Why ESPN Ranks Patriots’ Regular Season Schedule As Easiest In NFL


August 29, 2019

The New England Patriots will have it easy compared to their opponents in 2019.

Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz ranked the Patriots last in a list of the “NFL’s toughest 2019 schedules” he published Thursday on ESPN+. Football Outsiders’ proprietary “DVOA ratings” account for bye weeks, Thursday night and neutral-site games, opponents’ 2018 records and other factors to determine the strength of a given team’s schedule.

New England’s DVOA rating comes in at minus 4.9 percent, a far cry from the plus three percent of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom Football Outsiders ranks as having the toughest schedule.

Schatz also points to Weeks 9 through 13 as the Patriots’ hardest stretch of the season. The Patriots will face the Baltimore Ravens coming off their bye in Week 9, then go on their own bye in Week 10, return to action in Week 11 with a visit to the Philadelphia Eagles, host the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12 and visit the Houston Texans, who’ll have the benefit of extra rest, in Week 13.

Those weeks aside, here’s why Schatz believes the Patriots have the easiest schedule for the third consecutive regular season.

“The Patriots’ schedule looks even easier if we examine only who their opponents are, but they are one of four teams playing consecutive games against teams coming off their bye week (vs. Cleveland in Week 8 then at Baltimore in Week 9). They have a third game against a team coming off its bye week, but that’s Week 11, when both the Eagles and Patriots will be coming off the bye.

“The New England schedule is also interesting because the Pats get half of their divisional games out of the way by the end of September. Then they have a trip to the Jets in Week 7, and after that no divisional games until they finish with Buffalo and Miami back-to-back at home in Weeks 16 and 17.

Schatz forgot to mention the fact that the Patriots don’t have to play against the Patriots will make their job a little easier than the rest of the field’s. Of course New England still must make the most of their easy ride when the real games begin in just over one week’s time.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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