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Patriots facing the 10th Most Difficult NFL Schedule

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Based on 2013 win percentages, the Patriots have the 10th most difficult strength of schedule.

Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.
Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.
Elsa

The numbers are in, and the Patriots are facing the tenth most difficult strength of schedule (SoS) based the 2013 win percentages.  While that can be an indicator on the upcoming season, it should also be taken with a grain of salt (or maybe the whole damn shaker ... or grinder, if that's your thing).  Some teams are perennial power houses (see Patriots, New England). some are perennial basement dwellers (see Browns, Cleveland), others experience more ups and downs than the Kingda Ka roller coaster (see teams in the same state as the Kingda Ka roller coaster).

As teams gain and lose coaching staff and elite players, the landscape can change drastically.  By the time injuries take their toll through the season, tougher teams can be easier, and easier teams can be much tougher.  Just note how the SoS is centered around 0.500 (50%), emphasizing the "any given Sunday" parity that the league loves so much.

As Greg pointed out, the Patriots opponents are:

Home: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions

Away: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

This gives them a 0.516 (10th rated) strength of schedule.  That's 0.508 (15th rated) at home, and unfortunately  0.523 (11 rated) on the road.

Within the division, we have common opponents in the AFC West (Broncos, Raiders, Chargers, and Chiefs), and NFC North (Lions, Packers, and Bears, oh Vikings).  The Patriots will also play the division winners in the other AFC divisions (Bengals and Colts).  Outside of that, the Patriots win percentage tends to pull up the SoS of the other division teams, while theirs can sometimes pull ours down a bit.  In general, though the division is in a tight grouping based on common opponents.  Jets are 9th with 0.520 (2nd in the division in 2013), Dolphins are 12th with 0.508 (3rd in the division in 2013), and the Bills are 14th with 0.500 (4th in the division in 2013).

Overall, it points to life being a little tougher on the road than at home for the Patriots this year.  Of course, as Rich Hill will tell you, past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.