Before you skim ahead to find the results, please understand that this is not an opinion article. I have deliberately kept any personal opinion from these results.
Rather, this article is entirely based on numbers. I realize that, because of this, it will not give the full picture. Statistics never can. So, take these results for what they are.
I tried to come up with the best way to represent which NFL Quarterbacks would be facing the easiest and toughest schedules for the 2009-10 season. This is what I came up with.
First, I calculated the average opponent QB rating for the 2008 season, for each team in the NFL. This should show how difficult or easy it is to perform as a quarterback against that team.
For example, the Baltimore Ravens had the lowest average opponent QB rating at 64.3. Clearly, it is not an easy task to perform well as a quarterback when you play the Ravens. (The next two lowest averages are the Steelers with 67.3 and the Titans with 68.2).
On the other end of the spectrum, the Detroit Lions had an astounding average opponent QB rating of 113.2. Surely, it isn't too much to ask of a quarterback to do well against the Lions. (The next two highest averages are the Cardinals with 102.7 and the Broncos with 98.1).
Of course, some defenses will be better this year than last, while others will be worse. But in order to leave it entirely up to numbers, I am forced to rely on the most recent defensive statistics.
Once I had the average opponent QB ratings, I was able to calculate the average expected QB rating for each team's schedule. Keep in mind, this does not factor in who that team's quarterback is.
For example, if the the season was only two games long and the Giants were scheduled to play the Steelers and the Ravens, Eli Manning would have an expected QB rating of 65.8 (average of 64.3 and 67.3).
So, after spending more time than I care to admit crunching numbers in Excel, here are the easiest and toughest 2009-10 schedules for NFL quarterbacks. (In instances where there is a QB battle going on, I will just pick who seems to currently have the edge).
Player Schedule's Expected QB Rating
1. Alex Smith (SF) 88.73
2. Matt Hasselbeck (SEA) 88.62
3. Marc Bulger (STL) 88.32
4. Aaron Rodgers (GB) 87.58
5. Travaris Jackson (MIN) 87.57
6. Kerry Collins (TEN) 87.43
7. Kurt Warner (ARI) 87.38
8. Jay Cutler (CHI) 86.95
9. Joe Flacco (BAL) 86.27
10. Peyton Manning (IND) 85.95
It is important to note here the presence of the NFC West Division. The top three quarterbacks on the list play in the NFC West, with the other, Warner, placing seventh.
In addition to this, all other quarterbacks on the list, with the exception of Joe Flacco, will play games against the NFC West this season.
The NCF West has 2008 average opponent QB ratings of 102.3 (ARI), 95.7 (SEA), 88.9 (STL), and 87.8 (SF).
Player Schedule's Expected QB Rating
1. Matt Ryan (ATL) 80.38
2. Byron Leftwich (TB) 81.59
3. Jake Delhomme (CAR) 81.61
4. Tony Romo (DAL) 81.73
5. Tom Brady (NE) 81.98
6. Philip Rivers (SD) 81.99
7. Kellen Clemens (NYJ) 82.59
8. Kyle Orton (DEN) 82.70
9. Chad Pennington (MIA) 82.81
10. Matthew Stafford (DET) 82.87
It is important to note here the presence of the NFC South Division. The top three quarterbacks on the list play in the NFC South, while the other, Drew Brees, does not appear on the list.
In addition to this, four other quarterbacks on the list (Romo, Brady, Clemens, and Pennington) will play games against the NFC South this season.
The NFC South has 2008 average opponent QB ratings of 77.1 (NO), 77.9 (TB), 79.9 (CAR), and 82.5 (ATL).
So there are the results. If these stats prove to be meaningful, perhaps we will finally see a good year for Alex Smith, or a return to form for Matt Hasselbeck. Maybe we will see Matt Ryan stumble a bit in his sophomore season, or more struggles for whoever manages to win the job in Tampa Bay.