Now that the draft is over and the schedules for each team have been released, Daniel is going to break down the potentially difficult/easy match-ups for every roster. You’ll notice that some teams seem to have been favored by the football Gods (cough-cough Vegas... cough) while others have been faced with a veritable gauntlet of last years most impressive teams.
Dan will also do his best to elucidate the NFL’s reasoning, as well as the thought-process that goes into such decisions. So strap in, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, and prepare to dive deep into the 2021 NFL schedule...starting off with the AFC West!
Las Vegas Raiders
After perplexing the world with their first-round selection of Alex Leatherwood, who is widely viewed as a reach, I think it’s safe to say that Jon Gruden is reviving the great Raider tradition of yesteryear - also known as “squandering the Silver and Black’s draft capital”.
Beyond that, the biggest question going into this season is what Las Vegas will be able to do on defense, seeing as they’ve been pretty terrible for the past few campaigns, and haven’t done anything of note to address those defensive woes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Josh Jacobs will be great (Kenyan Drake’s addition is a little more confusing... but like I said: RAIDERS!) and Derek Carr never gets the love he deserves, but these guys have to compete against Mahomes and the Chiefs twice, and Herbert’s Chargers ditto... which translates in my mind into a minimum of 3 losses.
Add to that a schedule that takes them through the AFC North, and I highly doubt this promising squad is ready to make the playoff leap. A hot start might trick more than a few of your buddies, but wait this one out:
The best case scenario is a close-but-no-cigar 10-7, and the worst case scenario is 6-11
Los Angeles Chargers
What to expect from Justin Herbert in year two? The Chargers certainly think his stock is going up, and subsequently drafted a big old lineman to protect their signal caller in the 1st round, took the uber-promising rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. In the 2nd, and even added Josh Palmer in the 3rd (so that Herbert has a new weapon to throw to.. but who’s to say?
Their schedule starts out a little difficultly, but eases up on the home stretch with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants and Houston Texans lining up rather well for them to pile up wins in December. There’s still a Kansas City-shaped speed bump that will need to be dealt with, but then they close out the year with back-to-back divisional tilts against the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders, which should be winnable games.
That last game actually feels like one of Gruden’s classic traps, so I’d recommend for Los Angeles to stock up on victories early, which is easier said then done... but honestly, whether or not the Chargers make the playoffs this season, to even be having these kinds of conversation after the departure of a Hall of Fame quarterback like Phillip Rivers, is really rare and lucky.
Talk about a smooth transition... A best case scenario of 12-5 is definitely a possibility if Justin truly takes the next step, but a worst case scenario of 7-10 would leave many scratching their head.
Only time will tell!
Kansas City Chiefs
After their O-line got humiliated by the Bucs in last year’s Super, they went out and did the necessary to bolster his protection, in the draft and free agency. It might be simplistic to simply plug them into the Superbowl again this year, but there’s just no other way around it: Patrick Mahomes equals about 21 points, every single Sunday.
There are maybe two other organizations that can keep up with that sort of pace, in the entire NFL (Tampa Bay and... Green Bay? Let’s just say “Aaron’s 2021 team”), which means they’re a lock for the AFC championship game, at the very least.
Looking at their schedule, there are only a few games that might give Kansas City trouble, but besides having to deal with the AFC North, the lineup is pretty favorable. Mahomes himself is floating the lofty goal of going undefeated all the way through the season, all the way to 20-0... which sounds outlandish, until you throw on some of his most recent Superbowl tape, and watch him evade the best defense in football, on the brightest stage (and make it seem easy). I for one, am ready to take him at his word.
Best case scenario is 20-0, and Mahomes will have called his shot, and the worst case scenario is a still-acceptable 15-2
As of writing this, Drew Lock is still the quarterback for the Denver Broncos... which unfortunately for their fans, means they won’t be making the playoffs.
The defense is surprisingly solid, the offensive line is good enough and Jerry Jeudy combined with Courtland Sutton are a duo that equals more than enough receiving juice, to get things going on any given Sunday... but I can’t see this team getting past the Chiefs (or even regularly beating Las Vegas) unless Aaron Rodgers shows up and saves the day. But let’s assume that doesn’t happen.
Like I stated previously, this team isn’t horrible on paper and will always be able to compete, so they might manage to make some noise in September, when they start the schedule off with a soft series against the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and then the lowly Jets.
I doubt they’ll start 3-0 but if they do, it could make things more interesting than expected in the AFC West, where they’ll probably be aiming to play spoiler, once the post-season window closes. Late matches against the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions will hope to provide a few late wins, but again: I still see this team missing the playoffs without the Bad Man from Green Bay.
Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but I see a best case scenario of 9-8 and a worst case scenario of 5-12.
Dan Bernardini wasn't always the camouflage-clad shadow he is today. No, once upon a time he had it all. Six-figure hedgefund gig, designer suits, luxury car... And boy did he love his Sundays by the pool, splashing around with the wife and kids. It was a great life, until the illuminati took it all away. When the financial crisis hit, Dan was suddenly left holding the bag. "Could have happened to anyone" the lawyers lamented, as the feds seized it all...