Finally, we've got concrete, tangible NFL football games to look forward to. The NFL's 2010 season is no longer some mythical, shapeless thing that will happen in the future. It can now be quantified with a concrete schedule that you can put in your wallet or stick to your refrigerator. That's when you know it's real.
As always, the scheduling gods were nicer to some teams than they were to others. Here's the schedule difficulty, in handy chart from, of each team in the league. The difficulty is ranked in order of opponents' combined winning percentage last year. It's not a perfect measure, but it's the best we'll have until the season's over.
As you can see, the Texans were unmercifully shafted, getting the league's toughest slate. I consider this a cosmic punishment for being a vogue playoff pick the past two years, and failing both times.
At the bottom of the list, you'll notice a bunch of teams that play in divisions that end with the word "West." That's because both of those divisions are terrible, and by the luck of the draw, they play each other this year. Did you daydream last year about seeing the Raiders take on the not-so-powerful teams in the NFC West? Pinch yourself, friend, because that dream is not reality.
Another thing I looked at was travel difficulty, particularly games where west coast teams travel to the east coast. Historically, those games have not gone well for the west coast teams.
For AFC West vs. NFC West reasons mentioned earlier, there's actually not a ton of it this year. Arizona travels cross-country twice, playing at Atlanta and at Carolina. San Francisco does the same thing, but for extra fun, they also get to play in London against the Broncos. But don't worry, 49ers fans, the league has designated that a "home" game for you.
The poor 49ers. They do have the 28th "easiest" schedule, but they're also going to rack up an astounding 33,264 miles in travel this season. As a point of reference, the next closest team is Denver (also going to London), with 23,184 miles, and the Bengals could hitchhike to all their games if they wanted to. They'll cover just 5,992 miles in their travels.