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  • 2023 NFL strength of schedule rankings for every team from toughest to easiest
  • Use SBD’s proprietary method for calculating NFL Strength of Schedule
  • The Ravens have the toughest second half NFL schedule, while the Falcons have the easiest

For too long we have wasted our time using team’s record from the previous season to calculate NFL strength of schedule rankings for the upcoming season. Stop this! There are far too many flaws involved in this method.

We should be using something much more forward-looking for NFL strength of schedule instead. A handful of years ago, I came up with the idea to use the win totals put out by sportsbooks each season to determine how difficult each team’s schedule was going to be.

The league released its full 2023 NFL schedule on Thursday, May 11, but NFL win totals opened back in late March. Here’s the NFL SOS for every team using this much more accurate method, as well as how this method has performed in terms of predicting future outcomes in previous seasons. Now that we’re through the first half of the 2023 NFL season, I have recalculated the second half NFL strength of schedule rankings. (I did the same after Week 1 as well.)

2nd Half NFL SOS | NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings After Week 1 | NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings Before Kickoff

Note: 1 is the most difficult, while 32 is the easiest 2023 schedule.

NFL Strength of Schedule for 2nd Half of Season

Rank Team Avg Win Total of 2nd Half Opponents
1 Baltimore Ravens 10
2 Cincinnati Bengals 9.72
T3 Buffalo Bills 9.5
T3 Las Vegas Raiders 9.5
5 Washington Commanders 9.13
T6 Arizona Cardinals 9.00
T6 New York Giants 9.00
8 Tennessee Titans 8.94
9 San Francisco 49ers 8.83
10 Seattle Seahawks 8.78
11 Cleveland Browns 8.67
T12 Denver Broncos 8.61
T12 Los Angeles Rams 8.61
T12 New York Jets 8.61
15 Minnesota Vikings 8.56
16 Jacksonville Jaguars 8.50
T17 Dallas Cowboys 8.44
T17 Kansas City Chiefs 8.44
19 Pittsburgh Steelers 8.39
20 Miami Dolphins 8.38
21 New England Patriots 8.25
22 Carolina Panthers 8.22
23 Los Angeles Chargers 8.19
T24 Chicago Bears 8.13
T24 Philadelphia Eagles 8.13
T26 Green Bay Packers 7.94
T26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7.94
28 Indianapolis Colts 7.81
T29 Detroit Lions 7.78
T29 Houston Texans 7.78
31 New Orleans Saints 7.56
32 Atlanta Falcons 6.88

Isolating just the second half of the 2023-24 NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens have the toughest schedule over the final nine weeks, while the Atlanta Falcons have the easiest schedule. Baltimore’s average opponent over their next eight games – they are on bye in Week 13 – is a strong ten-win team. Atlanta’s average opponent over their next eight games – they are on bye Week 11 – is just a 6.88-win team.

The Las Vegas Raiders second half schedule gets significantly tougher than their first half schedule. Their average opponent in the first half of the season was just a 7.5-win team, while their average second half opponent is a 9.5-win team. Their opponent’s jump of two wins per game from first to second half is the largest in the league. The Patriots are on the other end of the spectrum, as their average second half opponent is 1.31 wins worse than their average first half opponent.

Based off our most recent update after Week 1 (can be seen below), we were off the most when it comes to the Titans second half schedule. After our Week 1 update, we thought the Titans average second half opponent was just a 7.61-win team, when they’re now appearing to be an 8.94-win team.

Quick note for anyone who cares: no sportsbook currently has a win total for the New York Giants. However, theScore Bet has a prop for exact wins and the Giants see the following odds: +250 for three wins, +200 for four wins, and +300 for five wins. Two and six wins are both given +700 odds. So, I have set their line at 4, which results in the most balanced implied probabilities – 41.1% to go under, 44.7% to go over, and 33.3% to push.

(Yes, this prop carries a lot of juice. The sum of implied probabilities for all outcomes is 119.1%, meaning we have an overround of 19.1%. I am not suggesting you bet this prop, to be very clear. In fact, do not! I am just explaining it to show my work on the NFL strength of schedule rankings.)

Note: 1 is the most difficult, while 32 is the easiest 2023 schedule.

2023 NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings After Week 1

Rank Team Combined Win Totals of 2023 Opponents
1 New England Patriots 153.5
2 Minnesota Vikings 153
3 New York Jets 149.5
4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 149
5 Arizona Cardinals 148.5
6 Baltimore Ravens 148.5
7 New York Giants 148.5
8 Buffalo Bills 147.5
9 Kansas City Chiefs 147.5
10 Los Angeles Chargers 147.5
11 Cincinnati Bengals 146.5
12 Los Angeles Rams 146.5
13 Washington Commanders 146.5
14 Jacksonville Jaguars 146
15 Carolina Panthers 145.5
16 Las Vegas Raiders 145.5
17 Denver Broncos 144.5
18 Miami Dolphins 144.5
19 Seattle Seahawks 144.5
20 Tennessee Titans 144.5
21 Pittsburgh Steelers 143.5
22 Chicago Bears 142
23 Dallas Cowboys 141.5
24 Detroit Lions 141.5
25 Houston Texans 141
26 Cleveland Browns 140.5
27 Green Bay Packers 138.5
28 Indianapolis Colts 138.5
29 Philadelphia Eagles 138.5
30 San Francisco 49ers 135.5
31 Atlanta Falcons 130
32 New Orleans Saints 128.5

After recalculating NFL strength of schedule following Week 1, it is still the Patriots with the league’s toughest schedule and the Saints with the league’s easiest schedule. However, New England’s schedule does look a little tougher (by 2.5 projected opponent wins) and New Orleans’ looks a touch easier (by 1.4 projected opponent wins).

Here are the teams whose 2023-24 NFL schedules look much easier versus what we thought prior to kickoff:

  • Dolphins went from 152 down to 144.5 (difference of  7.5 projected opponent wins)
    • Two games against the Jets look a lot easier without Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the Giants look awful, and Kansas City may not be as dominant as expected.
  • Raiders went from 152.5 down to 145.5 (7)
  • Chiefs went from 153.3 down to 147.5 (5.8)
  • Bills went from 153.3 down to 147.5 (5.8)

And then here are the teams whose schedules look notably tougher versus what we thought prior to kickoff:

  • Panthers went from 138.9 up to 145.5 (difference of 6.6 projected opponent wins)
    • Detroit, Miami, Dallas, and Green Bay all looked very strong in Week 1 and are all teams Carolina has to play this season.
  • Buccaneers went from 145.9 up to 149 (3.1)
  • Jaguars went from 143.3 up to 146 (2.7)

Many teams saw their schedules get tougher but the burden was divided up pretty evenly among the group.

Note: 1 is the most difficult, while 32 is the easiest 2023 schedule.

2023 NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings Before Kickoff

Rank Team Combined Win Totals of 2023 Opponents
1 New England Patriots 156
2 Buffalo Bills 153.3
3 Kansas City Chiefs 153.3
4 Las Vegas Raiders 152.5
5 Miami Dolphins 152
6 Los Angeles Rams 151.5
7 Minnesota Vikings 151.3
8 New York Jets 150.8
9 Washington Commanders 150.3
10 Denver Broncos 148.5
11 Arizona Cardinals 147.8
12 Baltimore Ravens 147.3
13 Dallas Cowboys 146.5
14 Los Angeles Chargers 146.5
15 New York Giants 146.5
16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 145.9
17 Cincinnati Bengals 145.3
18 Cleveland Browns 145.3
19 Philadelphia Eagles 143.5
20 Seattle Seahawks 143.5
21 Detroit Lions 143.3
22 Green Bay Packers 143.3
23 Jacksonville Jaguars 143.3
24 Pittsburgh Steelers 143.3
25 Tennessee Titans 142.4
26 Houston Texans 140.9
27 Chicago Bears 140.3
28 Carolina Panthers 138.9
29 San Francisco 49ers 138.8
30 Indianapolis Colts 138.4
31 Atlanta Falcons 130.8
32 New Orleans Saints 129.9

Using 2023 NFL win totals, I have come up with my own NFL Strength of Schedule by adding the projected wins (from sportsbooks) of each team’s 17 opponents this season.

The range in my NFL Strength of Schedule rankings is from 129.9, on the easy end, to 156, on the tough end. The median sum of 2022 opponents’ win totals is 145.6, while the average (mode) is 145.4. The easiest schedule this year is notably easier than last season, where the low end was still 137.

It is the New England Patriots who enter the 2023 NFL season with the most difficult schedule ahead and the New Orleans Saints with the easiest path.

Who Has the Toughest 2023 NFL Schedule?

  • New England Patriots

The AFC East was a tough division last year, before the New York Jets added Aaron Rodgers under center. The division is going to be brutally tough this year, and is a big reason why the New England Patriots possess the league’s toughest schedule in 2023.

Six of New England’s games will be played against divisional foes in the Bills (win total of 10.5), Dolphins (9.5), and Jets (9.5). But even when the Pats get out of the AFC East, it doesn’t get a lot easier. They take on the AFC West, which projects to be tough games against the Chiefs, Chargers, and (maybe) Broncos, and NFC East, which will bring tough games against the Eagles, Cowboys, and (maybe) Giants.

New England Patriots’ 2023 Schedule

Week Opponent
1 Philadelphia Eagles
2 Miami Dolphins
3 @New York Jets
4 @Dallas Cowboys
5 New Orleans Saints
6 @Las Vegas Raiders
7 Buffalo Bills
8 @Miami Dolphins
9 Washington Commanders
10 Indianapolis Colts
11 BYE
12 @New York Giants
13 Los Angeles Chargers
14 @Pittsburgh Steelers
15 Kansas City Chiefs
16 @Denver Broncos
17 @Buffalo Bills
18 New York Jets

New England’s average opponent in 2023 is a 9.2-win team and they have to deal with four games against a double-digit-win opponent.

The Patriots have to face 2.7 more wins than the team with the second-toughest schedule, the Bills and Chiefs. It should be no surprise that we see another AFC East team on the list of toughest schedules after what you read above. Even the Dolphins (fifth-toughest) and Jets (eighth-toughest) find themselves among the top ten most difficult schedules in 2023.

Who Has the Easiest 2023 NFL Schedule?

  • New Orleans Saints

The easiest schedule in the 2023 NFL season belongs to the New Orleans Saints. Just like above with the Pats, their division plays a big role in this. The NFC South was awful last year and New Orleans is the only team who projects to be much better than they were last season. The Saints added Derek Carr at QB, should get Michael Thomas back, and still have a very good offensive line and defense.

The same optimism can’t be shared about the rest of the division. Atlanta (win total of 8.3) has some pretty good talent on both sides of the ball but will trot Desmond Ridder, a second-year QB who no one is really sure of right now, out under center. Carolina (7.5) is likely relying on a rookie quarterback this season and also gave away their best receiver to acquire that rookie QB. Tampa Bay (6.5) is suffering through the post-Tom Brady era right now and don’t have the best offensive line to protect either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask.

New Orleans Saints’ 2023 Schedule

Week Opponent
1 Tennessee Titans
2 @Carolina Panthers
3 @Green Bay Packers
4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5 @New England Patriots
6 @Houston texans
7 Jacksonville Jaguars
8 @Indianapolis Colts
9 Chicago Bears
10 @Minnesota Vikings
11 BYE
12 @Atlanta Falcons
13 Detroit Lions
14 Carolina Panthers
15 New York Giants
16 @Los Angeles Rams
17 @Tampa Bay Buccaneers
18 Atlanta Falcons

Looking outside of the NFC South, the Saints also get an Aaron Rodgers-less NFC North and a pretty weak AFC South. New Orleans’ average opponent is just a 7.6-win team and they do not face a single opponent whose win total is greater than 9.5.

The second-easiest schedule in the league belongs to the Falcons – again, should be no surprise to see another NFC South team with an easy strength of schedule – but they face another 0.9 wins this season. These two teams have it far easier than the rest, with the third-easiest schedule belonging to the Colts who face 138.4 wins this season, compared to New Orleans’ 129.9.

Other 2023 NFL SOS Notes

  • The toughest first-half schedule belongs to the New York Jets, who face an average 9.6-win team from Weeks 1-9. The second-toughest first-half belongs to the Patriots, who face a 9.2-win team on average.
  • The easiest first-half schedule is the Saints’ first nine games, where they only play an average 7.4-win team. The second-easiest belongs to the Falcons.
  • While the Jets’ first-half schedule is the toughest in the league, they do see the biggest drop in second-half opponent. New York faces a 9.6-win team on average in the first half of the season, but just an 8.3-win team on average in the second half. This is a difference of 1.31 wins per opponent. The next biggest drop-off is the Titans, whose second-half opponents are 1.25 wins worse than their first-half opponents.
  • The Ravens see the biggest increase in difficulty from their first to second-half opponents. Baltimore has to deal with an 8-win team on average from Weeks 1-9, but then get a 9.4-win team on average in the second half. This is a difference of 1.4 wins per opponent. The next worst is the Eagles, whose second-half opponents are 1.3 wins better than their first-half opponents.
  • The Titans and Patriots are tied for the toughest first four games, each facing a total of 39.5 projected wins in their opponents over that stretch. The easiest first four games belongs to the 49ers, who only face 28.5 projected wins in those games.
  • The Patriots play the toughest final four games of the season, having to deal with 40 projected wins, or an average 10-win team, over the final four weeks of the 2023 season. The easiest final four games also belongs to the 49ers, who only face 27.5 projected wins in their final four opponents.

Why Our NFL Strength of Schedule Method Is More Accurate

For starters, free agency, the NFL Draft, and other player/coach movement are all capable of dramatically changing a team in just one offseason – see the 2017 Los Angeles Rams under Sean McVay or the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Tom Brady.

Second, injuries/suspensions to star players, namely quarterbacks, can result in a good team suffering through a bad season – see the 2017 Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers. If you’re going to tell me the Packers are a 7-9 team with Rodgers under center, I’m here to call you crazy.

Sure, sportsbooks can be influenced by where the money is going, and scheduling is sort of worked into their lines, but their win totals still at least reflect the current team, not the past one.

The 2018 Buffalo Bills are a great example of why using projected win totals to calculate strength of schedule is much more appropriate than last year’s record. If we were judging Buffalo by 2017 alone, they would have been counted as a very respectable 9-7 team.

However, the Bills traded QB Tyrod Taylor in the offseason, and entered 2018 with AJ McCarron and Josh Allen under center. Buffalo should not have been viewed as a nine-win team. Their 6.5 projected wins were a much closer projection to what they actually were: a 6-win team.

Another example is the 2018 Houston Texans. Only getting six starts out of Deshaun Watson before he tore his ACL, and missing JJ Watt (among others) for 11 games resulted in the 2017 Texans posting an awful 4-12 record.

But with both of those players back in 2018, they posted an 11-5 record. Regarding them as a 9.5-win team like sportsbooks suggested was much closer to the team they were.

How Can Strength of Schedule Help You as a Bettor?

No offseason NFL bets should be made before at least considering strength of schedule.

Whether you’re betting Super Bowl futures, NFL win totals, player awards, or even a prop as obscure as the first head coach to be fired, strength of schedule is going to play a major role.

An easy regular season schedule is likely to lead to a higher-seed come playoff time. And with 32 of 64 no. 1 seeds advancing to the Super Bowl since 1990, it’s clear that home field advantage is significant in the postseason.

Past NFL MVP Winners

Year NFL MVP Team Record
2022 Patrick Mahomes 14-3
2021 Aaron Rodgers 13-4
2020 Aaron Rodgers 13-3
2019 Lamar Jackson 14-2
2018 Patrick Mahomes 12-4
2017 Tom Brady 13-3
2016 Matt Ryan 11-5
2015 Cam Newton 15-1
2014 Aaron Rodgers 12-4
2013 Peyton Manning 13-3

When it comes to player awards, the average number of regular season wins for the last ten NFL MVPs is 13.

So once you have narrowed down your list of potentials for the MVP, it would be wise to consult which of your candidates face easy/difficult schedules, since they’ll likely need to win at least 12 games to take home the honor. Keep this in mind as you scan the NFL MVP odds and favorites for the upcoming season. When it comes to betting on the NFL, the newest player in town offers their ESPN Bet promo code perfect for those looking for an alternative betting app.

NFL Strength of Schedule FAQ

Who has the toughest schedule in the NFL 2023?

The New England Patriots play the toughest schedule in the 2023 NFL season.

What NFL team has the easiest schedule 2023?

The New Orleans Saints have the easiest 2023 NFL schedule.

What are the most difficult NFL opponents, according to the NFL strength of schedule?

The Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Buffalo Bills are among the projected toughest opponents for the 2023 NFL season.

Archived NFL Strength of Schedule: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018

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After working in TV, Matt turned his focus towards numbers, specifically odds. He has been with us since 2016 and serves as SBD's Editor-in-Chief, credited with creating our futures trackers, SBD's score predictor, SBD Sharp, and his own model for calculating NFL SOS, among other products.