The NFL is almost certainly going to a 17-game schedule, and that will create a little more separation in strength of schedule. That extra game will be driven by results each year, with first-place teams playing against each other (and last-place teams getting an additional game against another last-place team).
It’s not necessarily a big deal. Strength of schedule itself isn’t a huge driver, in my opinion. But it’s another dimension that can factored in.
Most notably, for 2021, there should be two additional big-time matchups between teams that won their divisions – Kansas City against Green Bay, and Indianapolis playing Tampa Bay. The other first-place matchups aren’t as notable. Seattle vs. Pittsburgh (the Steelers don’t look likely to finish in the top 2 in the AFC North this year), and Buffalo playing Washington (which also doesn’t seem like a top-tier team).
The last-place matchups, if reports are accurate, will feature Eagles-Jets, Falcons-Jaguars, Lions-Broncos and 49ers-Bengals.
Totaling up all the wins and losses, Philadelphia projects to play by far the league’s easiest schedule, with 17 games against opponents that went a combined 117-155 last year. (Thus the photo of Miles Sanders.) The Steelers and Ravens project to play the hardest schedules.
|STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (wins)|
If you want to use points rather than wins, Denver and New England project to play the easiest schedules, while Tampa Bay and Buffalo project to play the hardest schedules.
|STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (points)|
Note, by the way, that only three teams project to have top-10 schedules (easy schedules) using both wins and points – Philadelphia, Denver and Indianapolis. And only three rank in the bottom 10 in both formats (Green Bay, Detroit and Las Vegas).
Six teams (and this is weird) project to have a top-10 schedule in one of those two formats but a bottom-10 in the other: Bucs, Bills, Panthers, Cowboys, Bengals and Steelers.