Panthers Face Toughest Schedule in 2013

By Alex H.

The Carolina Panthers face the toughest schedule when the 2013 NFL season kicks off.

Whilst kickoff is still some eight months away, BettingSports.com has been crunching numbers in search of any advantage that might become apparent. For the Panthers, that advantage happens to be a disadvantage.

We’ve taken a look at each team’s schedule and how all 16 opponents faired this season. We’ve done the math and came up with the winning percentage of every side’s upcoming opponents.

Whilst this is inexact science – for starters, the draft and free agency will change rosters and ultimately affect each team taking to the field – it makes for interesting reading at least, and certainly throws up some interesting points to consider before approaching the current NFL futures.

Bouncing Back is Tough Work

Based on 2012's final standings, the Carolina Panthers will face the NFL's toughest schedule when the 2013 season arrives.

Plenty of teams underachieved in 2012 but for some the road to recovery will be that much harder than others.

After a slow start to the season, Carolina (7-9) finished its season with a somewhat respectable record. Taking the next step and challenging for the NFC South will be tough though.

The Panthers face a schedule of 16 opponents who tallied a combined 138-116 (.543) record in 2012. That is the highest opponents’ winning percentage faced by any team next season.

Carolina’s division rivals New Orleans (7-9) won’t have an easy time of it either. The Saints can blame 2012’s poor showing on the hoopla surrounding ‘Bountygate’, but if they’re to return to the top of the NFC in 2013, they’ll need to toppled opponents with a 137-117 (.539) this season. That number ranks joint-second in toughness.

The two sides tied with New Orleans are St. Louis (7-8-1) and Detroit (4-12). The Lions were certainly disappointing this season, and those expecting a huge bounce-back year in 2013 might see this train derailed again.

It’s Tough at the Top

With or without Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens face a tough schedule in 2013.

The NFL schedule is generally devised in order that the best teams play the best teams and the worst teams play the worst teams, evening the field as you go down the standings. It would stand to reason that the best teams face a tougher schedule the following year.

This is certainly the case for defending Super Bowl champions, Baltimore (10-6). The Ravens face the fifth toughest schedule next season, taking on opponents that tallied a 137-119 (.535) record this season. Finishing top of the division means the Ravens play four division-toppers (Denver, Green Bay, Houston, New England) next season as well as competing in the ultra-tough AFC North.

Likewise, Green Bay (11-5) will face a tough challenge, taking on teams with a combined 136-119 (.533) record. NFC champions San Francisco (11-4-1) also find themselves with one of the top 10 toughest schedules, taking on opponents with a 132-122 (.520) record.

Catching a Break

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will face (in theory) the NFL's easiest schedule next season.

Of course, no matter how hard the NFL tries to create parity, there are always going to be disparities in a schedule. Look no further that the Mile High City if you need proof.

Denver (13-3) will have the easiest schedule of any team in the NFL. The Broncos face opponents with a record of 110-146 (.430) in 2012.

Now, a lot of this can be chalked up to the direness of the AFC West – which compiled a league-worst 26-38 (.406) record this season – and the fact that the AFC West is scheduled to face the AFC South this season. Despite impressive runs from Houston and Indianapolis, the AFC South finished with a record of 31-33 (.484). That makes things that little bit easier for Denver.

The Broncos aren’t the only high-profile teams catching a break. Indianapolis (11-5) and Houston (12-4) both find themselves with one of the five easiest schedules, thanks to those same reasons stated for Denver.

In the NFC, Dallas (8-8) could finally dump the monkey from its back and make it to the postseason, thanks to the easiest schedule faced by any NFC side. The Cowboys face opponents with a 121-134 (.475) record.

Of course, there are always those teams that turn the corner when a new season arrives (just look at Indianapolis in 2012) so these numbers are unlikely to hold up. But, with far too long until kickoff, we’ll happily ponder what it all could mean. At least until free agency and the draft come along.

 

2013 Strength of Schedule

The figure provided is the winning percentage in 2012 of those teams the stated team will play in 2013.For the purposes of this exercise, the tie between San Francisco and St. Louis on Nov. 11 has been removed from our calculations.

Carolina .543

New Orleans .539

St. Louis .539

Detroit .539

Baltimore .535

Green Bay .533

Arizona .520

San Francisco .520

Miami .520

Seattle .516

Minnesota .516

Jacksonville .508

New England .508

Cincinnati .508

Atlanta .504

Chicago .502

Tampa Bay .500

Washington .498

Philadelphia .496

NY Jets .496

Cleveland .492

Pittsburgh .492

Tennessee .488

NY Giants .480

Dallas .475

Buffalo .473

Kansas City .472

Houston .472

Oakland .469

Indianapolis .460

San Diego .457

Denver .430