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Scheduletron

Southern Hospitality

Easiest schedules belong to teams in the two Southern divisions

It looks like strength of schedule might play more of a role than usual this year. With the lesser AFC South and NFC South divisions slated to play each other, there are some teams with unusually soft schedules.

On paper, the Falcons and Saints lead the way. They both project to play schedules against opponents that collectively finished over 40 games below .500 last year. And the Texans the Colts aren’t far behind.

Below see the easiest projected schedules of the last 20 years. Of the 640 schedules since 2004, these are the ones that were supposed to be the easiest, and the 2023 season shows up four times in the top 21.

EASIEST SCHEDULES (last 20 years)
YearTeamWLTPct
2008New England991570.387
2015Atlanta1041502.410
2009Chicago1051492.414
2015Indianapolis1061491.416
2015Houston1061482.418
2009Minnesota1071481.420
2008San Diego1081480.422
2017Indianapolis1071463.424
2023Atlanta1211653.424
2015Tampa Bay1081462.426
2023New Orleans1221643.427
2009Green Bay1091461.428
2015New Orleans1091452.430
2014Indianapolis1101460.430
2013Denver1101460.430
2021Philadelphia1171550.430
2015Carolina1111450.434
2009Pittsburgh1101442.434
2023Houston1241622.434
2015Tennessee1111441.436
2023Indianapolis1251612.438
2020Baltimore1121440.438
2014Tennessee1121440.438
2009Baltimore1111432.438
2008Oakland1121440.438
2017Jacksonville1111423.439
2017Tennessee1111423.439
2014Houston1131430.441
2011Arizona1131430.441
2009Arizona1131430.441
2009San Francisco1131421.443
2010Arizona1141420.445
2008Denver1141420.445
2006Chicago1141420.445
2005St. Louis1141420.445
2017Cincinnati1151410.449
2010St. Louis1151410.449
2009Cleveland1141402.449
2008New Orleans1151410.449
2008Buffalo1151410.449
2006Green Bay1151410.449
2005Arizona1151410.449
2023Tennessee1281564.451

These are just projected numbers, of course. It’s a given that some expected contenders will fizzle, while some other teams will punch well above expectations. That’s the nature of the game, and it’s far for the team with the expected No. 1 schedule to end up actually playing the easiest (or even 2nd- or 3rd-easiest) schedule. Things change.

If the Jaguars move up to being more of a 12-5 type team, that will make all of these schedules harder. And maybe the Titans can get back to looking more like the team that was the No. 1 seed in the AFC two years ago.

But the big picture numbers and expectations indicate that there will be some soft schedules in these divisions. Off the eight teams in these two South Divisions, only one (Jacksonville) has a stable, defined quarterbacking situation. There’s Trevor Lawrence (pictured), and then there’s a bunch of teams trying to find starting quarterbacks.

—Ian Allan

Fantasy Index