2015 NFL Strength of Schedule

Now that the schedule for the 2015 NFL season has been released, you have likely seen a number of articles and tweets about which teams have the easiest and hardest road to the Super Bowl based on their respective strength of schedule.  The only problem is that they are using last season’s records as a measurement for this season.  This method is both lazy and inaccurate, especially considering how we have other ways to measure teams for the upcoming season.

In this case, I used the season win totals from CG Technology as a barometer for 2015 performance.  While this system isn’t perfect, it is a more accurate benchmark than simply using last year’s win-loss record.  After factoring in the juice, I produced an adjusted winning percentage for each team.

The next factor is the location of the game.  I assumed a 57.5% advantage for home field and a straight 50/50 split for the three neutral site games that will be played in London.

The final step was using the Log5 Method to determine the odds of winning each game based on the opponents projected winning percentage and the location of the game.  This is normalized to reflect how many games a .500 team would win if they had to play that team’s schedule.  For example, if a completely average 8-8 team had to play the Lions’ schedule, they would end up with 7.78 wins.  The lower the number in the table, the tougher the schedule is for the team.

Team Scheduled Wins
Arizona Cardinals 7.52
Minnesota Vikings 7.62
Pittsburgh Steelers 7.62
San Francisco 49ers 7.73
Detroit Lions 7.78
Dallas Cowboys 7.81
Washington Redskins 7.81
Miami Dolphins 7.84
Oakland Raiders 7.84
St. Louis Rams 7.84
Cincinnati Bengals 7.86
Seattle Seahawks 7.86
Cleveland Browns 7.87
Kansas City Chiefs 7.90
Chicago Bears 7.91
Jacksonville Jaguars 7.93
New York Giants 7.96
Denver Broncos 7.96
Green Bay Packers 7.99
Philadelphia Eagles 8.05
Carolina Panthers 8.06
Buffalo Bills 8.13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8.13
Baltimore Ravens 8.16
New England Patriots 8.21
New York Jets 8.21
San Diego Chargers 8.22
Houston Texans 8.37
Tennessee Titans 8.38
Atlanta Falcons 8.40
Indianapolis Colts 8.40
New Orleans Saints 8.41

According to our research, Arizona has the league’s toughest schedule and this falls in line with the eye test as well.  The Cardinals play in arguably the NFL’s best division (NFC West) with games against the AFC North and the NFC North. Outside these divisional games, Arizona has potentially difficult games against New Orleans and at Philadelphia.

The Saints actually end up with the easiest schedule thanks in large part to three home games against the Bucs, Titans, and Jaguars.  Perhaps an easy road is exactly what Drew Brees and New Orleans need to get back into the playoff picture.

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Travis

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