So, the NFL schedule is out and the mad rush to predict the future is on.
I personally think these April predictions border on the absurd. So much will change between now and the first week of the regular season. Not to mention that there is no real continuity any more. Yesterday's thoroughbred is today's nag and vice versa.
None of that, however, will stop me from throwing my hat into the prediction ring. I can be as ridiculous as the next guy. So, here I go with my very own formula for building an NFC East crystal ball and staring the future fearlessly in the face.
My formula for determining the strength of schedule for each of the three teams goes like so:
- I took the opponent's record from 2009 and used their winning percentage as a base. If an opponent was, say 8-8, then the base would be .500. An opponent who was 12-4 a year ago gets a base of .750.
- I then add 10 percent if the game is played at the opponent's place. I subtract 10 percent if it is a home game for the team in question. So, that .500 opponent will be .550 if it is an away game and .450 if it is at home.
- Finally, I strike an average of the team's sixteen opponents and that becomes the strength of schedule for that team.
This year, the NFC East has drawn a tough assignment in inter-divisional play. They are paired with the NFC North and the AFC South. So, the beasts from the East will run into a few buzz saws from places like Indianapolis, Minnesota, and Green Bay. They will also face some tough customers in the likes of the Texans, Bears, Titans, and Jaguars.
The only real patsy in the bunch is the Detroit Lions, everyone's favorite whipping post.
In addition to the six divisional games and the eight games in divisional match-up play, the Cowboys will play host to last year's Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints and will visit the NFC West champions from a year ago, the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys have the third most difficult schedule in the entire league in 2010.
I have their 2010 strength of schedule at .571.
I have penciled the Cowboys in for five road losses: at Philadelphia, New York, Green Bay, Minnesota and Indianapolis. I have them perfect at home, thus finishing 11 - 5, the same record they had in 2009.
The Eagles finished 11-5 as well last year, but their defensive breakdowns in the late going and the change from Donovan McNabb to the mostly untested Kevin Kolb.
I anticipate a bit of a rebuilding year for Andy Reid's squad. The Eagles do get the Packers, Vikings, and Colts at home, but that advantage may not be enough to lift them into playoff contention. They will also face the 49ers in San Francisco and the Falcons at home, both tough draws.
The Eagles strength of schedule checks in at .567, and the crystal ball reveals the Eagles are headed for an 8-8 finish, missing the playoffs.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The New York Giants were a grave disappointment to their fans a year ago. 2010 may not offer citizens of the Big Apple much more in the way of hope. Tom Coughlin's dour, no-nonsense approach to coaching is a fine thing when things are going well. He may grind on some nerves if the season goes into a tailspin.
The Giants have to travel to Indianapolis, Houston, Minnesota, and Green Bay. That may prove to be Murderer's Row for the G-Men. Their strength of schedule is .535, thanks largely to the fact that they get the Panthers at home and the Seahawks in Seattle.
The Giants will finish 8-8 and wait for another time to compete for a Super Bowl.
Hail to the Redskins! They have solved their quarterback quandary for the moment and have placed the future of their franchise into the capable hands of Mike Shanahan. They are on the right track.
The 'Skins, however, have a ways to go before they threaten for the division, let alone anything more glorious. With a schedule strength of .531, this 4-12 team from a year ago will make some progress, but will not make .500.
My conclusion? The Cowboys win their second division in a row and challenge to be the first team in history to play a home game in the Super Bowl, while the rest of the NFC East get their legs under them, but fail to make the playoffs.
You can see my Strength of Schedule and Prediction Chart here . I welcome your feedback, criticisms, remarks, and admission of my genius.