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Which NFL teams were hurt most by their schedule?

We take a look at factors such as rest differential in analyzing ease of schedule

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the New England Patriots final game of their 2020 NFL season on January, 3, 2021 against the visiting New York Jets at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The 2021 NFL schedule can be picked apart in many different ways and some are useful while others are not. For this article I’ve put together some schedule stats that I find useful. And if you believe your team is getting the shaft, well, they just might be!

Net rest differential

Rest differential is how many days rest a team gets versus its opponents in each week across the season. This statistic has proven to show up in wins and losses with regularity. If your opponent is coming off a bye week and your team isn’t, that will factor into the result. Of course, if you’re the Chiefs and you’r playing the Lions, it likely won’t factor enough to give you a loss, but any edge in a close matchup makes a difference.

As you can see in the chart below, the Patriots are in last place with negative 15 days, per Football Perspective. That number directly correlates with the next column on the chart that shows New England faces three teams coming off their bye, the Jets, Chargers and Colts. No other team faces that many teams off the bye. Bill Belichick will have upgrades at many positions this season, but with the Dolphins and Bills playing better than ever before, he’ll have his work cut out for him this season.

The Chicago Bears are also high in negative rest differential with -14, as they face two teams coming off their bye, the 49ers and Steelers. And the Washington Football Team isn’t far behind, as they are at -13.5 depending on if they play Saturday or Sunday in Week 15. They also have nine road games versus their eight home games.

Strength of Schedule: Win totals

I’ve gone into more detail on this subject here, but when you combine a tough strength of schedule with some of these other factors, we can see some painful realities. The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams, as they have the second-toughest schedule based on projected opponent win totals along with the fifth-worst rest differential. Thankfully for them, the one team they face coming off a bye is Detroit. And they have nine home games versus eight road games, which should be a positive for Ben Roethlisberger who plays better at home.

The Washington Football Team has the sixth-toughest strength of schedule along with the third-worst rest differential and nine road games. We’re going to need to see a lot of Fitzmagic to give Washington a chance to win the NFC East again this year. Thankfully for them, they

2021 NFL Schedule Stats

Team SOS Win Totals Rest dif games vs. opp off bye Road Games Home Games In London! 3 straight road 3 straight home
Team SOS Win Totals Rest dif games vs. opp off bye Road Games Home Games In London! 3 straight road 3 straight home
New England Patriots 9 -15.0 3 8 9 0 0 0
Chicago Bears 12 -14.0 2 9 8 0 0 0
Washington Football Team 6 -13.5 2 9 8 0 0 0
Minnesota Vikings 19 -9.0 2 9 8 0 0 1
Pittsburgh Steelers 2 -8.0 1 8 9 0 0 0
Miami Dolphins 26 -6.5 2 8 8 1 0 0
Tennessee Titans 12 -6.0 1 8 9 0 0 0
Green Bay Packers 12 -5.5 2 9 8 0 0 0
Seattle Seahawks 21 -4.0 2 9 8 0 0 0
Atlanta Falcons 19 -3.0 1 8 8 1 0 0
Baltimore Ravens 7 -3.0 2 8 9 0 0 1
New York Giants 9 -2.5 1 9 8 0 0 0
New York Jets 17 -2.5 1 8 8 1 0 0
Indianapolis Colts 26 -1.5 2 8 9 0 1 1
Jacksonville Jaguars 22 -1.5 1 7 9 1 0 0
Buffalo Bills 22 -1.0 0 8 9 0 0 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 -0.5 2 9 8 0 0 0
Las Vegas Raiders 1 -0.5 1 8 9 0 0 0
Los Angeles Chargers 17 0.0 1 8 9 0 0 0
Dallas Cowboys 30 0.5 1 9 8 0 1 1
Denver Broncos 29 2.5 1 8 9 0 0 0
Cleveland Browns 31 4.5 1 8 9 0 0 1
Houston Texans 2 5.0 0 8 9 0 0 1
Arizona Cardinals 5 6.5 0 9 8 0 0 0
New Orleans Saints 9 7.5 0 9 8 0 0 0
San Francisco 49ers 32 8.0 0 9 8 0 0 0
Los Angeles Rams 15 9.0 0 9 8 0 0 0
Kansas City Chiefs 15 9.0 0 8 9 0 0 0
Philadelphia Eagles 22 10.5 0 9 8 0 0 0
Detroit Lions 7 11.0 0 9 8 0 0 0
Cincinnati Bengals 4 11.0 0 8 9 0 1 1
Carolina Panthers 22 12.5 0 9 8 0 0 0