Denver and New England project to play the worst defenses this year. At least according to last year’s numbers. History shows that hasn’t been a reliable tool for predicting what will actual happen.
Teams change a lot. That’s a given – there will be a bunch of teams that are unexpectedly good or bad. And even some of the teams that don’t move much in the standings will play differently (allowing way more or fewer points).
The changes are severe enough that I don’t see much point in relying too heavily (or much at all) on strength of schedule at this point. Maybe during the season, when it’s clearer which teams are which, but right now it’s meaningless.
I have poked around with scheduling data from past seasons, and the wins and losses info tends to be a little more meaningful (but not all that good). When you get into how many points a team allowed last year, then try to plug that into the next year’s schedule, the results are just garbage.
Below see the list of the last 30 teams that were supposed to have either the easiest or 2nd-easiest schedule in the league (using points). Only six of those teams ended up actually playing top-5 schedules. Five teams, on the other hand, went the reverse-barometer route, playing bottom-5 schedules.
Ten played top-10 schedules, but 10 played bottom-10 schedules (with the other 10 in that middle 12). A total crapshoot, in other words.
So while the numbers suggest Denver and New England should or could face softer defenses, I don’t think anyone should be using that information to make any of their important preseason decisions. Damien Harris (pictured), for example, shouldn’t be zooming up draft boards because the Patriots might have an easy schedule.
|EASIEST SCHEDULES (last 15 years)|
|2007||• Tampa Bay||21.9||2||22.0||3|
|2008||• San Francisco||22.6||1||23.6||4|