Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Tougher road ahead for the NFC West
By Mike Sando
Sometimes, it's not who a team faces, but when a team faces them.
As San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh likes to say, you're either getting better or getting worse; you never stay the same. An opponent looking formidable now might have significant issues in a month. A struggling one might be vastly improved by then.
That's important to keep in mind when looking at NFL strength of schedule. We're looking at a snapshot, not a full motion picture.
The chart shows NFC West teams with four of the six hardest remaining schedules by opponents' winning percentage, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The NFC West can partly blame itself for the difficult road ahead. It's the only division with multiple winning teams and no losing teams.
NFC West teams also face the AFC East, which has no losing teams (every team is 3-3), and the NFC North, which has only one losing team.
Denver (.339), Oakland (.355), Kansas City (.364) and San Diego (.393) have the easiest remaining schedules. There's no secret why. They play in the same division and also face teams from the mostly struggling NFC South. All four AFC West teams have played the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons already, another reason the remaining schedules appear easier.
The St. Louis Rams have played the fifth-toughest schedule to this point (.588). San Francisco (.543) has had the 14th-toughest, Arizona the 19th-toughest (.528) and Seattle the 20th-toughest (.471).
The three easiest schedules to this point belong to Atlanta (.353), Baltimore (.371) and New Orleans (.379). The four toughest to this point belong to Dallas (.679), Jacksonville (.643), Carolina (.607) and Green Bay (.606).