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Dolphins, Raiders NFL Schedules Look Easier After Week 1 Results, Panthers in Tougher Than Expected

Matt McEwan

by Matt McEwan in NFL Football

Updated Sep 14, 2023 · 5:10 PM PDT

Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) takes the field before the start of the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Jan. 8, 2023.
  • With Week 1 in the rearview, we have gotten our first look at each NFL team and can now adjust expectations appropriately
  • Sportsbooks have adjusted their outlook on each team and with the new data, we have a better idea of NFL strength of schedule rankings for the rest of the season
  • See which team has the easiest NFL schedule, toughest schedule, and which teams’ schedules are easier/tougher than what we originally thought

Week 1 of the 2023-24 NFL season is in the books and we now have our first real look at each team. Some teams really disappointed (Vikings, Seahawks etc), others looked much better than expected (Browns, Cowboys etc), and others saw their season outlook change dramatically due to injuries (Jets …). As a result, sportsbooks have updated all of their NFL futures markets to reflect how they believe each team should be perceived. In turn, I have now updated my NFL strength of schedule rankings as well.

Some teams we originally believed had tough 2023-24 NFL schedules may not be dealing with that many tough teams. Some we thought had it easy don’t anymore. While I am very aware that Week 1 can lie (a lot), it’s still worth using what we do have to look ahead at the paths each team faces when it comes to NFL SOS. Let’s dive into the storylines!

Patriots Still Have Toughest 2023 NFL Schedule

Not a whole lot changed for the Patriots’ strength of schedule following the Week 1 update. New England was originally believed to have the NFL’s toughest schedule this season and they still do. If it helps, their schedule got a touch easier—by 2.5 projected opponent wins—and the gap between them and the next toughest schedule is not as noticeable as it was. But it’s still the toughest schedule.

Yes, the two games against the Jets look easier now, but the matchups with the Dolphins (x2) and Cowboys are certainly looking a little more difficult than we may have thought.

Saints Still Have Easiest 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule

Same as the above, New Orleans was already believed to have the NFL’s easiest schedule. The update that has come after Week 1 reconfirmed that they still have the league’s easiest schedule. Yes, the Falcons might be tougher competition than expected, but the Bears, Vikings, and Panthers may not be as tough as we projected.

Now let’s move onto what has changed with NFL strength of schedule rankings!

Dolphins & Raiders’ Schedules Are Easier Than Expected

Not only did the Dolphins look really good in Week 1, but many of their future opponents do not look to be as tough as we originally expected. For starters, their two games against the Jets this season—Weeks 12 and 15—don’t look too bad anymore with Aaron Rodgers lost for the season due to a torn Achilles.

It doesn’t stop there, though. The Chiefs didn’t appear to be as dominant as last season, largely due to their inability to catch a football. The Giants looked downright awful. The sum of Miami’s opponent’s NFL win totals was 152 when I calculated NFL strength of schedule ahead of kickoff. After recalculating following Week 1’s updates, it is just 144.5 and only 135 the rest of the way. This means that on average, each of Miami’s opponents are nearly a half-win worse than what we expected them to be. This was the biggest change in NFL strength of schedule after running the calculation again.

Dolphins 2023-24 NFL Schedule

Week Opponent Change in Opponent’s Win Total After Wk 1
2 @Patriots -1
3 vs Broncos -1
4 @Bills 0
5 vs Giants -2
6 vs Panthers -1
7 @Eagles +0.5
8 vs Patriots -1
9 @Chiefs -1
11 vs Raiders -1
12 @Jets -1
13 @Commanders 0
14 vs Titans 0
15 vs Jets -1
16 vs Cowboys +1
17 @Ravens +1
18 vs Bills 0

When you see a negative number for the “change” column of the table above, that means their opponent’s win total went down by that many wins. If it’s a positive number, their opponent’s win total went up by that many wins. As you’ll see, nine of the Dolphins’ 16 remaining opponents (or games, if you will, since they do play a couple teams twice) saw their win totals drop after Week 1, meaning sportsbooks don’t think they are as good as originally expected. Miami’s schedule ranked as the fifth-toughest ahead of kickoff, but it is now appearing to be tied for the 13th-easiest in the league.

Another team whose schedule got lighter after the update was the Raiders.

Raiders 2023-24 NFL Schedule

Week Opponent Change in Opponent’s Win Total After Wk 1
2 @Bills 0
3 vs Steelers 0
4 @Chargers 0
5 vs Packers +1
6 vs Patriots -1
7 @Bears -1
8 @Lions +1
9 vs Giants -2
10 vs Jets -1
11 @Dolphins +1
12 vs Chiefs -1
14 vs Vikings -1
15 vs Chargers 0
16 @Chiefs -1
17 @Colts 0
18 vs Broncos -1

The Raiders were believed to have the fourth-toughest schedule ahead of kickoff. But after updating NFL strength of schedule numbers following Week 1, they are tied for just the 15th-toughest schedule. Raiders’ opponents saw their win totals drop by a combined seven wins.

Games against the Bears, Giants, Jets, Vikings, and Chiefs are not looking as difficult as they did this offseason. (According to the sportsbooks, at least.)

Panthers’ Schedule Is Tougher Than Expected

No team’s strength of schedule changed towards being tougher as much as the Panthers’ did. Carolina was believed to have the fifth-easiest schedule in the NFL, but after the Week 1 update, they’re now tied for the 15th-toughest 2023 schedule. They saw their opponents’ win totals improve by 6.6 wins, meaning on average each of their remaining opponents are 0.41 wins better than originally expected.

Panthers 2023-24 Schedule

Week Opponent Change in Opponent’s Win Total After Wk 1
2 vs Saints +1
3 @Seahawks -1
4 vs Vikings -1
5 @Lions +1
6 @Dolphins +1
8 vs Texans -0.5
9 vs Colts 0
10 @Bears -1
11 vs Cowboys +1
12 @Titans 0
13 @Buccaneers +1
14 @Saints +1
15 vs Falcons +1.2
16 vs Packers +1
17 @Jaguars -0.3
18 vs Buccaneers +1

The Panthers’ games against the Lions, Dolphins, and Cowboys look extremely tough after all three teams looked good in Week 1. The Buccaneers, who Carolina still plays twice this season, might not be the slouches we were expecting after they beat the Vikings, and Green Bay might still be a good team without Aaron Rodgers under center.

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