Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

2013 NFL Schedule Discussion Thread

The NFL announced the full 2013 schedule tonight. Here's a link and a thread for you to discuss which teams have particularly easy or hard stretches. I'm very happy that, at least at first glance, it doesn't look like the league did that crazy thing it did in 2012 where numerous division rivalries had both games scheduled within three or four weeks of each other.

P.S. I'm wrong. Oh, for crying out loud. Saints and Panthers play twice in three weeks. So do Giants and Eagles, and Colts and Titans. It's so damn stupid.


by Phoenix of Fury :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 9:06pm

Not necessarily competition related, but the Broncos have a tough home schedule to attend this year with two Thursday night games and a Monday night.

by Dennis :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 9:40pm

But one of the Thursday games is the opener which is actually an advantage. It's not a short week and then they get the long week before the next game.

by Jimmy Oz :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 10:59pm

(edit, missed the post script)
They've also got 2 Broncos - Chiefs games in a fortnight.

I have no idea why they do this, as if the previous game is blow-out, there's not much to be changed in two weeks when they're 3 months into the season.

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 9:11pm

Complete bullshit. Five early starts 3 East coast games, all of them early games for the Seahawks. The 9ers only have two 10am games, one of which is the Jaguars.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 10:18pm

Boo f&**ing hoo, the niners have four games on a short week, all of which involve a road game at one end or the other.

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 10:51pm

-4 10 am starts seems like a pretty good trade for +1 short week.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 9:40am

Seattle have to start three hours early four more times while the niners get a five day week three times along with a three day week going to the Rams.

You can play all the violins in the world to lament the Seahawks but the niners' schedule is brutal.

by jimbohead :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 10:55am

Most of my analysis of the niners schedule is centered around how often they'll play in non-SF market areas (without the insanely expensive Sunday Ticket). This year looks pretty good. Then again, it's looked good since the advent of Harbaugh.

by RickD :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 2:11pm

Maybe the West Coast teams should simply invest in alarm clocks?

Seriously, I'm beyond tired of this whining about "10 a.m. starts". People perform at high levels of athleticism at that time of day all the time. Most major marathons are run early in the morning.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 2:22pm

The stats are pretty damning, it's a major impediment for west coast teams.

by RickD :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 2:34pm

West Coast teams have been fairly weak for the past decade. I've yet to see a discussion of this issue that controlled for that.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 3:21pm

The sample sizes are inevitably small and it could be a chicken and egg situation where they seem weak because they suffer playing 10 am games on the road. The weakness of the Rams muddies the waters because they represent a significant portion of the 10 am games.

Even with that it has been shown that the west coast teams performances are weaker in the early starts.

(stats copied from ESPN, apologies for the awful formatting)

2001-12 Road Records by Kickoff Times
Team 10 a.m. PT 1 to 1:25 p.m. PT
SD 23-26 16-19
SEA 19-34 14-22
SF 17-43 10-9
OAK 15-39 10-17
ARI 15-43 10-21
Totals 89-185 60-88

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 3:43pm

There's no reason at this point to think that its anything other than West Coast teams simply not preparing properly for these games. Maybe they should go to bed earlier the night before, or fly out a day early.

Also, comparing 1pm games to 4pm games without controlling for quality of opponent is kind of strange. Typically the quality of opponent goes up when you go from 1pm->4pm->Monday night->8PM.

by maxnote :: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 1:29pm

I don't think the problems with early games result from a lack of trying. Every west coast team has this problem, and none of them have figured out ways to fix it. I think it is the 49ers who fly out either a day earlier or more. I think the problem is, if you leave earlier, you have less time at your state-of-the-art practice facilities.

I do think it would be interesting if this was looked at in terms of expected DVOA vs. actual DVOA for all west coast teams to see exactly how large the difference is.

by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 10:52pm

Totally agree. People can pooh pooh this all they want, but it's real and it's an unfair advantage to east coast teams. Even Vegas takes it into account in their betting lines so you know that says something right there.

I hope DVOA does an analysis as well. It would be interesting.

by patriotsbeatz :: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 10:57am


I was raised in Boston but I live in CA now and I love the start time.

by RickG (not verified) :: Wed, 04/24/2013 - 1:02am

Seahawks fans should take it easy. The early starts don't help, but they aren't that more debilitating than any other home game. Last year, the Miami and Carolina games were clearly winnable, but the Hawks couldn't punch out a victory. Remember, that was the early part of the year that had Wilson's playbook reduced and the team was not in peak form. This year is different. Wilson has this team eating out of his hand and he isn't going to let them think about the early start disadvantage. He will have them focus on execution, not the start time.

by Anon (not verified) :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 9:31pm

The team from your city is weak and will lose, while the team from my city is strong and will be victorious.

by JonFrum :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 10:53pm

Unless, that is, the agents of the Templars and the Rosicrucians manipulate the schedule against us.

by zenbitz :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 3:03pm


by Dean :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 3:51pm
by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 12:58am

Last year, I thought the MNF sked looked really good heading into the season, but this year, it seems to me unusually bad, or at least back to the pre-2012 level (before the NFL could stash bad primetime games on TNF).

There are some nice matchups (CHI @ GB, PIT @ CIN, ATL @ SF, NO @ SEA), but a lot of random ones that have the potential to be really bad, like NYJ @ ATL or MIN @ NYG.

I don't know, but I still don't think ESPN is getting close to it's moneys worth with their slate, even though their package is the most expensive, and they promote the NFL far more than the other networks (other than NFLNetwork, obviously).

Also think it's only a matter of time before the TNF slate gets sold to Turner or some other network.

by Insancipitory :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 5:55am

Didn't the Vikings humiliate the Giants in New Jersey by scoring 21 points and winning with something like less than 100 yards of offense? I would love to see that again.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 10:13am


24-21. The Vikings offense managed a field goal. Their TDs were INT, KO, and punt returns.

Fittingly enough, the Vikings have beaten the Lions three times in games in which they scored 20 or more with 200 yards or less of offense.

by Guido Merkens :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 10:16am

18 completions for 144 yards. Can't say I miss having Brad Johnson in the league.

by vcs (not verified) :: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 1:03am

I don't understand this at all. ESPN is paying twice what NBC is, and gets a bunch of mostly second-rate matchups as a result. Plus, MNF is looking more and more like a low-budget production, and not something that's the network is spending $2B/year on.

Of course, ESPN can pass on their costs directly to cable subscribers. But why they would spend so much money for a bunch of second-level games really seems odd.

(And the NFL Network Thursday games will only be sold if the price is right. NFLN currently exists a subtle threat -- either pay us or we'll take it all in-house.)

by Jerry :: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 3:19am

Getting the NFL "legitimized" ESPN. It was their way of showing they were a first-rate network who could demand large fees from cable companies. And now, with several broadcasters getting into and/or beefing up cable sports channels, keeping the NFL is important to ESPN, even if the matchups they get aren't as good as what ABC used to get on Monday nights. (The NFL Network doesn't yet come across as any kind of serious competition.) At the moment, ESPN needs the NFL more than the NFL needs ESPN, and the league isn't shy about charging for that.

by RickG (not verified) :: Wed, 04/24/2013 - 1:08am

Sometimes the TNF games on the NFL network aren't the best, but Nessler is a decent caller and Mayock is one of the best color guys.

by Theo :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 8:16am

Rivalry/division games close to each other... why is that such a bad thing? Care to explain that?

by drobviousso :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 9:17am

Makes large stretches of the season kind of meaningless

by Guido Merkens :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 10:17am

It can also make fairly minor injuries have a huge effect on divisional races.

by RickD :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 2:15pm

Well, remember when Roethlisberger went down just in time for the three-week stretch including two games against the Ravens? The Steelers managed to win the second of the games, but really, is this what we want?

by Sifter :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 5:41pm

No, but how to fix it? If you do the opposite and make the rivalry games in week 1 and 17, then it's just time for MORE injuries to build up - just different kinds of injuries.

by Sifter :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 5:45pm

I'm with ya Theo...to me there is more appeal in teams playing each other in fairly quick succession as the last game between the two is more recent, therefore more relevant, and therefore building up that rivalry.

On top of this, many other team sports manage to have rematches in quick succession without the earth exploding. NBA, MLB, NHL playoffs for example, soccer's home and away legs in World Cup qualifiers or European leagues, up to 5 back-to-back Test matches in a cricket series, rugby competitions like the Bledisloe Cup between Australia and NZ play 3 matches between each other in a month.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 10:49am

So the Packers have a unique away/home alternation for the first 9 weeks. Week 9/10 they have back to back home games but it's alternating the rest of the way, no back to back road games. First time they have never had back to back road games. I'm curious how often that may have happened for any team. Additionally, has a team ever had a full season of alternation with no back to back home or back to back away games?

by JonFrum :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 11:44am

At the start of last year, the Patriots had one of the easiest schedules. By the end of the season, they had one of the hardest schedules in the league I'll wait and watch the games.

by Never Surrender :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 12:15pm

I'd like to see an analysis of pre-season DoS rankings — created in the mainstream way using W-L records — versus a retrospective ranking done using DVOA.

Every year I track it just for my team (the Redskins), but I'd love to see a league-wide analysis done.

Having said that, I haven't looked around for such a comparison, so maybe it's been done before. (Maybe even on FO, though I've read the site for years and can't recall seeing anything like that.)

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 12:46pm

Scott Kacsmar (aka Captain Comeback) just did one, but it's simpler than the work you desire.

He just looked at the predicted SoS based on the previous years results and the actual SoS based on what actually happened for every year from 2008-2012. He only used W/L, so DVOA isn't involved, but it is interesting how much things change from how we view a team coming into the season to what happens.

Here's the link: http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/2013-nfl-schedule-the-year-...

by Never Surrender :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 3:05pm

Awesome. Thanks!

by nat :: Sun, 04/21/2013 - 6:32pm

It's somewhat annoying that the article you reference makes note of the problem that strong teams create "weak" schedules by winning, and then fails to do the simple correction to remove the problem when reporting the "actual" SoS.

Just subtract away a team's record from its SoS to get how their opponents did against the rest of the league. It's best to think of last year's Broncos playing against a 114-126 SoS, and going 13-3. Still a weak schedule, but not as weak as the original number suggests. The Patriots opponents were above average at 122-116-2, a solid but not unusual result.

Without the correction, you get the impression of a league conspiracy to screw over weak teams by giving them tough schedules. Which just ain't so.

by QW (not verified) :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 12:15pm

Last Year, NE's schedule ranked #21 in DVOA, hardly 1 of the hardest schedules in the league

by RickD :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 2:18pm

I think the point being aimed at is that playing the NFC West was supposed to be a cake walk for the Pats, based on their collective mediocrity over recent seasons. But the division was much stronger last season and the Pats only managed to go 1-3 against them.

by jimbohead :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 2:31pm

I think the better example would be the 49ers SoS, opening the season as the 29th hardest by DVOA, finishing as the 3rd hardest. NFCW's sudden non-horribleness took everyone by surprise.

by QW (not verified) :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 2:33pm

That partly shows even more how Weak NE's schedule was. Despite playing vs the relatively tough NFC West, their schedule still was only 21st in Difficulty.

SF is a good example of a schedule being harder than anyone expected

by RickD :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 2:36pm

Yes, the NFC West was harder, but the AFC East was easier than expected.

by JonFrum :: Sun, 04/21/2013 - 9:16am

The weakness of the AFC East was known at the beginning of the year. No one had Seattle that good at the time. The Colts had a much better record than expected - people were talking about a three win season. The Broncos, at 13-3, performed better than many were willing to predict. Tannehill was better than expected in his first year, and the 49ers went to the Super Bowl.

by CeeBee (not verified) :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 3:28pm

I predict NYG will start out 6-2, then go 3-5 in the second half. At 9-7, they will then either
A. Miss the playoffs
B. Win the Super Bowl

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 04/19/2013 - 3:44pm

Or, they go 11-1 and then Victor Cruz shoots himself in the leg, and they lose their home game after the bye to the #6 seed Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler (playing the role of late-career Donovan McNabb).

They don't always go on miracle runs. They sometimes are really, really good and have done to them what they do unto others.

by patriotsbeatz :: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 12:58pm

So how long until the NFL does something similar to MLB.TV?

I grew up in Boston but now that I live in CA it's more difficult to watch my favorite sport teams. Obviously MLB.TV allows me to watch all Red Sox games and all baseball games for that matter and across as many devices at the sametime as I want.

Where the heck is NFL.TV? I know they have DirectTV NFL Sunday Ticket but I do not want cable or satellite. I only watch whatever channels my attenae brings in & I have apple tv for hulu, netflix, itunes, etc. SO NFL.TV WHERE YOU AT? I hate watching my Patriots in low quality on crappy streaming websites.

Does anyone know if someone offers something like this?

by maxnote :: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 1:33pm

I think they do in Europe. I remember when I was in London a couple of years ago my uncle was using something like that. But other than Game Rewind, which is only after the fact, I don't think any similar service exists here.

by MJK :: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 4:36pm

It decidedly and intentionally does not. I'm in the same boat (hardcore Pats fan living in CA). DirecTV paid a LOT of money to the NFL for the exclusive license for Sunday Ticket, and recognizes that it's the only reason why a lot of DirecTV subscribers stick with them in these days of Hulu and streaming Netflix, not to mention traditional competition from DISH and cable (plus the free, local airwave broadcast, which you can get in some areas in HD). As a result, the NFL intentionally does not allow any other form of "watch a game out of market" mode in the US, and relentlessly prosecutes any attempt to circumvent the system.

I even looked into whether it's possible for a cable or satellite provided to, for a fee or not, provide me with their Boston feed rather than their California feed (which they certainly have the ability to do!) since I'd actually rather watch local Boston news and sports than Bay Area ones anyway. But the answer there is no, due this time to FCC regulations rather than the reluctance of the media provider (who actually has an interest in other profit opportunities). These FCC regulations exist, as far as I can tell, in response to powerful lobbying efforts by TV advertisers rather than out of any conceivable argument for the good of the public or the consumer.

I personally think the DirecTV exclusive license to Sunday Ticket should jeapordize the NFL's antitrust exemption far more than any other argument that people put forward, but frankly, antitrust laws have zero teeth anymore for any industry in the US (a root of many of our nation's problems, but I'll stop there to avoid getting into politics).

So I'm afraid your only options are Rewind after the fact, DirecTV with Sunday Ticket, a sports bar, or becoming a Niners (or Chargers, depending on where you are) fan, unless you feel like skirting the law and have tech savvy friends back east to help.

by patriotsbeatz :: Sun, 04/21/2013 - 11:47pm

How long till the DriectTV contract runs out with the NFL?

And trust me, I still watch my Patriots, it's just not always in the best quality that say, MLB.tv provides!

by Scott C :: Wed, 04/24/2013 - 1:51am

You can get NFL Sunday Ticket with Playstation 3, rather than having to have DirectTV satellite.

As a Charger fan in the Bay Area, a time slot when the Chargers are on instead of an Oakland blackout or Niners game is rare. I can't get DirectTV, so my outs are either go to sports bars or pay for Sunday Ticket on PS3.