NFL Team Schedules: These Four Franchises Will Struggle in 2017
Opposition Record: 134-118-4 (.531)
Jerry Jones’ squad will deal with an above average difficulty based on opposing winning records. The Cowboys play out of a stacked NFC East, facing the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins twice. All four franchises are good enough to earn consideration as playoff contenders, even if one of these teams will be forced to miss the postseason.
As such, six of sixteen games will feature clashes with strong divisional rivals. However, the real challenge facing the Dallas Cowboys would be the timing of their matchups. Three of their last four games will be on the road, against the Giants, Eagles and Raiders. Their only home game in December will be against the Seattle Seahawks – on Christmas Eve. Before this four-game run, the Cowboys play twice in four days in late November, against the Eagles and the L.A. Chargers.
The beginning of their schedule isn’t easy either, with matchups against the Giants, Broncos, Packers and Cardinals. The only break the Cowboys will enjoy will be week six and seven, which features a bye followed by a match against the San Francisco 49ers. There’s a good chance that Dallas plays in prime time five or six times in 2017, further muddying the schedule.
Opposition Record: 144-111-1 (.564)
Oakland expects to make a big run in the NFL playoffs this year, but they’ll have to fight through an extremely difficult schedule to do so. This team already faces uncertainty as a franchise, and losing a home game on a trip to Mexico will be more disruptive than usual. Raiders fans want to enjoy as many home games as possible before the move to Las Vegas, making this international match even more frustrating. The good news is the fact that more Oakland fans will make the trip to Mexico City than New England Patriots boosters. The bad news: they must play New England.
The Broncos and Chiefs represent tough divisional rivals, and the Chargers have an outside shot of playing better than expected. After their bye week, Oakland faces the Patriots, Broncos, Giants, Chiefs, Cowboys and Eagles. Oakland needs to be in top form during this stretch, or risk falling from a divisional favorite into a wild card situation. If the Raiders don’t start the season strong, there’s little chance for them to make up ground during the latter half of their schedule.
Opposition Record: 147-107-2 (.578)
In terms of winning percentage, the Denver Broncos have the most difficult schedule in the NFL. Their opposition will have a collective record of 40 games above .500, including eight teams that won ten or more games in 2016.
Denver also avoids playing the 49ers, Browns, Rams and Jaguars, four of the worst in the league. Similar to AFC West rival Oakland, part of the tough schedule revolves around the quality of their division. Denver’s schedule features five straight home games, which would normally be a positive, but they deal with the Cowboys, Raiders and Giants during that stretch. A slow start to the season, along with an early bye week, could quickly lasso the Broncos in 2017.
Opposition Record: 140-116-0 (.547)
Looks like Hurricane Irma will give the Dolphins the worst schedule in the NFL. Their week one matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be postponed to week eleven due to natural disaster, because both teams happen to share the same bye. This would destroy the week of rest that every franchise needs to heal during the season. The Dolphins really could’ve used that bye week - they play Super Bowl champs New England twice in three weeks after week eleven. Before then, they face Atlanta, Baltimore Oakland and Carolina, with a week-seven game against the Jets their only favorable matchup. Jay Cutler has his work cut out for him.
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