Apr 22, 2011
As most know, the NFL schedule is out, so it is time to try to break it down from a fantasy perspective. After the draft, I will assign a number grade for each team defense against the run and the pass and compare each team’s schedules using those numbers. While those grades will be tougher to hand out this year and could change somewhat dramatically once free agency occurs, it’s a good way to project strength of schedule rather than going off of last year’s numbers.
However, as I do each year once the schedule comes out, I like to get a look at the schedule based on 2010’s numbers. That exercise may be more viable this year, since teams may not change quite as much personnel-wise given the circumstances with the labor situation. Of course, that factor might be offset by the fact that there are a lot of coaching changes this year (a ton of coordinator changes).
But my sense is SOS may be a little more important this year, so let’s take a look at each team’s schedule and how it looks for QBs (passing) and RBs (rushing). These rankings are for our site default scoring system, which is yardage + TDs, and not PPR.
Note: Our SOS Tool is currently loaded with 2010’s data comparing against 2011’s schedule, so you can view this year’s SOS for YOUR scoring systems if you have some inputted in MyGuru. You can also select a range of weeks for SOS, so you can view the first six weeks, your playoff weeks, etc.
Arizona Cardinals – As usual, the Cards have what looks like a decent schedule, but it does look tougher for the run than usual. Last year, it was very favorable, but this year, based on last year’s numbers, it checks in at the 2nd hardest for RBs. That’s not good news for Beanie Wells, who will try to put an ugly sophomore season behind him.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 8th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 2nd hardest
Atlanta Falcons – I pointed out here last year how the 2010 schedule was kinder to the Falcons than 2009’s, and that seemed to play out on the field. This year, the numbers say it’s not great against the pass, but a close inspection of their 16 matchups shows it doesn’t look that bad. As for the run, there are several very favorable matchups (based on 2010’s numbers) that skew the numbers a little, but it’s certainly solid news for Michael Turner that their schedule is favorable by the digits.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 6th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 2nd easiest
Baltimore Ravens – Their schedule looked decent last year, especially for the run, and that kind of worked out okay. But this year, it’s tougher. They are close to middle of the pack for QBs, but it looks pretty decent when you check out all 16 matchups, so it’s probably not a concern. For the run, however, it’s pretty poor by the numbers. But as usual, if you take out those two Pittsburgh games it’s not so bad.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 12th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 5th hardest
Buffalo Bills – I remember writing this time last year how their schedule looked tough for the run, but a little better for the pass, and that seemed to follow through. This year, it’s once again decent for the pass and tougher for the run. That’s a little surprising, since they face the Jets twice, but it could be inflated a bit by two matchups against the Patriots. They were bad by the numbers against the pass last year, but they did improve greatly as the season wore on, so overall their schedule may be tougher than it seems.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 7th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 6th hardest
Carolina Panthers – Their schedule against the pass looks far from threatening, but it does rank low based on 2010’s numbers. As for the run, it doesn’t looking incredibly easy, but it does rank up there as being favorable by the numbers. The good news is their toughest matchup on the ground looks like Green Bay, and they were easier to run on than throw. That’s solid news for their RBs and likely Jonathan Stewart.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 9th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 8th easiest
Chicago Bears – It doesn’t help that they play the Packers twice, but their schedule against the pass for QBs checks in as being poor compared to the other 31 NFL teams. For the run, it’s actually easier with no very difficult matchups on the docket (I’m not calling Minnesota difficult anymore). The opposite was the case last year, and Matt Forte had a much better year, so perhaps the passing game will respond this time around.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 6th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 7th easiest
Cincinnati Bengals – Their schedule looks great against the pass, but it’s highly questionable they will actually have a viable QB to take advantage of that fact. It’s also really nice against the run, other than those four games against Pit and Bal. This helps, but this team looks hosed in 2011.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 12th best
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 14th best
Cleveland Browns – I guess most defenses all look about the same to me at this early stage, but the Brown schedule against the pass doesn’t look that bad, yet it doesn’t rank as being favorable based on last year’s numbers. However, against the run, as usual, it’s not going to rank high, thanks to four games against Pit and Bal.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 12th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 4th hardest
Dallas Cowboys – The NFC East is looking good this year against the pass, as all four teams rank in the top 5 against QBs based on 2010’s numbers. That’s good to know for Dallas, a team that should have some continuity with all its key guys returning to their usual roles. The schedule is also solid against the run, so if the OL holds up this year, Dallas is looking strong.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 4th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 11th easiest
Denver Broncos – Their schedule last year looked great, and it was pretty good and worked in their favor for most of the year. But this year, based on last year’s numbers (keep in mind SD and KC were better than expected vs. the pass), it’s actually one of the worst by the numbers. For the run, it was also great last year and worked out pretty well, yet this year it looks tougher. So basically, I’m avoiding all Broncos.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 4th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 8th hardest
Detroit Lions – Not the greatest news for this promising passing game, as their schedule based on last year’s numbers checks in as being unfavorable. But again, other than two matchups against GB and one against NO, I don’t view it as being prohibitive. Of more concern is their equally-tough schedule against the run, which is due in large part to the solid run defenses in GB, Chi, and Min.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 2nd hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 3rd hardest
Green Bay Packers – This passing game can kill anyone in the league, so it matter little that they have a tough schedule based on 2010’s numbers. And again, I look at this supposedly tough schedule and I don’t really get concerned about any matchup other than Week One against NO – and that could be a shootout. They’re middle of the pack against the run, so schedule should not be an issue when looking into Packer players.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 3rd hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 16th hardest
Houston Texans – The schedule was a lot better for them for the pass last year, and that kind of played out, although things didn’t heat up until later in the year. This year, it looks a little tougher. Ironically, their run schedule looked tougher last year, which just goes to show how good Arian Foster was. This year, it’s actually looks favorable, other than a matchup against Pit.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 5th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 15th easiest
Indianapolis Colts – Their schedule last year for the pass looked easy, and while volume was the key for Peyton Manning (and he actually threw it too much, if that’s possible), he certainly put up big numbers. It’s once again favorable, thanks to his weaker division. For the run, it’s also quite solid, so no schedule concerns here.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 10th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 16th easiest
Jacksonville Jaguars – Thanks to matchups against the Saints and Jets, their schedule against the pass looks tougher, so that’s not a great sign. But otherwise, it does look good down the stretch. It’s about the same for the run, but once you get past Week Seven, it looks damn good.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 10th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 9th hardest
Kansas City Chiefs – Last year on the blog I pointed out this really good schedule, and that worked out really well for them (thanks to a last place schedule). This year, however, things look tougher now that they have a schedule reflective of their division win. Still, upon inspection of each game it doesn’t look that bad for the pass. But they’d better upgrade themselves at WR this offseason. It ranks higher for the run, so that’s decent news for their RBs.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 8th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 13th easiest
Miami Dolphins – Last year, my first line in this blog read “This is not a good schedule.” That seemed to play out on the field. Luckily for them, it’s better this year and in fact is the best against the pass based on 2010’s numbers and 2011’s matchups. That helps, especially for a guy like Brandon Marshall. It also helps that one of their games against the Jets is Week Seventeen, assuming of course you don’t play that week. It’s also a nice schedule on paper for the run, so there is the benefit of stinking the year before. They could be this year’s Chiefs thanks to that schedule (not that they’re going to win their division). But whomever they have as their top RB could be an 18+ carry a game guy, and a good schedule will help his chances.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 1st easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 6th easiest
Minnesota Vikings – Leave it to the Vikings to make a huge mess in the bed last year and come out of that with the league’s toughest schedule for the pass based on their matchups this year and using only last year’s numbers. That is not good. Oddly enough, it is actually favorable for the run, so it’s not terrible news for Adrian Peterson.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 1st hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 4th easiest
New England Patriots – Last year I wrote here how their schedule looked favorable the final six weeks of the season, and they did come on strong. This year, it’s middle-of-the-pack, and it once again gets easier late in the season for the pass. It’s a little tougher for the run, but again seems easier down the stretch.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 14th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 12th hardest
New Orleans Saints – There were some rough spots last year, but overall it was solid, and that’s about right in terms of what transpired on the field. This year, while the pass ranking isn’t great, the schedule looks good to me, especially later in the season. Their schedule for the run looks about average, but by the numbers it’s a little below average.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 13th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 14th hardest
New York Giants – Their schedule looked favorable overall last year, as I wrote here, and these guys did put up good numbers. This year, it actually looks even better, so that’s good news. The NFC East is playing the AFC East, so the numbers look good, but keep in mind NE was better than their 2010 numbers on defense show. It’s easier for the pass than the run, where it’s slightly below average.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 5th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 15th hardest
New York Jets – The schedule definitely appears to the Jets’ friend this year, and it certainly helps that they don’t have to play themselves. They have a top-10 schedule against the run and the pass, so that’s a positive for all their players in 2011, especially since they will have good continuity in such an unstable year.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 6th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 5th easiest
Oakland Raiders – There are some troubling matchups (NYJ, NE, GB), so their schedule doesn’t rank all that high against the pass, but it doesn’t look brutal, either (honestly, no one’s schedule looks brutal right now given all the uncertainty). It does look better for the run, so that helps.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 15th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 10th easiest
Philadelphia Eagles – The schedule didn’t look all that great for the Eagles last year, and that might have been a factor for Kevin Kolb all season, but Michael Vick threw all that out of whack as we know. This year, it looks better for the pass, but a Week Fifteen matchup against the Jets is tough. It does look harder for the run, which isn’t as big of a deal for Philly, since they don’t run it all that much.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 2nd easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 5th hardest
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers usually benefit from being in a division with two shaky teams, and that appears to be the case again this year. They luckily don’t have to play themselves, which always helps their run schedule a bit. This year’s schedule looks about even for the pass and the run, and it’s particularly solid down the stretch.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 11th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 12th easiest
San Diego Chargers – Their schedule looked very good last year, which may explain how they were often led by guys no one heard of on offense this time last year. QB Philip Rivers being great and all also helped. It’s only average by the numbers against the pass, but that’s no real concern. For the run, it looks very good, and that’s encouraging for Ryan Mathews, who will try to put a poor rookie season behind him.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 16th (hardest or easiest, depending on your outlook on life)
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 3rd easiest
Seattle Seahawks – The schedule usually looks good for them, but unfortunately they haven’t been able to take advantage. This year, however, the schedule actually looks tougher than usual, and that’s not good.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 15th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 1st hardest
San Francisco 49ers – The schedule looked good for them last year, and while Frank Gore was putting up numbers, he did get hurt, so he didn’t take full advantage of it. The good news is it does look good again this year, and they will need all the help they can get given the severe challenge they’ll face trying to incorporate a new offense and coaching staff during a lockout.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 9th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 9th easiest
St. Louis Rams – Their schedule is usually solid, and it was last year, which helps explain some of their success. It is once again solid, but a little tougher against the run. The good news for Steven Jackson is that, other than Pit in Week Sixteen (granted, a key week), it’s favorable in the second half of the season. But that matchup for most people’s championship week (16) is a concern.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 13th easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 11th hardest
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I wrote last year how their schedule was good and that they needed the help, and did appear as if they got some help. It is a little tougher this year, however. But again, it’s hard to look at their 16 opponents and speculate their schedule will be prohibitive.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 11th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 13th hardest
Tennessee Titans – I wrote last year how the schedule looked tougher for the run, and that did seem to be a problem for Chris Johnson. Well, the good news is that it currently ranks #1 against the run. It’s about middle-of-the-pack against the pass, but ranks a little lower than that.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 11th hardest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 1st easiest
Washington Redskins – This team needs all the help it can get, and a solid schedule against the pass is decent news. It is, however, below average for the run.
SOS Ranking vs. QBs: 3rd easiest
SOS Ranking vs. RBs: 10th hardest