By now you know the Denver Broncos have the toughest schedule in the NFL.
Anytime one mentions the 2017 slate, that caveat is included. While the Broncos may have the toughest schedule, per se, it’s way too early to make such a bold proclamation. There’s way too much we don’t know.
The process behind the “toughest schedule” is based on the 2016 season and the winning percentage of the teams Denver plays. Those teams combined for a .578 winning percentage. At first glance, you get why some say it’s the toughest. The Broncos play some really good teams, as we found out on Thursday when the schedule was released. It’s a faulty at best formula, and in reality it’s flat lazy. None of the teams on Denver’s schedule are the same and there are so many factors involved. It makes no sense, and it lacks so much context.
Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers will all play an NFL-high 8 games this coming season against 2016 playoff teams.
â?? Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) April 20, 2017
Case in point: Yes, the Broncos play an NFL-high eight games against 2016 playoff teams, but when you dig deeper you see half of those are against divisional opponents in the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Both Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers also play eight games against teams in last year’s playoffs. Like Denver, the Chargers have half of those games against divisional opponents, while the Chiefs have only two. Of the three teams, that tells me Kansas City has the slightly tougher schedule (thanks, John Madden).
When you combine two of the Broncos’ divisional games with the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and New York Giants, more than half of those eight games against teams in the playoffs last season are at Mile High Stadium. The remaining three games are on the road against Kansas City, Oakland and the Miami Dolphins. When you add that context, it’s not as bad as it appears.
Therein lies the major benefit in this season’s slate of games – the toughest teams travel to Denver. Obviously, Denver splits games with Kansas City, Oakland and Los Angeles. Divisional games are always tough, even if the team isn’t any good. Look no further than the Chargers in 2016. I’m one who thinks LA will improve this season.
In other words, the AFC West is always tough and that won’t change from season to season; especially in 2017 when three teams could potentially qualify for the postseason, if all goes well. Even when Denver won five-straight divisional titles, it was never “easy.” That’s not to say those five games are now a walk in the park, but you can bet the house the Broncos would rather face the Cowboys, Giants and Patriots at …
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