Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Schedule...What To Look For?

by: Michael Steffes

With the schedule coming out later today, all is quiet on the NFL front. As the schedule talk has built up, many of you have chimed in with what you look for. I thought I would break down the schedule with what the team will look at, as well as what the fans look at. So here we go. To check it out.....

For The Team

1) Where is that bye week? It always benefits the team to have the bye week as late in the season as possible. Usually it seems the NFL obliges contenders on this. However, remember in 2006 the Hawks had a week 5 bye and they seemed to fade down the stretch, losing several games at home and backing into the playoffs when the Niners lost in week 16.

2) Schedule by Quarters... The team breaks the schedule up into 4 quarters. They evaluate each of these quarters on difficulty. Things that make a quarter more difficult would be two east coast trips, or 3 out of 4 road games. I think the Hawks would like their schedule to get harder as it goes this year, as they are trying to assimilate some new pieces on offense.

3) Short weeks.... Who does the team play on a short week? Do they play an important divisional game after a Mon. nighter? Do they go on the road after a Mon. nighter? Last year it was the Bears at home. It worked out OK, but for the first quarter, Ced Benson looked as good as he had in his short career. A lot of that was probably due to the Mon. night hangover. Ask any gambler, the team coming off a Mon. night rarely covers the next week.


1) I want a special game to get excited for. Whether it be Thanksgiving in Dallas, or Buffalo in Toronto. I just want the league to acknowledge that this is a team worthy of special attention. Whether or not that happens is a wait and see proposition. Thanksgiving in Dallas is a terrible game to have from a competitive edge stand point, but it would be great as a fan.

2) Prime Time Home Games. For sure! Actually, these are the games I usually have a hard time attending, but it doesn't matter. I love having prime time games under the lights. For one, it makes fantasy football more fun cause I can actually watch my players. I get to watch teams I normally don't see too much of on Sunday. But most of all, by that 5pm start I am in a frenzy. It is like a delayed gratification thing. Finishing the week on Mon night is the best!

3) The weather games. Do we have to go east in December? Are we playing in the heat in September? I think weather can make games really exciting. For the Hawks it usually presents problems. I think the schedule makers will do the Hawks a favor by giving them NY early, and Miami late. Or Buffalo early (Unless it is in Toronto) and Tampa late. However, I am more concerned about heat these days than weather. I know that the team didn't look particularly good in GB last time we saw them, but typically, with Defense being the strength, the team will be more successful playing in cold/wind/wintery mix because it is a defensively oriented team.

There is my schedule breakdown. Come by and discuss the schedule as it is released at 11 am PST during the live blog.