Blogs From The Zoo
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I've searched for strength of schedule numbers in the past. Sometimes I can find them, sometimes I can't. It's rare that I stumble upon mid-season strength of schedule numbers. And they generally don't have the level of detail I'm interested in. So I've decided to maintain a running series of strength of schedule blogs, updated weekly, for anyone who's interested.

These numbers will adjust weekly as teams win / loss records change.

This first chart lists the strength of schedule that teams have played so far:

The following chart lists the strength of schedule that teams will be playing throughout the remainder of the season:

This last chart compiles the strength of schedule for the entire season based on 2011 standings.

And because I've gotten this far...

2012 Draft Order Projections (not to be confused with a mock draft)

Strength of Schedule is the NFL's primary tiebreaker for determining draft order. If two teams finish with the same record, the team with the weakest strength of schedule drafts first.

If the NFL season were to end today, the following 20 teams would miss the play-offs and draft in the following order (based on their entire 17-week strength of schedule):

November 15, 2011  09:58 PM ET

I love this. I've also searched for a long time looking for strength of schedule numbers and can never find them. Kudos to you for finally doing this. Much appreciated.

November 15, 2011  09:59 PM ET

I may use your projected draft order for my draft blog.

Comment #3 has been removed
Comment #4 has been removed
November 15, 2011  10:23 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

GB's schedule is about to get a lot tougher. We'll see if that 9-0 or 10-0 start (or whatever it is) is legit or if it's a byproduct of the NFL's 2nd easiest schedule through 10 weeks.

Though part of what makes their strength of schedule appear easier is that they've handed out 9 losses to the teams they've played, so their records will automatically be worse.

November 15, 2011  10:47 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

Though part of what makes their strength of schedule appear easier is that they've handed out 9 losses to the teams they've played, so their records will automatically be worse.

What I could do... but I probably won't try it until season's end...

Is back out the opponent-wins/losses accumulated playing against said team (e.g. Green Bay's adjusted opponent wins/losses for games played would be 34-39).

November 15, 2011  10:56 PM ET

I knew New England would be last from now on. Their schedule is a joke from here on out.

November 15, 2011  11:05 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

I may use your projected draft order for my draft blog.

Awesome. I actually thought of your Mock Drafts when I was sorting the Draft Order.

I wanted to list the bottom section as an Andrew Luck Sweepstakes ranking. But then Indianapolis took a two game "lead". Mock Drafting beyond that is out of my realm.

November 15, 2011  11:36 PM ET

Bears have a tough schedule.

November 15, 2011  11:51 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

What I could do... but I probably won't try it until season's end...Is back out the opponent-wins/losses accumulated playing against said team (e.g. Green Bay's adjusted opponent wins/losses for games played would be 34-39).

I'd love to see that, I think that would be really interesting but it'd probably be a pain to do manually and probably not available anywhere online.

November 16, 2011  08:08 AM ET

Your first chart illustrates perfectly why I never put any stock into "strength of schedule" in season.

The 6 teams that supposedly have played the most difficult schedules are all below .500. Three of them have lost 7 or more games. That inflates their opponents records, by default making their own schedule appear more difficult than it actually is.

Does that make sense?

I'd be much more interested in seeing a chart of strength of schedule that eliminated their own games from the equation.

November 16, 2011  08:17 AM ET
QUOTE(#6):

What I could do... but I probably won't try it until season's end...Is back out the opponent-wins/losses accumulated playing against said team (e.g. Green Bay's adjusted opponent wins/losses for games played would be 34-39).

Ah, you already beat me to it.

November 16, 2011  08:19 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

Ah, you already beat me to it.

Just a quick glance at the Colts record and it's easy to see their "6th toughest" schedule changes from 51-42 to a sub .500 41-42 when you take out opponents wins over them. All of a sudden, that schedule wasn't really so tough.

November 16, 2011  10:58 AM ET

Don't know if anybody can go against the Chiefs' next six games for sure, @NE, Pitt, @Chi, @NYJ, GB, Oak. pretty brutal for anybody.

November 16, 2011  11:16 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

Don't know if anybody can go against the Chiefs' next six games for sure, @NE, Pitt, @Chi, @NYJ, GB, Oak. pretty brutal for anybody.

That's pretty tough. The last 6 TB games including this week..

@San Fran, New Orleans, Chicago(in London), @New Orleans, Houston, @Green Bay

November 16, 2011  11:25 AM ET

Opponent's opponent records too! HA!

November 16, 2011  11:31 AM ET

So Oakland has a tougher schedule than Denver to close out the season. I'll be sure to let DJ know about that.

November 16, 2011  11:37 AM ET

This is really very interesting (Un). I look forward to the future blogs - especially the one that comes at the end of the season.

November 16, 2011  11:40 AM ET
QUOTE(#11):

I'd be much more interested in seeing a chart of strength of schedule that eliminated their own games from the equation.

Now that I think about it, even taking out record against wouldn't give a clear indication of anything because opponents who play each other will skew the numbers as well.

A good example would be Cincy, Pitt, Bal. All well above .500 teams, but with two match ups each against each other, those games are going to reflect a .500 record towards "strength of schedule" by default.

The Bengals are 6-3, 6-2 when not facing the Steelers or Ravens
The Ravens are 6-3, 4-3 when not facing the Steelers or Bengals
The Steelers are 7-3, 6-1 when not facing the Ravens or Bengals

Combined record of the three teams - 19-9 .679
Combined record when not facing each other - 16-6 .727

To better illustrate, look at the difference when just taking the Ravens-Steelers head to head:

Combined - 13-6 .684
Combined when not against each other 11-4 .733

The Ravens won both head to head games, but that makes no difference. If they had split, or if the Steelers won both their combined record would still be exactly the same. Just the act of playing each other, regardless of who won, drops their combined win % by almost 5 points.

This most greatly affects Cleveland. With 6 games against these 3 teams, their strength of schedule is actually more difficult than it appears using just overall W/L of opponents.

The NFC West has the exact opposite affect. Three of the four teams have won 3 or fewer games, but by default someone -has- to win the game when they face each other.

Sea, Ari, STL combined record 8-19 .421
Combined record when not facing each other 6-17 .352

Just the act of playing each other improves their combined record by nearly 7 points even though no other possible outcome existed in those games. (obviously I'm ignoring ties as that is so rare as to have virtually no chance of having an affect)

This affects the "strength of schedule" of every team that plays the West, but most directly affects the 49ers who have 6 games against these teams. San Fran's "strength of schedule" is actually substantially easier than it appears at first glance.

I'm not sure if this makes sense to anyone but me, and I might be over analyzing it. I just think basing "strength of schedule" on opponents record alone is a flawed metric.

Of course if one tried to create a formula that took all of these things into account, nobody would understand it, and it really couldn't be analyzed until seasons end, anyhow.

 
November 16, 2011  01:35 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

That's pretty tough. The last 6 TB games including this week..@San Fran, New Orleans, Chicago(in London), @New Orleans, Houston, @Green Bay

touche'

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