- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Strength of schedule means as much as power rankings at this point in the season. Teams can change significantly through free agency and the draft. Does anyone expect the Atlanta Falcons to go 4-12 again? Would it surprise anyone if Houston rebounded from a two-win season like Kansas City did last year?
On paper right now, the Ravens have as many games (six) against teams that went to the playoffs as those who finished with double-digit losses. It's the games against Houston (2-14), Jacksonville (4-12), Cleveland (4-12), Atlanta (4-12) and Tampa Bay (4-12) that significantly softens the Ravens' strength of schedule.
The Ravens' other 10 games are against teams with a combined 96-64 record (.600). This includes four games against division winners (Cincinnati twice, Carolina and Indianapolis) and two games against wild-card teams (San Diego and New Orleans). What makes this even tougher on the Ravens is they have road games at Cincinnati, New Orleans and Indianapolis. Those three teams were 22-2 at home in 2013.
The only relevant time to evaluate strength of schedule is at the end of the season because teams' success in this league fluctuates so rapidly. Heading into the 2013 season, the Ravens had the fifth-toughest strength of schedule (.535). But the teams weren't as formidable as expected. By the end of the season, the Ravens' schedule was the 12th-easiest (.484), although Baltimore didn't take advantage of that.
The Baltimore Ravens have the fifth-easiest strength of schedule for the 2014 season. This sets up for a rebound season for the Ravens, right? Not necessarily.