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4/11/2007 04:00:00 PM

Five Hardest Schedules

Tom Brady's Patriots face the Colts on Nov. 4 in Indy.
Damian Strohmeyer/SI

Team-by-team 2007 schedules

Teams turn around quickly in today’s NFL, so it’s hard to predict how schedules will ultimately play out. But here are the five teams I think face the toughest roads in 2007:

1. New England: Except for home games against Cleveland and Washington, there are no out-of-division softies for the Pats. New England also faced a very tough schedule in 2005 and finished 10-6. With a restocked lineup, the Pats will probably wrap up the AFC East easily. But it will be a challenge to secure homefield advantage in the playoffs.

2. Buffalo: The Bills face a similar schedule to the Patriots and may get off to a rough start this year. They start at home against Denver, then go to Pittsburgh and New England.

3. Jacksonville: In the middle of the season, the Jags face a three-game road trip, which is sandwiched between home games against Indy and San Diego. Yikes.

4. Pittsburgh: The Steelers, who compete in what I feel will be the toughest division in '07, play three of their last four on the road, including trips to New England and Baltimore.

5. Indianapolis: The defending champs will have a target on their backs. They face every team they beat in the AFC playoffs last season (Kansas City, Baltimore and New England) as well as San Diego and New Orleans.

Let me know which teams you think have the hardest schedules.
posted by SI.com | View comments |  


Posted: 4:27 PM   by patrick
The Colts play the toughest schedule in my opinion. They have the real toughest division in football the AFC West(Chargers, Broncs-with resolved qb situation and 2 good to great cb's, Playoff Cheifs) and they always get the two toughest rivalry games of anyone (this year AT the Ravens and against Pats). Plus they have a very good New Orleans squad early on, a promising Atlanta squad, the always tough Panthers and of course the multi qb'd Bucs(kidding on that last one). Not to mention the Jags twice and Vince Young twice.
Posted: 4:39 PM   by Anonymous
I think the Colts probably play the toughest schedule but there is no denying the Jags play the toughest 5 game stretch in the NFL this season, Del Rio deserves coach of the year if he can swing 4-1 during that span
Posted: 4:42 PM   by Layne London
Are you kidding? San Diego has a much more difficult schedule than the 5 you listed. Both Super Bowl participants, the Ravens, Denver twice, Kansas City twice, a Vince Young led Titans, not to mention the 8-8 Packers and Jacksonville. The only gimmes are Detroit and the Texans. The Raiders represented themselves well against the Chargers, check out the scores. They travel way too much too much to not get mentioned on the toughest schedule list
Posted: 4:45 PM   by Grant
There is no doubt the Pats have the toughest schedule.

Away games with the Bengals, Cowboys, Colts and Ravens!! At home against the Steelers, Chargers, and Eagles??

When they win it all this year, it may be Belichick's and Brady's best show yet!!!

It will be interesting to see how the retooled lineup works against some of the better NFL teams!!
Posted: 4:56 PM   by pizano27
The pittsburgh steelers have the toughest schedule in the NFL. They play 2 games against the Baltimore Ravens and the Bengals. This plus games at New England and at the jets and Broncos. They also must contend with playoff contender Seahawks and the always tough Jaguars as well as the up and coming 49er's. This is a tough schedule when considering they are in the NFL's toughest divison where 3 teams could win over 10 games. (The only team that could not win 10 games in their division is the Browns).
Posted: 4:57 PM   by Anonymous
i would say the jets. similar nfc schedule to the pats, and cleveland / washington are the only light weeks. plus the first 5 games include 3 division games and the giants. right into the firing line.
Posted: 5:00 PM   by Anonymous
Are you kidding about New England? They have 6 easy wins against Miami, Buffalo, and NY Jets. Unless they fall asleep at the wheel like last year - those are 6 give me's!
Posted: 5:02 PM   by Anonymous
6 easy ones should also count in the New England wins over Cleveland and Washington. That is 8 wins right there boys. The way I see it NE only needs 2 other wins to make the playoffs. Tough huh!
Posted: 5:03 PM   by pizano27
The toughest schedule in the NFL belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers as they are in the NFL's toughest divison and have to play both the Raven's and Bengals twice. The Steelers also have away games at Denver, New England and the jet's. They also have games against Seattle the always tough Jaguars and the up and coming 49er's. This is a tough schedule with no real push overs as even the Browns and Cardinals should be better this year.
Posted: 5:05 PM   by Anonymous
The Bills make every schedule difficult
Posted: 5:05 PM   by Jeff
how do the NFC champion Bears end up with an almost identical schedule as the pathetic Lions? Superbowl XLII here we come!
Posted: 5:12 PM   by Ethan
No good answer to this question. Some teams will be better, some worse. I'm not convinced that the Ravens will be a tough game, certainly not as tough as Chargers/Pats/Colts. Titans will feel the loss of Pacman, but have secured Nick Harper to take his spot, and you know VY is ready to go. And teams like the Jets/Brown/Texans will have the ability to cause a few upsets.

That said, Colts and Pats will always be the "big games" for every team they play, and neither team has an especially easy schedule. Chargers, I think, may be a very hungry team, much like Colts last year, Steelers in 05. If the coaching gels with the players, they could be a machine.

Anyone notice the entire lack of press the Bears are getting? Is the NFL Nation convinced they were a flash in the pan?
Posted: 5:12 PM   by James
so among the top 5 hardest scheudles are the last 3 Super Bowl winners, a perenal playoff contender...and Buffalo

WTF did we do to deserve that!
Posted: 5:17 PM   by Anonymous
The Chargers are the only ones with any legitimate competition within their own division (Chiefs and Broncos) and have to play Chicago, Indy, Free Agency happy New England, Baltimore with an all purpose running back, Vince Young's Titans, the Pack and Jax respectively. Then again, the hardest schedules can be determined quite yet, this time last year just about every team had already penciled in a "W" when they saw the Saints on their schedule and look at what happened. There's just to much mediocrity in the NFL for anyone to already be certain who has the toughest schedule until teams start identifying themselves and injuries start piling up...
Posted: 5:19 PM   by Anonymous
Have you ever watched an AFC East game? Most any time the Pats play Miami or NY they have great games. Even the Bills play them well. Unless you have an absolute mess of a team, any division opponent knows your team too well to roll over. However, if the respective fan bases from our rivals want to concede the victory, we'll take it!
Posted: 5:24 PM   by Anonymous
Pats, hand down, have the toughest. AFC East will not be a push-over as everyone thinks, and again, the NFL was kind to Archie Manning and his boy!

Having the Pats in Indy again is a trip; I wonder if they'll turn the heat up in the dome like they did in 2nd half of title game. No doubt Indy deserved to win because they beat NE's big D, but ya gotta wonder if the outcome would've been the same outdoors?!?

Perhaps thet's exactly why they got younger and stronger in the "D" over the off season.
Posted: 5:29 PM   by Anonymous
The titans have 2 be mentioned they have colts twice jacksonville twice, san diego,jets,saints,panthers,broncos the bengals,chiefs, the falcons,the bucs. some of you might argue that the panthers and the chiefs,bucs maybe the jets aret that good. panthers are always a threat with steve smith and keyshawn johnson. The chiefs are palying IN arrowhead the toughtest palce 2 play in by a mile. The jets.. they made the palyoffs!The bucs are getting sims back+they are the most likely team to get Calvin Johnson Oh and did I mention they dont have pac-man(gobble gobble) so that makes even harder. I predict they win 13 of there total games and most of there tough games
Posted: 5:35 PM   by Anonymous
The Oakland Raiders have the toughest schedule because they stunk last year and won't be much better this year.
Posted: 5:40 PM   by Brian
The Vikings play the toughest schedule. In addition to having to play the Bears twice, they have to play all of their games with the worst coach, wide receiver corps, and starting running back deciding their outcome. The Vikings couldn't beat a JV women's junior high team.
Posted: 5:40 PM   by Miserable Browns Fan
Sorry to break it to you Steelers fans, but the Browns have a much tougher schedule than the Steelers. For starters, they are the Browns. But they have to play two games each against The Bengals, Ravens AND Steelers. They also play away games against the Patriots and the Jets. Only one team on their schedule, the Raiders, had a worse record than them last season.
Posted: 5:41 PM   by Anonymous
The Chargers have it roughest. Chicago, at New England, at GB, two games of course against both the Broncos and Chiefs, Indy, and Baltimore.
Posted: 5:49 PM   by Anonymous
I think the Colts have the hardest schedules. Think about this, from week 7 to week 14:@Jacksonville,@Carolina,Patriots@San Diego,Kansas City,@Atlanta,Jacksonville,@Baltimore. TOUGH!
Posted: 6:09 PM   by Anonymous
There is no way to truly determine who has the toughest schedule in the NFL this season, sure if you use last years standings as the basis of your 5 choices then you've got a point. But considering the player and coaching turnover around league there is no way of knowing who has the toughest schedule until around week 8 when the pretenders are weeded out.
Posted: 6:09 PM   by Anonymous
Seahawks have it pretty tough, as well. Chicago, Carolina, N.O., an improving San Fran team that swept them last year, at Philly, plus two against an improving Arizona team. Not to mention the Rams twice. Oh yeah, Cincy and at Pittsburgh as well. Still, 13-3 is a good year...
Posted: 6:14 PM   by Anonymous
I think we can all agree that the Browns have the toughest schedule since they have no college or high school teams to face off against.
Posted: 6:17 PM   by Anonymous
The bills are going to have the toughest year. Their schedule is rough and they face a qb problem along with talk about moving the team to Canada
Posted: 6:19 PM   by Anonymous
Has anyone paid attention to the Bears schedule? Take out the NFC North, and they play 7 teams that were in the playoffs last year. So they play almost half of the playoff field.
Posted: 6:24 PM   by Anonymous
I'd say Buffalo. But, only because the Pats wind up the year with 3 straight home games followed by a very short road trip down the highway to Jersey. Nice way to spend December in the NFL.
Posted: 6:42 PM   by Anonymous
Cleveland has a very tough schedule for a 4-12 team and could get worse for them with only 2 winnable games on the '07 docket.
Posted: 6:49 PM   by slone
the lions schedule is brutal.....brutal
Posted: 6:56 PM   by Anonymous
Did I just here a Jet's fan say the Browns game is a gimmie? Huh, I seem to remember a team in orange helmets beating you last season.
Posted: 7:02 PM   by Anonymous
Hey, Where the NFC east?
At the end of last year all these tough AFC didnt seem so tough as the season against the colts or pats. Its always one tough team in the division and weak ones after. The toughest divison really is the NFC East. The only divsion that anyone can be the favorite to win. Im surprised not even one made it to the top 5. Minesota, seatle, new orleans got lucky with weak divisions. who did in the nfc east? three of them made it the playoffs remember.
Posted: 7:26 PM   by Anonymous
Ravens hands down. New England, San Diego, Indy, Pitt twice, Bengals twice, throw in Seattle, St. Louis, and San Fran. Please.
Posted: 7:54 PM   by Anonymous
What about the New York Jets, they have the Pats in their division, they've got a tought schedule they play the Cowboys, Giants , Eagles, Steelers, Bengals, not to mention their division opponents (including playin the patriots twice)
Posted: 7:56 PM   by Anonymous
What about the jets, they play the cowboys, eagles, giants, steelers, bengals, ravens, chiefs....not to mention that they play the patriots twice
Posted: 7:57 PM   by Baltimore Lopez
I think the Colts have the toughest schedule....they will play Baltimore Ravens and will get their butts kicked this year! Baltimore fans will have their revenge!
Posted: 7:58 PM   by Anonymous
Chargers play BEARS, PATRIOTS, COLTS and RAVENS and arguably play in the hardest division in football. They should at least be in the top 5
Posted: 8:08 PM   by Anonymous
How about the Green Bay Packer's schedule? A whole slew of playoff teams, not to mention the Bears twice. They have to be in this mix.
Posted: 8:21 PM   by Anonymous
Anyone notice that they're all from the AFC? Hmm...
Posted: 8:22 PM   by Anonymous
Statistically, the Raiders and the Bills are tied with the toughest schedule.
Posted: 9:00 PM   by Anonymous
San Diego's schedule should be in the top 5. They start off the year against the Bears and the Pats. They face KC ansd Denver twice, along with the Colts later in the season. I'm not saying it's Patriot tough, but come on...
Posted: 9:12 PM   by Anonymous
I can’t believe that Indy made your list of top 5 hardest schedules. Here’s Indy’s schedule:

Sep 6 New Orleans

Sep 16 @Tennessee

Sep 23 @Houston

Sep 30 Denver

Oct 7 Tampa Bay

Week 6 BYE
Oct 22 @Jacksonville

Oct 28 @Carolina

Nov 4 New England

Nov 11 @San Diego

Nov 18 Kansas City

Nov 22 @Atlanta

Dec 2 Jacksonville

Dec 9 @Baltimore

Dec 16 @Oakland

Dec 23 Houston

Dec 30 Tennessee

Having several soft teams in their division already putting Oakland and Tampa Bay on the Superbowl champs schedule just seems wrong.

Compare the Patriots who play 9 games against teams that made the playoffs to the Colts who play 5 games against teams that made the playoffs. Some may argue that the AFC East is a weaker division than the AFC South that evens things up a bit but that opinion wouldn’t be based on facts. Buffalo was 7-9, The Jets went 10-7 and made the playoffs with the only stinker being Miami, but at 6-10 hardly the NFL’s worst team. Compare that with Indy’s division rivals of Tennessee with a respectable 8-8, Houston 6-10, and an underachieving Jacksonville at 8-8 I’m not sure how anyone can make the argument of this being a tough division if the AFC East is considered a weak division. With the Colts mediocre schedule it could be reasonably argued that many teams have tougher schedules. Take for example teh Jets with 7 games against teams that made the playoffs, a divsion that is at least as tough as the AFC South, and outside of division rivals only one team that went under .500. I'm not convinced that the Colts would belong on a list of the top ten hardest schedules in the NFL.

Posted: 9:24 PM   by evan
how is it fair the bills get such a tough season? They lost some key guys, and they will struggle. I don't know if the ycan do what they did last year against the good teams.
Thank god they got on MNF though. It's been a while.
Posted: 9:24 PM   by Anonymous
Is there any team with a tougher 7 week scchedule to open the season than the JETS??? home against NE, at BAL, Home with MIA, at BUF, at NYG, home with PHI and at CIN...

AFC East is an ongoing war with any team capable of winning any game...CINCY will be dangerous and BAL could be a nightmare...

I am a true JETS homer, but I would be satisfied with a 3-4 start.

It does not get any easier at the end of the season either as they have to take on the STILLERS in week 11 and a dangerous team in KC in week 17.
Posted: 9:34 PM   by Anonymous
you fail to mention the Giants. They have the eagles twice, have to go to london, the pats in week 17 (great way to end the season)and the Bears. They had the hardest schedule last year and went 8-8. I forgot to mention the Cowboys and redskins, who will only get better.
Posted: 9:43 PM   by Anonymous
The Bills have it toughest, hands down, a team that hovers around .500 is playing some of the best teams in the NFL this year.

After that the Patriots are on a grind, the SB champs, the NFC East(toughest Div in the NFC), Ravens, Steelers, Jets twice... they will be lucky to be 10-6 this year.
Posted: 9:53 PM   by Anonymous
Well I do agree that the jags probably have one of the toughest schedules. The problem that I'm having is people automatically giving the Patriots a win against Washington. I believe that the Redskins will hurt some feelings this year beginning with the Patriots.
Posted: 10:38 PM   by Anonymous
Oakland clearly has the toughest schedule because absolutely every team they play is better than they are.
Posted: 10:56 PM   by Anonymous
Let's face it the Detroit Lions have the toughest schedule this season... Its like Division II Schools playing in the Big Ten...
Posted: 11:11 PM   by Anonymous
the bucs arent gonna be a push over this yr. so any team that has them on their schedule could be in for a handful especially if we get cj......
Posted: 11:14 PM   by Finacious D
Please, I defy any of you to tell me there is a harder stretch than this for the previously 6-10 Dolphins:

Oct. 28 NEW YORK GIANTS (at London's Wembley Stadium) FOX 1 p.m.
Nov. 11 BUFFALO BILLS CBS 1 p.m.
Nov. 18 at Philadelphia CBS 1 p.m.*
Nov. 26 at Pittsburgh Steelers ESPN 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 2 NEW YORK JETS CBS 1 p.m.*
Dec. 9 at Buffalo Bills CBS 1 p.m.*
Dec. 23 at New England Patriots CBS 1 p.m.*
Posted: 11:17 PM   by Patrick
The Vikings have the toughest schedule because they don't face Arizona every week.
New England. The continue to have a big bulls eye on the back of they're uniform. Also, the schedule is full of frustrated teams who want nothing more than to beat up on the Patriots.
Posted: 11:23 PM   by Anonymous
As a Browns fan I can tell you that when every team is better than yours its always a tough schedule.
Posted: 11:31 PM   by Anonymous
Honestly, about time the Colts got really tested. It seemed like year in year out they cruised down easy street to get to the playoffs. Plus, they're the SB champions. I think they should have had the toughest schedule, the way the Pats had a real test the season after they won SB 39.

The league should give the SB champions the HARSHEST schedule of all. If they truly are the best team in the NFL, let's see them prove it.
Posted: 11:36 PM   by Anonymous
How can you have the Pats having a harder schedule than the Bills? The fact the Bills play the Pats twice and the Pats play the Bills twice is enough to slide the difficulty to the Bills. Sorry to say that I'm a Bills fan but the Pats have won 12 of the last 13 between the two. Also, for the 4th year in a row the Bills draw the Pats after their bye week. Two weeks for Belichek to figure out how to confuse Losman is just unfair.
Posted: 1:09 PM   by Linda
How can The Colts be in the top five and have Oakland & The Texans (2x) on their schedule. Again and again The Patriots are given the one if not the toughest schedules. Let's not forget too, their only matchup this year is in the Indianapolis climate controlled dome!
Posted: 6:08 PM   by Anonymous
Let me just say this regarding schedules, there is NO easy win in the NFL. on any given sunday, anybody can beat anybody. we'll see at the end of the year who has the hardest schedule. although looking at it now, the bills and jets have the most intimidating schedules.
Posted: 9:54 AM   by Anonymous
Ill just say this then go. Denver has to play 6 out of eight games on the road at the end of their schedule. Who else does? Talk about tough!
Posted: 2:09 PM   by Anonymous
Thats funny, there is a reason there are no NFC teams on this list. The NFC is terrible. If you look at the breakdown the Lions have the toughest NFC schedule at like 14th hardest. The reason is because the AFC DOMINATES the NFC. The Giants and Saints are one of the top NFC teams, get outta here. I would have taken everyone in the AFC playoffs last year(except maybe the schedule lucky JETs) and the Jaguars and the Bengals, (maybe even the Steelers and Denver too) over ANY NFC team, including the 'mighty' Bears. Actually the best matchup the Bears could have hoped for was the Colts, and they still got faced.
Posted: 2:46 PM   by Anonymous
Why does everyone have to hate on the colts? They had a tough schedule last year. Baltimore, New England, New York in game 1, Cincinnati, come on! This year its a rough schedule too! These posts are written biased because the respective teams fans are writing them. So be realistic, look at the schedule and don't make your team into having it harder than other teams!
Posted: 3:56 PM   by Anonymous
The Chargers definitely have the hardest road... they play 4 of the other 5 AFC playoff teams from last year (no Jets). But they did luck out getting both Chi and Indy at home.
Posted: 10:41 PM   by Anonymous
lions have the hardest schedule, hands down, because every team they play is better then them.
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