When writers, bloggers and other media look at NFL teams and project the way their season will go, it uses the concept of a strength of schedule. Last season, the Arizona Cardinals had a weak schedule, but that in part was skewed by the division itself.
In projections, frequently strength of schedule formulas use the previous year's victories, which is inherently flawed because teams change from year to year. At Beyond the Bets, they have compared some strength of schedule models and propose their own, based on Vegas over/under projections and other formulas to try and create something more accurate.
Let's see how the Cardinals fall...
The methodology is this:
First, we added up the LVH SuperBook's 2012 NFL win totals on every team's schedule. That gave us the combined wins that each team is expected to face in 2012.
Using that, the Cardinals have a tough schedule, tied for the third most opposing teams' projected wins with 135.
So, second, we took Phil Steele's power ratings in his 2012 NFL preview magazine. Steele rated every team 1 through 32. By calculating the average power rating of the 16 opponents for every team in 2012, we arrived at a new set of strength of schedule ratings. (Lower average power rating indicates a more difficult schedule.)
Here, the Cardinals have the 12th most difficult schedule with a power ranking of 15.81.
The best ranking for strength of schedule is probably a combination of those two. (We can't base it entirely off anyone's power ratings because those are still, at their core, subjective.)
So, we gave every team a 1-through-32 ranking for each of the above ratings, averaged them together, and that gave us our final 2012 NFL strength of schedule:
In the final ranking, the Cards are tied with the seventh most difficult schedule on 2012.
That is reasonable. They play the Bears, the Patriots, the Packers, the 49ers, all of whom were very, very good teams in 2011.
Looking at the Cards' schedule in 2012, do you agree? Where would you place the team in terms of most difficult schedule in the league?
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