ESPN posted the strength of schedule for each NFL team on its website so let’s take a quick look.
Based on the 2013 records of their 2014 opponents, the Redskins have the 17th-hardest schedule in the NFL. Their upcoming foes combined to post a .490 winning percentage.
That’s about in the middle of the 32 NFL teams’ SOS. But you have to figure that since the Redskins finished last in the NFC East they have the easiest schedule of all the teams in the division, right?
No, unfortunately the belief that last-place teams get significantly easier schedules than the teams that finished ahead of them persists among many fans and media. It’s a myth.
A first-place team in a division plays two games that are different from the last place team. This year, for example, the Eagles play the Packers and Panthers while the Redskins play the Vikings and Bucs. The two teams have identical opponents for 12 other games and the play each other twice. The non-common games are only a small portion of the schedule.
And since the rest of the NFC East gets two games against the 3-13 Redskins their schedule strength is lower. The Cowboys (.488) are 18th, the Eagles (.479) are 20th and the Giants (.465) are 26th.
But there is little reason to get either excited or down about a team’s prospects based on SOS. The NFL changes so much from year to year. For the Redskins last year the two games against the Eagles (4-12 in 2012) and the one against the Chiefs (2-14) were supposed to be relatively easy while the game in Atlanta (13-3) should have been impossible.
A schedule that looks very tough (or easy) at the start of the season can look very different by midseason. We will see what happens with the Redskins’ schedule.