NFL strength of schedule: 2022's easiest and hardest seasons originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The 2022 NFL regular season schedule is upon us and it’s never too early to start placing your bets. Not sure where to begin? Try strength of schedule.
The strength of a team’s schedule can make or break the playoff picture. Unlike college sports, there’s no room for objectivity in the NFL playoffs. It’s a game of records, and a swath of games against playoff contenders can torpedo any team on the bubble.
Here’s all you need to know about the strongest and weakest schedules in the NFL this season.
How do we determine strength of schedule in the NFL?
Bettors and sports pundits have a variety of ways to calculate the strength of schedule in the NFL, but the most straightforward and popular method is to calculate the total record of a team’s upcoming opponents and rank accordingly.
Nearly an even split, 15 of the league’s 32 teams faced a field that finished over .500 in the 2021-22 season.
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Which NFL teams have the hardest schedule in the 2022-23 regular season?
A number of playoff teams have their work cut out for them in the fall.
The reigning Super Bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams, boast the toughest slate, followed closely by division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. Eleven of the Rams’ 17 games are against teams that made the 2022 NFL playoffs including road trips to Tampa, Green Bay and Kansas City.
Not to be outdone, the Bengals check in with the third-toughest schedule in the league. The Super Bowl runners-up will take on six 2022 playoff teams on the road.
The five hardest schedules, in order, are:
1. Rams: 164-125 (.567)
2. Cardinals: 157-132 (.543)
3. Bengals: 154-133-2 (.536)
4. Buccaneers: 154-134-1 (.535)
T-5. 49ers: 154-135 (.533)
T-5: Chiefs: 154-135 (.533)
Which NFL teams have the easiest schedule in the 2022-23 regular season?
On the flip side, several teams have an easier path to playoff glory.
The Cowboys and Eagles stand out as the lone representatives in the 2022 playoff to appear on this list. While both teams have schedules that feature only seven playoff teams, the Cowboys arguably have a slightly tougher road with road games against the Tennessee Titans and the Green Bay Packers, two teams the Eagles will play at home in Philadelphia.
The five easiest schedules, in order, are:
Calculating the strength of schedule by division
There’s no one way into the NFL playoffs, but winning your division and earning an automatic bid is a good place to start.
To determine the strength of schedule by division, I calculated the aggregate rankings of all teams in a given division.
Which NFL division has the easiest combined schedule in the 2022-23 regular season?
It’s anyone’s game in the NFC East, home to the four easiest schedules in the league. Coming off a 12-5 season, the Cowboys return as the favorites to repeat as regular season division champions. However, a slate of games this weak leave the door open for any team to claim the automatic bid to the playoffs.
Which NFL division has the hardest combined schedule in the 2022-23 regular season?
The NFC West is shaping up to be a boxing match, with three of the five hardest schedules. The lone exception? The Seattle Seahawks, who checked in with a whooping 11th hardest schedule.