NFL Schedule 2011: Top 10 Most Difficult Schedules of the Season

Michael MagoulisCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2011

NFL Schedule 2011: Top 10 Most Difficult Schedules of the Season

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    While the media and fans make their predictions for the upcoming 2011 season, one of the most influential things to focus on is schedule difficulty.

    With the way the schedules are designed, it makes it quite difficult for teams with quality division rivals to improve. For example, the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers are going to have to play six of their 16 games within their own brutal divisions.  

    On the other hand, despite making the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh's opponents this season were only a combined 121-135 in 2010, which certainly seems to increase the likelihood of the organization making the playoffs again.

    For a complete list of all schedules for the 2011 season, check out NFL.com.

10. Houston Texans

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    Finishing 6-10 and tying the Tennessee Titans for last place in the AFC South in 2010, the Houston Texans don't have the easiest schedule in order to help them rebound from their disappointing season.

    Of course it never helps that Houston has to face the Indianapolis Colts twice.

    Their 2011 schedule consists of a 132-124 combined record from their opponents.

    Week 1: Colts at Texans

    Week 2: Texans at Dolphins

    Week 3: Texans at Saints

    Week 4: Steelers at Texans

    Week 5: Raiders at Texans

    Week 6: Texans at Ravens

    Week 7: Texans at Titans

    Week 8: Jaguars at Texans

    Week 9: Browns at Texans

    Week 10: Texans at Buccaneers

    Week 11: Bye

    Week 12: Texans at Jaguars

    Week 13: Falcons at Texans

    Week 14: Texans at Bengals

    Week 15: Panthers at Texans

    Week 16: Texans at Colts

    Week 17: Titans at Texans

    Estimated 2011 record: 9-7  

9. San Diego Chargers

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    The San Diego Chargers finished the 2010 season 9-7, but missed the playoffs, finishing second in the AFC West to the Kansas City Chiefs.

    San Diego's 2011 schedule consists of opponents whose cumulative 2010 records were 133-123.

    Week 1: Vikings at Chargers

    Week 2: Chargers at Patriots

    Week 3: Chiefs at Chargers

    Week 4: Dolphins at Chargers

    Week 5: Chargers at Broncos

    Week 6: Bye

    Week 7: Chargers at Jets

    Week 8: Chargers at Chiefs

    Week 9: Packers at Chargers

    Week 10: Raiders at Chargers

    Week 11: Chargers at Bears

    Week 12: Broncos at Chargers

    Week 13: Chargers at Jaguars

    Week 14: Bills at Chargers

    Week 15: Ravens at Chargers

    Week 16: Chargers at Lions

    Week 17: Chargers at Raiders

    Estimated 2011 record: 10-6

8. New York Jets

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    Although the New York Jets were the sixth seed heading into the playoffs last year, they were able to get past the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. Still, the Jets proved themselves to be amongst the league's best.

    The Jets' 2010 record was 11-5, but their opponents' combined record of 133-123 and playing in the same division as the Patriots may make it difficult to top that mark.

    Week 1: Cowboys at Jets

    Week 2: Jaguars at Jets

    Week 3: Jets at Raiders

    Week 4: Jets at Ravens

    Week 5: Jets at Patriots

    Week 6: Dolphins at Jets

    Week 7: Chargers at Jets

    Week 8: Bye

    Week 9: Jets at Bills

    Week 10: Patriots at Jets

    Week 11: Jets at Broncos

    Week 12: Bills at Jets

    Week 13: Jets at Redskins

    Week 14: Chiefs at Jets

    Week 15: Jets at Eagles

    Week 16: Giants at Jets

    Week 17: Jets at Dolphins

    Estimated 2011 record: 12-4

7. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Despite finishing first in the AFC West at 10-6, the Kansas City Chiefs were blown out in the first round of the playoffs by the Baltimore Ravens.

    Unfortunately in 2011, their schedule will be rather difficult with the rest of the division looking to overtake them. For the upcoming season their opponents' 2010 combined record was 133-123.

    Week 1: Bills at Chiefs

    Week 2: Chiefs at Lions

    Week 3: Chiefs at Chargers

    Week 4: Vikings at Chiefs

    Week 5: Chiefs at Colts

    Week 6: Bye

    Week 7: Chiefs at Raiders

    Week 8: Chargers at Chiefs

    Week 9: Dolphins at Chiefs

    Week 10: Broncos at Chiefs

    Week 11: Chiefs at Patriots

    Week 12: Steelers at Chiefs

    Week 13: Chiefs at Bears

    Week 14: Chiefs at Jets

    Week 15: Packers at Chiefs

    Week 16: Raiders at Chiefs

    Week 17: Chiefs at Broncos

    Estimated 2011 record: 10-6 

6. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    After a disappointing 2010 season that saw the Jacksonville Jaguars miss the playoffs with an 8-8 record, it'll be even more difficult to wrestle the AFC South division title from the Indianapolis Colts with a difficult schedule.

    Their 2011 schedule includes several teams that made the playoffs last season including the Colts, Ravens, Jets, Steelers, and Saints with a combined record of 133-123 in 2010.

    Week 1: Titans at Jaguars

    Week 2: Jaguars at Jets

    Week 3: Jaguars at Panthers

    Week 4: Saints at Jaguars

    Week 5: Begals at Jaguars

    Week 6: Jaguars at Steelers

    Week 7: Ravens at Jaguars

    Week 8: Jaguars at Texans

    Week 9: Bye

    Week 10: Jaguars at Colts

    Week 11: Jaguars at Browns

    Week 12: Texans at Jaguars

    Week 13: Chargers at Jaguars

    Week 14: Buccaneers at Jaguars

    Week 15: Jaguars at Falcons

    Week 16: Jaguars at Titans

    Week 17: Colts at Jaguars

    Estimated 2011 record: 7-9 

5. Indianapolis Colts

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    Yet another team from the AFC South with a tough schedule, the Indianapolis Colts may find it difficult to make the playoffs for the 10th straight season in 2011.

    Although the Colts finished first in the AFC South in 2010, their season was ended by the Jets in the first round of the playoffs.

    In 2011, Indianapolis will have to deal with six playoff teams from 2010 and total combined record of 133-123. 

    Week 1: Colts at Texans

    Week 2: Browns at Colts

    Week 3: Steelers at Colts

    Week 4: Colts at Buccaneers

    Week 5: Chiefs at Colts

    Week 6: Colts at Bengals

    Week 7: Colts at Saints

    Week 8: Colts at Titans

    Week 9: Falcons at Colts

    Week 10: Jaguars at Colts

    Week 11: Bye

    Week 12: Panthers at Colts

    Week 13: Colts at Patriots

    Week 14: Colts at Ravens

    Week 15: Titans at Colts

    Week 16: Texans at Colts

    Week 17: Colts at Jaguars

    Estimated 2011 record: 11-5

4. Detroit Lions

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    Another year and another losing record for the Detroit Lions. In 2010, despite finishing on a four-game winning streak, the organization finished at 6-10.

    It won't get much easier in 2011, however. Their opponents finished a combined 133-123 and are in a division with two teams that made the playoffs, including the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.

    Week 1: Lions at Buccaneers

    Week 2: Chiefs at Lions

    Week 3: Lions at Vikings

    Week 4: Lions at Cowboys

    Week 5: Bears at Lions

    Week 6: 49ers at Lions

    Week 7: Falcons at Lions

    Week 8: Lions at Broncos

    Week 9: Bye

    Week 10: Lions at Bears

    Week 11: Panthers at Lions

    Week 12: Packers at Lions

    Week 13: Lions at Saints

    Week 14: Vikings at Lions

    Week 15: Lions at Raiders

    Week 16: Chargers at Lions

    Week 17: Lions at Packers

    Estimated 2011 record: 5-11

3. Denver Broncos

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    There's not much that went right for the Denver Broncos in 2010, finishing at 4-12 and in last place in the AFC West.

    With Denver's opponents a combined 133-123 in 2010, the Broncos have to deal with their tough division rivals as well as the Packers, Jets, Bears and Patriots in 2011.

    Week 1: Raiders at Broncos

    Week 2: Bengals at Broncos

    Week 3: Broncos at Titans

    Week 4: Broncos at Packers

    Week 5: Chargers at Broncos

    Week 6: Bye

    Week 7: Broncos at Dolphins

    Week 8: Lions at Broncos

    Week 9: Broncos at Raiders

    Week 10: Broncos at Chiefs

    Week 11: Jets at Broncos

    Week 12: Broncos at Chargers

    Week 13: Broncos at Vikings

    Week 14: Bears at Broncos

    Week 15: Patriots at Broncos

    Week 16: Broncos at Bills

    Week 17: Chiefs at Broncos

    Estimated 2011 record: 5-11

2. Buffalo Bills

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    It was another losing season for the Buffalo Bills in 2010, ending in last place in the brutal AFC East with a record of 4-12. The quality of their division is certainly going to prevent them from altering things from last season.

    For the upcoming season, their opponents' combined record in 2010 was 137-119. Aside from their difficult division rivals, the Bills will have to deal with every team from the NFC East—Eagles, Giants, Redskins and Cowboys—as well as the Chiefs.

    Week 1: Bills at Chiefs

    Week 2: Raiders at Bills

    Week 3: Patriots at Bills

    Week 4: Bills at Bengals

    Week 5: Eagles at Bills

    Week 6: Bills at Giants

    Week 7: Bye

    Week 8: Redskins at Bills

    Week 9: Jets at Bills

    Week 10: Bills at Cowboys

    Week 11: Bills at Dolphins

    Week 12: Bills at Jets

    Week 13: Titans at Bills

    Week 14: Bills at Chargers

    Week 15: Dolphins at Bills

    Week 16: Broncos at Bills

    Week 17: Bills at Patriots

    Estimated 2011 record: 3-13

1. Carolina Panthers

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    A miserable 2010 season ended with the Carolina Panthers at 2-14. Not only did they finish in last place in the tough NFC South, but also with the worst record in the league.

    The difficulty of their schedule this upcoming season—facing opponents with a combined 142-114 record from 2010—will hardly make it easy to improve. Although the Panthers play in a division with three teams that won at least 10 games last season, they do have a few winnable games in 2011. 

    Week 1: Panthers at Cardinals

    Week 2: Packers at Panthers

    Week 3: Jaguars at Panthers

    Week 4: Panthers at Bears

    Week 5: Saints at Panthers

    Week 6: Panthers at Falcons

    Week 7: Redskins at Panthers

    Week 8: Vikings at Panthers

    Week 9: Bye

    Week 10: Titans at Panthers

    Week 11: Panthers at Lions

    Week 12: Panthers at Colts

    Week 13: Panthers at Buccaneers

    Week 14: Falcons at Panthers

    Week 15: Panthers at Texans

    Week 16: Buccaneers at Panthers

    Week 17: Panthers at Saints

    Estimated 2011 record: 3-13