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Matt
07-02-2010, 06:59 PM
So who has the "toughest" schedule for 2010?
The stats:
Rank Team Combined W-L Pct.
T1. Texans 140-116 .547
T1. Titans 140-116 .547
3. Cowboys 139-117 .543
4. Bengals 138-118 .539
5. Jaguars 137-119 .535

RealZamboniDriver
07-02-2010, 08:39 PM
Cowboys get screwed though with a week 4 bye. HATE a bye that early.

Dave Lapham
07-03-2010, 12:10 AM
You put yourself in position to contend in November, and finish strong in December is a winning playoff formula. The Bengals play at defending AFC Champion Indianapolis, in New York against the Jets on Thanksgiving night in November. December includes the Super Bowl Champion Saints in Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh, San Diego in Cincinnati the day after Christmas, and finish Jan. 2 in Baltimore against the division rival Ravens. Big challenge physically and mentally.

LiteraryHack
07-03-2010, 09:10 AM
You know who has the toughest schedule? The Detroit Lions. They play 16 teams better than them every season. Bet there looking forward to an 18 game season.

Andy Freeland
07-03-2010, 10:12 AM
One of the most interesting things to me is the strength of schedule per division. Every division plays another division in their conference and one in the other conference. While this doesn't help in deciding who'll win the division, it can have a big impact on the wildcard:

On paper, the NFC East has the toughest schedule this year (based on last year's records). They play the NFC North (32-32) and the AFC South (38-26, best record of any division last year), for a combined record of 70-58. The East has had at least 1 wildcard each of the last 5 years and both wilcards in '06 and '07 (12 playoff teams in the last 5 years). But all 4 teams have to play the Colts, Vikings, Packers, Bears, Texans and Titans this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see a wildcard from the East, but it's going to be a tough road.

The easiest schedule is the NFC South, who plays the NFC West (24-40) and the AFC North (33-31), for a combined record of 57-71. Easiest on paper, but they still have to face the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals, and you just don't know what to expect from the 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals.

The other 6 division are surprisingly even, with all coming in at 62 to 66 wins.

NoHuddle
07-03-2010, 10:24 AM
The hardest schedule is a moot point in the off-season. Considering the playoffs a 50% turnaround year after year, determining who has a hard schedule before the season is nearly impossible. For example, as a Cowboys fan, I was initially worried about how hard our schedule is in comparison to a lot of teams, however, every team in the NFC East has the same schedule aside from two games (Saints, Cardinals) and their December includes the Cardinals (sans Warner) and and the Eagles twice (without McNabb).

The point is simply this: If you can't beat the good teams, you don't deserve the playoffs anyway.

Matt
07-03-2010, 10:38 AM
The hardest schedule is a moot point in the off-season.

I'm not sure if I agree with this bold assertion. I do agree, however, it's simply not smashing some playoff and prior season stats together and figuring out who has the biggest challenge ahead.

Instead, like you pointed out, I think it takes carefully considering all the off-season activity and changes to creatively determine who has the most difficult task ahead of them. Similarly, I posted the initial stats as a talking point to discuss what other considerations are necessary in figuring out challenging schedules outside the normal statistics.

I think it can be reasonably calculated, and is far from moot.

Cris Collinsworth
07-03-2010, 10:58 AM
Here is how I look at schedules, and I think I have this right. All that really matters is how it plays out in your division. For example:

The AFC North plays
1) 2 games each against AFC North (6 games)
2) All of the NFC South (4 games)
3) All of the AFC East (4 games)
4) 2 games based on where you finished in the division last year. (2 games)

That last category is the real key. The Bengals won the division and will play two first place division winners from 2009, the Colts and the Chargers. The Steelers finished 3rd in their division and will face the Titans and the Raiders. HUGE DIFFERENCE. But the placement of those games is also important. The Steelers face the Titans in week 2 without Ben Roethlisberger, and the Bengals get the Chargers on December 26th (Bengals' fans dreaming of Freeze Bowl II)
Also remember that with Troy Polomalu and Aaron Smith back this will not be the same Steelers team we saw last year. One more, the Steelers lost 7 games last year, but 5 of them by 3 points and never lost by more than a TD. Steelers are dangerous if they come out of their first 4 games (I think last 2 waived) without Roethlisberger in contention. An 0-4 start makes Big Ben an unpopular dude in a tough town.

BigDerf
07-03-2010, 03:29 PM
The most important games in my opinion are the 2 you play against the same place finishers. Why? They are the only games that aren't exactly the same as the rest of your division. If you win both of those games you have a advantage over the rest of your division before you start talking about the rest of the teams you and your divisionmates have to play.