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Strength of schedule

2024 looks like a lesser year for scheduling

I rolled out the strength of schedule numbers for 2024 yesterday, and let me follow up on that a bit. I don’t think anybody should be getting too excited about using scheduling as a key element of their team building this year.

Strength of schedule in general is a lesser, flimsy tool. Invariably, teams change. The Chargers, for example, went 5-12 last year, making them a favorable matchup on paper, but Jim Harbaugh has a lengthy track record of winning everywhere he goes – I don’t see the Chargers as a juicy matchup.

And then there’s this season specifically. The Falcons and Saints appear to have the easiest schedules, playing against opponents that went a combined 131-158 last year. But those are notable numbers historically. Looking at past figures (I’m a nerd, I’ve got the numbers going back 30 years), I see 26 teams in the last 10 years who have entered seasons with schedules that projected to be easier.

In my opinion, nobody should be selecting Falcons and Saints this year because of some kind of perceived scheduling advantage. Maybe Bijan Robinson has a big season, but I don’t see scheduling as a significant factor in the decision making.

Below are the 50 easiest schedules since 2014. Only two teams from the upcoming season make the list. (The final column shows how the schedule played out – their opponents’ cumulative win-loss record in games against other teams.)

EASIEST SCHEDULES, LAST 10 YEARS
YearTeamWLT PctResult
2015Atlanta1041502.410115-125-0
2015Indianapolis1061491.416120-120-0
2015Houston1061482.418120-120-0
2017Indianapolis1071463.424111-129-0
2023Atlanta1211653.424114-158-0
2015Tampa Bay1081462.426114-126-0
2023New Orleans1221643.427117-155-0
2015New Orleans1091452.430120-120-0
2014Indianapolis1101460.430117-122-1
2021Philadelphia1171550.430127-144-1
2015Carolina1111450.434112-128-0
2023Houston1241622.434130-142-0
2015Tennessee1111441.436113-127-0
2023Indianapolis1251612.438134-138-0
2020Baltimore1121440.438120-117-3
2014Tennessee1121440.438115-124-1
2017Jacksonville1111423.439105-135-0
2017Tennessee1111423.439104-136-0
2014Houston1131430.441107-132-1
2017Cincinnati1151410.449110-130-0
2023Tennessee1281564.451140-132-0
2021Dallas1221482.452136-136-0
2018Houston1161400.453115-124-1
2017Minnesota1151392.453123-117-0
2017Pittsburgh1151392.453113-127-0
2014Jacksonville1161400.453118-121-1
2024Atlanta1311580.453TBD
2024New Orleans1311580.453TBD
2021Atlanta1231481.454126-145-1
2022Dallas1311571.455138-127-6
2017Houston1151383.455120-120-0
2017Seattle1151383.455119-121-0
2020Pittsburgh1171390.457116-121-3
2016Green Bay1171390.457123-115-2
2020Dallas1171381.459109-128-3
2023Cleveland1311542.460149-123-0
2023Carolina1321552.460136-136-0
2020Cleveland1181380.461109-128-3
2017Baltimore1171372.461106-134-0
2016Chicago1181380.461120-119-1
2016NY Giants1181380.461118-119-3
2014Baltimore1181380.461114-123-3
2022Washington1331551.462145-124-3
2015Jacksonville1181371.463110-130-0
2022Philadelphia1331542.464131-135-6
2020Washington1181362.465107-130-3
2018Tennessee1191370.465126-114-0
2016Cincinnati1191370.465124-116-0
2016Dallas1191370.465116-121-3
2016Detroit1191370.465114-125-1

While we’ve got these schedules out, we may as well look at the other end of the scale. The Browns similarly project to play the hardest schedule, but it’s not a particularly noteworthy slate, with opponents that went 158-131 last year. In the last 10 years, 34 other teams have entered seasons with harder schedules.

Below are the projected 50 hardest schedules of the last 10 years (using win-loss records) and Cleveland is the only team from the upcoming season that makes the list.

HARDEST SCHEDULES, LAST 10 YEARS
YearTeamWLT PctResult
2017Denver1471072.578115-125-0
2015Pittsburgh1471072.578123-117-0
2014Oakland1481080.578133-107-0
2017Kansas City1471081.576116-124-0
2022LA Rams1661230.574137-134-0
2021Pittsburgh1551152.574143-129-0
2014Denver1461100.570129-110-1
2017LA Chargers1451101.568110-130-0
2023Philadelphia1611234.566133-139-0
2017Oakland1441111.564121-119-0
2014St. Louis1441111.564126-114-0
2021Baltimore1521182.563143-126-3
2015Cincinnati1441120.563118-122-0
2014San Francisco1441120.563127-113-0
2014San Diego1441120.563124-116-0
2017Buffalo1431121.561119-121-0
2015San Francisco1431121.561127-113-0
2014Seattle1431121.561130-109-1
2015Seattle1421122.559127-113-0
2014Kansas City1431130.559124-116-0
2015Arizona1421131.557119-121-0
2016Atlanta1421140.555117-121-2
2016San Francisco1421140.555113-123-4
2023Miami1581272.554124-148-0
2015St. Louis1411141.553126-114-0
2023New England1571273.552138-134-0
2023NY Giants1581282.552137-135-0
2016Los Angeles1411150.551115-121-4
2021Chicago1491221.550139-130-3
2023Dallas1561284.549124-148-0
2017Miami1401160.547129-111-0
2016New Orleans1401160.547124-114-2
2014Arizona1401160.547129-111-0
2024Cleveland1581310.547TBD
2023NY Jets1551293.545135-137-0
2015Kansas City1391161.545122-118-0
2015Oakland1391161.545122-118-0
2017Washington1381162.543129-111-0
2016Tampa Bay1391170.543118-120-2
2016Seattle1391170.543107-132-1
2015Cleveland1381162.543123-117-0
2021Green Bay1471241.542133-136-3
2023Buffalo1551312.542130-142-0
2022Las Vegas1561321.542125-145-2
2015Denver1381171.541124-116-0
2022Kansas City1561330.540126-142-2
2019Oakland1371172.539114-125-1
2018Green Bay1381180.539115-124-1
2015Minnesota1381180.539124-116-0
2015Baltimore1371172.539119-121-0

—Ian Allan

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