FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – There are abundantly more questions than answers for NFL teams and fans at this point in the year, but we do have at least an idea of what lies ahead for the Falcons in 2018.
Although the 2018 schedule for each NFL team has yet to be released, the opponents that each team must face next season are already known.
Because we know who each team will play in 2018, we are able to determine the strength of schedule for every NFL club – it's as simple as determining the combined 2017 win percentage of the teams on the 2018 schedule. We won't include the full list in this piece, but John Breech of CBSSports.com has the full breakdown for those who are interested.
For the second season in a row, the Falcons will have the 13th-toughest schedule in the NFL. The teams on Atlanta's 2018 schedule combined to have a 130-126 record last season, equating to a combined win percentage of .509.
Despite falling in the upper half of the league for strength of schedule, the Falcons have the easiest schedule of all the NFC South teams. Here is a breakdown of where each team in the division ranks in strength of schedule and their opponents' combined 2017 win percentage:
- T-2: Saints (.535)
- 4: Buccaneers (.531)
- 12: Panthers (.512)
- 13: Falcons (.509)
In 2017, the Falcons were once again slotted into the 13th-hardest schedule, but their opponents' combined win percentage was a bit higher at .521. Playing through that schedule, the Falcons ended with a 10-6 record and earned the second wild card spot in the playoffs.
During their run to the Super Bowl in 2016, the Falcons faced what was deemed to be the NFL's toughest schedule entering the season. With teams like the Broncos, Seahawks and Panthers on the schedule, the Falcons faced a group that combined for a win percentage of .555 the year prior, tying them with the 49ers atop the list.
Of course, that 2016 season provides a good example of how much things change once the season actually begins. Strength of schedule can provide a big-picture look for fans and make for some lively debate, but the NFL is a league of parity and every new season yields new challenges.