Back in February when the 2013 NFL schedule was finalized, some ‘Expert’ at NFL.com (notice the lack of a by line) boldly stated that the Denver Broncos had the easiest schedule in the league. Sure, I can do the addition too. The problem here is that, the unknown pundit omits the fact that the personnel on each NFL team changes from year to year and making a statement upon the previous season’s results isn’t very intelligent. In fact, the only thing it does is stir up trouble.
Here is Broncos head coach John Fox On the AFC West and strength of schedule:
“That’s why – the same way I’d probably answer at the beginning of the season, ‘What do you think of your schedule?’ You just never know. Divisions change, conferences change, teams change – most fans would probably say that what kind of looked like maybe one of the weaker divisions in the AFC, now looks like one of the more stronger divisions. But I think everybody in the division is playing well and that’s kind of what I think.”
Now I’m not going to examine all 32 teams for this experiment, just the teams in the AFC West. Mostly because I want to debunk the strength of schedule myth, but also to see if the 8-0 Kansas City Chiefs are the Paper Tigers that many think they are.
The link at the top of this article has the AFC WEST division teams at the bottom of the list. The Kansas City Chiefs (28th), Oakland Raiders (29th), San Diego Chargers (31st) and the Denver Broncos at (32nd).
Kansas City Chiefs .473 121-135-0
Oakland Raiders .469 120-136-0
San Diego Chargers .457 117-139-0
Denver Broncos .430 110-146-0
Going through all four teams schedules and totaling the opponent records through Week 8 and also the current total for each full schedule shows,
Team Week 8 Totals Full schedule totals (at Week 8)
Broncos 22 -38 .367 60 -59 .504
Chiefs 20 -41 .328 50-63 .442
Raiders 28-24 .538 65 -56 .537
Chargers 20-32 .385 66-56 .541
The results show that the Chiefs have had the easiest schedule in the Division and that they will finish up that way. Even if the rest of the NFL has a tougher schedule, it still puts the Broncos at no lower than 31st. I would venture to say that there are teams in the AFC South and the NFC East, the two weakest divisions at present, that would qualify with easy schedules.
NFL schedules are predicated on a rotational basis. The AFC WEST has been slated to play the NFC EAST and the AFC South this season for half of their games. Another six are the standard division games. The final two games are where the strength of schedule comes in. Those two games are the only ones determined by last season’s results. The 2014 Broncos schedule (and the rest of the WEST) has the AFC NORTH and the NFC SOUTH, plus the usual AFC WEST division opponents listed. The remaining two as well as the Home and Away games will be determined after the Super Bowl.
That said, the only differences in schedules between the AFC WEST divisional opponents are those two strength of schedule listings. There isn’t any East Coast biased Football Deity that is handing out difficult schedules to the Broncos and easy ones for all of their opponents.
Each team in the Broncos Division played two separate teams that the other three did not. Here are those teams and their current records.
Week 7 at Indianapoli 5-2
Week 12 at New England 6-2
Week 8: Cleveland 3-5
Week 9: Buffalo 3-5
Week 8: Pittsburgh 2-5
Week 14: NY Jets 4-4
Week 11: Miami 3-4
Week 13: Cincinnati 6-2
The point here is to show that preseason Strength of schedule rankings don’t mean squat and that the Kansas City Chiefs do in fact have an easy schedule. I guess we will see what theor record is after December 3rd.
– Kaptain Kirk