Quite possibly the biggest upset of the 2010 NFL schedule that was announced Tuesday evening came in the season’s first week. That would be the Chiefs making it to a prime-time broadcast.
Lobbying by the Hunt Family convinced the league powers to give the nation a look at the first regular season game in the revamped Arrowhead Stadium. On Monday evening, September 14, the San Diego Chargers will be in town for Game No. 1.
That’s all well and good. Considering the amount of money the Hunts have spent themselves on the renovation of Arrowhead, they have every reason to want to show off the building. Of course one must also take into consideration that the reason Arrowhead became one of the NFL’s most famous stadiums wasn’t the cement and steel, the concourses and the club level.
Arrowhead became an iconic stadium thanks to the crowds that filled the seats in the 1990s and the enthusiasm they brought to watching Chiefs football. Of course that bloom is long off the rose as the team has struggled for the last three years to sellout their home games, just as the team struggled on the field to win games.
The visit by the Chargers on that Monday night will certainly give the Chiefs something to sell to potential ticket buyers. For fans that want to be part of that evening on a single ticket basis, expect to be forced to buy a ticket to the December 19th game against Tennessee as well, or maybe the October 31st Halloween home game against Chan Gailey and his Buffalo Bills.
It’s the first Monday night game at Arrowhead since November 22, 2004 when the Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots. Overall, the Chiefs are 10-7 at home in Monday night games that began in 1970 with the final merger of the leagues. They had four Monday home games in the 1970s, just one in the 1980s, 10 in the 1990s and only two in the 2000s.
The schedule as it came down from the league is neither brutal nor easy in how the games stack together for the Chiefs. We knew before the dates were set the opponents and that included just four games against teams that made the 2009 NFL Playoffs: San Diego and Philip Rivers (above) twice, Indianapolis and Arizona. But Todd Haley and his team have nine games against opponents that won eight games or more: including Houston, San Francisco, Denver and Tennessee.
It’s a tough start with home games against San Diego and a resurgent San Francisco team that finished 8-8 last year. Mixed in are road trips to Indy and Houston, where the Texans finished the ‘09 season at 9-7, along with an early trip to Cleveland.
After three games, the bye week comes and that gives the Chiefs two weeks to prepare for their trip to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Colts. It would be a surprise if Haley and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel didn’t work overtime in those two weeks preparing for Peyton Manning, especially with the help of former Colts guard Ryan Lilja.
In November, the Chiefs visit Denver after the Broncos have their bye week.
There are seven teams in the league that did not get a prime-time performance: Buffalo, Cleveland, Oakland, Detroit, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Seattle. All those teams have selections in the top 10 of the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday.
Despite its 4-12 record last year, Washington has three prime-time games thanks to acquiring head coach Mike Shanahan and QB Donovan McNabb. That includes a visit by the Eagles to the Redskins for a Monday night game on November 15. McNabb returns to Philadelphia on October 3rd.
The league office obviously worked hard to give NBC on Sunday night and then ESPN on Monday night plenty of games with premiere teams. The Jets, Colts, Steelers and Chargers in the AFC and the Cowboys, and Eagles in the NFC have five prime-time games each. The Saints, Vikings, Packers, Giants, 49ers, Ravens and Patriots have four games each.
Here are the highlight games of the week-by-week schedule
- #1: Green Bay at Philadelphia – Kevin Kolb gets opening day start against Dom Capers and Packers D.
- #2: New England at N.Y. Jets – the first of what should be two very good meetings in the AFC East.
- #3: Dallas at Houston – battle of Texas should be a good one if Texans continue improvement.
- #4: Washington at Philadelphia – McNabb returns to south Philly; it will be loud and profane.
- #5: Minnesota at N.Y. Jets – Vikings and Favre (?) hit Big Apple in a Vikings offense vs. Jets defense.
- #6: Baltimore at New England – Great Sunday afternoon battle with Ravens D against Tom Brady.
- #7: Minnesota at Green Bay – huge division game even without Favre; bigger if he’s wearing purple.
- #8: Pittsburgh at New Orleans – the black and gold in both conferences face off on Sunday night.
- #9: Arizona at Minnesota – How will Matt Leinart handle the nose of the Metrodome?
- #10: New England at Pittsburgh – Sunday night at Heinz Field with Big Ben back in the fold.
- #11: Indianapolis at New England – Tough back-to-back games for the Patriots vs. Steelers, Colts.
- #12: New Orleans at Dallas – Last year Cowboys ended Saints unbeaten season. Turkey Day bash!
- #13: Dallas at Indianapolis – The Cowboys get 10 days to get ready for Peyton and Colts offense.
- #14: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh – Bengals won at Heinz last year and aren’t fazed by Terrible Towels.
- #15: New Orleans at Baltimore – Drew Brees and Saints offense against Ravens defense. Wow!
- #16: New York Giants at Green Bay – day after Christmas with a classic old school NFL matchup.
- #17: Dallas at Philadelphia – could help decide the NFC East on the day after New Year’s.
SUSPENSION EXPECTED ON WEDNESDAY FOR BIG BEN
The Steelers made a deal with Tampa Bay on Tuesday, re-acquiring QB Byron Leftwich for a seventh-round choice on Saturday in the 2010 NFL Draft. They announced that deal as Ben Roethlisberger (left) went through his second practice on the field with the Pittsburgh offense.
Why make the trade for Leftwich? Because coming down Wednesday is an announcement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Ben Roethlisberger and his possible suspension. Late last week, Steelers president Art Rooney II said an announcement would come after the draft.
But Goodell has seen the file from the investigation of rape charges against Roethlisberger that was carried out by the authorities in Georgia. Reportedly, the Commissioner was incensed by what he read, much as Rooney was when the Steelers got their hands on the file. Whether it was because the information was completely different than what Roethlisberger portrayed, or his behavior was so abhorrent to Goodell that he did not need more time to ponder his disciplinary measures.
All sorts of predictions have come down from the national pundits on how long the suspension will be, anywhere from six to two games. More than likely, the action will include a provision that Roethlisberger has to seek psychological counseling for his attitudes and actions. A good report from those sessions might lead the Commissioner to alter the total number of games he’s out of action.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported late Tuesday that the Steelers have gotten feelers from other clubs about a possible deal for Roethlisberger. The paper also reported that the team has not ruled out a possible trade if the price is right.
The paper is also running a poll on whether the team should trade the quarterback. Late Tuesday evening, the vote was running 60-40 to trade Roethlisberger.
PERSONNEL FILE FOR TUESDAY, APRIL 20
- BENGALS – ERFA G Evan Mathis signed.
- BUCCANEERS – acquired 7th-round choice in 2010 NFL Draft in tra.de with the Steelers.
- CHARGERS – ERFA LB Antwan Applewhite signed.
- CHIEFS – RFA LB Corey Mays signed tender offer.
- 49ERS – signed OLB Travis LaBoy (Cardinals).
- JETS – agreed to terms with DE Jason Taylor (Jets).
- LIONS – released TE Michael Matthews.
- PANTHERS – RFA DT Louis Leonard signed tender offer.
- PATRIOTS – signed WR Torry Holt (Jaguars).
- RAMS – RFA DT Clifton Ryan signed tender offer; acquired 5th and 7th-round selections in 2010 NFL Draft in a trade with the Redskins.
- REDSKINS – acquired DT Adam Carriker in a trade with the Rams.
- SAINTS – UFA DE Jimmy Wilkerson signed (Buccaneers).
- SEHAWKS – signed G Ben Hamilton (Broncos).
- STEELERS – acquired QB Byron Leftwich in a trade with the Buccaneers.