2020 NFL Schedule: Easiest and hardest non-Patriots schedules in AFC

Justin Leger
NBC Sports Boston

At last, all 32 teams have released their full schedules for the 2020 NFL season.

The New England Patriots, in the first year of the post-Tom Brady era, have one of the toughest schedules based on 2019 win/loss records. In Week 2, they'll head to Seattle for a difficult matchup against the Russell Wilson-led Seahawks. They'll visit the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks later, then host the Baltimore Ravens for another tough game later on in the season. That's certainly no cakewalk.

But the Patriots are far from the only AFC team with an uphill battle this year. In fact, the rest of the AFC East is pretty much in the same boat.

Here's a look at the top five easiest and hardest non-Patriots schedules in the AFC.

Easiest

1. Baltimore Ravens

Yep, the team that dominated the 2019 regular season with the NFL MVP under center has the easiest 2020 schedule.

The most difficult games on the schedule for Baltimore come in Week 3 (Chiefs), Week 10 (Patriots), Week 11 (Titans), and Week 13 (Cowboys). Those two Browns games may be tricky too depending on whether Cleveland bounces back from its letdown 2019 campaign. But as long as Lamar Jackson doesn't see a significant drop in productivity, the Ravens should have no problem replicating their success from last year when they went 14-2.

2. Cleveland Browns

Based on 2019 records, the Browns have the fourth easiest schedule in the entire NFL. Of course, that means nothing if they once again put a disappointing product on the field.

Cleveland has the misfortune of having to play against Baltimore twice. But other than that, the schedule doesn't look all that intimidating. There's enough talent on this team to get on a run in the middle of the season. Perhaps they'll finish above .500 for the first time since 2007.

3. Tennessee Titans

Could the Titans make another run in 2020 after being one of the NFL's biggest surprises last year? If their schedule is any indication, it certainly looks possible.

The toughest game obviously is that Ravens matchup. Otherwise, there aren't really any games for Tennessee to circle on its calendar. Some of that, of course, will depend on how Drew Lock fares in Denver and whether Philip Rivers can be the answer in Indy. Regardless, the Derrick Henry-led Titans should have a solid chance to be run over teams en route to the playoffs again.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Another AFC North team makes the list.

The Steelers have a real chance to start the season strong with three fairly easy matchups right out the gate. It gets a little more difficult after that with games against the Titans, Eagles, Cowboys, and Ravens, but overall, they have the second-easiest schedule in the league based on 2019 records. 

5. Los Angeles Chargers

Having to start the season off vs. Patrick Mahomes isn't ideal. After that, though, it gets easier for the Chargers.

The two matchups against the Chiefs in Weeks 2 and 17 will be the toughest for L.A. That Week 4 game against Tom Brady and the Bucs could be a rough one too. Other than that, there's a mid-season stretch where the Chargers could put together some wins. Obviously that'll depend on how Tyrod Taylor and/or Justin Herbert perform as Philip Rivers' replacement under center.

Hardest

1. New York Jets

Want proof that the Patriots aren't the only team in the AFC East with a tough schedule? Look no further than the Jets'.

Bills and 49ers out the gate will be a challenge for Sam Darnold and Co. We don't know how the Patriots will look without Brady in 2020, but those two games are never easy for New York. Add on the games against Kansas City, Arizona, and Seattle, and you have one of the more difficult schedules in the NFL.

2. Miami Dolphins

Maybe their luck changes with Tua in the fold, but the Dolphins have one of the tougher schedules in the league.

Check out those first five weeks. The only "easy" matchup there is Week 3 vs. Jacksonville. Later in the season, Miami has to face the Rams, Cardinals, and Chiefs. Facing the Bills and Patriots twice doesn't help, either.

3. Buffalo Bills

The beginning and end of the season look fairly easy for Buffalo, but the middle will be a challenge.

That stretch with the Titans, Chiefs, Patriots, Seahawks, Cardinals, and 49ers on the docket is going to put Josh Allen and the Bills to the test. If there's anything working in the Patriots' favor heading into 2020, it's that their AFC East counterpoints have uphill battles as well.

4. Houston Texans

As if trading star wide receiver Deandre Hopkins didn't make things tough enough on Houston...

Kansas City and Baltimore as the first two games of the season? Ouch. It gets a bit easier from there, but there are a few more difficult matchups on the schedule including the Vikings (Week 4), Titans (Week 6), Patriots (Week 11), and Titans again (Week 17). This won't help the Texans' already-low expectations for 2020.

5. Denver Broncos

Drew Lock has some new weapons in his arsenal after the 2020 draft, but he still has his work cut out for him this year.

On top of the two divisional matchups vs. the Chiefs are games against Tom Brady's Bucs and Drew Brees' Saints. The Patriots are in the mix as well with a Week 6 game at Gillette Stadium. It'll take a big season from Lock to overcome the difficult schedule in 2020.

For the full 2020 Patriots schedule, check out the graphic below:

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2020 NFL Schedule: Easiest and hardest non-Patriots schedules in AFC originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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