2013 NFL Schedule: Win-Loss Projections for Every NFL Team

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IApril 19, 2013

2013 NFL Schedule: Win-Loss Projections for Every NFL Team

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    The official release of the 2013 NFL schedule Thursday has provided an opportunity to take a far-too-early, pre-draft look at how each team could finish next season. 

    Keep in mind, the NFL offseason is only in its infant stages.

    The NFL draft, minicamps, training camp and the preseason are still down the road, so approach the following projections with a more current feel. Much is likely to change between now and the start of September. 

    The majority of the analysis provided will focus solely on the schedules. Here's a look at the projected win-loss records for each team next season. 

    Note: All strength of schedule figures taken from NFL.com

Arizona Cardinals

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    Four games with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, three more against 2012 playoff teams (Atlanta, Houston and Indianapolis) and a season-opener in St. Louis make for a balanced and tough schedule for the Cardinals. 

    To even think about finishing above .500, Arizona will have to take full advantage of a somewhat soft stretch to open 2013 and a five-game span from Nov. 17 to Dec. 15 that includes four non-playoff teams. 

    The Cardinals can improve on their five wins in 2012, but only slightly. The NFC West is too tough. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 6-10

Atlanta Falcons

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    The Falcons won't be complaining about the balance of their 2013 schedule. 

    Difficult matchups at New Orleans (Week 1), vs. New England (Week 4), vs. Seattle (Week 10), at Green Bay (Week 14) and at San Francisco (Week 16) are comfortably spread out, and only twice do the Falcons play back-to-back road games. 

    Clearly, this is a talented football team still capable of winning the NFC. Even a 2-3 finish in their five biggest games would give the Falcons a very good shot at winning at least 11 games in 2013. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 11-5

Baltimore Ravens

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    Opening on the road in Denver is nothing short of a crime against the defending Super Bowl champs, but at least the Ravens will have 10 days to prepare for their home-opener against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2.

    From there, a new-look Baltimore roster will face six other 2012 playoff teams (seven total), with five of those contests coming at home. A December stretch against three playoff teams might end up being the litmus test for the reigning champs. 

    Despite losing a number of key contributors, the Ravens should still be right in the heat of the AFC North race. Another season of double-digit wins is well within reach.  

    Win-Loss Projection: 10-6

Buffalo Bills

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    Opening with the New England Patriots at home will give us a good taste of what the evolving Bills will look like in 2013. But Buffalo can't be too upset with how the rest of next year's schedule shapes up.

    Of the games played against 2012 playoff teams not from New England, all three come at home. 

    Another huge positive? The Bills received two home matchups against three Florida teams (Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Miami) and one southern squad (Atlanta) during the month of December. 

    The draft is very important for the Bills, but having the seventh-easiest strength of schedule should help produce a miniature rebound in 2013.

    Win-Loss Projection: 7-9

Carolina Panthers

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    A brutal three-game stretch in November and a division-heavy December will likely determine the fate of the Panthers, who face the NFL's hardest strength of schedule.

    Carolina will take on the Falcons, 49ers and Patriots in Weeks 9-11, before facing the Saints twice in December and then finishing at Atlanta.

    Are the Panthers prepared to take on such a daunting challenge?

    Quarterback Cam Newton will have to take a big step forward for that to be the case. If he does, this is a team that can sneak over .500. If not, look out. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 4-12

Chicago Bears

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    The Bears open with back-to-back home games against playoff teams (Bengals, Vikings) and will finish at home against the Packers, leaving new head coach Marc Trestman a long and difficult road. 

    Compounding the difficulty is a tough stretch during Weeks 7-11, which features Chicago's bye week but also three games against playoff qualifiers from a year ago (including two on the road). 

    The Bears need to start and finish strong to get back into the postseason. Can Trestman deliver better in that area than former head coach Lovie Smith? That answer will likely dictate where these Bears end up in 2013. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 9-7

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Beating good teams at home and cleaning up during a soft stretch are keys to Cincinnati's season.

    Over eight home games, the Bengals are scheduled to face five playoff teams (Packers, Patriots, Colts, Vikings and Ravens), plus the Steelers. Few other teams face such a difficult slate of home contests. 

    Luckily for Cincinnati, the schedule eventually offers a reprieve in the form of a four-game stretch against the Bills, Lions, Jets and Dolphins in October. The Bengals need to sweep the final four games in October and finish above .500 at home to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 10-6

Cleveland Browns

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    In a lot of cases, a team still in rebuilding mode can make a big jump thanks to the schedule-makers. The Browns could be such a team in 2013. 

    Cleveland faces six teams with 10 or more losses in 2012, including the Chiefs and Jaguars. 

    However, road games at Green Bay, Minnesota, Baltimore, New England and Pittsburgh (season finale) will test a team still in transition. Remember, the Browns went 1-7 on the road last season. They'd need a big jump to suddenly compete in the AFC North. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 5-11

Dallas Cowboys

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    As is the case every season, the Cowboys will make or break their year with how they finish in December. The schedule during the final month won't be a cakewalk for Big D. 

    The Cowboys finish with road games at Chicago and Washington and home tilts against Green Bay and Philadelphia (season finale). Factor in the four prime-time games and a Thanksgiving clash with the Raiders, and Dallas will once again have the weight of the world on its shoulders in 2013.

    Is this team ready to handle that pressure better next season? It hasn't in the recent past.

    Win-Loss Projection: 7-9

Denver Broncos

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    Denver certainly lucked out by hosting the defending champion Ravens in Week 1, but the end of the schedule is what should concern Manning and Co. next season. 

    Four of the Broncos' final six games will be played outside Denver, including important clashes in New England, Houston and Oakland (for the season finale). 

    The Broncos may have the league's easiest schedule record-wise, but there are tests early (Ravens and Giants in Weeks 1-2) and late. The class of the division is still a very good bet to make the playoffs comfortably. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 12-4

Detroit Lions

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    Few NFC teams will face a more daunting start to the season than the Lions. 

    After opening at home against the Vikings, Detroit goes on the road for two (Arizona, Washington) before division tilts against both the Bears (home) and Packers (away). If the Lions struggle out of the gate, an 0-5 start isn't unlikely. 

    Jim Schwartz is entering a make-or-break year, and the Lions can't be as poor in close games next season.

    But is a two-win improvement too much? There's really no easy stretch on the Lions' 2013 schedule. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 5-11

Green Bay Packers

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    In terms of wins and losses, the Packers schedule ranks as the sixth-toughest in the NFL. On paper, it says more of the same.

    Green Bay begins with three straight games against playoff teams (at San Francisco, Washington, at Cincinnati) before an early bye week, and other difficult matchups litter the schedule (at Baltimore, Week 6; at Minnesota, Week 8; at New York Giants; Week 11; Atlanta, Week 14). 

    The season finale in Chicago could loom large.

    With so many quality teams on the schedule, the Packers are very unlikely to run away with this increasingly difficult division. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 11-5

Houston Texans

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    Division clashes with the Colts remain important, but the Texans will be tested by their slate of games outside the AFC South. 

    Houston opens at San Diego on Monday Night Football, faces Baltimore, Seattle and San Francisco in Weeks 3-5 and then finishes in December with games against both New England and Denver. Ouch. 

    Finishing with 12 or more wins would certainly qualify as a Herculean achievement. Without an elite quarterback in place to steer the ship, however, these rough waters could set the Texans back a game or two next season.

    Win-Loss Projection: 10-6

Indianapolis Colts

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    Are the pieces in place for the young Colts to win their first division title in the Andrew Luck era? The schedule certainly suggests so. 

    An improving nucleus of talent will go up against the league's third-easiest schedule, which includes a final stretch from Week 10 that features just two 2012 playoff teams (Cincinnati, Houston).

    The division title might be decided in Week 15, when the Texans travel to Indianapolis. The Colts won 11 games in 2012 with a similar slate of games; they can pull the same feat again next season. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 11-5

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    While the lowly Jaguars open with games against Kansas City and Oakland, the rest of the season schedule offers few favors for the rebuilding franchise. 

    A six-game stretch featuring games against Seattle, Indianapolis, Denver, San Diego and San Francisco could be downright brutal, and facing Houston twice and Indianapolis once over the final six games might not be kind. 

    Expecting the Jaguars to improve is one thing (I'm on board there); translating progress into more wins is something entirely different, especially with quarterback problems. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 3-13

Kansas City Chiefs

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    After starting the season with the Toilet Bowl (at Jacksonville), the game to circle is in Week 3, when head coach Andy Reid returns to Philadelphia to face the Eagles. 

    To stay competitive in the AFC West, Kansas City will need to survive an early slate of games that includes three against NFC East clubs and a visit from Houston. From there, the Chiefs finish with five of seven games inside the division. 

    According to win-loss records, only four teams have an easier schedule. The roster and coaching staff is improved. Expect the Chiefs to rebound. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 7-9

Miami Dolphins

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    By the time the new-look Dolphins take their bye in Week 6, we should have a good idea of whether or not Joe Philbin's club is the real deal.

    After traveling to Cleveland for the season opener, Miami takes on Indianapolis (away), Atlanta, New Orleans (away) and Baltimore. 

    The Dolphins eventually play just one game against a playoff qualifier (New England) in their final eight, but they could all but eliminate themselves from the playoff hunt with a slow start. The new pieces need to gel quickly for the Dolphins to keep their head above water early. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 8-8

Minnesota Vikings

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    To make another trip to the postseason, the Vikings will have to survive away from Minnesota early before facing a gauntlet of top quarterbacks during a difficult midseason stretch. 

    The Vikings play two straight road divisional games to open up 2013, and then they travel across the pond to London to face the Steelers in Week 4.

    Starting in Week 6, the Vikings face the following quarterbacks, in order: Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Rodgers again. Any club would likely struggle against that lineup of gunslingers.

    Later road games against the Ravens and Bengals loom large before finishing at home against the Lions. By then, will Week 17 even matter for the up-and-coming Vikings? 

    Win-Loss Projection: 7-9

New England Patriots

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    The Patriots couldn't have asked for a more favorable start to the season.

    In the first eight weeks, New England faces two separate three-game stretches against teams with nine or more losses in 2012. The Patriots could very easily find themselves 7-1 or 6-2 (at worst?) entering Week 9. 

    The December slate does include a game in Baltimore, but homes games against Cleveland and Buffalo (season finale) and a trip to sunny Miami makes for a comfortable finish. 

    Barring something unforeseen, the Patriots should be right in the running for the AFC's No. 1 seed. Again. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 12-4

New Orleans Saints

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    Three stretches of games stand out for the Saints in 2013. 

    The first couple come in Weeks 1 and 2, when New Orleans faces NFC South foes Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Right before their bye in Week 7, the Saints then have road games at Chicago and New England. 

    The final test spans Week 11-13, with games against San Francisco, Atlanta and Seattle—two of which will be played on the road.

    The Saints won seven games in what could have been a disastrous 2012 season. Winning nine games in 2013 might be a similar accomplishment. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 8-8

New York Giants

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    An early-season schedule that includes a brotherly duel with Denver and back-to-back prime-time games against the NFC North (Chicago, Minnesota) explodes into mayhem for New York during the second half.

    Starting in Week 11, the Giants face playoff teams in four of their final seven games, including a matchup with Green Bay and two division tilts against Washington. Traveling across the country to San Diego won't be easy, either.

    The Giants technically have the easiest schedule in the NFC East, but recapturing the division crown will take much more than picking on the NFL's weak. A strong finish—something that eluded New York in 2012—is an absolute must.

    Win-Loss Projection: 10-6

New York Jets

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    Trips to New England (Week 2), Atlanta (Week 5), Cincinnati (Week 8) and Baltimore (Week 12) will test the transitioning Jets, and first-half home games against Pittsburgh, New Orleans and New England could make life a little hotter for head coach Rex Ryan.

    However, the Jets should have an opportunity to save face toward the end of the season. New York faces just one playoff team over the final eight weeks and zero in the final five. 

    The question here might not be if the Jets get through the first half with a winning record (unlikely), but whether Ryan will live to see the end of the season. He enters a tough early slate sitting on the hottest of coaching seats.

    Win-Loss Projection: 4-12

Oakland Raiders

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    The Raiders open with Andrew Luck, face Peyton Manning in Week 3 and then take on Robert Griffin III a week later. And that's not even the most difficult stretch of Oakland's season.

    Following their bye in Week 7, the Raiders will play Pittsburgh, the New York Giants and Houston during a four-game span that could all but suck the life out of another rebuilding year by the bay. 

    But like recent years, the Raiders could play spoiler in the AFC West: Oakland finishes with games against Kansas, San Diego and Denver. Have patience, Raiders fans. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 2-14

Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Eagles could luck out in the opener if Robert Griffin III (knee) isn't back to 100 percent for Week 1.

    However, Weeks 4 and 5 will really put Chip Kelly's new club to the test. A two-game road trip to Denver and New York looms large and will set the table for when the Eagles face Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler later in the season.

    Kelly's new-look Eagles are hard to pin down now, especially before the draft unfolds. But every season needs a surprise; maybe Philly can fill the role next season.

    Win-Loss Projection: 9-7

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Steelers will play four prime-time games, which should put Pittsburgh's least-talented roster in some time (at least before the draft) under the microscope. 

    A Week 2 Monday night draw in Cincinnati should tell us a little more, especially about the Steelers' road abilities. By the end of the season, Pittsburgh will also have played games in Minnesota, New England, Baltimore and Green Bay.

    It's difficult to count out such an accomplished franchise like the Steelers this early, but the Bengals and Ravens both possess better rosters. Another third-place finish could be looming. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 7-9

St. Louis Rams

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    Based on 2012 win-loss records, only three teams have a tougher schedule than the Rams. 

    In just the first half of the season alone, St. Louis will face Atlanta (away), San Francisco, Houston (away) and Seattle—teams that combined for 47 wins last season. In the second half, Indianapolis, San Francisco and Seattle await. 

    Can the improving Rams handle such a slate? If they can and push toward the postseason, they'll certainly have earned it. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 7-9

San Diego Chargers

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    The Chargers finish with just two of nine games against playoff teams, and four of the final five come at home.

    Might there be another chance for a rebuilding club to surprise? Maybe, but it'll take a whole lot of Philip Rivers and some luck during the first stretch of games. 

    San Diego opens at home against Houston and also plays Indianapolis, Denver and Washington before Week 11.

    If Rivers can keep the Chargers afloat early, this team could open eyes late.

    Win-Loss Projection: 7-9

San Francisco 49ers

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    The reigning NFC champions will be the target of some very good competition early in the season. The talent is certainly there to counterpunch, but the early schedule does San Francisco no favors.

    The 49ers open with four of five games against playoff teams, including home tilts against Green Bay, Indianapolis and Houston. 

    The schedule eases up slightly from there, but New Orleans (away), Washington (away), Seattle and Atlanta await the 49ers following their Week 9 bye.

    There's no reason to expect regression from the NFC's best roster. A difficult schedule and division might make it difficult for the 49ers to improve on last season's regular-season finish, however.

    Win-Loss Projection: 11-5

Seattle Seahawks

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    The ridiculously talent-rich Seahawks have a few things going for them as we approach the season. 

    For starters, the schedule afforded Seattle a first-strike opportunity at San Francisco with a Week 2 home game. The Seahawks could get an early leg up in the division by taking care of business at home.

    Then, to close out the year, the Seahawks received the good fortune of back-to-back home games. Finishing 2-0 against the Rams and Cardinals in Seattle might be easier than doing so against Atlanta and in Arizona, like the 49ers will be asked to do.  

    Win-Loss Projection: 12-4

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The early- and late-season schedules might generate a sense of optimism in Tampa Bay.

    That said, road games against New England, Atlanta and Seattle will prove difficult, and Weeks 16 and 17 are road tilts for Tampa Bay.

    The Buccaneers begin with four games out of five against non-playoff teams and finish with five of six of the same description. Overall, Tampa Bay plays just four of last season's playoff teams (including two versus Atlanta). 

    If luck is on their side, the Bucs can make a run at the postseason.

    Win-Loss Projection: 9-7

Tennessee Titans

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    Road games at Pittsburgh and Houston to kick off the season could immediately put a damper on the spending spree Tennessee has been on this offseason.

    The 49ers and Seahawks will then send the Titans to their bye in Week 8, which is followed by two tilts with Indianapolis and another shot at Houston in the second half of the season. 

    There are enough cupcakes on the schedule to think Tennessee could improve on its six wins in 2012, but only marginally. The safer bet is record stagnation. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 6-10 

Washington Redskins

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    Welcome to your second season in the NFL, RGIII. 

    The Redskins have a number of difficult matchups awaiting them in 2013, including road games versus Green Bay, Denver, Minnesota and Atlanta. A trip to New York against the Giants also awaits in the season finale.

    In Washington, the Redskins have trips from the 49ers and Bears to look forward to. 

    Overall, it's not an easy schedule, and the uncertainty surrounding Robert Griffin III only complicates this forecast. If he's 100 percent in Week 1, the Redskins can certainly return to the postseason. If not, the schedule could prove troublesome. We'll bet on something in between. 

    Win-Loss Projection: 9-7