Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Strength of schedule: Philadelphia Eagles
By Phil Sheridan
It doesn't make sense at first blush. As NFC East champions, the Philadelphia Eagles play a first-place schedule in 2014. But their strength of schedule, based on the 2013 records of their opponents, is just 20th of the 32 NFL teams.
The Eagles' 2014 opponents had a cumulative losing record in 2013 -- a winning percentage of .479 -- even though the Eagles play division winners Seattle, Green Bay, Carolina and Indianapolis.
The reason? The NFC East itself doesn't provide any opponents that had winning records in 2013, and the division is matched up with the AFC South, which had three sub-.500 teams.
It's simple, really. The eight teams with the toughest strength of schedule are all from the NFC West and AFC West. Those were the only divisions in the NFL that produced three teams with winning records in 2013. That's why the toughest schedule belongs to 4-12 Oakland: The Raiders are in a division with three playoff teams -- Denver, Kansas City and San Diego.
The Eagles are in the opposite position, the only winning team in their division. Throw out their NFC East rivals and the Eagles' opponents for the 2014 season had a .538 winning percentage in 2013. That includes the AFC South's dreadful Houston (2-14) and Jacksonville (4-12).
In short, the Eagles' schedule is a bit schizoid. They play three teams that earned top-five draft picks, but they also play Super Bowl champ Seattle (13-3), San Francisco (12-4), Carolina (12-4) and Indy (11-5).
Of course, there isn't as much carryover as it would appear. Last year, the Eagles went from 4-12 to 10-6. Their 10 wins came against teams with a cumulative record of 78-82 (.488) the year before. Their six losses were against teams that went 49-47 (.510) in 2012.
Bottom line: The Eagles have a middle-of-the-road schedule overall, but more tough opponents than in 2013.