NFL Schedule Talk: Fear the … Seahawks?

The concept of strength of schedule is nothing new. While the only things that matters in the NFL, or in any team sport, are wins and losses (and sometimes ties), a team’s record can only tell you so much. Below, you’ll find a more comprehensive look at how each team has reached its current record, and what we may expect from them moving forward.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills (4-1)

Home Record: 3-0
Road Record: 1-1
Record of Past Opponents: 13-12
Record of Future Opponents: 24-27
Point Differential: +44

The Bills have laid waste to opponents at home, and the schedule gets easier from here on out thanks to two games against the 0-4 Dolphins. Their only loss was on the road and by just three points. Considering the level of competition they’ve played, this team could very well be for real.

New England Patriots (4-1)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 2-1
Record of Past Opponents: 13-11
Record of Future Opponents: 21-31
Point Differential: +46

Despite losing to Buffalo in Week 3, the Pats should still come out on top of this division. Games against Miami, Indianapolis and Philadelphia severely depress their schedule going forward, and only two of their last eight opponents have winning records (Washington and Buffalo).

New York Jets (2-3)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 0-3
Record of Past Opponents: 13-11
Record of Future Opponents: 26-26
Point Differential: -4

Unlike last year, the Jets are having serious problems on the road, dropping three straight to Oakland, Baltimore and New England. In order to come back and compete for a Wild Card, they’ll have to perform well against the Chargers, Bills (twice), Patriots, Redskins and Giants.

Miami Dolphins (0-4)

Home Record: 0-2
Road Record: 0-2
Record of Past Opponents: 13-6
Record of Future Opponents: 31-27
Point Differential: -35

The Dolphins have had a rough slate over the first month, playing only teams with a .500 record or better. It doesn’t get much better — only five of their remaining 12 opponents have a sub-.500 record: Jets (twice), Broncos, Chiefs, Eagles. Andrew Luck, here we come.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 1-1
Record of Past Opponents: 8-11
Record of Future Opponents: 28-30
Point Differential: +62

The Ravens have three decisive victories to their credit, giving them the top scoring margin in the AFC. Aside from the Rams, their opponents weren’t pushovers (Steelers, Titans, Jets). Rival Pittsburgh also has an easy schedule, so a lot rides on Baltimore’s Week 9 trip to Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)

Home Record: 1-1
Road Record: 2-1
Record of Past Opponents: 12-12
Record of Future Opponents: 23-28
Point Differential: +16

Let’s not count the Bengals out of any potential playoff race, as their quality defense has helped to grant the team two road wins in their first three tries. Of course, they still have to play both the Ravens and Steelers twice, and the offense failed its first big test against the 49ers in Week 3.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 1-2
Record of Past Opponents: 11-13
Record of Future Opponents: 25-26
Point Differential: +13

With two games against the Bengals and a home game against the Ravens, the Steelers still largely control their postseason fate. The rest of the road schedule includes easy matchups against the Chiefs, Cardinals and Browns — don’t be surprised if this team wins 10-plus.

Cleveland Browns (2-2)

Home Record: 1-2
Road Record: 1-0
Record of Past Opponents: 6-13
Record of Future Opponents: 29-28
Point Differential: -19

Despite playing three of their first four games at home, the Browns find themselves at the bottom of the AFC North. They do have two wins, but those came against teams that are a combined 0-9. They have to play the Ravens or Steelers in four of the last five weeks. That’s a bummer.

AFC South

Houston Texans (3-2)

Home Record: 2-1
Road Record: 1-1
Record of Past Opponents: 10-14
Record of Future Opponents: 22-31
Point Differential: +32

Don’t expect a big drop-off from the Texans. Sure, they pushed around a couple of zero-win teams in their first two games before dropping two of their last three, but the schedule remains pretty easy, with games against the Jaguars (twice), Colts and Panthers.

Tennessee Titans (3-2)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 1-2
Record of Past Opponents: 10-13
Record of Future Opponents: 24-31
Point Differential: +11

Ten of those losses on the Titans’ upcoming schedule come from having to play the Colts twice over the rest of the season. Aside from that, their schedule is pretty up and down. The key games will be with Houston, whom they play after the Week 6 bye and in Week 17.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)

Home Record: 1-2
Road Record: 0-2
Record of Past Opponents: 13-12
Record of Future Opponents: 26-27
Point Differential: -56

Take out a couple games against the Colts still to come, and this Jacksonville schedule still looks pretty difficult. They still have to face the Texans twice, as well as the Steelers, Ravens, Titans, Buccaneers, Falcons and Chargers once. Expect nothing from the Jaguars in 2011.

Indianapolis Colts (0-5)

Home Record: 0-3
Road Record: 0-2
Record of Past Opponents: 13-11
Record of Future Opponents: 28-26
Point Differential: -49

The only 0-5 team in the league is the leader in the clubhouse for the No. 1 pick, and they don’t get the benefit of facing the Colts for obvious reasons. The next three weeks include road games in Cincinnati, New Orleans and Tennessee. December doesn’t look any better. 0-16, perhaps?

AFC West

San Diego Chargers (4-1)

Home Record: 3-0
Road Record: 1-1
Record of Past Opponents: 8-16
Record of Future Opponents: 31-23
Point Differential: +11

The Chargers may be the biggest mirage team to date. They’ve played four pushover teams (Vikings, Chiefs, Dolphins and Broncos) yet have just a +11 scoring margin. They could be exposed as pretenders with games against the Packers, Lions, Bills and Ravens to come.

Oakland Raiders (3-2)

Home Record: 1-1
Road Record: 2-1
Record of Past Opponents: 14-11
Record of Future Opponents: 29-25
Point Differential: +3

After winning in Denver in Week 1, the Raiders have held their own against four formidable opponents, going 2-2 against the Bills, Jets, Patriots and Texans. Unfortunately, they play the Packers and Lions back-to-back in December, but get the Dolphins and Chiefs as well.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3)

Home Record: 1-1
Road Record: 1-2
Record of Past Opponents: 14-11
Record of Future Opponents: 28-26
Point Differential: -73

The Chiefs were outscored by 82 points in their first three games, which came against teams that are now a combined 13-2. They picked up wins in their last two against teams that are 1-9. Translation: we still don’t know much about them. The schedule does remain pretty difficult.

Denver Broncos (1-4)

Home Record: 1-2
Road Record: 0-2
Record of Past Opponents: 18-7
Record of Future Opponents: 29-25
Point Differential: -35

Every opponent the Broncos have had thus far currently has a winning record. They still have to play the Chargers, Lions, Patriots and Bills, all with four wins or more. With Tim Tebow at the helm, you can largely discard past performances as future indicators, at least on offense.

NFC East

Washington Redskins (3-1)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 1-1
Record of Past Opponents: 6-12
Record of Future Opponents: 25-33
Point Differential: +20

The Redskins head what has been a very weird NFC East this season, and they actually have a shot at winning it with a relatively easy remaining schedule. They have to face the Bills, 49ers and Patriots, but they get five matchups with teams that currently have no more than one win.

New York Giants (3-2)

Home Record: 1-1
Road Record: 2-1
Record of Past Opponents: 7-16
Record of Future Opponents: 31-20
Point Differential: +4

The Giants wound up with a pretty easy slate in their first five games, though we could see the pieces starting to crumble when they couldn’t beat the Seahawks at home. They still have six games against teams with no more than one loss, so expect the bottom to drop out soon.

Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

Home Record: 1-1
Road Record: 1-1
Record of Past Opponents: 14-5
Record of Future Opponents: 25-32
Point Differential: -2

The Cowboys have kept all four of their games within four points either way, despite playing four teams that were undefeated when they took on the Cowboys. The schedule gets very easy after this week’s game against the Patriots, making the Cowboys the favorites to win this division.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-4)

Home Record: 0-2
Road Record: 1-2
Record of Past Opponents: 13-11
Record of Future Opponents: 24-26
Point Differential: -7

The Eagles haven’t been able to get out of their own way, dropping four straight games. They’ve only played one divisional game, so they still have a chance to weasel their way back into the thick of things. A big win in Washington heading into a Week 7 bye would definitely help.

NFC North

Detroit Lions (5-0)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 3-0
Record of Past Opponents: 10-14
Record of Future Opponents: 32-23
Point Differential: +70

This division is going to come down to two games against the Packers, but the Lions still have to play the 49ers, Saints and Chargers as well. Maybe the most impressive part of the Lions’ 5-0 start is that they’ve managed three of the wins on the road.

Green Bay Packers (5-0)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 3-0
Record of Past Opponents: 10-15
Record of Future Opponents: 29-25
Point Differential: +62

Their profile mimics that of the Lions in every way, except the Packers have it just a bit easier than their divisional counterpart. Most of the easiness of the schedule comes in the next five weeks, as they face the Vikings twice and the Rams once. Things get serious on Thanksgiving.

Chicago Bears (2-3)

Home Record: 2-1
Road Record: 0-2
Record of Past Opponents: 17-8
Record of Future Opponents: 28-27
Point Differential: -15

At least the Bears have gotten two of their games against the undefeated divisional teams out of the way, leaving them with a decent schedule moving forward. They play the Vikings twice and the Eagles, Broncos, Seahawks and Chiefs once. They could still finish with eight or nine wins.

Minnesota Vikings (1-4)

Home Record: 1-2
Road Record: 0-2
Record of Past Opponents: 15-10
Record of Future Opponents: 33-21
Point Differential: +5

The Vikings dropped four games they could have won over the first four weeks, which is ultimately going to doom their season. They still have to play the Packers and Lions a combined three times. The only good matchup remaining appears to be a home game against the Broncos.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints (4-1)

Home Record: 2-0
Road Record: 2-1
Record of Past Opponents: 12-13
Record of Future Opponents: 23-31
Point Differential: +32

The Saints have had it pretty easy already this year, and the schedule gets even better. They’ve won four straight by beating solid teams at home (Chicago, Houston) and bad teams on the road (Jacksonville, Carolina). They have four games against teams with four losses or more left.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)

Home Record: 2-1
Road Record: 1-1
Record of Past Opponents: 12-13
Record of Future Opponents: 28-26
Point Differential: -38

The Buccaneers won three straight games by a low margin before getting blown out last week against the 49ers, leading to an awful scoring margin this year. With really no easy matchups until December, Tampa Bay could quickly fall out of the playoff race without some luck.

Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

Home Record: 1-1
Road Record: 1-2
Record of Past Opponents: 13-12
Record of Future Opponents: 26-29
Point Differential: -26

The Falcons have a mixture of really tough matchups (Lions, Saints (twice), Titans, Texans) and really easy matchups (Panthers (twice), Colts, Vikings, Jaguars) before a Week 17 game against the Buccaneers. Translation: the Falcons need some quality wins to make the playoffs.

Carolina Panthers (1-4)

Home Record: 1-2
Road Record: 0-2
Record of Past Opponents: 13-12
Record of Future Opponents: 29-25
Point Differential: -16

Is this a 1-4 team you’d like to play? Unfortunately for them, the schedule remains pretty difficult outside of games against the Vikings and Colts. Their only other sub-.500 opponent is the Falcons (twice), a team that may be a little bit better than their record shows.

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers (4-1)

Home Record: 2-1
Road Record: 2-0
Record of Past Opponents: 11-13
Record of Future Opponents: 23-27
Point Differential: +64

Don’t count this team out as a fluke — they have the second best point differential in the league behind the Lions. The remaining schedule is pretty easy thanks to four games remaining against the Cardinals and Rams. You would think this team coasts to the division title and gets a bye …

Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

Home Record: 1-1
Road Record: 1-2
Record of Past Opponents: 13-12
Record of Future Opponents: 21-28
Point Differential: -28

… but the Seahawks have just four games remaining against teams with winning records, so it wouldn’t be crazy to see them finish above .500. Better yet, all four of those tough games come at home, where the Seahawks can utilize their home-field advantage. Don’t crown the 49ers yet.

Arizona Cardinals (1-4)

Home Record: 1-1
Road Record: 0-3
Record of Past Opponents: 10-14
Record of Future Opponents: 24-26
Point Differential: -25

The Cardinals have come up short despite an easy schedule thus far. Their only remaining opponents with losing records are the Rams (twice), Eagles and Seahawks. They still play the 49ers twice and will need wins in both of those games to have a chance at making noise.

St. Louis Rams (0-4)

Home Record: 0-3
Road Record: 0-1
Record of Past Opponents: 10-8
Record of Future Opponents: 33-25
Point Differential: -67

The consensus pick to win the NFC West, the Rams are the worst scoring team in the league, averaging only 11.5 points per game this year. They haven’t played one game in the division, so they can still make good on preseason predictions if they can dominate divisional play.

R.J. White is the head writer at the Fantasy Baseball Cafe and Fantasy Football Cafe has also written for FanHouse. You can follow R.J. on Twitter here.

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