NFL strengths of schedule for 2021, ranked hardest to easiest

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NFL strengths of schedule for 2021, ranked hardest to easiest originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The NFL is about to embark on its biggest season yet with an expanded 17-game schedule. While an extra game will likely present its own challenges for players, some teams will be up against a tough strength of schedule this season, as well.

The Steelers top the list of 2021 strength of schedule rankings. Their 17 opponents have a combined 2020 record of 155-115-2 and a combined 2020 win percentage of .574. With games against the Chiefs, Bills and Packers, the Steelers will have their work cut out for them as they look to repeat as AFC North champions.

The Baltimore Ravens are the only other team whose opponents have a combined 2020 win percentage over .550. Baltimore will face the division-rival Steelers twice, as well as the Chiefs and Packers in 2021.

For the first time in years, the New England Patriots won't be facing a first-place schedule. They have the 12th easiest schedule in the league in 2021. 

While the Steelers, Ravens and Chicago Bears have the hardest schedules in 2021, the Philadelphia Eagles round out the list with the easiest. The Eagles' 2021 opponents went 117-155 in 2020 for a combined win percentage of .430. Philadelphia is the only team facing a combined win percentage below .450, due in large part to the fact that only three of their opponents finished above .500 last season.

Below is the 2021 strength of schedule ranked from hardest to easiest based on opponents combined record from last season:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

  2. Baltimore Ravens

  3. Chicago Bears

  4. Green Bay Packers

  5. Minnesota Vikings

  6. Detroit Lions

  7. Cincinnati Bengals

  8. Las Vegas Raiders

  9. Cleveland Browns

  10. Los Angeles Rams

  11. Kansas City Chiefs

  12. Seattle Seahawks

  13. Tennessee Titans

  14. Arizona Cardinals

  15. Washington Football Team

  16. Houston Texans

  17. Los Angeles Chargers

  18. Jacksonville Jaguars

  19. San Francisco 49ers

  20. New York Jets

  21. New England Patriots

  22. New Orleans Saints

  23. Buffalo Bills

  24. Indianapolis Colts

  25. New York Giants

  26. Carolina Panthers

  27. Denver Broncos

  28. Miami Dolphins

  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  30. Atlanta Falcons

  31. Dallas Cowboys

  32. Philadelphia Eagles