First there was 2015 bracketology leading up to March Madness, then college signing day, and recently there have been hundreds of mock drafts leading up to draft day. Lost in all this excitement has been the underrated anticipation of NFL’s 2015 schedule release, happening today at 8pm. But not anymore. Today I am releasing the Johansson Team Schedule Big Board or Mock Schedule 1.0.
If teams were able to draft their own ideal schedule, this is the direction teams would go, and the reasons why. Keep in mind that some teams listed below play just one AFC North team, so the rankings do not necessarily equal the weeks they would be playing. For example, Cleveland might be ranked 14th, but could easily be picked up for a December game with three single game teams listed below them.
The Johansson Big Board:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers – Retirements? Suspensions? …. Holdouts? Catch these guys early before they know what hit them. Has Antonio Brown read the 2011 CBA (holding out will be expensive)? Good luck to him. The Steelers should be everyone’s first pick, just in case the NFL reduces Le’Veon Bell’s suspension to one.
2. Oakland Raiders (@ Browns, @ Steelers) – With the addition of Michael Crabtree, and now rumors of Adrian Peterson potentially wearing silver and black, teams might want to take the Raiders early before they figure out what to do with their new found toys. Crabtree will most likely take a half a year to adjust, but AP could add a new dynamic once the media dust settles and he gets his running legs back.
3. Arizona Cardinals (@ Browns, @ Steelers) – After failing down the stretch with a horrible backup QB, the Cardinals will look to bounce back early in the year. With their defense, any decent play from the QB position will benefit them greatly. Take them early before Palmer feels 100%.
4. San Francisco 49ers (@ Browns, @ Steelers) – New coach, new system might be a challenge to the opposition before they have time to look at film and adjust. Even though the 49ers won’t be as strong as they were over the past two years, give them a couple of weeks to open up their weaknesses.
5. Buffalo – (@ Buffalo, Bengals only) – Take them early and avoid the late season lake-effect, but not too early when their fans are still fired up about the coach and personnel changes.
6. Seattle Seahawks (@Ravens, @ Bengals) – Seattle likes attention (and so do the Seahawks), and they play better when games REALLY matter, or if its early in the season and people are talking about them. Catch Seattle early October when baseball playoffs and other sports are heating up. Their position rank is about the same whether playing in the artificial sound of CenturyLink, or in your team’s home stadium.
7. Baltimore Ravens – QB Joe Flacco is actually working out this off-season, which is much better than getting arrested like the rest of the team. The Ravens generally have a lull in games 6-10, at least in recent history. Catching them early or late in the season is too risky.
8. St. Louis Rams (@ Ravens, @ Bengals) – The Rams have finally gone another QB direction, this time Nick Foles. Foles hasn’t proven much at this point in his career beyond playing in a novelty NFL offense, but I would wait a few games to see if he gels with a new offense or looks lost. Either way, adjustments will be easier to make later in the season. Take the Rams early but not too early.
9. San Diego Chargers (@ Ravens, @ Bengals) – San Diego is as streaky as their talented, but hot-tempered QB Philip Rivers. the schizophrenic nature of the team might have something to do with Rivers’ tantrums when things don’t go his way, which may reverberate through the team. In general, expect melt downs in three week stretches somewhere in games 6-11 *as long as Rivers is on the team*.
10. Jacksonville – (@ Baltimore, Ravens only) – It shouldn’t matter. Fill in Jacksonville anywhere except opening game and after a bye. Save those slots for better teams. Later in the season could be a nice break as things get tight, but an early season win is just as good.
11. New York Jets – (@ NJ, Browns only) – Both are cold weather teams, both are unstable at QB, both have had off-season changes. It doesn’t really matter.
12. Houston – (@ Cincinnati, Bengals only) – This is a fill-in, so why not make it a mid season clash.
13. Tennessee Titans – (@ Cleveland, Browns only) – Another game in the fill-in department. Anything can happen at anytime during the year. The Titans will have a fancy new toy at the #2 draft position however.
14. Cleveland Browns – This is a tough one. Do teams take them early with the starting quarterback mess, or take them late when they decide “At this point we might as well see what Manziel’s got.”? Lets go with the latter as the Browns haven’t won a game past November 23rd since 2012.
15. Kansas City Chiefs (@ Ravens, @ Bengals) – KC has become one of the NFL’s turnaround stories over the past two years, and have challenged Denver for the AFC West title for half to two-thirds of the last two seasons before tanking down the stretch. They lost 5 of 7 last year and 4 of 6 the year prior, but went 16-3 combined early the past two years. Taking the Chiefs late is a no-brainer.
16. Cincinnati Bengals – The more games matter, the more pressure the Bengals and their fans place place on the team with their doomsday mentality. Avoid taking the Bengals early when they are all smiles and having fun.
17. Indianapolis – (@ Pittsburgh, only Pitt) – Like NE, pick them late as they may be loafing around in week 17. The next best thing is bad weather outdoors. The Steelers should grab Indy in December and make Andrew Luck (and his horrible running game) sling it in the cold and wind.
18. Miami (@ Miami, Ravens only) – A game in Miami will essentially be played on a neutral field in terms of fans, so hook up the travelers and pick the Dolphins late. A game in December will also avoid the late summer, early fall heat.
19. Denver Broncos (@ Browns, @ Steelers) – Denver is bipolar. When playing away from a polar vortex (at least for the first three-quarters of a season), they win. When the weather gets cold, QB Peyton Manning throws like he just took a polar plunge. Take them late.
20. New England (@NE, Steelers only)- Playing in the AFCE, the Patriots usually take the last week off from any football related activities. The only risk is, like a married man, their balls will be monitored this season for any unusual deflation, potentially bringing them back to the pack. Ha! Who are we kidding with “the pack” being the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins. Last it is.