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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Strength of schedule in 2010 and 2011

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

OK now. For those of you who caught the earlier version of this post, we need to clarify that ESPN Stats & Information has provided us with the 2011 strength of schedule (SOS) based on 2010 results. As we've discussed before, this information is popular and interesting but not always relevant when predicting future seasons given the year-to-year roller coaster of the NFL.

What does interest me is how difficult each team's SOS turned out to be when you get to the end of the season. Even that analysis can be skewed when a team has an excellent or poor record, but it's worth looking at all the same within the NFC North.

To that end, the primary variance in each NFC North team's schedule this season was their games against the NFC South and NFC West. If there is a measurable distinction of difficulty, it would lie therein. So below, I've listed who each team faced and what those opponents' final records turned out to be.

Chicago Bears
NFC South: Carolina Panthers (2-14)
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
TOTAL:
9-23

Detroit Lions
NFC South:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6)
NFC West: St. Louis Rams (7-9)
TOTAL: 17-15

Green Bay Packers
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
TOTAL: 19-13

Minnesota Vikings
NFC South:
New Orleans Saints (11-5)
NFC West: Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
TOTAL: 16-16

For those interested, the full 2011 SOS chart is listed below: