NFL Picks: Who Has The Easiest And Hardest Strength of Schedule?

David Lawrence

Thursday, April 23, 2015 8:20 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 23, 2015 8:20 PM UTC

The NFL schedule was released on Tuesday night and NFL betting handicappers were quick to start examining futures based on what was posted. We’ve done some homework ourselves and here’s a look at the two teams with the easiest and hardest schedules in the NFL this season.

Toughest Schedules

Pittsburgh Steelers: Strength Of Schedule: .579
If you’re thinking of betting some NFL futures on the Steelers, you might want to think again after the schedule release. They have a tough road to sow. Sure, they’re a solid team but they are in a division where three teams made the playoffs and the Cleveland Browns were that bad, they also face the NFC West and the AFC West, two other divisions that had three teams .500 or better. And don’t forget about that opening night visit to New England and then a visit from the Indianapolis Colts. Wow.

In total, they will play nine games against teams that made playoffs in 2014. That’s a tough one. The only good news might be that the Steelers played well against good teams last year and bad against bad teams.


San Francisco 49ersStrength Of Schedule: .561
While the Cincinnati Bengals technically have the second-toughest schedule (.563), the 49ers will be more challenging since they are a team on the way down. Of course, we know about their division schedule, which will be quite difficult. Two matchups against the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams likely won’t produce a winning record. Remember, San Francisco was just 2-4 in the division last year and they’ve declined since then.

Beyond that, the 49ers play the AFC North and while Chicago and Detroit might be beatable if San Fran was the host, they actually visit both teams, which makes the challenge much harder. And then they also get a visit from Green Bay, who is more than capable of winning in San Francisco, and Minnesota as well in Week 1. Beyond that, the 49ers will also play the Ravens and the Giants and Falcons, who are both supposed to be improved.

The 49ers better hope Colin Kapernick has improved a lot or this team is going to lose a ton of games next season.


Easiest Schedules

Atlanta FalconsStrength Of Schedule: .409
The Falcons have a new head coach, a new direction and a new wave of optimism. While all of those things will help, so will NFL’s easiest schedule. Part of what makes it easy for Atlanta is the division, which featured no teams over .500. And it looks like the New Orleans Saints might be worse after trading away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, and the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t necessarily look better. So if Quinn can fix the defense or at least make it slightly better, if the offensive line can be retooled, which new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is very likely to fix, and the running can provide a sliver of support for Matt Ryan, this team could win the division.

Beyond the easy games inside the division, they also face the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings, so keep this team in mind when making your NFL picks. A big turnaround could be in store for Atlanta.


Indianapolis ColtsStrength Of Schedule: .417
The Colts are my pick to win the AFC and that mostly has to do with their offseason acquisitions but also their schedule. They didn’t necessarily need Frank Gore and Andre Johnson to beat the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars six times. Where those guys will help will be when they host the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. And by the way, while those are their two toughest games, the fact that they host both teams will help their cause.

Other than that, the Colts face the NFC South, which doesn’t have a single team that finished with a winning record last year, and then they also get the AFC East, which could be a challenge, but NFL odds makers know that the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are all wildcards right now.

The Colts have a clear path to win the most games in the NFL thanks to this schedule.

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