NFL schedule release: Who has the toughest — and easiest — path to the playoffs?


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The 2024 NFL schedules for all 32 groups has been launched, and followers in all places are analyzing every week to see if their crew has a straightforward, or arduous, highway to the playoffs. 

Previous to the week-by-week breakdown of the schedule turning into public data, each crew knew who they have been going through within the common season and whether or not that recreation was residence or away. 

Due to that, the power of the schedule may very well be decided primarily based on the successful share of every groups’ 2023 opponents. Whereas this can be a good strategy to see who has the simple or arduous path, one should think about how groups have strengthened their roster heading into the brand new 12 months, amongst different components. 

With that in thoughts, let’s first check out three groups who’re anticipated to have some formidable opponents in 2024.

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New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll reacts throughout the third quarter towards the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Nov. 12, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Photographs)

New York Giants: Tied-Sixth power of schedule (.516 opponent 2023 win share)

After going 6-11 final season, dropping two key gamers in Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney, and having Daniel Jones – the crew’s beginning quarterback – coming off a season-ending ACL damage, expectations are low for Huge Blue this season. 

Now, they’ve made some huge additions, too, together with Brian Burns in a blockbuster commerce with the Carolina Panthers and Malik Nabers, as their No. 6 total choose may very well be the No. 1 vast receiver they’ve been with out for fairly a while. 

Nevertheless, the Giants have a gauntlet of a schedule contemplating they need to face the AFC North – Browns, Ravens, Steelers and Bengals – all of which have playoff potential in 2024. 

2024 NFL SCHEDULE RELEASE: WIN-LOSS PREDICTIONS, ANALYSIS FOR EVERY TEAM

So, whereas there are successful alternatives in Weeks 1 and a couple of towards rookie quarterbacks – J.J. McCarthy and the Minnesota Vikings adopted by Jayden Daniels and the Washington Commanders – the Giants will face the Browns, Cowboys (TNF), Seahawks, Bengals (SNF), Eagles and Steelers (MNF) earlier than they see Washington once more in Week 9. 

If that was not arduous sufficient, issues are robust after the Week 11 bye as properly: Bucs, Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Saints, Ravens, Falcons, Colts, and ending the 12 months with a visit to Philadelphia. 

The Giants are on the lookout for that magic they present in 2022 after they beat the Vikings within the playoffs, but it surely is not going to come simple this season. 

Myles Garrett looks up on field

Myles Garrett, #95 of the Cleveland Browns, warms up earlier than the sport towards the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Dec. 10, 2023 in Cleveland. (Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Photographs)

Cleveland Browns: 1st power of schedule (.547)

Coming in with the hardest power of schedule on paper this season is the Browns, a crew who miraculously made it to the playoffs regardless of Deshaun Watson, their beginning quarterback, struggling a season-ending damage. 

Just like the Giants, the Browns will probably be going through the NFC East, which is all the time a tricky process when you’ve the Cowboys and Eagles on the schedule. Nevertheless, if the Browns wish to make the playoffs once more in 2024, they might want to work their approach by means of a brutal closing 4 video games: Chiefs, Bengals (TNF), Dolphins (SNF) and Ravens in that order. 

The Browns will even see the Eagles, Bengals, Ravens and Jim Harbaugh’s Los Angeles Chargers in Weeks 6-9 earlier than their bye in Week 11. Nevertheless, that comes after the Cowboys in Week 1 adopted by the Jaguars in Week 2 on the highway. 

With a wholesome crew, which now options Jerry Jeudy at receiver to associate with Amari Cooper and Eli Moore, in addition to Nick Chubb returning to hitch Jerome Ford and Nyheim Hines within the backfield, the Browns are constructed for achievement underneath Kevin Stefanski.

Nevertheless, it isn’t going to be simple in any respect for this group to meet their playoff hopes. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: third power of schedule (.533)

Sandwiched between the Browns and Steelers are the Ravens, however they completed with the highest seed within the AFC final season, so they’re actually able to repeat that feat with the roster principally remaining in tact. 

The Steelers, although, are an intriguing bunch as a result of Russell Wilson enters the fold for a crew desperately needing higher quarterback play. 

Russell Wilson poses on red carpet

Russell Wilson attends Michael Rubin’s Fanatics Tremendous Bowl social gathering on the Marquee Nightclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Feb. 10, 2024 in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Photographs)

Although he could possibly get his bearings with some beatable opponents in Weeks 1-4 – Falcons, Broncos (Russ revenge recreation?), Chargers and Colts – the second half goes to be a real take a look at to see if Wilson is the fitting man for the franchise. 

Following the crew’s Week 9 bye are all six of the Steelers’ divisional video games, beginning in Week 11 with the Ravens. Then, it’s a quick week with the Browns, adopted by the Bengals and Browns once more, the Eagles in Week 15, and the Ravens, Chiefs and Bengals to spherical out the common season. 

The Steelers’ quarterback query must be answered at this level within the season, whether or not Wilson is working properly in Arthur Smith’s scheme or Justin Fields, who was traded within the offseason, took over. Both approach you have a look at it, the Steelers have it tough in 2024. 

Atlanta Falcons: T-32 power of schedule (.453)

Switching gears now, Kirk Cousins heads to Atlanta at a great time, as they’re tied with the Saints for the simplest power of schedule this season. 

The Falcons are desperately on the lookout for their first successful season since 2017, they usually play in an NFC South division that’s as soon as once more up for grabs prefer it was for the Buccaneers final season after they took it at simply 9-8 total. 

And neglect the Michael Penix Jr. discuss – Cousins is aware of he signed as much as assist this offense loaded with expertise win video games. 

Kirk Cousins on the sidelines

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, #8, seems on from the sidelines throughout the second half of an NFL soccer recreation between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. (Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto through Getty Photographs)

There will probably be a stable take a look at within the first three weeks of the season with the Steelers in Week 1, adopted by the Eagles (MNF) and Chiefs (SNF). Two primetime video games when the destructive “PrimeTime Kirk” moniker has an opportunity to be erased. 

Nevertheless, video games within the division with the Saints, Bucs and Panthers observe that Week 3 bout with the Chiefs, which might preserve the Falcons rolling – or get them again on monitor – relying on how the season started. 

Lastly, the Week 14-18 stretch on the finish of the marketing campaign is a stable one for the Falcons: Vikings, Raiders (MNF), Giants, Commanders and Panthers. These are all winnable video games, and once more, the NFC South got here all the way down to the Bucs beating the Saints within the closing week. Maybe the Falcons might head to the playoffs the identical approach, or coast to a division victory. 

Chicago Bears: twenty ninth power of schedule (.467)

Caleb Williams, the No. 1 total choose of the 2024 NFL Draft, is primed to have a breakout season with tons of weapons to work with on offense, and the Chicago trustworthy will completely love for him to hit the bottom working. 

Williams is slated to face off towards his fellow rookie quarterbacks, too, with Daniels and the Commanders in Week 8, McCarthy and the Vikings in Weeks 12 and 15 and Drake Maye and the Patriots in Week 10. These are all winnable video games for the Bears in the event you imagine they will get what they’ve on paper going with Williams underneath heart. 

The season begins in Chicago towards the Titans, and Williams will get his first style of primetime soccer towards the reigning Rookie of the 12 months, C.J. Stroud, and the Houston Texans in Week 2. 

Roger Goodell and Caleb Williams

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, left, celebrates with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the Chicago Bears with the primary total choose throughout the first spherical of the NFL soccer draft on Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Picture/Jeff Roberson)

The tip of the season may very well be a tough patch relying on how Chicago is enjoying, although. They should face the Lions on Thanksgiving in Week 13 after which journey to San Francisco in Week 14 to face the 49ers. The Vikings, Lions, Seahawks on a brief week with TNF, and ending in Inexperienced Bay in Week 18 is kind of the stretch.

New Orleans Saints: T-32 power of schedule (.453)

As talked about, the NFC South is a “choose ’em” in 2024, and the Saints have been oh so near being the division winners regardless of up-and-down play, particularly on offense, final season. 

Nevertheless, if Derek Carr and the Saints shouldn’t have issues entering into the tip zone after chugging all the best way downfield like final season, this group has a fantastic probability to etch their title in a playoff spot. 

A gap recreation towards the Panthers, a gaggle that completed with the worst file in 2023, at house is a dream state of affairs for the Saints. They’ll have the Cowboys and Eagles in back-to-back weeks after that, although, adopted by the Falcons and Chiefs on MNF in Week 5. 

Nevertheless, video games towards the Bucs, Broncos (Sean Payton’s return to New Orleans on TNF), Chargers, Panthers, and Falcons from Weeks 6-10 may very well be a great stretch for this group to get sizzling whereas selecting up division wins within the course of. 

Derek Carr on the sidelines

Derek Carr, #4 of the New Orleans Saints, seems on after the sport towards the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Dec. 31, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Photographs)

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Following the crew’s bye in Week 12, the Saints will play host to the Rams, hit the highway towards the Giants, and return residence to face the Commanders – all winnable contests. Lastly, they end the season towards the Packers on MNF, Raiders at residence, and on the highway once more towards the Bucs. 

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