How difficult is Seahawks' strength of schedule really?
Is predictive SOS actually predictive?
At the onset of the 2021 season, CBS Sports posted a strength of schedule ranking based on the only thing it really could be based on, at least in terms of what fans will generally accept: opponents combined 2020 win percentage.
This is of course an awful way to judge a team’s strength of schedule.
Teams are rarely exactly as good or as bad as their Win-Loss record
The teams have changed, some dramatically so
In what multiverse does combining every team’s record and calling that the full force of those teams’ values make a lickety split of sense?
But it is generally accepted because nothing else would be and fans do want to read about strength of schedule.
Before the 2021 season, the Steelers, Ravens, Bears, Packers, and Vikings had the five-hardest schedules, in that order, followed by the Bengals and Lions in a tie for sixth.
After the 2021 season, ESPN ranked the SOS by FPI and ruled that the 49ers, Football Team, Steelers, Bears, and Rams had the five-hardest schedules, followed by the Cardinals and Lions.
Before the 2021 season, the seven-easiest schedules belonged to the Eagles, Cowboys, Falcons, Buccaneers, Dolphins/Broncos in a tie, and the Panthers.
At the end of the season, ESPN ranked the easiest schedule belonging to the Broncos, followed by the Dolphins, Bills, Colts, Bucs, Titans, and Browns, in that order.
Anything that could be construed as “accuracy”, such as the Bears and Steelers having played two of the hardest schedules, or the Dolphins, Broncos, and Bucs showing up on both easy lists, could easily be drowned by the fact that most of the strength of schedule predictions were pretty wrong.
I actually do think that strength of schedule matters—a lot—and I would generally encourage people to root for a harder slate than an easier one. I’m a lot more scared about a Chiefs team that goes 12-5 against the 15th-toughest schedule than a Bengals team that goes 10-7 against the schedule ranked 24th.
But Cincinnati did make it farther than Kansas City did in the playoffs and it is difficult to argue against getting to the Super Bowl “any way you can.”
Maybe easier is better than harder. What do you think? Tell me in the comments:
Even if you don’t wanna leave a comment, I always recommend reading the comments for more insight and info on the subject. I’ve learned a lot from Seaside Joe reader comments over the last two months. If I live 100 more years, I’ll never know nearly as much as what you all collectively know. Not even close obviously.
A year ago, the Seattle Seahawks were said to have the 11th-toughest schedule based on previous seasons’ win-loss total: 139-133, a .511 winning percentage.
At the end of the season, ESPN said that the Seahawks had the 11th-toughest strength of schedule.
Okay, sometimes it does work.
The Seahawks went 7-10 against that record. Perhaps with a luckier draw on the schedule and no thumb injury to Russell Wilson, 10-7 and better isn’t completely out of line against the 11th most difficult schedule. Consider that the Denver Broncos, the team that Wilson went to because they’re “more ready to contend” (but more importantly, willing to pony up for Mr. Let’s Ride), went 7-10 last season against the easiest schedule in the NFL, by FPI.
The NFL will release the full schedule on Thursday but we know two important things about Seattle’s: Who they’re playing and that once again the Seahawks will travel the most miles in the NFL.
So by strength of schedule based on 2021’s combined winning percentages, Seattle will face the 11th-toughest slate by that measure: 149-139-1, a .517 winning percentage.
Close enough to be exactly the same as it was a year ago. But the major difference being that Wilson now plays for the Broncos, a team that plays the 15th-toughest schedule: 147-142, a .509 winning percentage.
Is the Seahawks schedule maybe not as hard or as easy as it “seems” by combined winning percentage?
Seahawks home opponents: Cards, Rams, 49ers, Falcons, Panthers, Broncos, Raiders, Giants, Jets
I expect the Cardinals, 49ers, Falcons to be worse than their 2021 records. I expect that the Rams, Panthers, Giants will be about the same. I expect that the Broncos, Raiders, and Jets will be better than their 2021 records, but Denver and Las Vegas might kind of cancel each other out by playing in the same division. That’s something that Wilson traded into: playing in a division with the Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders.
Seahawks away opponents: Cards, Rams, 49ers, Saints, Bucs, Chiefs, Chargers, Lions
Not only does Seattle have nine home games this year, but one of their away games is on a neutral field because they play Tom Brady’s Bucs in Germany in November. That’s not calculated in strength of schedule.
I think the Saints and Lions have awful situations at quarterback, though both could be improved overall and they might content for the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks face three of the final four playoff teams from last season on the road next season. I think Seattle’s road schedule presents way more challenges than their home schedule.
A lot of this will depend on how future injuries unfold, and when. We saw last season how the Chiefs were the team that ended up playing the Packers without Aaron Rodgers because of Covid. No other team got that privilege and it helped Kansas City’s final record.
It will also depend on how good Brady will be at 45, the status of Kyler Murray, the development of Trey Lance, how far the Rams could fall from Super Bowl glory, and whether Wilson and Davante Adams create dramatic improvements at their new locations. I could also see this ending up as a relatively easy schedule.
How hard is the Seahawks 2022 schedule? We won’t find out on Thursday.