Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Strength of Bears Schedule Tough to Gauge in Numbers

The NFL's fluctuations and this year's offseason make any comparisons via last year's winning percentages of opponents completely useless

Plenty of scrutiny focused in on NFL teams' opponents once the league released its schedule, and then came the stories about strength of schedule.

Who faces the toughest schedule?

The schedules themselves mean something. Strength of schedule means zilch.

This year it means less than zilch.

It means as much as the forecasts for victory totals by sportswriters.

In fact, this year it might be the most meaningless statistic associated with analysis for the coming NFL season.

The Bears own the 13th toughest schedule in terms of last year's winning percentage. Their opponents had a .508 winning percentage. The opponents won 129, lost 125 and tied twice.

Their opponents within the NFC North had a .552 winning percentage, the ninth most severe. Opponents outside the division this year had a .481 percentage, tied for 21st most difficult.

It all means nothing mainly because you're not replaying last year's schedule against last year's opponents. Much has transpired since then and the teams on the schedule will all be different in 2020.

This happens every single year.

Here are examples.

Heading into last year the Bears faced on paper what was said to be the fifth toughest schedule. Their opponents in 2018 had a .520 winning percentage (131-121-4). When all was said and done, it turned out to be the 13th toughest schedule.

In 2018 the Bears were going to play what was said to be the fifth toughest schedule based on the previous year. Their opponents had a .520 winning percentage based on what they had done in 2017. Yet, when it was over Bears opponents owned only a .430 winning percentage. The Bears had actually played the easiest schedule in the NFL by far.

It varies so much from year to year, pinning down anything by using percentage totals based on the previous year is impossible.

Another garbage statistic is how many teams they'll play who made the playoffs last year. There are seven. What does this even mean this year when more teams actually make the playoffs than last year?

What is interesting is the personnel they'll go up against. It's just a curiosity piece more than anything else.

They're going to face the receiving leader, Michael Thomas. They will face the rushing leader, Derrick Henry. They're going to play the sacks leader, Tampa Bay's Shaq Barrett. They'll even play against the field goal leader, Josh Lambo of Jacksonville.

The winning percentage numbers mean even less than normal this year. 

When you factor in the result of an offseason well out of the bounds of normalcy due to the freeze on activity resulting from coronavirus, it's impossible to determine the significance of any of those numbers.

NFL seasons can be so drastically different from one year to the next, and when you put these conditions into the mix it becomes entirely and totally unpredictable.

The best way to view it is every team in the league is facing a schedule with 16 opponents who are .500 .

Strength of Schedule Numbers

In Division

 1. Arizona .688

 2. Detroit .646

 3. L.A. Rams .615

 4. Miami .604

 5. Cincinnati .583

 6. Seattle .573

 7. Carolina .563

    N.Y. Jets .563

 9. BEARS .552

10. Jacksonville .542

    L.A. Chargers .542

12. San Francisco .531

13. Atlanta .521

    Indianapolis .521

    Tampa Bay .521

16. Minnesota .510

17. Buffalo .500

    Cleveland .500

    Denver .500

    Las Vegas .500

21. Tennessee .479

22. Houston .458

    New England .458

    Pittsburgh .458

25. Green Bay .448

26. Washington .438

27. N.Y. Giants .417

28. Kansas City .396

    New Orleans .396

30. Baltimore .333

31. Dallas .333

32. Philadelphia .313

Out of Division

 1. Philadelphia .591

 2. New England .584

 3. Kansas City .563

 4. Houston .553

 5. New Orleans .547

 6. Buffalo .541

Read More

 7. Green Bay .538

 8. Dallas .534

 9. Atlanta .528

10. San Francisco .525

11. N.Y. Giants .522

12. Denver .519

    Minnesota .519

14. N.Y. Jets .516

15. Tennessee .509

16. Baltimore .500

17. Las Vegas .494

18. Indianapolis .491

    Tampa Bay .491

20. Miami .484

21. BEARS .481

    Washington .481

23. Seattle .469

24. Jacksonville .466

25. Carolina .463

    L.A. Chargers .463

27. L.A. Rams .456

    Pittsburgh .456

29. Detroit .453

30. Cleveland .438

31. Arizona .416

32. Cincinnati .413

Overall

 1. New England .537

 2. N.Y. Jets .533

 3. Miami .529

 4. San Francisco .527

 5. Atlanta .525

    Buffalo .525

    Detroit .525

 8. Arizona .518

    Houston .518

10. L.A. Rams .516

    Minnesota .516

12. Denver .512

13. BEARS .508

    Seattle .508

15. Green Bay .504

16. Indianapolis .502

    Tampa Bay .502

18. Carolina .500

    Kansas City .500

20. Tennessee .498

21. Las Vegas .496

22. Jacksonville .494

23. L.A. Chargers .492

24. New Orleans .490

25. Philadelphia .486

26. N.Y. Giants .482

27. Cincinnati .477

28. Washington .465

29. Cleveland .461

30. Dallas .459

31. Pittsburgh .457

32. Baltimore .438

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven