With the 2023 NFL regular season schedule being released on Thursday, I thought it would be a good idea to take a peak at the strength of schedule the Denver Broncos will face. It’s tough to project SOS during the offseason, but I found data that tends to show that it actually does matter. Teams that face a difficult strength of schedule tend to miss out on the playoffs.
First, per NFL Research, we have the straight up strength of schedule for each team based on the win-loss totals from 2022.
NFL Strength of Schedules
|New York Giants||.549|
|New England Patriots||.549|
|New York Jets||.545|
|Los Angeles Rams||.533|
|Las Vegas Raiders||.524|
|Los Angeles Chargers||.517|
|San Francisco 49ers||.514|
|Kansas City Chiefs||.512|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||.483|
|Green Bay Packers||.476|
|New Orleans Saints||.427|
This happens to be the chart most people criticize since it is taking the win-loss totals from the previous season, which can vary wildly from season to season. So, instead, I looked over at Sharp Football Analysis for something that has a much better track record of predicting actual outcomes.
NEW: NFL strength of schedule for 2023!— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) April 13, 2023
5 easiest schedules:
5 hardest schedules:
1-32 with insight & analysis:https://t.co/3WVlscL9OF
They took the “projected” win totals for each team to build their own strength of schedule. The outcome was wildly different for some teams, but not others. For example, the Kansas City Chiefs shot up from middle of the pack to the third most-difficult schedule. While the San Francisco 49ers, who were right next to the Chiefs above, plummeted the 10th easiest schedule.
The showed that using projected win totals brought results:
Are Strength of Schedule projections accurate?
Short answer: YES
- of the 7 teams that actually had the easiest 2022 schedules, 6 went to the playoffs (Eagles, 49ers, Jaguars, Cowboys, Chargers, Chiefs)
- of the 7 teams that actually had the hardest 2022 schedules, 2 went to the playoffs (Dolphins, Bengals)
- of the 11 teams that actually had the hardest 2022 schedules, only 3 went over their win total (Bengals, Steelers, Jets)
The ironic thing here is that the Denver Broncos ranked 12th hardest schedule in both cases. Compared to 2022, this is a jump of five spots. Which means, they will face a tough road to victory this season than they did last season. Sean Payton will have his work cut out for him.