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Panthers have the league’s allegedly toughest schedule

Panthers' Newton is hit by Saints' Vilma during an NFL football game in Charlotte Reuters

Things aren’t going to be easy for the Panthers this year for many reasons.

But the schedule doesn’t exactly do them any favors.

The Panthers have the league’s hardest strength of schedule number for the 2013 season, as they’re playing teams with a combined 138-116-2 record (.543).

Of course, strength of schedule can be a remarkably overstated thing, for several reasons.

One, teams in the same division are generally clumped together, since the league’s scheduling rotation means each team plays 14 of the same opponents, with the final two based on divisional standings (ones play ones, fours play fours). Thus, the Panthers NFC south rival Saints are third, Falcons 15th and the Buccaneers 17th based on the current numbers.

For example, Each NFC South team plays six games in the division, along with facing the entire NFC West and AFC East.

The Panthers drew the Giants (9-7) and Vikings (10-6) as their two rotating intra-conference games, while the Saints got the Cowboys (8-8) and Bears (10-6), the Falcons will play the Redskins (10-6) and Packers (11-5) and the Bucs got the Eagles (4-12) and Lions (4-12).

Secondly, it all goes out the window once the season starts, and someone turns out to be much better than anyone anticipated.

But it’s February, and it’s something to talk about.

For what it’s worth, the league’s “easiest” schedule belongs to the Broncos, whose opponents had a combined 110-146 record (.430) last year.

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30 Responses to “Panthers have the league’s allegedly toughest schedule”
  1. tjacks7 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:04 PM

    Bet on the Broncos? Got it. Worked out well this year.

  2. pjk966 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:08 PM

    Thats the 2nd year in a row for a team who has not had a good record. NFL seems to pick on the small market teams. Can someone please explain this to me?

  3. unc336 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:08 PM

    Who had the easiest and strongest schedules last season?

  4. jimbo75025 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:12 PM

    My bet would be on a Manning-Bowl in the next two years before Peyton retires. What the NFL wants, the NFL gets.

  5. umainebearman says: Feb 7, 2013 6:21 PM

    Someones gotta have a tough schedule so the dont give it to the Patriots. They, as we all know get the easiest.

  6. Mr. Wright 212 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:23 PM

    Giants annually have the toughest schedule and nothing’s changed.

  7. thekingdave says: Feb 7, 2013 6:27 PM

    @pjk966

    Are you to the NFL? They have absolutely no say in who plays who, it’s all a rotation plus playing the same seed in the other two divisions in your conference.

  8. miamisilvio says: Feb 7, 2013 6:29 PM

    Based on opponents records, the Giants had the toughest schedule in ’12 (for the 2nd season in a row) and the Patriots had the easiest.

  9. nolasoxfan2012 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:31 PM

    The strength of schedule when calculated as win-loss from the year before doesn’t have much value. If you are going to play a team that had a really good record twice – like the 2012 Falcons – it makes your schedule look really hard. The Broncos schedule, in turn, looks incredibly easy just because the other teams in their division – who count twice – were awful this past year.

  10. lightcleric says: Feb 7, 2013 6:31 PM

    So yeah, I remember saying the Broncos might do better next year because they wouldn’t have a joke of a schedule to make them complacent in the playoffs.

    I guess I was wrong huh?

  11. mjzaky says: Feb 7, 2013 6:31 PM

    @pjk –

    the NFL rotates which intraconference divisions face each other on a three-year basis. So the AFC North will play the entire AFC South one year, then the entire AFC East the next year, then the entire AFC West the year after that–then it resets.

    At the same time, the AFC West plays a predetermined interconference division on a three-year basis. So the AFC North will play the NFC East one year, then the NFC West, then the NFC South– then it resets.

    This has been set for years- you can tell which conference divisions your team’s division will play years ahead of time.

    The above takes care of 4 + 4= 8 games. Then you play your 6 divisional games which are pre-set; the AFC North will be Browns v. Bengals v. Ravens v. Steelers each year no matter what. So that takes care of 6 games. 4 +4 + 6= 14

    The remaining two are against whatever team matches the same place you finished in your division last year, in their division. So if the Browns finished last and are already playing the entire AFC South, they would face the last/fourth place teams in the AFC East and AFC West.

    Basically, this ensures that the NFL can in no way mess up an individiaul teams schedules based on WHO they play.

    They can however mess it up by scheduling multiple early east coast games for a west coast team, scheduling london as a home game, etc.

    Does this help?

  12. mjzaky says: Feb 7, 2013 6:32 PM

    @pjk –

    the NFL rotates which intraconference divisions face each other on a three-year basis. So the AFC North will play the entire AFC South one year, then the entire AFC East the next year, then the entire AFC West the year after that–then it resets.

    At the same time, the AFC North plays a predetermined interconference division on a three-year basis. So the AFC North will play the NFC East one year, then the NFC West, then the NFC South– then it resets.

    This has been set for years- you can tell which conference divisions your team’s division will play years ahead of time.

    The above takes care of 4 + 4= 8 games. Then you play your 6 divisional games which are pre-set; the AFC North will be Browns v. Bengals v. Ravens v. Steelers each year no matter what. So that takes care of 6 games. 4 +4 + 6= 14

    The remaining two are against whatever team matches the same place you finished in your division last year, in their division. So if the Browns finished last and are already playing the entire AFC South, they would face the last/fourth place teams in the AFC East and AFC West.

    Basically, this ensures that the NFL can in no way mess up an individiaul teams schedules based on WHO they play.

    They can however mess it up by scheduling multiple early east coast games for a west coast team, scheduling london as a home game, etc.

    Does this help?

  13. 13arod says: Feb 7, 2013 6:35 PM

    why not the bears or giants??

  14. thegreatgabbert says: Feb 7, 2013 6:35 PM

    I guess Newt is no longer the NFL darling, and that old guy in Denver is. Or maybe Peyton gets a “seniors discount” on the schedule or something.

  15. dukemarc says: Feb 7, 2013 6:37 PM

    jimbo75025 says:
    Feb 7, 2013 6:12 PM
    My bet would be on a Manning-Bowl in the next two years before Peyton retires. What the NFL wants, the NFL gets.
    ——————–

    Are they going to build a dome in Denver? If not, there’s no chance of Peyton getting to the Super Bowl – he looks much like Favre did at the end of his career playing in the cold weather – like he wants nothing to do with it.

  16. salutethis says: Feb 7, 2013 6:46 PM

    Hey we just had a let’s win one for Ray/call no penalties on Baltimore playoffs… Why not the same for Peyton? Tom? Hey let’s just get one for AP… Actually, they are all better role models than Ray is…

  17. socalraider909 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:52 PM

    Just my opinion but shouldn’t the team who won the super bowl have the hardest schedule I mean I’m not hating on anyone but it makes sense doesn’t it?

  18. rtant2013 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:53 PM

    People the NFL has no say in who plays who, it rotates and depends on where you finished in your division the previous year. So for those saying the league gives the Pats an easy schedule and the Giants a hard schedule obviously didn’t understand the article. It’s set up like this so the NFL has no say in scheduling.

  19. thejuddstir says: Feb 7, 2013 7:05 PM

    I think the Bronco’s have had the easiest schedules since they joined the NFL, LOL Now with the easiest schedule two years in a row, I suppose we might as well put P. Mannings name in the mix for MVP next year as all we will hear is, “Peyton has led the Broncos to the playoffs 2 consecutive years”. Luckily the voters recognized the cupcake schedule this past year when they voted for MVP. At least Tebow won a playoff game, lol.

  20. bullethead527 says: Feb 7, 2013 7:06 PM

    Well the year after next year will be even tougher for my Panthers, we got to play the NFCN and the AFCN. Its a rotating schedule. But if we won more games are strength of schedule would not look as hard especially DIV games.

  21. noring4youstill says: Feb 7, 2013 7:56 PM

    Just getting their excuses ready. But hey look at the FalCants. Easiest schedule and it turned out fine for them too.

  22. vertskate900 says: Feb 7, 2013 8:37 PM

    Teams change, players retire, FA happens and therefore all this talk about strength of schedule is meaningless.

  23. numberoneinthehoodg says: Feb 7, 2013 8:39 PM

    Playing another NFL team is a bitch. Deal with it!

  24. rockislander says: Feb 7, 2013 8:43 PM

    Based on opponents records, the Giants had the toughest schedule in ’12 (for the 2nd season in a row) and the Patriots had the easiest.

    Uh yeah, this is wrong. Based on adjusted strength of schedule in 2012, the Lions had the toughest schedule. The Giants had the 5th toughest and the Patriots had the 15th. The Ravens were tied for 16th. All of this doesn’t matter right now anyway. It’s not worth getting all worked up about since the strongest teams in 2012 may not be at the same strength in 2013. Teams change a lot in the offseason due to salary cap restrictions, etc.

  25. rpkllc says: Feb 7, 2013 8:49 PM

    Why not go back to last season and see who had the hardest and easiest?

  26. bsandcs says: Feb 7, 2013 9:08 PM

    miamisilvio says:
    Feb 7, 2013 6:29 PM
    Based on opponents records, the Giants had the toughest schedule in ’12 (for the 2nd season in a row) and the Patriots had the easiest.

    ———————————————————-
    That’s not true…at all. That was based on 2011 records where, for example the colts were considered a 2-14 team and the Broncos an 8-8 teams, which in 2012 both definitely were not.

    The patriots played both. The Colts were 11-5, the Broncos 13-3.

    But according to the strength of schedule everyone seems to go by, the patriots played a 2-14 and an 8-8 team.

    people will just grasp to anything, who cares if it’s false, to hate on the patriots.

  27. sportsmeccabi says: Feb 7, 2013 10:21 PM

    It’s mainly because the NFC is a much stronger conference top to bottom.
    It doesn’t have teams like the browns jaguars, raiders, and chiefs dragging them down.

  28. nomadpat says: Feb 7, 2013 11:16 PM

    I think these strength of schedule stats before the season starts are silly – they are based on this year. We won’t know how good teams are until next year plays out.

  29. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Feb 8, 2013 1:48 PM

    “If anyone is interested, I will be available at the end of next season.” Sincerely, Coach Rivera.

  30. slammincamnewton says: Feb 10, 2013 8:41 PM

    Very misleading statistic. We always have the toughest schedule because of our division. Always the easiest? The Patriots. ALWAYS. So add that to playing the NFC West and finishing 2nd in the division, that’s what happens. And the NFC is tougher than the AFC, even though the Ravens are champions (ugh)

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