The NFL team’s 2012-13 schedule was announced in the past few days, the 49ers included…

It’s not so much about the teams that they play – that’s been known for a while now. It’s more about who they play and when. For me, the first question is the order of home and away games. Then comes the question of where does the bye week (a week where they don’t play anyone) fall. I also think that it’s important to looks at who they are playing out of the block (the first four games say) and who they are playing in the final stretch (the last four games). I suppose an American would also be concerned with how many televised games they will be playing, but that is of little odds for me. Sometimes I wonder how wise it was to choose to support a team on the west coast (GMT – 8) rather than the east coast (GMT – 5).

Anyway, here’s my arm chair football analysis of the things that matter to me:

Home, Away and Bye

AHAAHHHA bye HHAAHAAH

Well that looks to be a pretty even split. Each half of the season includes four home games and four away games, and there are no more that two away games in a row. Last year to avoid time zone issues the team made an unorthodox move and spent the week between consecutive east coast games actually on the east coast, rather than flying east, back west and then back east. The two away games together both offer the opportunity to do that again, although I haven’t considered the time of day of the games themselves. The bye week is slap bang in the middle of the season, which assuming all goes well is a good place for a bye week. If things don’t go well early then you might want the bye week to regroup, but that aside the middle of the season is a good place to have a bye.

First 4 games out of the blocks

Green Bay Away, Detroit Lions at Home, Minnesota Vikings Away, New York Jets Away.

Green Bay Away will be a tough start, and the Lions will be a tough game too. The Vikings have not been consistent recently, and so is the easiest game of the four, and the Jets may well be in the middle of a quarterback controversy as struggling current QB Mark Sanchez contends with living in the looming shadow of the Jets’ big off season acquisition Tim Tebow. I think the 49ers stand a good chance of being 4-0 after the first four games, but 3-1 is probably a more realistic prediction.

Last 4 games – the final stretch

Miami Dolphins at Home, New England Patriots Away, Seattle Seahawks Away, Arizona Cardinals at Home

The last four games are important because teams sometimes start to lose momentum around this time. You hear analysts talking a lot about teams “peaking too early”. One big factor that it’s definitely worth considering though, is where the away games are in December. Weather is a big equaliser and playing in the cold and wet can really have an effect on the game. New England Patriots Away is probably the hardest match, and playing Seattle in their own house is never any fun anyway, but being divisional rivals the 49ers are used to playing them there every year. The NFL have started scheduling more divisional matches towards the end of the season to make games more meaningful later in the season, in the hopes that the divisional crowns will still be in contention during the final weeks of the season. I’m not going to make a prediction for these games because so much can happen over the course of the season, but I’m not too unhappy with the way the schedule looks so far.

Days of the week

The only other thing to note is the days of the week games are held on. Games are mostly played on Sundays, but sometime they are played on a Thursday, and occasionally on Monday nights (Monday night football is a big – nationally televised stage to play on). The thing I think impacts teams most is the number of days between the games. Sometimes you hear teams talking about the short week to prepare in between a Sunday game and a Thursday game, or between Monday night and Sunday. The 49ers have two Monday night games and one Thursday night game, so lets have a closer look at those small stretches either side of the bye week:

New York Giants at Home (Sun), Seattle Seahawks at Home (Thur), Arizona Cardinals Away (Mon), bye

It’s nice that the short week is between two home games, and anyone who followed the NFL last year knows that revenge will motivate the 49ers in the game against the Giants, after losing a close game to them in the NFC championship game. It’s really good to have a long time to prepare for the Monday night game. 11 days between games is almost like having an extra bye week!

bye, St Louis Rams at Home (Sun), Chicago Bears at Home (Mon), New Orleans Saints Away (Sun)

A monday night football home game is nice. New Orleans Away could be tough, but New Orleans may well be struggling due to an off season scandal in which coaches were caught offering players financial rewards to try to injure other players last year. As a result large parts of their coaching team have been suspended for this season (or longer), and that will likely impact the Saints entire season. Sometimes teams manage to rally against such adversity but I’d sooner bet that they will collapse with some many leaders removed.

Overall it’s probably about as good a schedule as it was ever going to get.

Bring on the draft!

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