The 2021 NFL schedule is out, and everybody’s talking about it. I’m not going to review the games themselves (since we already knew our opponents) but instead how the order of the games ended up playing out.
These don’t really effect the performance on the field, but it’s always nice to see our team on national television. The Chiefs have 5 primetime games, 3 of which are Sunday Night Football which is considered THE primetime game. That’s a lot, as no other team has more than 5 primetime games, reflecting that the Chiefs have firmly established themselves as one of the leagues top teams.
The only complaint is that 3 of those games, and 2 of Sunday Night Football, are on the road. Why the NFL doesn’t want to feature a full capacity Arrowhead Stadium I don’t know.
Thursday Night Football
Everybody hates Thursday games because of the short rest, and that rest (and preparation time) gets shortened further for the road team. So it should be no surprise that road teams do extra poorly on Thursdays.
the single worst scheduling spot is being sent on the road on a short week
teams have a 38.7% win rate since the NFL expanded Thursday night football in 2006 (excluding Thanksgiving games vs DET/DAL)
if they're road underdogs, they win only 26% & cover only 41.8%
brutal spots https://t.co/vaE5OoDLlz
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) May 12, 2021
Unfortunately the Chiefs are going on the road for their Thursday this year. And extra unfortunately that road game is in Los Angeles against the Chargers, who look to have the best chance of unseating the Chiefs within the division. Not to say the Chargers are now favored to win the division, but if things go wrong and it ends up being close this game being on Thursday could be the difference.
When it comes to the bye week, later is generally better as at that point injuries are starting to pile up and the team could use the extra rest. This year the Chiefs’ bye week is week 12, with the latest bye weeks being week 14 and the earliest being week 6, so that’s a relatively good draw.
You also ideally want your bye to come before the Thursday game to give yourself a bit more rest, but we didn’t get lucky there this year.
Back-to-back road games are a big deal in a sport like the NBA, where they’ve been proven to be tougher than regular road games and cause more injuries. In the NFL it’s not so clear (since NFL teams usually return home between games), but it’s still something you’d like to avoid if possible.
Last year the Chiefs got a pretty rough draw in this department, facing both the Saints and Buccaneers on the second game of a road back-to-back. This year we again have two road back-to-backs, but it’s a bit more convenient this time around.
The first is week 7 against Tennessee, who have been good the past couple years but not at the level of the Saints and Bucs.
The second is even better, being the last game of the season in Denver. Not only is it an easy opponent, but there’s a solid chance we’ll be resting starters for that game anyway.
Overall it’s not terrible, but drawing a road Thursday game against the Chargers is rough.