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Strength of schedule

Strength of schedule using points spreads

Earlier in the week, I posted an article showing the expected win-loss totals for each team, using the current point spreads for each of the 272 regular-season games. That provides an indication of how the public believes teams will perform. It makes some sense, I think, to use those figures in evaluating strength of schedule.

Typically with strength of schedule, the wins and losses from last year are used. But those numbers aren’t necessarily accurate, with teams making substantial changes in the offseason. The Bucs, as an example, went 8-9 last year, but I think we can all agree they have no chance of sniffing an 8-9 record. According to the current lines and each game, the Bucs should finish (if the betting public knows anything) with something closer to a 6.4-10.6 record (which I think is still high).

So if we use the more accurate win-loss projections, we should get a better idea of which teams should be playing the hardest schedules. (To see the win-loss projections for each team using point spreads, see the previous article.)

According to these win-loss projections, four of the five easiest schedules should belong to teams in the South divisions, while seven of the eight hardest schedules should be played by teams in the AFC West and NFC East.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (via point spreads)
TeamWLPct
New Orleans130.9158.1.453
Atlanta131.1157.9.454
Indianapolis138.2150.8.478
Carolina138.4150.6.479
Chicago139.2149.8.482
Houston139.8149.2.484
San Francisco140.0149.0.484
Green Bay141.3147.7.489
Jacksonville142.3146.7.492
Seattle142.3146.7.492
Tennessee142.4146.6.493
Detroit143.3145.7.496
Philadelphia143.5145.5.496
Pittsburgh143.7145.3.497
Tampa Bay143.8145.2.498
Dallas145.1143.9.502
LA Rams145.1143.9.502
Cleveland145.5143.5.504
Baltimore146.4142.6.506
Cincinnati146.6142.4.507
NY Giants146.8142.2.508
Denver147.9141.1.512
Arizona148.1140.9.512
Washington148.1140.9.512
Minnesota148.1140.9.513
NY Jets149.2139.8.516
Miami150.5138.5.521
LA Chargers150.5138.5.521
Kansas City150.6138.4.521
Las Vegas150.9138.1.522
Buffalo151.1137.9.523
New England153.4135.6.531

We can also compare this new strength of schedule data against what we saw previously (using the classical, “last year’s records” approach). The Eagles, Cowboys and Giants see the biggest positive swings (with their opponents seeming to be softened). Philadelphia originally projected to play the hardest schedule, with opponents going a combined 161-123-4 last year; using the newer method, it should instead play a middle-of-the-pack schedule, with its opponents finishing slightly under .500. (If you were scared away from Jalen Hurts because of scheduling, these numbers work against that theory.)

Teams with schedules that should get more difficult include the Browns and three teams from the AFC South. In the case of the Texans, they were originally chalked in at 124-162-2 (using last year’s records). Now they’re at about 140-149.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE point spreads vs. classical)
TeamWLPctOriginalDiff
Philadelphia143.5145.5.496161-123-4-.070
Dallas145.1143.9.502156-128-4-.047
NY Giants146.8142.2.508158-128-2-.044
LA Rams145.1143.9.502153-132-3-.034
Miami150.5138.5.521158-127-2-.033
San Francisco140.0149.0.484147-139-2-.030
NY Jets149.2139.8.516155-129-3-.029
Seattle142.3146.7.492148-138-2-.025
Washington148.1140.9.512153-133-2-.022
New England153.4135.6.531157-127-3-.022
Buffalo151.1137.9.523155-131-2-.019
Chicago139.2149.8.482144-144-1-.018
Arizona148.1140.9.512148-137-3-.007
Denver147.9141.1.512148-138-2-.006
Cincinnati146.6142.4.507146-140-2-.003
Detroit143.3145.7.496144-145-0-.002
Las Vegas150.9138.1.522150-136-2-.002
LA Chargers150.5138.5.521149-139-0.003
Tampa Bay143.8145.2.498140-146-2.008
Kansas City150.6138.4.521147-140-0.009
Green Bay141.3147.7.489138-150-1.010
Jacksonville142.3146.7.492136-147-4.011
Minnesota148.1140.9.513144-144-0.013
Carolina138.4150.6.479132-155-2.019
Baltimore146.4142.6.506138-147-2.022
New Orleans130.9158.1.453122-164-3.026
Pittsburgh143.7145.3.497134-151-2.027
Atlanta131.1157.9.454121-165-3.030
Indianapolis138.2150.8.478125-161-2.041
Tennessee142.4146.6.493128-156-4.041
Cleveland145.5143.5.504131-154-2.044
Houston139.8149.2.484124-162-2.050

—Ian Allan

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