NFL strength of schedule rankings 2019: Did the Patriots get a gift?


The NFL strives for parity. So, there's no way they'd give the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots one of the easiest schedules in the league this season, right?


The NFL's full 2019 schedule came out Wednesday night, and if you use opponents' 2018 win percentage as your gauge, the Patriots actually have the second-easiest schedule in the league this year.

Here's the full list, ranked from hardest (highest opponent win percentage) to easiest (lowest opponent win percentage) schedule:

1. Oakland Raiders (.539)
2. Denver Broncos (.537)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (.531)
4. Houston Texans (.527)
T-5. Chicago Bears (.520)
T-5. Kansas City Chiefs (.520)
T-7. Indianapolis Colts (.518)
T-7. Atlanta Falcons (.518)
9. Tennessee Titans (.514)
10. Minnesota Vikings (.512)
11. San Francisco 49ers (.510)
T-12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (.508)
T-12. Arizona Cardinals (.508)
T-14. Green Bay Packers (.504)
T-14. Dallas Cowboys (.504)
T-16. Carolina Panthers (.502)
T-16. Los Angeles Chargers (.502)
18. Miami Dolphins (.500)
T-19. Pittsburgh Steelers (.496)
T-19. Baltimore Ravens (.496)
T-19. Detroit Lions (.496)
22. New Orleans Saints (.488)
23. Cleveland Browns (.484)
24. Buffalo Bills (.480)
25. Seattle Seahawks (.479)
26. Philadelphia Eagles (.477)
T-27. Cincinnati Bengals (.473)
T-27. New York Jets (.473)
T-27. New York Giants (473)
T-27. Los Angeles Rams (.473)
T-27. New England Patriots (.473)
32. Washington Redskins (.469)

Before Patriots haters accuse the NFL of playing favorites, New England's cushy schedule is mostly the product of good fortune. Each NFL division matches up with a full AFC and NFC division every year, and the AFC East drew the AFC North and NFC East this season, meaning the Patriots get to face models of futility like the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals.

It also helps that New England plays in one of the worst divisions in football; the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills all had sub-.500 records in 2018 and show no real signs of improvement.

Of course, past results don't necessarily predict future performance, as the revamped Cleveland Browns won't be the 7-8-1 club it was last year.

It's still a pretty good barometer, though, so Patriots fans can take extra pleasure in seeing the AFC rival Kansas City Chiefs in the top five of hardest schedules.

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