San Diego Chargers schedule analysis

Breakdown: Any analysis of a San Diego Chargers schedule has to start at the beginning of the slate. The team has started slowly the past several seasons. It finally caught up to the Chargers last year when they failed to overcome a slow start and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

San Diego has an opportunity to start on the right foot. It opens at home against the rebuilding Minnesota Vikings. Yet, the schedule immediately toughens when the Chargers play at the New England Patriots in Week 2. The Chargers then come home for games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. If the Chargers can find a way to go 3-1 in this stretch, it could give the team an unusual early-season spark. The Chargers are tied for the third toughest schedule in the NFL, so a fast start could be essential.

Complaint department: The Chargers come out of their bye week with a tough five-game stretch beginning in Week 7. It features road games at the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs in back-to-back weeks. They then go home for games against the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders before going on the road to the Chicago Bears. We should know a lot about this team after this stretch.

Still prime-time attraction: The Chargers’ failure to make playoffs in 2010 did not make them a less attractive team nationally. The Chargers have four prime-time games. They play at Kansas City on "Monday Night Football" on Halloween in Week 8. Two weeks later, they host Oakland on a Thursday night and then play at Jacksonville on Monday night in Week 13.

Chargers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 11, Minnesota, 4:15 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, at New England, 4:15 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, Kansas City, 4:05 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, Miami, 4:15 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, at Denver, 4:15 PM

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23, at NY Jets, 1:00 PM

Week 8: Monday, Oct. 31, at Kansas City, 8:30 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, Green Bay, 4:15 PM

Week 10: Thursday, Nov. 10, Oakland, 8:20 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20, at Chicago, 4:15 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, Denver, 4:15 PM

Week 13: Monday, Dec. 5, at Jacksonville, 8:30 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, Buffalo, 4:15 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, Baltimore, 8:20 PM

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, at Detroit, 4:05 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, at Oakland, 4:15 PM