San Diego Chargers schedule analysis

Breakdown: For the second year in a row, the San Diego Chargers’ season opener is on Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in the late game of a Monday night doubleheader. The Chargers have three nationally televised games -- the Cardinals in the regular-season opener, a Thursday night contest at AFC West rival Denver on Oct. 23 and a Sunday night tilt at home against the New England Patriots on Dec. 7.

San Diego had four nationally televised games in 2013.

The Chargers are tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the fourth-toughest schedule in NFL for the 2014 season. The Chargers face opponents that had a combined winning percentage of 56.3 last season. The Oakland Raiders have the toughest schedule in the 2014 season, facing teams with a combined winning percentage of 57.8 percent, followed by Denver (57.0 percent) and St. Louis (56.4).

The Chargers' bye week is Week 10, the latest the team has had a bye since 2010. San Diego had a bye in Week 8 last season. Since Philip Rivers took over as the starter in 2006, the Chargers are 3-5 in the game after the bye week.

Complaint department: The Chargers finish the regular season with three of their last five games on the road, facing four playoff teams from last season (New England, Denver, San Francisco and Kansas City), along with a team that almost made the playoffs in Baltimore. That closing schedule is much different than 2013, when San Diego finished with four of their last five games at home. The Chargers won their last four games to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Beating the best of the best: While the Chargers, on paper, have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, San Diego usually rises to the occasion. San Diego finished an NFL-best 5-2 against playoff-bound teams in 2013. And the Chargers lost by an average of six points during the regular season, with the team’s worst defeat a 27-17 humbling at Oakland. Led by an ultra-competitive quarterback in Rivers, the Chargers rarely lay an egg from week to week.

Strength of schedule: 4th, .563 | Vegas over/under: 8.5

Chargers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Monday, Sept. 8, at Arizona, 10:20 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, Seattle, 4:05 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Jacksonville, 4:05 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, NY Jets, 4:25 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Kansas City, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 23, at Denver, 8:25 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at Miami, 1 p.m.

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, Oakland, 4:05 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, St. Louis, 4:05 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, New England, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, Denver, 4:05 p.m.

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 20, at San Francisco, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.