How Strength of Schedule Affects the Outcome of the NFL Season…

Because of free agency, the draft, coaching changes, injuries and a ton of other factors, we all know that every season in the NFL presents a whole new variety of challenges for each team.

So even though we are always presented a list of each team’s strength of schedule at the beginning of the year, most of us just give it a curious glance and then move on. 

 
However, in looking back at the 2015 season, there are a few interesting facts that do pop out.

Only two of the teams in the the top 10 of easiest schedules (Texans #30) and (Carolina #27)  made the playoffs. 

 
 While 6 teams in the top 10 of most difficult schedules (Steelers #1),  (Bengals #2), (Seahawks #4), (Cardinals #5), (Chiefs #7) and (Broncos #10) made the playoffs. 

 
I was kind of surprised to see that the two teams with the toughest schedules (Steelers and Bengals) overall made the playoffs, but it makes perfect sense that both teams looked tired, broken and frustrated and had major players suffering from injuries as they entered their biggest games.

While the teams with the easiest schedules (Falcons #32) and (Colts 31) had decent runs but sputtered out and didn’t make the playoffs. 

 
The two teams headed to the Super Bowl took very different paths. 

The Broncos who had the 10th toughest schedule in the league, have struggled with injury and frustration as they’ve won their two playoff games by a total of only 9 points. 

 
The Panthers on the other hand, have been cruising as they appear to have hit their second peak of the season, and have won their two games by a total of 41 points. 

 
Although fans talk all season about he fact that the teams who succeeded while playing a weak schedule will fold when the competition gets tough, the opposite seems true. As the teams who haven’t been roughed up all year seem to be more fresh and ready to go as the playoffs approach.

So even though an easy schedule may not better your chances to reach the playoffs, it just may make it easier to succeed once you are there.

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