SAN DIEGO – Fans can break out their calendars and begin to plan their fall as the NFL released its regular-season schedule Tuesday evening.
Five national TV games, bookends against Oakland, and a mid-October home matchup with Peyton Manning and Denver highlight the Chargers’ 53rd regular-season schedule.
“I think the five prime-time games are great exposure for the organization,” Executive Vice President – Chief Executive Officer A.G. Spanos said.
“I think our home schedule is definitely highlighted by Denver on Monday Night Football. They’ve had some big changes that make them an exciting opponent and they come here to play us in a key divisional game.”
San Diego will open the 2012 season the same place it ended in 2011, Oakland’s O.co Coliseum. This time the Sept. 10 kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. on Monday Night Football.
The Chargers are playing in the second half of the Week 1 ESPN doubleheader for the third time in four years.
“It seems like we’ve become a common player in that Monday Night opener in the second game of the doubleheader because we’re one of the few West Coast teams that can play in it,” Spanos said. “It’s an exciting way to start the season.”
The Bolts host Tennessee and Atlanta in Weeks 2 and 3 before traveling to two tough venues, the Superdome (New Orleans) and Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City). The game against the Titans is the 2012 home opener, which the Chargers plan to make into an exciting experience at Qualcomm Stadium.
The first matchup with the Broncos precedes the Chargers’ Week 7 bye.
After the second meeting with Manning and Denver, the Chargers face three teams from the AFC North, all of whom made the playoffs last season with a combined record of 33-15. San Diego hosts Baltimore and Cincinnati before traveling to Pittsburgh.
Last year’s rookie sensation quarterback Cam Newton, former Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, now head coach in Carolina, and a few others with ties to the organization come to town Dec. 16.
The team travels to New York two days before Christmas with an opportunity to avenge last year’s Week 7 loss, a turning point in the 2011 season. For a while it appeared San Diego would improve to 5-1, but instead a second-half comeback propelled the Jets to a 27-21 win.
The Raiders come to Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 30, the last day of the regular season.
The Chargers play every AFC West team in the first six weeks of the season, including games at Oakland and Kansas City in September.
Seven of San Diego’s first 13 games are against teams that made the playoffs last season.
The Chargers will play on ESPN’s Monday Night Football twice in the first six weeks (Week 1 at Oakland, Week 6 vs. Denver).
San Diego is scheduled to appear on NBC’s Sunday Night Football twice as well (Week 5 at New Orleans, Week 16 at the New York Jets) and the Bolts will host Kansas City on the NFL Network (Week 8).
The Chargers face one of the toughest schedules in the NFL going off 2011 results. The combined winning percentage of San Diego’s 2012 opponents last season was .520, the sixth-toughest in the league.
Only Denver and Baltimore in the AFC face more difficult schedules based on 2011, though the entire exercise is likely to fluctuate as teams get better or worse.
“The league is famous for teams going from worst-to-first in their division and vice-versa. You have no idea how strong teams will be,” Spanos said. “And it makes a big difference when you play teams, too. If they’re streaking and they’re hot it can make a big difference. We’ve just got to play well every week.”
AFC West teams are matched against teams from the AFC North and NFC South in 2012. As the second-place team in the AFC West last season, the Chargers drew games against Tennessee (second in the AFC South) and the New York Jets (second in the AFC East).
Home: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers
Away: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
|2012 PRESEASON SCHEDULE|
|Thursday||Aug. 9||vs. Green Bay||5 p.m.||ESPN|
|vs. Dallas|| |
|Friday||Aug. 24||at Minnesota||5 p.m.||CBS|
|Thursday||Aug. 30||at San Francisco||7 p.m.||CBS|
|2012 REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE|
|Monday||Sept. 10||at Oakland||7:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|vs. Tennessee|| |
|Sunday||Sept. 23||vs. Atlanta||1:05 p.m.||FOX|
|Sunday||Sept. 30||at Kansas City||10 a.m.||CBS|
|Sunday||Oct. 7||at New Orleans||5:20 p.m.||NBC|
|Monday||Oct. 15||vs. Denver||5:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday||Oct. 28||at Cleveland||10 a.m.||CBS|
|Thursday||Nov. 1||vs. Kansas City||5:20 p.m.||NFLN|
|Sunday||Nov. 11||at Tampa Bay||10 a.m.||CBS|
|Sunday||Nov. 18||at Denver*||1:15 p.m.||CBS|
|Sunday||Nov. 25||vs. Baltimore*||1:05 p.m.||CBS|
|Sunday||Dec. 2||vs. Cincinnati*||1:15 p.m.||CBS|
|Sunday||Dec. 9||at Pittsburgh*||10 a.m.||CBS|
|Sunday||Dec. 16||vs. Carolina*||1:05 p.m.||FOX|
|Sunday||Dec. 23||at N.Y. Jets*||5:20 p.m.||NBC|
|Sunday||Dec. 30||vs. Oakland*||1:15 p.m.||CBS|
All times Pacific.
Home games will be subject to local blackout rules and will be shown locally if they are sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff. Dates and times are subject to change.
*Denotes flex scheduling and games subject to time change.
• San Diego will be home the weekends of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s for the first time since 2008.
• Based on last year’s standings, San Diego’s toughest stretch starts in mid-November with four consecutive games against playoff teams: at Denver on Nov. 18, vs. Baltimore on Nov. 25, vs. Cincinnati on Dec. 2 and at Pittsburgh on Dec. 9.
• The 2012 opener will mark the second time in four years San Diego and Oakland will be the last two teams to kick off Week 1. The Chargers beat the Raiders, 24-20, in 2009, also in Oakland.
• The Bolts are 4-2 in home openers with Philip Rivers at quarterback.
• Head Coach Norv Turner has dominated Tennessee, winning all four games against the Titans in his five seasons in San Diego.
• Atlanta has beaten San Diego five straight games. The Chargers haven’t beaten the Falcons since 1988, their lone win against the franchise in eight tries.
• The Week 5 game against Drew Brees and the Saints will be the first time the Chargers face their former quarterback in a regular-season game in the United States, having lost, 37-32, in London in 2008.
• The Chargers are 5-1 against Peyton Manning since 2005. The Bolts have won 10 of the last 12 games against the Broncos.
• After a Week 7 bye, the Chargers have three road games in four weeks and then three home games in four weeks.
• San Diego has won 14 of its last 17 games against Oakland, seven of its last nine against Kansas City and seven of its last eight against Cleveland.
• Long-time Tampa Bay special teams coach Rich Bisaccia will face his former franchise for the first time since coming to the Chargers after the 2010 season. San Diego is 8-1 against the Bucs all-time.
• The Chargers’ 2010 playoff hopes were extinguished with a day-after-Christmas loss to Cincinnati. San Diego will get a chance to exact revenge in Week 13.
• San Diego is 1-8 against Pittsburgh since beating the Steelers in the ’94 AFC Championship game, including an AFC Divisional Playoff loss in ’08.
• The Chargers close the season with eight consecutive Sunday games for the first time since ’06.