The New England Patriots are reigning champions after knocking off the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI and the 2017 NFL season is set to be another good one if Football Outsiders’ projections are correct.
Football Outsiders projects the Patriots to face the easiest schedule in the entire league for the 2017 NFL season and to post the best overall record at 13-3 due to high expected levels of performance on offense, defense, and special teams.
“If you're sick of seeing the Patriots at the top of the AFC year after year, I have some bad news for you,” Aaron Schatz writes. “New England has a top-five projection in all three phases of the game. On top of that, we also project the Patriots with the easiest schedule in the NFL for 2017. We're forecasting decline for many of their out-of-division opponents, including Atlanta, Denver and Kansas City.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers (also 13-3) and the Seattle Seahawks (11-5) are the only other two teams that project to have 11-5 or better records.
The Patriots are the only AFC East team expected to finish the season with a winning record as the Buffalo Bills (7-9) project to be in second place. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets both project 6-10 records in the cellar of the division.
New England’s schedule is expected to be a lot easier in 2017 than in 2016 because Football Outsiders notes that the AFC North and the NFC West are vastly superior to the AFC West and the NFC South, according to their advanced analytics.
The AFC playoff picture has the Patriots and the Steelers with a first round bye, with the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans having the third and fourth seeds. The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs round out the playoff picture as the wild cards.