2024 NFL schedule: Teams with easiest road to playoffs based on schedule; Kirk

Kirk Cousins probably didn’t look too deeply into his new team’s 2024 schedule upon signing with the Atlanta Falcons. It is surely a welcomed bonus for Cousins, whose team has the easiest schedule this season based on opponents’ combined 2023 winning percentage.

Technically, the Falcons are tied with the Saints with the NFL’s easiest record. Both teams’ opponents won a combined 45.3% of their games last year. The Buccaneers, Seahawks and Dolphins — three teams that made the playoffs last year — also have three of the NFL’s easier schedules.

Conversely, the top-three teams in the AFC North last year — the Browns, Ravens and Steelers — possess the league’s hardest schedules. The Steelers don’t play a single team that had a losing record last year after Week 10. The Bengals, the fourth AFC North team, benefitted by finishing 9-8 and in last place in the division last year. While not easy, Cincinnati’s schedule is considerably easier than their AFC North counterparts.

NFL 2024 strength of schedule

Atlanta is a trendy pick to make noise this season after acquiring Cousins, who put up prolific numbers during his time with the Minnesota Vikings. And while their schedule is easy from a percentage standpoint, the Falcons will start the season with three straight games against teams that won at least 10 games in 2023 in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Things ease up after that, though, with two games against the Panthers (who went 2-15 last season), a Week 11 game in Denver (8-9 in 2023) and a Week 16 home game against the Giants (6-11 in 2023). Atlanta’s season may come down to whether or not it can have enough success against divisional foes New Orleans and Tampa Bay in what could be a compelling three-team race for the NFC South crown.

One team that may be worth monitoring this season is the Chicago Bears, who own the third-easiest schedule. Chicago has been in the headlines a lot this offseason with the selections of quarterback Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze in the first round of April’s draft. While Bears fans should temper expectations, things could get interesting in the Windy City if Williams and Co. find a way to stay in the playoff hunt entering December.

I’m a big fan of the Dolphins’ schedule. Of their first seven games, only one is against a team that made the playoffs last year. Miami’s toughest game, Week 16 against the 49ers, is at home. If they stay relatively healthy, there’s no reason why the Dolphins aren’t challenging the Chiefs for home field advantage when the playoffs start in mid-January.

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