The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

NFL Schedule Dominates Playoff Seeding

Mill Woods

Posted on February 16, 2018 17:27

1 user

Perhaps it should go without saying: there are many factors determining which NFL teams make the Super Bowl — team rosters, injuries, coaching and so on. But we should never underestimate the impact of the schedule.

It is true that a wild card has occasionally won it all, but the long history of the NFL is a sobering reminder that playoff seeding matters.  

In my view, this lends a lot of weight to the strength of the teams' regular-season schedules. Contending teams with slightly-easier schedules have an advantage in trying to land the top playoff seeds.  

We don't have dates yet, but we do know who each team will face in 2018, so let's take a close look. My way of evaluating the strength of a team's schedule is simply to count the number of matches against playoff teams.

The defending Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, will take on seven 2017 playoff teams. This will be no cakewalk, but it is also not the toughest schedule in the NFL. In the NFC, the Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, while visiting the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. In the AFC, the Eagles will visit the Tennessee Titans and take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in London in late October.

The New England Patriots will have also battle seven playoff teams. The Patriots will host the Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs, visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers. Naturally, the Patriots will have two games against division rival Buffalo Bills, who won a playoff spot. Versus the AFC South, the Patriots got an unlucky break, having to visit both the Jaguars and the Titans.

And the Jaguars have seven games against playoff teams. In the AFC they will host the Patriots and Steelers, while visiting the Bills and Chiefs. They will play the Titans twice, of course, and will host the Eagles in London.

Among last years' contenders, the Vikings appear to have had the best scheduling luck; they will play only five matches against playoff teams, visiting the Rams, Eagles and Patriots, while hosting the Saints and Bills.

In case you are wondering, only one NFL team has eight matches against 2018 playoff teams — the Saints.

In April, we will finally learn the dates of the NFL's top matches. Again, the schedule is just one of several interesting factors to watch. Another one, free agency, will start grabbing headlines in just a couple of weeks.

Mill Woods

Posted on February 16, 2018 17:27

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
THE LATEST THINKING

Webisode

Meet Jeff UPDATED FINAL

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest