Just How Strong Is The Schedule?

May 21st, 2022

Seems like Bucs coach Todd Bowles caught a break.

When the schedule first came out, Joe was like a lot of Bucs fans.

Seeing those first four games and then factoring in a game in Munich, and everything else in-between, it sure seemed like the Bucs have a real uphill climb to the best record in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Most people look at the strength of schedule and determine it by last year’s records. In recent years, this has become a dicey formula. Joe always remembers how former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter used to say how rosters from year to year change around 30 percent. And coaches change, too.

Teams change so much it is unrealistic to expect a team to produce the same amount of wins the next season.

Noted handicapper turned stathead Warren Sharp is sort of like Koetter. He believes basing strength of schedule on opponents’ records borderline irresponsible. Sharp places tremendous weight on how much rest a team gets between games, not so much on an opponent’s record the previous season.

In Sharp’s formula, he believes the Bucs have the 7th-easiest strength of schedule.

The key factor? Rest. And yes, that’s even with a game in Munich.

The teams with the biggest edge in net rest advantage? The Bills, Lions, Broncos, Cowboys, and Buccaneers.

The teams with the biggest disadvantage? The Packers, Patriots, Texans, Jets, and Saints.

In the article linked above, Sharp details how he calculates rest into a strength of schedule formula. Sharp has an even deeper statistical dive on rest at this link.

How accurate is Sharp’s formula? Well, you be the judge: Sharp had the Bucs with the second-easiest schedule in 2021 and despite suffering a ton of injuries to key players, the Bucs won 13 games, finished with the second seed in the playoffs and were “this-close” to returning to the Super Bowl.

Last season (2021), the Top 7 teams with the easiest schedule were: Bills, Buccaneers, Bengals, Broncos, Eagles, Dolphins & Cowboys.

Knowing all of this will help Joe rest better in the coming weeks.

23 Responses to “Just How Strong Is The Schedule?”

  1. geno711 Says:

    Really interesting stuff. Sharp supports his assertions well.

    1. That the Vegas projected win totals for the upcoming season have been a stronger indication of record than last year’s win total.
    2. That rest advantages (especially) at the end of the year are a great predictor of who will win.

    Based upon his supported data, I have to agree. The Bucs strength of schedule is very manageable.

  2. alton d green Says:

    I was in Munich in 1972. A terrible thing happened Olympic village. Just say’n. when i read this post i can’t help but laugh. A good analogy would be a mother of a kid that’s as ugly as a wart hog and says with a smile “ain’t he beautiful” No lady he’s as ugly as a wart hog. I pray that Bowles doesn’t bring his Biden Philosophe to those 1st 4 games. There will be no room for error. In other words don’t wait till we are behind by 20 pts to make an adjustment

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    2-2 at the end of the first quarter of the season (can’t really still say that with 17 games) and we’ll be off & runnin’.

  4. Chris Tucker@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    LOL, our schedule is so hard, that no way we go undefeated this year, rest or not!

  5. BucBoy Says:

    HARVARD GRADUATE & BUCS TIGHT END CAMERON BRATE: “Kyle Trask did a great job today. He made great throws. I think the future’s really bright for Kyle. I think he’s got a good mindset and obviously the arm talent’s there as well.”

    No no no no no, Cameron!!! Trask can’t throw!!! Right here on this very website, 6th-grade-graduate-couch-potato-Trask-hater-Rod-Munch has assured us many, many times that he has personally seen and studied Trask videos on YouTube and TRASK CAN’T THROW!!!

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Strength of schedule, measuring opponents’ potential, is not nearly as important as how good your team is. Every game is tough in the NFL.

    Still remember last year when the 4-13 Jets were whooping our ass right up until Brady threw that 33 yd pass to the immortal Cyril Grayson with a mere 15 SECONDS to go in the game. That one was supposed to be a gimme. Ya right; let’s go with that.

  7. BUCman Says:

    I want to address this narrative that because the Bucs play a first place schedule they play a far more difficult schedule. This is not true. Lets compare their schedule to the second place Saints. They both play every team in the AFC north (Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Ravens). They both play every team in the NFC West (Rams, 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks). They both play the Panthers twice and Falcons twice. So right there is 12 identical opponents. Twice we play each other which on paper is two games more difficult for the Saints even though they’ve had our number lately. That leaves only 3 games with a different opponent. Bucs vs Cowboys; Saints vs Eagles (very little difference there), Bucs vs Packers; Saints vs Vikings (more difficult for Bucs), Bucs vs Chiefs; Saints vs Raiders (more difficult for Bucs). So we have two games that are more difficult (Packers & Chiefs) and the Saints have two games more difficult (Bucs twice). So strength of schedule for Bucs and Saints is the same.

  8. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Im not worried about the schedule…..the glaring question is…..

    Will the Bucs finally get past those freakin Rams?

  9. Tbbucs3 Says:


    The mighty QB guru Cam Brate said that? Wow we should just go ahead and put Trask in the hall of fame now for a legendary practice.

  10. 1sparkybuc Says:


  11. 1sparkybuc Says:

    I trust Brate’s opinion on Trask over anyone on this board, with the possible exception of Defense Rules

  12. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Sparkybuc, do you trust Cam Brates opinion more than Byron Leftwhich or Clyde Christensen? Because the Bucs coaching staff clearly isnt high on Trask or else he would be #2 on the depth chart.

  13. ChiBuc Says:

    It is hard to judge Clyde or BL.

    Clyde has experienced a wealth of riches: P. Manning, Luck, and TB. His only challenge as a qb coach was King and he did alright there. What I find intriguing about CC is how he gets bumped to OC, asst HC and then back down to qb coach. Seems to like riding on the tailgate of the chuck wagon and spewing the company line, rather than cooking the meal.

    BL’s body of work is so limited and overshadowed by BA and TB that it is hard to distinguish his contributions. I think this yr will provide them some opportunity to step up and put a postmark on TB’s stamp, but post TB with Trask is when we can earnestly evaluate their judgement/skill.

    So yeah, I think Brate’s is a valid voice in this convo.

  14. adam from ny Says:

    yes when i initially looked over the schedule i was freaked out…

    but upon digestion and more time to process it, it’s really not as daunting as at first glance…

    sure the first month is a little crazy, but the first month is also a weird time every year…by week 5 teams settle in as it officially is football season and the meat and potatoes of the season is starting…

    the first 4 weeks offers some really wishy washy play at times – across the league – from top teams – a perfect example was when the packers were blown out by the saints at lambeau last year and rodgers looked like he puffed weed before the game and was all slouchy on the bench with greazy hair…

    so yeah, week 1 thru 4 is the greatest challenge and if we can hit week one running, while many other teams are “rounding into shape”, and can slink out of it 3-1, we should have the upper leg on winning the division…

    and i would think tom brady knows this, and will let all the guys know about early season focus – while other teams are still sleepwalking a bit

  15. GOB Says:

    These SOS predictions are often very wrong. Let’s look at 2013, because it’s one of the most egregious examples in recent memory.
    Going into the season, the Panthers were predicted to have the strongest schedule. After the season, they ranked 17th.
    The Lions had the #2 hardest schedule, after 29th
    The Packers had the 6th, after 30th.
    Simply going by teams win loss record the previous year, is foolishness. It’s fine to use it in the formula, but without considering other variables, it’s often useless.

  16. Buc1987 Says:

    BucBoy…yer funny!

  17. PSL Bob Says:

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics!

  18. David Says:

    I will keep saying it. Looks to me like 12–5. Obviously injuries can make it worse and a pass rush makes it better.

    Division 5-1 (1 saints loss)
    2-0 over Pitt & Seattle (neither are very good)

    5-4 against the rest & it’s 12-5

  19. GOB Says:

    David, I think 12-5, 11-6. Regardless, success in the playoffs is often tied to how teams finish. The bucs have the easiest three game stretch to end the year. I think that’s pivotal.

  20. steele Says:

    Bucman, you make good points. But the Saints do not start the season with 4 grueling matchups. Once a team is in a hole to start, everything that follows is more difficult. Also, it’s not just the Saints to worry about. The top NFC teams. The top AFC teams. None have it as tough, or as weirdly stacked, as Bucs do.

  21. BucBoy Says:

    “Tbbucs3 Says: The mighty QB guru Cam Brate said that?”

    Yes. Look it up. Granted, what does an NFL tight end know about quarterbacks’ throwing ability, right? I mean, NFL tight end Cam Bates doesn”t hold a candle to couch-potato-Jameis-Winston-jersey-wearing-Tbbucs3, right? Bwahahahaha.

  22. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Wow bucboy you really showed them guy, referencing an OTA practice in May. Is this really your gotcha moment? Lol..Jesus settle down you lunatic, and do me a favor: lay off the crank

  23. 1sparkybuc Says:

    The Bucs also have among the most miles to travel for their games. That has to be a factor in their rest.