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Better way of analyzing strength of schedule

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Skuzzlebutt, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. Skuzzlebutt

    Skuzzlebutt BoltTalker

    Jan 10, 2007
    I found this to be a very good way of looking at strength of schedule. Much better than straight winning percentage because that is too influenced by division. Nothing Charger related, per se, but interesting.

    Easiest, hardest paths to playoffs

    Schedule favors Philadelphia Eagles, hinders Tom Brady's Patriots
    Originally Published: April 18, 2013
    By Nik Bonaddio and Keith Goldner | numberFire

    With the release of the 2013 NFL schedule, fans are rushing to see when their teams will be facing their rivals next season. The biggest question: Will my team make the playoffs? Strength of schedule has an enormous effect on playoff hopes, so we at numberFire.com have peered into the strength of each team's 2013 slate to see which team has the easiest and hardest path to the playoffs.
    In order to do this, we projected out the 2013 season with the newly released schedule and compared that to thousands of randomly generated schedules. By looking at the difference between each team's playoff odds for 2013 and the average playoff odds over the randomly generated schedules, we can see which teams have the easiest and toughest roads ahead.
    Keep in mind schedules are determined as follows: Each team plays the three other teams in its division twice (home and away, six total games). Each division faces one full division in the AFC and one in the NFC (eight games). The remaining two games are played against in-conference teams that finished in the same spot within their division. For example, the Washington Redskins finished atop the NFC East, so they will face the other division winners in the NFC -- the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. (The Redskins face the Green Bay Packers as part of the NFC North, which matches up with the NFC East this year.) As a result, the worse teams should have easier schedules and vice versa.
    Here are the five easiest and hardest 2013 schedules:
    Top 5 easiest schedules

    1. Philadelphia Eagles

    2013 playoff odds: 32.2%
    Random schedule odds: 22.9%
    Difference: +9.3%
    One of the biggest offseason stories in 2013 was the Eagles hiring former Oregon coach Chip Kelly. No one is more excited to see how his analytical mind will change the NFL more than us nerds. But on top of potentially exposing inefficiencies in the game, such as fourth-down decisions, Kelly is graced with a cakewalk of a schedule -- making the Eagles poised for a bounce-back season. Though they'll face tough matchups with the Bears, Packers and Broncos, Eagles fans should be salivating for games against the Lions, Chiefs, Chargers and Cardinals in Philly. The Eagles are also fortunate enough to play the Raiders, Vikings and Bucs, although they will have to succeed on the road in those games.
    2. Cleveland Browns

    2013 playoff odds: 29.6%
    Random schedule odds: 21.3%
    Difference: +8.3%
    Tell a Browns fan that Cleveland has almost a 30 percent chance to make the playoffs and you will see what true elation looks like. While they have tough inner-division games, the Browns should profit from matchups against Jacksonville, Buffalo and Kansas City. Cleveland also gets to play the Jets and Dolphins but has road tilts against the Patriots and Packers.
    3. Pittsburgh Steelers

    2013 playoff odds: 47.9%
    Random schedule odds: 39.9%
    Difference: +8.0%
    Like the Browns, the Steelers have the good fortune of playing the soft AFC East, and their toughest matchups will also be road games against the Patriots and Packers. There has been a lot of offseason movement from the Steel City, but one thing remains constant: Ben Roethlisberger. When healthy, Big Ben once again put up an extremely efficient season, and thanks to the fact that the Steelers play the AFC's No. 3 seeds instead of No. 1 seeds (sorry, Baltimore), the Steelers have the best chance of winning the AFC North in 2013.
    4. Dallas Cowboys

    2013 playoff odds: 34.5%
    Random schedule odds: 28.3%
    Difference: +6.2%
    The Cowboys are sticking with Tony Romo despite his lack of postseason success, and with their 2013 schedule, they have just over a one-in-three chance of even playing come January. Akin to the Eagles, the Cowboys play the soft AFC West, giving them another chance to take down Andy Reid. Romo will have to win tough road games in New Orleans and Chicago, in addition to posting a strong division record, to make a playoff trip a reality.
    5. San Francisco 49ers

    2013 playoff odds: 59.1%
    Random schedule odds: 54.2%
    Difference: +4.9%
    49ers fans have already received a few consolation prizes for their Super Bowl runner-up status, including a new toy for Colin Kaepernick in Anquan Boldin. Here is one more: the No. 5 easiest schedule in 2013. Already favorites to return to the postseason, the 49ers play their toughest opponents at home and their weakest ones on the road. Home games include contests against the Falcons, Texans, Packers and Colts while they face the Bucs, Jaguars, Titans and Redskins on the road. That combined with an already dominant all-around squad means a happy Jim Harbaugh.
    Top 5 hardest schedules

    1. New England Patriots

    2013 playoff odds: 67.7%
    Random schedule odds: 76.0%
    Difference: -8.3%
    The Patriots ran away with the AFC East in 2012 per usual and owned the No. 1 offense in the NFL by far -- scoring almost 300 points above what a league-average offense would put up. Even with Wes Welker gone, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick shouldn't miss a beat. On top of playing the other dominant 1-seeds in the AFC (Houston, Denver and Baltimore), the AFC East is tasked with matchups against two of the toughest divisions in the league: the AFC North and NFC South. The Patriots will need to (and should) capitalize on their six division games to return to the postseason.
    2. Atlanta Falcons

    2013 playoff odds: 41.3%
    Random schedule odds: 49.6%
    Difference: -8.3%
    The Falcons finished 13-3 in the regular season but fell short of the Super Bowl once again, losing to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Similar to the Patriots, the Falcons play all the other NFC 1-seeds: Green Bay, San Francisco and Washington. Matt Ryan & Co. also have home games against the Patriots and Seahawks that could be must-win games given how competitive we project the NFC South to be. Two games against both the Saints and Panthers -- one of the most underrated teams in the league -- give the Falcons the toughest schedule in the NFC.
    3. Baltimore Ravens

    2013 playoff odds: 39.1%
    Random schedule odds: 47.1%
    Difference: -8.0%
    Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Super Bowl Champions! And how are they rewarded? With the third-toughest route back to the playoffs. The Ravens already play in an extremely tough AFC North, but they will also play five games against the Patriots, Texans, Broncos, Packers and Bears. With Ray Lewis gone, people are questioning the Ravens defense, and they will surely be tested against three of the top six offenses from 2012.
    4. Washington Redskins

    2013 playoff odds: 42.8%
    Random schedule odds: 50.8%
    Difference: -8.0%
    Redskins fans aren't thinking about the playoffs in 2013. Their only concern is if and when Robert Griffin III will be healthy. After a magical run in the NFC East in 2012, the Redskins will get a chance to silence those who believe it was a fluke (read: fans of every other NFC East team). Washington will be an underdog against the other NFC division winners as well as on the road against the Broncos. In order to see postseason action this season, the Redskins will need to capitalize on easy home games against the Lions, Chiefs and Chargers.
    5. New Orleans Saints

    2013 playoff odds: 31.1%
    Random schedule odds: 37.3%
    Difference: -6.2%
    Welcome back Sean Payton! While you were gone, your division got even tougher and your defense appears to have lost all ability to play the sport. But don't forget how dominant the Saints were just two years ago. The Saints' opponents for 2013 had a combined winning percentage of .539 in 2012, second highest of any team. Like the Falcons, the Saints will match up against the Patriots and the entire NFC West. That inept Saints defense, which allowed 115 points above what a league-average defense would, will need to step up in order to stop four of the top five most efficient offenses from 2012.
  2. ThunderHorse17

    ThunderHorse17 Lone Wolf

    Apr 10, 2010
    Our schedule has its pitfalls and speed bumps. But considering how screwed we could have been with Noon games and the Bye week. I think we could have gotten worse.

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