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NFL teams know who they're playing in a given season well before the schedule is announced, but that doesn't mean the schedule release isn't an important day for teams. Quirks in the schedule can make a break a team's season.
Things like playing teams after their bye weeks, playing key games on short weeks and travel time matter. So we've combed through the entire 2019 NFL schedule and picked out the teams that were dealt the toughest hands by the schedule makers.
These are the clubs that should be putting in a phone call to the league office after the reveal…
1. Miami Dolphins
Why do the schedule makers hate the Dolphins? Not only are they one of six teams that play at least two games against opponents coming off a bye, they also get their bye week very early in the season (Week 5). On top of all that, they open the season with four consecutive games against 2018 playoff teams. At least this schedule will aid Miami's tanking efforts.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Dolphins aren't the only Florida team upset with the 2019 schedule. The Buccaneers have to travel 18,000 miles (good lord) between Weeks 4 and 9. That includes trips to Los Angeles, Seattle and London. In fact, Tampa Bay doesn't play a home game between Week 4 and Week 9.
If that weren't enough to get Bruce Arians cussin' and fussin' - I'm just assuming that's a phrase he uses a lot - this will do the job: The Bucs' lone Thursday Night Football appearance comes on the road, where teams have historically struggled to win on short weeks.
3. Green Bay Packers
The Packers have a brutal stretch to end the season. After a home game against the Bears, they play a road game on Monday night against the Vikings, which is followed by another road game after a short week. Green Bay is the only team in the entire league to play a road game after a Monday night game on the road.
4. New England Patriots
The Patriots play a team coming off their bye a league-high three times. Bill Belichick won't be happy about that, as those teams will have an extra day to prepare for him. He also won't be happy about playing five primetime games, which can throw a team off its typical schedule. And that primetime schedule includes a Thursday nighter against the Giants following a road game in Washington.
5. San Francisco 49ers
Not only do the 49ers have the earliest bye week possible, meaning they'll have to play 13 consecutive weeks to finish the season, they're also one of the six teams playing multiple games against teams coming off their byes. If somehow they survive all of that and remain in the playoff chase, they'll finish the season with this daunting stretch: Packers, at Ravens, at Saints, Falcons, Rams, at Seahawks.
6. New York Jets
The Jets will be a trendy playoff sleeper this offseason, but they could be out of the running by October. The beginning of their schedule is brutal. They'll go on the road to New England after a short week of prep following a Week 2 Monday nighter against the Browns.
After an early bye week (no human should be subjected to playing 12 straight weeks of football) they'll go on the road to Philly before home games against the Cowboys and Patriots. If they lose to a feisty Buffalo team in Week 1, an 0-6 start isn't out of the question.