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NFL Strength of Schedule: Who has the easiest and the toughest schedule in 2021?

NFL Strength of Schedule: Who has the easiest and the toughest schedule in 2021?

Who has the easiest and the toughest strength of schedule in the NFL for the 2021 season? Here’s a look at all 32 teams’ strength of schedule.

Traditional strength of schedule calculations adds up the previous year’s record of a team’s upcoming opponents to calculate strength of schedule for the upcoming season. This method is flawed, though. There are so many changes from season to season — the draft, free agency, trades, injuries, and coaching changes can all impact a team’s capability from one season to the next. For example, the Packers finished 7-9 in 2017 after QB Aaron Rodgers went down injured, and calculating them as a seven-win team with Rodgers under center is absurd.

A better way of forecasting strength of schedule is to add up the opponents’ regular-season totals for the upcoming season.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers – 152.6 wins
  2. Houston Texans – 150.4
  3. Las Vegas Raiders – 150
  4. New Orleans Saints – 149.9
  5. Washington Football Team – 149.2
  6. Chicago Bears – 148.7
  7. Detroit Lions – 148.4
  8. Cincinnati Bengals – 148.1
  9. Arizona Cardinals – 147.9
  10. Los Angeles Rams – 146.7
  11. New York Giants – 146.6
  12. Atlanta Falcons – 146.3
  13. Baltimore Ravens – 145.7
  14. Kansas City Chiefs – 145.6
  15. New England Patriots – 145.4
  16. Minnesota Vikings – 145.1
  17. Green Bay Packers – 144.4
  18. New York Jets – 144.3
  19. Carolina Panthers – 143.9
  20. Indianapolis Colts – 143.8
  21. Tennessee Titans – 143.8
  22. Los Angeles Chargers – 143.6
  23. Miami Dolphins – 143.5
  24. Buffalo Bills – 143.3
  25. Seattle Seahawks – 142.3
  26. Dallas Cowboys – 141.7
  27. Denver Broncos – 141.7
  28. Jacksonville Jaguars – 141.4
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 141.4
  30. Philadelphia Eagles – 141.2
  31. Cleveland Browns – 141.1
  32. San Francisco 49ers – 138.8 wins

Toughest 2021 schedule

An injured Ben Roethlisberger roams the sidelines during a Pittsburgh Steelers game.

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The toughest schedule of 2021 belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin’s squad already plays in one of the toughest divisions in football, the AFC North, and has to play the Browns (9.9 wins) and Ravens (11.2 wins) twice every year.

To kick off the season, they face a road trip to Buffalo, where the Bills Mafia will be in the stadium for the first time in over a year. They also go on the road to Green Bay and host the Seahawks, all in the first five weeks of the season.

What really stands out is how tough their schedule is down the stretch when injuries and playoff implications really start to impact teams. During the final six weeks of the season, they have three divisional games — against Baltimore twice and Cleveland — plus Kansas City on the road, Minnesota, and Tennessee.

Easiest 2021 schedule

Injuries ravaged Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers squad in 2020, which saw them limp to a 6-10 record just one year after representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.

They traded up to third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and took quarterback Trey Lance. Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will ease into 2021 with a season opener against the Detroit Lions.

It’s quite surprising to see a team from the NFC West have the easiest schedule, given how tough that division is. They face a weak AFC South and play the stronger NFC North opponents (Packers and Vikings) at home. Their extra games come against the Philadelphia Eagles with a new head coach in Week 2, the Atlanta Falcons without Julio Jones, and the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Last updated: Tue 8th June 2021

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