Most of the time when projecting strength of schedule for an upcoming season, last year’s records are used as a baseline.
Sometimes that can be accurate, but sometimes not. The Packers, for instance, went 7-9 last season because of an injury to Aaron Rodgers. Now that Rodgers is healthy again, Green Bay should be a much tougher foe.
In order to combat this, Chase Stuart at FootballPerspective.com instead used the 2018 Vegas projections for each team, which takes into account the return to health of stars as well as any offseason moves.
After inputting each team’s projections into his strength of schedule formula, Stuart found the Cardinals to have the toughest schedule in the NFL in 2018.
That analysis seems to jibe with the eye test. As Stuart notes, the road games, in particular, are going to be a bear.
The Cardinals road opponents in 2018 are the Rams, 49ers, Vikings, Chiefs, Chargers, Packers, Falcons and Seahawks. Some of those teams figure to be Super Bowl contenders, and all of them have a reasonable chance of making the playoffs.
Injuries and other developments can change the landscape in a hurry. After all, many teams staring down a matchup with the Packers at this time last year caught a break when Rodgers went down. But for now, at least, it looks like the Cardinals will have to earn a lot of their victories in 2018, especially when they hit the road.