NFL Strength of Schedule: 2012 vs. 2013

Anthony Brancato@@TenOfSwordsCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2013

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 09:  The NFL shield logo on the goal post during play between the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on November 9, 2008 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The following chart shows the 2012 won-lost-tied percentages (and it has to be expressed precisely that way because one game did in fact end in a tie in 2012) of each team's 2012 opponents, and that of the opponents each team is scheduled to play in 2013.

And why does this matter?

Just to cite the examples at the two extreme ends of the scale: From 2000 to the present, the 14 teams taking the largest year-to-year drop in strength of schedule (two teams, St. Louis and Tampa Bay, tied for this going into 2012) improved their combined record from 68-156 "the year before" to 114-109-1 "the year after," and 10 of the 14 improved their records by at least three games (only the 2008 New England Patriots dropped in record—but since the Patriots of course went 16-0 in 2007, no improvement was even mathematically possible in their case).

By stark contrast, the 12 teams taking the largest year-to-year jump in strength of schedule since 2004 (three teams tied for this in 2007 and two in 2005) saw their combined record plummet from 139-53 "the year before" to 88-104 "the year after," and all but one of them—the 2007-to-'08 Pittsburgh Steelers, the lone such team to actually improve their record—suffered at least a three-game drop in the standings (the Saints having gone from 13-3 in 2011 to 7-9 in 2012).

So you can see why, heading into 2013, the Cowboys fare best when it comes to the schedule, while the Falcons would be well advised to hang tough.

TEAM---------------2012----------2013........Diff

Dallas---------------.523-----------.475..........+48

Kansas City--------.516-----------.473..........+43

N.Y.Giants---------.521----------.480...........+41

Arizona-------------.559-----------.520..........+39

Jacksonville-------.539-----------.508..........+31

Denver---------------.457----------.430..........+27

Detroit---------------.566----------.539..........+27

Tennessee---------.512----------.488..........+24

Houston------------.496----------.473..........+23

Cleveland----------.508----------.492...........+16

N.Y. Jets-------------.512----------.496...........+16

Philadelphia------.508-----------.496..........+12

Chicago------------.512-----------.502..........+10

Buffalo--------------.480-----------.473...........+ 7

Minnesota---------.520-----------.516...........+ 4

Tampa Bay--------.502-----------.500...........+ 2

San Diego---------.457-----------.457............  0

Oakland------------.469-----------.469............  0

St. Louis-----------.539-----------.539............  0

Washington-------.494-----------.498............- 4

New England-----.496-----------.508............-12

Seattle--------------.504-----------.516............-12

San Francisco-----.504-----------.520...........-16

New Orleans------.521-----------.539............-18

Indianapolis-------.441-----------.461............-20

Miami---------------.500-----------.520........... -20

Green Bay--------.508-----------.533.............-25

Pittsburgh---------.465-----------.492.............-27

Carolina------------.516-----------.543.............-27

Baltimore----------.496-----------.535.............-39

Cincinnati---------.438-----------.508.............-70

Atlanta-------------.422-----------.504.............-82

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