ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Football Team will play the 21st hardest schedule in 2021, per ESPN.
But is that all it is, really?
Remember, the NFL has a 17-game schedule now. (As a sidebar: We don't love it. It leads to bad football being extended and more wear and tear on players, regardless of shortening up the offseason and the preseason schedule.)
Anyway ... The WFT, as a result of winning the NFC East, despite a 7-9 record, has to plow through a first-place gauntlet and hosts both Super Bowl teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Bucs, along with road games at the Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills.
The strength of schedule ranking by ESPN is based on current rosters of teams, which softens the blow for the WFT theoretically ... but we're not buying it.
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This is a brutal schedule and grind for Washington. Sure, the Giants, Cowboys and Eagles have holes and major questions but as we all know - what you are in May doesn't mean you will be that in September or December.
In addition to the four 'premium' games above - Washington also has to host Seattle and New Orleans, which I guess you can look at as a break because were they road games, well, those are two really tough environments to play in. But both of those teams are still expected to be very competitive.
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The teams ranked below the WFT with a so-called easier strength of schedule are Arizona, Baltimore, Green Bay and Kansas City.
The Cardinals play in the best division in football and the Ravens, Packers and Chiefs all won a playoff game last year so theoretically they should have a tougher road.
Here's the bottom line - using any formula -- you can spit out a set of results that you want ... or maybe don't want.
Here's the truth: We never know how a season is going to turn out because of a myriad of factors. If anyone thought the WFT was going to win three straight road games against Dallas, undefeated Pittsburgh and San Francisco last year -- that would have been a joke.
Yet they did.
This year -- maybe they'll win eight or nine games and not make the playoffs. Who knows?
Here's what we know. On paper, the WFT has a tough road ahead and the path to the playoffs will probably look very different in December and January than it does now.
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