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  1. #1
    Professional Fat Jockey (Moderator) Istabraq's Avatar
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    NFL 2020 strength of schedule and early thoughts

    History proves there's very little to be gained at looking to next season in March, free agency kicked off 18th March and although there have been some huge transactions there's a host of deals yet to be done.
    The draft is scheduled to take place 23rd April and the league seem keen to do this (the NFL annual programme is set by dates so any delay to the draft will have knock on impacts), so it's very difficult to gauge a teams chances of success until these have all played out, however, we all have some unplanned time on our hands so let's see if we can get ahead this year.

    The NFL schedule is known, dates for fixtures will be announced in April but we know the strength of schedule that each team will face, schedule is determined by:

    Home and away against its three division opponents (six games).
    The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (four games).
    The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (four games).
    Two intra-conference games based on the prior year's standings (two games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions that the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.

    Strength of schedule is determined by the previous season win/loss record of the team that will be faced in the upcoming season:

    1 New England Patriots .537
    2 New York Jets .533
    3 Miami Dolphins .529
    4 San Francisco 49ers .527
    T-5 Buffalo Bills .525
    T-5 Detroit Lions .525
    T-5 Atlanta Falcons .525
    T-8 Arizona Cardinals .518
    T-8 Houston Texans .518
    T-10 Minnesota Vikings .516
    T-10 Los Angeles Rams .516
    12 Denver Broncos .512
    T-13 Chicago Bears .509
    T-13 Seattle Seahawks .509
    15 Green Bay Packers .504
    T-16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers .502
    T-16 Indianapolis Colts .502
    T-18 Kansas City Chiefs .500
    T-18 Carolina Panthers .500
    20 Tennessee Titans .498
    21 Las Vegas Raiders .496
    22 Jacksonville Jaguars .494
    23 Los Angeles Chargers .492
    24 New Orleans Saints .490
    25 Philadelphia Eagles .486
    26 New York Giants .482
    27 Cincinnati Bengals .477
    28 Washington Redskins .465
    29 Cleveland Browns .461
    30 Dallas Cowboys .459
    31 Pittsburgh Steelers .457
    32 Baltimore Ravens .438

    Two things stand out to me here, the Patriots begin life without Tom Brady for the first time this millennium and have the leagues toughest schedule.
    The Baltimore Ravens, arguably the leagues best team last year facing the easiest schedule.
    Strength of schedule of course doesn't always mean a great deal, the poor teams from last year can (and do) improve and the strong teams can (and do) regress, but you'd still prefer the schedule to be friendly.
    That said, Pittsburgh will get Big Ben back this season, there is so much talent on that roster they came within a whisker of making the play offs with a group of QBs who aren't good enough to be journeyman back ups, not only will they be a much stronger outfit next season they obviously play Baltimore twice.
    Cincinnati were poor in 2019 but being that bad means the #1 draft pick and they are certain to grab Joe Burrow who is widely touted as the most complete QB to come from college football, so if they choose to thrown him straight in you have to assume he will improve the team.
    The Cleveland recruitment of 2019 largely underperformed on the field but maybe coaching changes will eek out improvement and they will be competitive, that AFC North might not be quite the cakewalk for Baltimore the schedule suggests.

    It is generally accepted that Jason Garratt was the reason Dallas haven't won a Superbowl with the talented group of players he had, Dallas moved on from him and hired Mike McCarthy who won a Superbowl in Green Bay and made the play offs in 9 of his 12 seasons as head coach there, he could easily have an instant impact.
    Dak Prescott got tagged and is demanding a big contract, he'll get one, and with Zeke at RB and Amari Cooper at WR they have probably got the most talented offensive trio in football.

    The current rosters of the NY Giants and Washington Redskins will not trouble the NFC East play off battle, Philadelphia will be competitive but they need an awful lot of work of defence but do have 10 picks in April so may well plug those gaps, but overall the 20/1 about Dallas lifting the Lombardi Trophy looks to be the best value around at the moment.

    Dallas schedule:

    at Baltimore Ravens
    at Cincinnati Bengals
    New York Giants
    Philadelphia Eagles
    Washington Redskins
    Cleveland Browns
    Arizona Cardinals
    San Francisco 49ers
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    Atlanta Falcons
    at Los Angeles Rams
    at Minnesota Vikings
    at New York Giants
    at Philadelphia Eagles
    at Seattle Seahawks
    at Washington Redskins

    As is always the case the #1 seed has a huge advantage and even more so this season as the league have changed the play off schedule.
    From this season there will be seven teams that qualify from each conference, the four division winners and the next three teams with the best records, but crucially the only team benefiting from a play off bye week will be the #1 seeds.
    12 wins should be good enough for that #1 seed, can Dallas win that many ? time will tell but they have a shot.
    Green Bay and New Orleans will have a chance as will whoever comes through the NFC West, but that is such a tough division the winner could end up with a 10-6 record and bar wildcard weekend be on the road in the play offs, and that will be tough.
    For any New England fans they are for the first time since the 90's odds against to win the AFC East.
    As for the rest of the AFC I can't have a strong view, Kansas City could easily win the lot again but with Baltimore, a resurgent Pittsburgh plus the likes of Indianapolis and Tennessee taking momentum into the season the conference is so hard to call.

    Speculative suggestions:

    Dallas Cowboys to win NFC East 27/20
    Dallas Cowboys to win NFC Championship 10/1
    Dallas Cowboys to win Superbowl 20/1
    New Orleans to win NFC South 10/11
    Green Bay to win NFC North 7/5

    I've played the division winners treble at a fraction under 10/1
    Last edited by Istabraq; 28th March 2020 at 02:36 PM.

  2. #2
    Stable Fat Jockey (Moderator) Faugheen_Machine's Avatar
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    Only just seen this Ista and another really enjoyable read.

  3. #3
    Professional Fat Jockey Hurricane fly's Avatar
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    As much as I did not rate him in college, that wouldn’t put you off backing Lamar Jackson to be MVP

  4. #4
    Professional Fat Jockey (Moderator) Istabraq's Avatar
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    To win MVP you have to win and as I covered (briefly) that North could be brutal next season, plus, and I hope I’m wrong, his style of QB will take a hit one day that puts him out of the game and when you’ve been hurt your game changes and the Ravens success is pretty much built around Lamar’s duel threat.
    Lamar as a passer only is probably a B grade QB...

  5. #5
    Professional Fat Jockey (Moderator) Istabraq's Avatar
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    Can’t see any UK prices for MVP but Mahomes looks to be about 7/2, Lamar 5/1.
    Having a view on the Cowboys this year means I could end up with a lopsided book but if I was looking at that MVP market Dak at 20/1 is a decent play...

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