NFL Picks: 2013-14 NFL Strength of Schedule

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 3:08 PM GMT

Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2013 3:08 PM GMT

NFL handicappers often forget to research a team’s strength of schedule during the offseason, which could prove costly when making your NFL picks in the futures market and on a weekly basis.

A look back 

Based on their opponents’ 2011 record, only three of 10 teams that had the toughest schedules in the league made last year’s playoffs, with the New York Giants being left out in the dark. 

The Super Bowl XLVI champions entered the 2012 campaign with the NFL’s toughest schedule, as they faced seven teams that won nine or more games in 2011—a combined record of 140-116 (.547). 

The Denver Broncos gained the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs despite facing the league’s second-toughest schedule, but that wouldn’t have happened without the offseason acquisition of former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

Surprisingly enough, the Baltimore Ravens managed to capture the franchise's second Lombardi Trophy in 2012 despite facing the fourth-toughest road to New Orleans—tied with the St. Louis Rams with their opponents possessing a .523 win percentage.

Finally, the Minnesota Vikings earned an NFC Wild Card spot by finishing with a 10-6 record, as it lined up against the eighth most difficult schedule among 32 teams.  Running back Adrian Peterson’s 2,097 rushing yards played a key role in that success.

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Easy street a season ago 

Las Vegas sportsbooks took a lot of action on the Green Bay Pacers and New England Patriots to finish OVER their regular-season win totals last year, as they entered the season with the 31st and 32nd easiest schedules respectively. 

Both teams went on to win their divisions, but neither made it to Super Bowl XLVII. 

It’s important to point out that the Broncos have the easiest perceived road to land in the playoff field in 2013. 

Favorites

The NFL odds makers ar Pinnacle Sports have the Broncos (+568), San Francisco 49ers (+598), Seattle Seahawks (+702), Patriots (+732) and Packers (+1,161) as the five betting favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII. 

As stated earlier, Denver has the easiest road of this grouping, as its opponents compiled a 110-146 (.430) record in 2012. 

The Packers have the toughest schedule out of these five teams, as they sit in the sixth position in this category.

Troublesome road for a SB contender

Virtually everyone is expecting the Atlanta Falcons to make their fourth consecutive playoff appearance, but I find their schedule to be quite challenging throughout, especially when playing outside the Georgia Dome. 

The Falcons will open up on the road against the New Orleans Saints—a franchise that’ll be rejuvenated with the return of head coach Sean Payton.

A home opener against the improving St. Louis Rams is no picnic the following week, with its first outdoor game in the humidity of South Florida to follow, which could have a lingering effect in hosting the Patriots in Week 4. 

Two road games in Buffalo and Green Bay in Week 13 and 14 could seal this indoor team’s fate if the weather isn’t hospitable in December.

Most difficult schedules based on opponents' 2012 record

2013 Strength of Schedule

Team

    SOS

Opponent record

Carolina Panthers

.543

138-116-2

Detroit Lions

.539

138-118-0

NO Saints

.539

137-117-2

St. Louis Rams

.539

137-117-2

Baltimore Ravens

.535

137-119-0

Green Bay Packers

.533

136-119-1

Arizona Cardinals

.520

131-121-4

Miami Dolphins

.520

133-123-0

SF 49ers

.520

132-122-2

Minnesota Vikings

.516

132-124-0

Seattle Seahawks

.516

130-122-4

Cincinnati Bengals

.508

130-126-0

J-Ville Jaguars

.508

129-125-2

NE Patriots

.508

130-126-0

Atlanta Falcons

.504

128-126-0

Chicago Bears

.502

128-127-1

TB Buccaneers

.500

127-127-2

Wash. Redskins

.498

127-128-1

New York Jets

.496

127-129-0

Philly Eagles

.496

127-129-0

Cleveland Browns

.492

126-130-0

Pitt. Steelers

.496

126-130-0

Tennessee Titans

.488

124-130-2

New York Giants

.480

123-133-0

Dallas Cowboys

.480

121-134-1

Buffalo Bills

.473

121-135-0

Houston Texans

.473

120-134-2

KC Chiefs

.473

121-135-0

Oakland Raiders

.469

120-136-0

Indianapolis Colts

.461

117-137-2

San Diego

.457

117-139-0

Denver Broncos

.430

110-146-0

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