The 2021 NFL season is just around the corner, and with it comes a whole new slate of matchups to watch out for. But which teams have the hardest schedules in 2021? Let’s take a look.
The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing its name to the National Football League in 1922. The NFL is the highest level of professional football in the United States, and it is made up of thirty-two teams divided evenly between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC).
How the NFL Schedule is Made
In order to make the NFL schedule, the NFL looks at a few factors. The first factor is geography. The NFL wants to make sure that teams in the same geographic area play each other as much as possible. This cuts down on travel costs and also makes it more likely that fans will be able to see their favorite team play.
The second factor the NFL looks at is competitive balance. The NFL wants there to be a competitive balance between teams so that every game is interesting and no team has an unfair advantage.
The last factor theNFL looks at is television. The NFL wants to make sure that games are scheduled in a way that maximizes TV ratings. This means that they try to schedule “marquee” matchups between popular teams on days when people are most likely to be watching TV.
How NFL Teams are Ranked
The NFL regular season is determined by a 16-game schedule for each of the league’s 32 teams. At the end of the regular season, the team with the best record in each of the league’s eight divisions qualifies for the playoffs. In addition, two wild-card teams (the two best teams with the next best records) from each conference (the NFC and AFC) qualify for the playoffs, bringing the total number of playoff teams to 12. The playoffs are a single-elimination tournament that culminates with the playing of the Super Bowl, which is usually held on the first Sunday in February and determines the champion of the NFL for that year.
The 2021 NFL Schedule
The 2021 NFL schedule was released on May 12, 2021. All teams will play their division rivals twice, and non-divisional conference opponents once. Each team will also play one game against a team from the other conference. The strength of schedule (SOS) is based on the combined record of all the opponents a team plays.
The Hardest NFL Schedules
1. New England Patriots- The Patriots have the hardest NFL schedule in 2021 as they have to face 9 playoff teams from 2020 including the Rams, Seahawks, Buccaneers, and Bills (x2).
2. Los Angeles Rams- The Rams have the 2nd hardest NFL schedule in 2021 as they also have to face 9 playoff teams from 2020. They have a particularly tough stretch in Weeks 12-14 where they host the Seattle Seahawks and then go on the road to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers.
3. Kansas City Chiefs- The Chiefs have the 3rd hardest NFL schedule in 2021. They have 4 primetime games scheduled including 2 against their division rivals, the Raiders and Chargers.
4. Arizona Cardinals- The Cardinals have the 4th hardest NFL schedule in 2021. They also have 4 primetime games scheduled including 2 against their division rivals, the Seahawks and 49ers.
5. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens round out the top 5 of teams with the hardest NFL schedules in 2021. They play 8 games against teams that made the playoffs in 2020 including 2 against their division rivals, the Steelers and Browns.
The Easiest NFL Schedules
In the NFL, success is often determined by who you play and when you play them. Here’s a look at the teams with the easiest schedules in 2021, based on their opponents’ winning percentages from last season.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Opponents’ winning percentage: .367
The Colts have the benefit of playing in a division with two new head coaches, and they also get to face the NFC East, which was historically bad in 2020. They’ll have their work cut out for them in primetime games against the Bills and Packers, but otherwise, this is a highly favorable schedule for Indianapolis.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Opponents’ winning percentage: .383
The Rams catch a break in 2021 by avoiding NFC North foes Green Bay and Minnesota, and they also don’t have to worry about playing Seattle until December. Their non-divisional opponents include the Cardinals (twice), Texans, Patriots, Ravens, Lions and Bears – all winnable games for Los Angeles.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponents’ winning percentage: .393
The Bucs take on the AFC West this season, which is not an easy task, but they also get to play the NFC East twice. Additionally, five of their final seven games are at home, which should help them down the stretch as they battle for playoff positioning. They’ll have tough road tests against the Saints (twice), Chiefs and Cowboys but will be heavy favorites in most of their other games.
4. Cleveland Browns
Opponents’ winning percentage: .395
The Browns have a relatively easy start to the season with five of their first seven opponents coming from either the NFC East or AFC West – two divisions that were among the worst in football last year. They’ll also get two shots at division-rival Pittsburgh while getting to host Green Bay and Minnesota at home. Things get tougher for Cleveland after that with games against Baltimore (twice), Tennessee (twice), Kansas City and New Orleans lurking on the schedule but, overall, this is a favorable slate for the Browns.
NFL Schedule Analysis
The 2021 NFL regular season is only a few months away, and it’s time to start looking at which teams have the toughest road ahead. Based on last year’s records, the team with the hardest schedule is the New England Patriots. They’ll face off against eight playoff teams from 2020, including the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Why the 2021 NFL Schedule is the Hardest
In 2021, the NFL schedule is the hardest it has ever been. All teams will face a more difficult opponent than they faced in 2020, and 13 teams will have a harder schedule than they had in 2019. This is largely due to the fact that each team will play one additional game in 2021, against a team from the same division as their 2020 opponent.
One of the reasons the 2021 NFL schedule is so tough is that there are so many good teams in the league. In 2020, there were eight teams with a record of .500 or better, and six of those teams made the playoffs. In 2021, there are 11 teams with a .500 or better record, and all but one of those teams (the Pittsburgh Steelers) made the playoffs.
Another reason the 2021 NFL schedule is so tough is that the league has get rid of its bye weeks. In 2020, each team had one bye week during the season; in 2021, there will be no bye weeks. This means that each team will play 16 consecutive games without a break.
Finally, the 2021 NFL schedule is tough because it includes several short weeks. There are four weeks in which teams will play on Thursday night (Weeks 2, 3, 5, and 11), and three of those Thursdays fall on Thanksgiving (Weeks 12-14). Additionally, there are three Monday Night Football games in Week 1 (Labor Day), Week 6 (Columbus Day), and Week 16 (Christmas Eve).
Why the 2021 NFL Schedule is the Easiest
It is because all of the teams play each other and there are no divisions. So, every team has the same record going into the playoffs.
Keyword: Who Has the Hardest NFL Schedule in 2021?