How much stock should be put into strength of schedule, with the Buffalo Bills calculated as having the NFL’s fourth-hardest in 2017?
They often say to be the best, you have to beat the best. Unfortunately for the Buffalo Bills, they’ve shown an inability to do this time and time again.
As painful as this may be for Bills’ fans to read, the New England Patriots offer the prime example of this. Ever since the playoff drought started, the Bills have a record of 5-29 against the Pats.
Of course, it doesn’t help that this terrible run of results started with the arrival of Bill Belichik and Tom Brady in Foxborough. For Brady specifically, he has gone 26-3 against the Bills, which is tied for the most wins by a quarterback in NFL history against one opponent.
Just in case any Bills fans are wondering why we’re forcing this on you so early in the morning, it’s because it links to your team’s strength of schedule for 2017. As reported by Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News, the Bills will have the fourth-hardest schedule next season.
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Breaking it down a bit more, the combined record of the Bills’ upcoming opponents is 143-112-1, which gives a winning percentage of .561. They will face seven games against playoff teams — including three versus this season’s Super Bowl participants — and nine against opponents who won nine+ games.
Understandably, a lot of people don’t put much stock in strength of schedule, because a lot can change from season to season. In that respect, let’s have a quick review of the Bills’ 2016 schedule.
Entering last season, again based on the previous season’s results, the Bills had the 10th-hardest schedule in the NFL, at .520 percent. However, by the end of the 2016 campaign, their opponents had a combined winning percentage of .482.
To further enhance this, let’s look at the Arizona Cardinals as an example of how fortunes can change so quickly. Despite going 13-3 in 2015, they fell to 7-8-1 last season.
Unfortunately for the Bills, no matter how much or little stock you put into strength of schedule based on the season before, it does little to help them. For a start, even though their 2016 schedule was actually easier, they still meandered their way to a 7-9 record.
Further, as much as circumstances do change from season-to-season (and month-to-month — and week-to-week), there is one constant – Brady and the Patriots. And barring a miracle of major proportions, the Bills will not have the good fortune to only play the four-time Super Bowl MVP once next season, as they did in 2016.
Strap yourselves in Bills fans. It figures to be another bumpy ride in 2017, no matter how much of an indicator strength of schedule actually is.
What’s your position on strength of schedule? Do you pay any attention to it at all? Regardless, based on the Bills’ opponents for 2017, what kind of season are you predicting for them? Share your thoughts in the comments section.