Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Jan 2007

FO Mailbag: 2007 Strength of Schedule

Bob in Seattle: I am ALREADY tired of sports-writers saying that the "home town team's schedule for 2007 is really, really tough because the combined record of the teams is XXX-YYY." AAGGHHHH! I hope you'll be publishing 2007 Strength of Schedule for each team based on the Final 2006 DVOA so the informed NFL fan can accurately evaluate schedules for next season.

Aaron Schatz: Your wish is my command. Of course, DVOA this season doesn't tell you which teams will be good or bad next season -- a better strength of schedule will come after we do our team projections, and even that will be imperfect. But we can get a good idea of what's up by looking at the average 2006 DVOA of 2007 opponents. I'll use weighted DVOA so we account for the fact that teams like Tennessee are likely to be better next year.

When it comes to regular schedule, it isn't even close: The four hardest schedules in the league belong to the four teams in the AFC East. First, they have to play each other, and all four AFC East teams were in the Top 20 in weighted DVOA. They also have to play the AFC North, which had only one team with a weighted DVOA below zero (Cleveland), and the NFC East, which had only one team with a weighted DVOA below zero (Washington).

After that, the next hardest schedules belong to Indianapolis, Washington, and Cleveland.

The easiest schedules are generally teams in the NFC West. Arizona has the easiest by far, then San Francisco and St. Louis. They play the AFC North, but they also play the NFC South, which wasn't very good this year. Seattle's schedule comes out as much harder than the other teams because they have to play Chicago instead of a bad NFC North team. Other teams that come out with easy schedules are Chicago and all the NFC South teams -- since they get to play the NFC West.

I also split things into just offense and defense.

• Hardest schedule of opposing offenses: Tennessee, New England, Baltimore, and Buffalo.
• Easiest schedule of opposing offenses: Detroit, San Diego, Green Bay, Chicago, and Minnesota.
• Hardest schedule of opposing defenses (Fantasy Warning!): San Diego, Detroit, Indianapolis, Washington. OK, maybe not so much of a warning.
• Easiest schedule of opposing defenses (Fantasy Opportunity!): Arizona, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore.

Here's the whole list:

1. BUF 6.7%
2. NYJ 6.4%
3. NE 5.7%
4. MIA 3.7%
5. IND 3.6%
6. WAS 3.2%
7. CLE 2.7%
8. TEN 2.5%
9. HOU 2.5%
10. DEN 2.1%
11. OAK 2.0%
12. DAL 1.8%
13. PIT 1.5%
14. CIN 1.2%
15. SD 1.0%
16. PHI 0.7%
17. KC 0.6%
18. NYG 0.5%
19. JAC 0.5%
20. BAL 0.4%
21. DET -0.5%
22. MIN -1.2%
23. GB -1.8%
24. SEA -2.0%
25. ATL -2.1%
26. TB -2.5%
27. CHI -2.5%
28. NO -2.8%
29. CAR -3.2%
30. STL -3.3%
31. SF -3.8%
32. ARI -6.8%

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 03 Jan 2007