I think no matter how the schedule broke, people would be crying conspiracy or declaring the season lost. That was certainly the sentiment I got reading the initial reaction posts. I felt the need to write this post as a dose of reality to those naysayers. Take a deep breath, look closely, and you should realize this is a VERY generous schedule for us. To be clear, this post is only dealing with the scheduling of the games, not the opponents themselves (those have been known since January and are what they are).
Click past the jump to see the reasons why we should consider ourselves fortunate.
1) No prime time road games
This is a big benefit. Yes, we won last year in SD, and we've won our share of road night games (and lost our share of home night games) in the past, but there's no doubt that, in general, going on the road for a night game is a huge disadvantage.
2) Virtually no cold weather games
This is huge for a west coast team. The closest we come to cold weather games are Nov. 11 @ Baltimore and Nov. 25 @ Cincinnati (unless you want to count Oct 28 @ KC, but that's quite a stretch). Plus, both the Baltimore and Cincinnati games are at 1:00, so they'll be over before nightfall. I really think that was one of the least talked about parts of the Carson Palmer trade: that he was a west coast boy who never felt comfortable playing in cold weather.
3) Only one pure back-to-back road game stretch (not including the road-bye-road stretch)
Compare that two two for SD and KC and three for Denver (and three for us last year). The fact that we have a completely new coaching staff means that we are a fragile team; we're not ready for grueling road stretches. Even better is the fact that the only true back to back road games are at the end of the year, after we've gotten our feet wet. Yes, you always want to close out at home, but those 2 games are very winnable: @Carolina (hardly a home powerhouse, and hopefully out of contention by then), and @SD (always a near home game for us, especially if we're in the hunt). Also, we're not switching time zones for the second game.
Yes, I acknowledge the shortcomings of the schedule (east coast game right after MNF opener, 2 games in a row on road to close season, early bye), but I think those are FAR less important than the three mentioned above. I'm still convinced this will be a rebuilding year (out of salary cap necessity, no fault of the seemingly genius McKenzie), but that doesn't mean we can't make the playoffs at 10-6 with good play and a little luck. This schedule will go a long way to helping us get there.