The Indianapolis Colts schedule was released this week. It seemed like it would never get here. In the midst of draft rumors the schedule release is a solid newsworthy event. No rumors, just facts. The Colts can begin looking at what they will have to do to get to the Super Bowl. Make no mistake about it, getting to the Super Bowl is a goal and a real possibility for this team.
One of the things that many analysts look at is the strength of schedule. This is simply the statistical breakdown of all 16 opponents that a specific team will face. The statistic looks at the combined winning percentage of those teams. Whichever team has the lowest combined winning percentage for all of its opponents is considered to have the “easiest” schedule.
This year the Colts are considered to have the easiest strength of schedule. According to this they should have the easiest road to the Super Bowl. The reality is that this statistic is bogus.
Take for example the 2013 season. Last season the Colts started with the third easiest schedule according to this statistic. When you look at the numbers after the games have all been played they actually had the tenth easiest schedule. Last season wasn’t a fluke. The strength of schedule before the season and after the season rarely line up.
Why does the strength of schedule fail at predicting how easy or difficult the season will be for a team? It’s because things change so dramatically from one season to another. No one would have predicted that the New York Giants who won the Super Bowl in 2011 and finished the 2012 season with a 9-7 record would have started the 2013 season with a six game losing streak. And there’s no reason to believe that they’ll be as bad this year as they were last year.
Another thing that one can’t predict is injuries. Last season the Tennessee Titans lost their quarterback, Jake Locker, due to injury. Locker has shown that he has potential. Add the pressure to perform or lose his job to the mix. Jake Locker will do everything that he can to make this his best season and a full season. If that happens, the Titans will be a more difficult opponent than they were last year.
The Houston Texans will look very different with a different coach and a different quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t find their grove until the second half of the season. If they carry that momentum into this season they could be more difficult. The Pittsburg Steelers added LeGarrette Blount who ran for 166 yards and 4 TD’s against the Colts in the playoffs last season.
The strength of schedule prediction also doesn’t include things like which teams you play coming off of a bye week. It doesn’t calculate quick turnarounds going into a Thursday night game. There are many things that this statistic doesn’t take into consideration.
The point of all of this is that no team and no fan can say, “This is our year” because of an easy schedule. No one can truly predict how easy or difficult the schedule will be. My point is not that the Colts have the most difficult schedule in the NFL. My point is that we won’t know until the end of the season.
Also, it doesn’t matter how good or bad a team is. These are all professional football teams with some of the best athletes in the world. You can never take that lightly. Coaches and players know that they have to give their all each week to get the Lombardi trophy, which is the goal for the Indianapolis Colts.