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The 4-0 Teams: Have They Really Played the Easiest Schedules?

Sean McGrath and the Chiefs rank highly in strength of facial hair

Five teams are 4-0 at the quarter pole, and I plan on having more on those teams later in the week. Earlier today, Trey Wingo of ESPN tweeted this about the 4-0 teams:

I am assuming here that Wingo is using opponent won-loss records to come up with this statement. Is it really true, though, that these teams have all played the easiest schedules.

By won-loss percentage of opponents, yes, the five 4-0 teams are at the very top of easiest schedules:

  1. Kansas City (3-13)
  2. Denver (4-12)
  3. New England (5-11)
  4. Seattle (5-10)
  5. New Orleans (6-10)

New Orleans is tied for 5th by this measure, with Chicago, Indianapolis, and Tennessee.

peyton manning broncos BEST TEAM EVER

Of course, part of the problem here is that those records include losses to the teams in question, sometimes multiple losses. For example, Kansas City and Denver have both beaten up on New York and Philadelphia. Seattle and Kansas City have played Jacksonville. New England and New Orleans have both given losses to Tampa Bay.

One way to look at it is to try to account for this by adjusting schedule strength and looking at all results. For example, using the simple ratings at pro-football-reference.com (PFR), which best fits all results, we can see who has really played the easiest schedules. Those ratings are simply margin of victory, added to strength of schedule to get an overall rating.

It’s still early, and the numbers are still somewhat skewed far more than they will be by season’s end. Still, here are where the five undefeated teams rank by strength of schedule, using the PFR ratings.

  • Kansas City, 1st, opponents -8.3 points worse than average;
  • Denver, 7th easiest, opponents -3.7 points worse than average;
  • Seattle, 15th easiest, opponents -1.5 points worse than average;
  • New England, 16th easiest, opponents -1.0 points worse than average;
  • New Orleans, 17th easiest, opponents -0.5 points worse than average.

Kansas City has played the easiest schedule in the league, primarily due to already getting the worst team, Jacksonville, along with the Giants, who have the 4th lowest rating right now. Other than that, none of the other teams that are 4-0 are even in the bottom 5. That belongs to some NFC North teams: Chicago, Detroit, and Green Bay, along with Indianapolis (playing Jacksonville strikes again).

Seattle, New England, and New Orleans, meanwhile, are 4-0 while playing roughly average schedules to date. Seattle’s is also skewed by Jacksonville, but that is counterbalanced by a team that rates highly despite a 1-2 record (Carolina) along with games against San Francisco and Houston.

Related: Monday Read Option: Matt Schaub’s Bone Headed Throw Has Houston in Trouble
Related: Josh Freeman: Hey Roger Goodell, Take Tampa Bay’s Confidentiality Breach Seriously
Related: John Harbaugh’s Decision to Kick a Field Goal Down Six: You Need a Field Goal Anyway, Right?

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