I don't know. We haven't played yet. Every year we have teams that had some tricks up their sleeve that blew our frickin' minds when it actually happened and all of a sudden, "Hey the Seahawks are pretty good!"

Not even we saw that coming.

So I ranked the schedules by watchability. I watch a lot of football, not just the Seahawks, so I think I have a fair idea of the other 31 teams. You'll find that the AFC is mostly at the bottom because the AFC is terrible and terrible teams are hard to watch. No matter who the Browns play, they're still the Browns themselves. I also note how many times a team is on primetime, and you'll notice that on average, NFC teams are on primetime significantly more than AFC teams.

If it wasn't for "one guaranteed primetime game for everybody" they might not have gotten hardly any at all. Thank God we can stick shitty teams on Thursdays!

If you have DirecTV and want to know who to watch a lot of, here is how I ranked 'em:

32. Cleveland Browns

Primetime: 1

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 8 at Kansas City (The Fair Fight Bowl)

Summation: "Thank God we get football on Thursday nights!"

*Sees Week 5 schedule of Bills vs Browns*


31. Oakland Raiders

Primetime: 1

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 8 vs Pittsburgh (They Were Cool In The Seventies Bowl)

Summation: The Raiders obviously have their own difficulties being watchable this season (and the last ten seasons) but they also happen to play in the worst division in football. That means that you get a double-dose of Raiders-Chiefs, plus two shellackings by the Broncos.

Actually, the second one might not be a shellacking -- since it takes place in Week 17, five weeks after the Broncos have clinched the AFC West, it might just be a 'lacking.'

Their most interesting game might turn into one where Dennis Allen gets fired in the middle of the second quarter.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

Primetime: 1

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 1 vs Kansas City (The 2012 Garbage Bowl)

Summation: If you are rooting for the Jaguars and Gus Bradley this season, good luck. In the sense that it would be pretty cool to see them get Teddy Bridgewater or Jadeveon Clowney next year.

The Jaguars play the Seahawks, Broncos, 49ers, and the Texans twice. It would be pretty interesting to see them beat the Colts (they're more than capable) and perhaps games against the Chiefs and Raiders and Cardinals and Browns are enough to get them out of picking first.

And that might not be a good thing.

29. Kansas City Chiefs

Primetime: 1

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 3 at Philadelphia (The Andy Reid Cereal Bowl)

Summation: The Chiefs had three more Pro Bowl players than they did wins. If Jamaal Charles rushes for 1,600 yards and Dwayne Bowe bounces back for 1,500 yards with a new quarterback, then maybe they are watchable but with the number one pick they didn't select a player that gets you excited about Week 1.

There's always next year.

28. Buffalo Bills

Primetime: 1

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 17 at Patriots (The "There Might Be Something To Play For?" Bowl)

Summation: If you believe that Doug Marrone -- the original architect of the Saints offense -- can do the same with Buffalo, then the Bills won't be bad to watch.

But Kevin Kolb and E.J. Manuel are not Drew Brees. Stevie Johnson is not Marques Colston. Scott Chandler is not Jimmy Graham. Delivery is not Digiorno's.

The reason I picked Week 17 is because the Patriots are watchable and by Week 17 the Bills might be past throwing out the kitchen sink and they're throwing shit out there that you've never even heard of. Like this is how snozzberries were invented. "We don't have anything left coach!"

"Make shit up!"

27. New York Jets

Primetime: 2

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 13 vs Miami (One Of Us Might Be Fired Bowl)

Summation: I actually don't think that Joe Philbin is in much danger of being fired, but Rex Ryan sure is. The Jets though have a decent chance of making the playoffs, just like most teams in the AFC, but they have a rather soft schedule and could be in that 9-7, 10-6 range going into Week 13 against the Dolphins.

Then their remaining schedule is Raiders, Panthers, Browns, Dolphins to close out the year.

But if Mark Sanchez isn't the quarterback, they're more watchable and since Darrelle Revis is no longer there, the opposing quarterback is also more watchable.

26. Arizona Cardinals

Primetime: 1

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 1 vs St. Louis (The First Step To Third Place Bowl)

Summation: A lot of people are making the argument that the Cardinals and Rams are neck-and-neck, which might be true, but clearly the NFL has taken sides.

Because the Cards got stuck on Thursday night against the Seahawks in their one primetime game, while the Rams perform in front a live national audience twice this year.

At least they have Carson Palmer, because he made the Raiders super watchable last season.

25. Tennessee Titans

Primetime: 1

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 1 at Pittsburgh (The Last Chance To See Jake Locker Bowl)

Summation: If you know what to make of the Titans, please tell the rest of us.

Despite there being a slew of terrible defenses last year, nobody gave up more points than Tennessee. If they played in any NFC division they might have gone 1-15, but in the AFC they are playoff contenders. But with Chris Johnson doing the Chris Johnson thing and Jake Locker purposely getting hurt because he enjoys the "Hurt Locker" irony, the Titans are a sleeper for number one pick in 2014.

Even if they do play the Jaguars and Colts twice. (And yeah, the Colts are still not going to be "for real" good.)

24. Miami Dolphins

Primetime: 3

2012 Playoff Teams: 6

Best Game: Week 10 at Tampa Bay on Monday Night (Which Team Is Florida Going To Give A Shit About This Year Bowl)

Summation: The NFL must be a believer because the Dolphins snagged three primetime games this year despite losing Reggie Bush, the most high-profile player on the team.

But Cameron Wake is arguably the best pass-rusher in the NFL (Football Outsiders has rated him as such in each of the last three years, yes over the guys you are thinking about right now) and even if he's only catching half of his targets, Mike Wallace is twice as exciting to watch as Davone Bess.

You would have thought that on his birth certificate that autocorrect would have caught "Davone Bess" as a typo.

(That was so mean. I'm so sorry Davone Bess.)

23. St. Louis Rams

Primetime: 2

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 4 vs San Francisco on Thursday Night (The Something-Something-and-1 Bowl)

Summation: Maybe they are better. Maybe they are a playoff contender. But there was no way that you were walking into the Seahawks season last year and thinking "Oh yeah, this is soon going to be the most watchable team in football!"

You've got to go out there and prove it and even at almost-500 last year the Rams aren't all that good to watch.

They've lost some of their most watchable players like Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola, so even though I'm very intrigued by Tavon Austin... Prove it.

22. San Diego Chargers

Primetime: 3

2012 Playoff Teams: 6

Best Game: Week 1 vs Texans on Monday Night (The Finally Post-Norv(!!!!) Bowl)

Summation: The Chargers fired Norv Turner!!

Turner kept the Chargers watchable for awhile but ultimately they spent too much time enjoying the San Diego sun in the first two months of the year and losing before finally turning it on in November every season. The new coaching staff is very interesting though.

Head coach Mike McCoy was the Broncos offensive coordinator. Ken Whisenhunt is the new offensive coordinator for San Diego. And John Pagano, brother of Chuck, is the defensive coordinator. They also drafted Manti Te'o, who apparently also has a friend that is "the best and coolest football player in the world and he will soon come and sign with the Chargers and lead us to a Super Bowl no you can't meet him he'll be here next week oh he cancelled for next week but he says he will be here for Thanksgiving oh no it looks like his grandmother got sick that day shucks he'll be here soon though I promise."

21. Detroit Lions

Primetime: 1

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 15 vs Baltimore on Monday Night (The NFC Is Still Way Better Than The AFC Bowl)

Summation: And I'm not even entirely comfortable with having the Lions this low. You've got Calvin Johnson, a quarterback that's going to throw for 5,000 yards, Ndamukong Suh, Ezekiel Ansah, and a secondary that makes for a lot of interesting comebacks for the opposing team.

But the Lions were very unlucky last year and could have gone anywhere from how they finished at 4-12, to possibly 8-8 or better.

It's really tough to predict how they'll finish this year, because if they played in the AFC East, I think they'd win 11 or 12 games. But they don't. They're still going to be fun to watch.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 4 "at" Vikings in London (The... Well, It's The London Bowl)

Summation: I'm still not one hundred percent sure how I feel about the London game. It's really throwing a wrench into two teams seasons, but then I also wonder about how long it will be until the NFL puts a team overseas. Not if but when.

Think about how professional sports used to only take place on the east coast not too long ago. Then expanding into Canada. It's all about money and the NFL looks at London and sees eight million potential new fans. All of these games taking place in the UK are only the precursor to having a team there and whether or not that team is the Jaguars is irrelevant, it's going to happen. I don't know if you go from 32 teams to 34 teams when the current structure is just so perfect, but "tradition" or anything else comes seventeen steps are "money money money money I got the money. I got the monnnnay."

(I don't want to talk about the Steelers.)

19. New York Giants

Primetime: 5

2012 Playoff Teams: 6

Best Game: Week 6 at Chicago on Thursday Night (The Punchable Face QBs Bowl)

Summation: Am I only ranking the Giants this high because the NFL jams them down our throats this year?


Victor Cruz is fun to watch play, but is anybody else on the Giants worth it? David Wilson could have a big year and all, but Jason Pierre-Paul only had 6.5 sacks last year. Did you realize that Stevie Brown had 307 interception return yards last year?

Who the hell is Stevie Brown?

18. Philadelphia Eagles

Primetime: 2

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 1 at Washington on Monday Night (The RG3 "Goes Back To College" Bowl)

Summation: I don't hide the fact that I am excited to see Chip Kelly run an NFL team, and it's obvious why he chose Philadelphia. I don't know if it's going to translate to more than 4 wins but there's a reason that a 4-12 team is 18th on this list and has two primetime games.

Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Chip Kelly, Bryce Brown, and then you either have to have an amazing defense or a terrible defense.

The Eagles have the latter. It's too bad Jeremy Maclin is out for the year.

17. Dallas Cowboys

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 10 at New Orleans on Sunday Night (The Shit Or Get Off The Pot Bowl)

Summation: I have taken the "bold" move of calling the 2013 Dallas Cowboys the disaster of the season. At least a disaster in the minds of those that think that Dallas is on the verge of returning to the playoffs and then some, but I am not one of those people.

They used their first round pick on a center. They have no depth behind DeMarco Murray, and he's not reliably healthy. They have no depth behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Jason Witten and Tony Romo are not gonna be! forever young. The defense was pretty terrible last year.

However, if they do make the playoffs, it will be because they have a schedule that includes the AFC West and two of their five games against 2012 playoff teams are the Redskins, a team I hardly trust to repeat.

But Bryant is one hell of an exciting player.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Primetime: 2

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 1 at the New York Jets (The Revis Bowl)

Summation: The Bucs haven't been the playoffs since 2007, but year-in and year-out you never know when they're going to just show up. It's like if someone erased all of your contacts and you just were able to look at the phone numbers and you got a text from some phone number (because you don't know anyone's phone number anymore) and it says:

"Hey sexy, miss you! xoxo"

And you're thinking "Shit, is this that girl I met last night, or is this the crazy chick from work that I stupidly gave my number to that one time that randomly tries this shit?"

Are you responding to that text? Are you taking the chance? What can of worms are you opening?!

That's the Bucs.

15. Baltimore Ravens

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 17 at Cincinnati (The AFC North Championship)

Summation: I'm not even saying that the Ravens are going to be bad, but watchable? Even the NFL didn't give the Super Bowl champions as many primetime games as the Giants.

Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith, Ray Rice, Ed Dickson, Jacoby Jones are still here on offense. Anquan Boldin is gone, Dennis Pitta is on IR.

Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger are gone. They spent six picks on defense, and their offensive picks were a fullback, two tackles, and a wide receiver in the seventh round. And they play in the AFC.

More like Super Bore champions, amirite?

14. Minnesota Vikings

Primetime: 3

2012 Playoff Teams: 6

Best Game: Week 4 against Pittsburgh in London (The Game Across The Ponder Bowl)

Summation: If you are a Vikings fan that comments here a lot, my apologies. I don't think that the Vikings are going to win more than eight games this year.

They're only in the top twenty because of Adrian Peterson. If he goes out, then what? Christian Ponder? Christian f$%&#ing Ponder? And Cordarrelle Patterson? And Joe Webb?

This was not a great draft to have three late first round picks in compared to most other drafts, and the Vikings didn't have a second or a third round pick.

13. Chicago Bears

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 9 at Green Bay on Monday Night (The "You Get The Idea" Bowl)

Summation: On the other hand, I would think that the Bears compete for the playoffs again. They were the only team to win 10 games and not make the playoffs. If they had faced Minnesota in the playoffs, I think they would have destroyed them. Best defense in the NFL, probably only got better with the loss of Brian Urlacher.

And they hired an offensive-minded coach for the first time since Mike Ditka over 30 years ago. It's the Packers and the Bears on Monday Night.

You get the idea.

12. Cincinnati Bengals

Primetime: 3

2012 Playoff Teams: 6

Best Game: Week 15 at Pittsburgh on Sunday Night (The Prove It Bowl)

Summation: The Bengals are not a very good sell right now because they are the Bengals, but I'm still picking them to make the AFC Championship game. Everything they've done over the last few years has been right, but in order to prove that they're finally not the same old Bengals, they need to win three out of four games against the Ravens and Steelers.

They're going to be a much easier sell in 2014 after they finish up Hard Knocks this year (What's a redhead like in real life?!?!) and win the AFC North.

11. Carolina Panthers

Primetime: 2

2012 Playoff Teams: 6

Best Game: Week 10 at San Francisco (The "We Will Always Associate Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick" Bowl)

Summation: Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick are both better versions of Michael Vick because they can throw the football and they can run the shit out of that football too. And yeah, they are also black quarterbacks but that's besides the point.

I think someone on TV once convinced me that Newton compares favorably to Ben Roethlisberger and I thought "Yeah, hmm, they are both big quarterbacks!" but that is total bullshit. It was a PC way to compare Newton to someone besides another black quarterback. Roethlisberger has run for 1,036 yards and 14 touchdowns in his entire career.

Newton has run for 1,447 yards and 22 touchdowns in the last two years.

Kaepernick is a better passer, Newton is much more intimidating to try and tackle on the run, but we're talking about fairly similar players. We don't have to be afraid to compare them just because we think it might make us seem like we're doing a "racial thing" by doing it.

I'd pay to see both of them play, but in this case you get two for the price of one.

10. Indianapolis Colts

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 6

Best Game: Week 5 against Seattle (The "Prove You're Better Than Russell, Really" Bowl)

Summation: Luck won't be able to prove he's better than Russell in Week 5. But the only reason is because Luck has to face the Seattle defense and Wilson gets to face the Colts defense.

That's the difference between "has" and "gets."

If there's ever a good conspiracy theory, it's "Why do the Colts always seem to wind up in fortunate draft situations?"

They drafted John Elways first overall, but that didn't work out. They drafted Jeff George first overall, but that didn't work out. Then they got Peyton Manning, then boop Andrew Luck falls into your lap.

What I find interesting is that between 1965 and 1989, there were four Hall of Fame quarterbacks drafted first overall: Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Elway, and Troy Aikman. But 14 quarterbacks have been taken first overall since 1990 and they're mostly bad or disappointing, except for Manning, Eli Manning (because of the rings), and then Matthew Stafford, Newton... it's a mixed bag. But if you had to guess the two quarterbacks that were the best top picks since 1990, I'd go with Manning and Luck.

Those tricky bastards.

9. Denver Broncos

Primetime: 5

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 7 at Indianapolis on Sunday Night (The "I Have To Tell You? Really??" Bowl)

Summation: Manning and Luck.

Why are the Colts Broncos, the best team in the AFC, so low? Because the AFC is terrible, haven't you been listening? And the AFC West is the absolute worst. This is gonna be the most ho-hum 13-3 season in NFL history.

8. New Orleans Saints

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 6 at New England (The Kraft Fight Defense Bowl)

Summation: I don't know what to make of the Saints either. They're absolutely the worst on defense but damn, how can you not want to watch Drew Brees?

When the Seahawks were unwatchable between 2008 and 2011, I probably got more pleasure watching the Saints play because Brees is just beautiful out there. I especially liked watching them in the 2010 playoffs. But this team is either going to go 3-13 and draft Clowney or 13-3 by outscoring every team 45-44.

7. Washington Redskins

Primetime: 5

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 13 against the Giants (The "You Might Be Sick Of Washington By Now" Bowl)

Summation: Immersed in RG3Mania, the Redskins are on national TV five times, including three times in four weeks starting Week 10 against the Vikings and ending in Week 13 against the Giants. They also open the season on Monday Night against the Eagles, and play the Cowboys on Sunday Night in Week 6.

Which begs to ask the question: If the most-watched knee in America goes down again, who is ready for a healthy dose of kissing Cousins?

6. Houston Texans

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 16 against Denver (The Which Is The Best Of The Worst Bowl)

Summation: I've personally rooted for the Texans since 2002, but shit or get off the pot already. I hope J.J. Watt has an insurance policy because now that he's taken the throne as "Best Texans Defender" he's on red alert for IR Watch.

They need to get after it and rookie DeAndre Hopkins should finally give the Texans more than one receiver worth watching.

5. Atlanta Falcons

Primetime: 5

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 4 against New England on Sunday Night (The "Super Bowl Preview" Of Two Teams That Likely Aren't Quite Good Enough Bowl)

Summation: People might call the Falcons and Patriots two teams that could meet in the Super Bowl, but I see two exciting teams with important flaws. Not that they couldn't, the Falcons have the best shot at the number one seed again because their out-of-division schedule includes the Rams, Dolphins, Jets, Cardinals, Bills...

You hear that "number one team in division faces number one team in another division" on the schedule every year, which is true, but what you don't hear is "number one team doesn't have to face themselves twice!" which is why the Falcons only play five teams that made the playoffs from a year ago.

The AFC South is difficult, but with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez, and Steven Jackson, the Falcons are still the best and most watchable.

4. San Francisco 49ers

Primetime: 5

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 14 against Seattle (The NFC West Championship)

Summation: Are people complaining that the 49ers schedule is too easy?

They open their first five games against: Packers, at Seattle, Colts, at Rams, Texans. They play the Redskins, Saints, Buccaneers, and Falcons... The most interesting thing will be seeing how they bounce back from the loss of Michael Crabtree, because if anything happened to Boldin, holy shit A.J. Jenkins and Ricardo Lockette are starting.

But Kaepernick is still one of the most interesting players to watch play. Sorry.

3. Seattle Seahawks

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 6

Best Game: Week 14 at San Francisco (Yep, This One Matters Bowl)

Summation: See, the Seahawks play one fewer playoff team from a year ago. Yeah, they play "early" on the east coast boohoo.

Why are the Seahawks third and not first? I don't know man, you take lists too seriously. Everyone's personal list is always going to have their favorite team first... obviously. I'm trying to be arbitrary here.

2. Green Bay Packers

Primetime: 4

2012 Playoff Teams: 7

Best Game: Week 13 at Detroit (The "I Can't Wait For Football To Start So That I Can Stop Being Forced To Talk To My Uncle Once Per Year At Thanksgiving" Bowl)

Summation: Motherfuckers act like they forgot about Bay.

Aaron Rodgers is now the most watchable player in football. I think it's interesting that we want to watch players that make the game look effortless, but we want to root for players that seem to put forth the most effort.

Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, James Jones, Eddie Lacy... And the schedule is damn interesting too.

The Packers play the 49ers, Redskins, Bengals, Lions, Ravens, Vikings, Bears, Eagles, Giants, Falcons, Cowboys, and Steelers. If they come out of this season 11-5 again, they might be the Super Bowl favorites.

1. New England Patriots

Primetime: 5

2012 Playoff Teams: 5

Best Game: Week 16 at the Ravens on Sunday Night (The Walking On Eggshells Bowl)

Summation: Fuck it, I don't care what you say about me, I'm wrapped up in the drama of New England and I'm not just talking about their summer vacation. The Patriots have been the most interesting team in football since 2001 and even though that window is closing faster than Bill Belichick's hoodie in a 5 degree weather, it's still open at the moment.

- Who the fuck is going to catch passes from perhaps the best quarterback of all-time? Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Woodhead, are all gone. Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman are hurt. The leading returning receiver in Week 1 might be running back Shane Vereen and his 149 yards of a year ago.

- Tim Tebow is here now? And he's still a quarterback? What I wouldn't give to see what would happen if Brady went down after 11 passes again and Tebow beat out Ryan Mallett to quarterback the Patriots. Shit, I would root for them because I'm human and how weird would that be?

- Are the Patriots even a playoff team this year? The most interesting thing about them is that they are probably are, but there is a lot of mystery surrounding a team that will rely heavily on rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, or 2012 injury cases like Jake Ballard and Danny Amendola. The team you see in Week 1 is going to look a lot different than the team you last saw, and the team you see in Week 10 of this year could look a lot different than the one you see in Week 1.

The Pats play the Falcons, Bengals, Saints, Steelers, Panthers, Broncos, Texans, and Ravens. I'd even tune in to see them play the Browns. I'm fascinated by the pageantry and curious as to the results. If the Dolphins won the East this year, it would surprise me, but it wouldn't "holy shit!" surprise me.

Yep, I put the Patriots at number one on a list on a Seahawks blog. U Mad Bro?

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