I did a post a few years ago where I studied the traditional strength of schedule assumptions. What I found; 1. The NFL system does seem to fairly match schedules to teams within the same division, 2. The relative strength of schedule does not predict a teams next season with any reliability, 3. The uncommon opponents within a division do not significantly favor the lesser teams. Knowing the above, I’m more interested in the home/away for the opponents, time between games, travel, likely weather and previous opponents to assess a schedule.
With the release of the schedule there are a few things that I noticed that seem to be favorable to the Browns.
-Our bye is at mid-season.
-Four of our toughest non-divisional opponents are home games (Chargers, Patriots, Buccaneers & Saints).
-While we only have two nationally televised games both are at home against divisional opponents.
-Our only Monday night game is followed by our bye week. Our other short weeks are the same as our opponents.
-Our Saturday before the Christmas day game is at home.
-We make no cross country or overseas trips for games. The Chargers do have to travel cross country for our game.
-We travel to Miami in November when the game weather should be much more moderate.
-We host two warm weather teams in November (Buccaneers & Saints).
-Although at the Ravens followed by hosting the Bengals is a stiff challenge we do get a long week to prepare for the Bengals monday night game.
-We play four games against teams that had a challenging travel in the previous week (Falcons, Chargers, Commanders & 2nd Bengals game).
-Our first two games are against teams of lesser talent (Panthers & Jets). We have won only a single opening game since the rebirth so a 2-0 start would be significant.
-Our final two games are against teams of lesser talent (Commanders & Steelers).
There are some elements of the schedule that do not necessarily favor the Browns.
-We finish with only 3 of 9 games at home.
-We must play the Bills in Buffalo.
-We play no games against teams coming off of Thursday or Monday games.
-We play no games against teams coming off of an overseas game.
-We play the Buccaneers following their bye week.
-We finish in Pittsburgh the home of many a disappointing season final.
-We play the Bills and the 2nd Bengals game as their second of back to back home games.
Of special interest.
-There are three teams on our schedule that would have been improved by trading for Mayfield (Panthers, Falcons & Texans).
-There are three teams we play that I can see needing to improve their QB situation as the incumbents might be less than adequate (Commanders, Dolphins & Saints).
-If either scenario above occurs we might see Baker in a revenge game.
As always the season will probably be most dependent upon the avoidance of key injuries, good coaching and QB play.