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Cowboys Have Toughest 2015 Strength Of Schedule; NFC East Teams Not Far Behind

Of the seven toughest schedules in 2015, four belong to NFC East teams.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

When we looked at the initial strength of schedule numbers for 2015 at the end of last season (at the time, those were still based on the opponent records in 2014), we saw that the Cowboys' 2015 opponents finished the 2014 season with a combined 119-136-1 record for a .467 winning percentage. That would have made the 2015 schedule the "easiest" schedule the Cowboys had in the last 10 years. Heading into the season, that .467 SOS was only the 24th "toughest" schedule - or the 9th "easiest", as you prefer.

But things have changed.

Based on the opponent records after Week 7, the Cowboys' 2015 opponents currently have a combined 59-40 record for a .596 winning percentage, the highest in the league. And those opponents' combined points differential of +314 through Week 7 is also the highest in the league.

It may not be much of a consolation for Cowboys fans, but the rest of the NFC East isn't getting off much lighter. The Giants, Eagles, and Redskins all rank in the top seven of the toughest schedules in 2015.

Weeks 1-7

Four of the opponents the Cowboys have faced so far this year currently have a winning record and two opponents have a 3-4 record through the first seven weeks of the season. Combined, the Cowboys' opponent winning percentage over the first seven weeks is .634, the second highest of any team in the league through Week 7.

Had the Cowboys started 6-0 instead of 2-4, that opponent winning percentage would drop to .512, which just goes to show that a team's strength of schedule also reflects a considerable amount of a team's own performance. In very simple terms this means that the more games you win, the softer your SOS gets - and vice versa.

Regardless, there is no question that the Cowboys have had a tough start to the season. Through the first seven weeks, the Cowboys’ opponents have accumulated the third highest points differential with +149 points. Part of that has to do with having played the Patriots (+87 points differential), but part of it also has to do with the fact that of the six opponents payed, only the Saints currently have a negative points differential.

Weeks 8-17

Down the stretch, the Cowboys still have to face the currently unbeaten Panthers and Packers, which obviously impacts the strength of schedule numbers. The Cowboys' opponents for the remainder of the season have a combined winning percentage of .569 (33-25), which currently gives the Cowboys the sixth toughest remaining schedule in terms of opponent W/L record. However, of the remaining 11 opponents, only three (Packers, Panthers, and Jets) currently have a winning record, and their 16-2 record hides the fact that the other eight opponents are currently a combined 17-23.

Interesting from an NFC East point of view: The Giants have the toughest remaining strength of schedule of any team in the league (.620) and the Redskins (.558) aren't too far behind the Cowboys either. The Eagles, courtesy of getting to face the 1-6 Lions, have the easiest remaining schedule in the East with a .481 opponent record.

A few wins here and a few losses there can quickly change the entire strength of schedule picture, both for the Cowboys and for the rest of the NFC East. For now though, it is what it is.

All of this data is summarized in the table below. For your convenience, the table is sortable and the NFC East teams are highlighted with colored rows. Click on any of the column sub-headers (W, L, %, PD) to sort the table in ascending or descending order.

2015 Strength Of Schedule by team (click column subheaders to sort)

Teams 2015 SOS Opponent records week 1-7
Opponent records week 8-17
W
L
% Point Diff. W L % Point Diff.
DAL 0.596 26 15 0.634 149 33 25 0.569 165
DET 0.557 26 19 0.578 111 28 24 0.538 6
WAS 0.557 25 20 0.556 83 29 23 0.558 55
SF 0.550 27 20 0.574 217 28 25 0.528 59
PHI 0.541 28 18 0.609 71 25 27 0.481 39
CHI 0.536 20 20 0.500 93 32 25 0.561 -36
NYG 0.536 21 26 0.447 -102 31 19 0.620 135
IND 0.531 21 25 0.457 -12 31 21 0.596 25
HOU 0.526 24 22 0.522 -43 27 24 0.529 106
BUF 0.515 25 20 0.556 60 25 27 0.481 43
PIT 0.515 21 26 0.447 13 30 22 0.577 85
KC 0.510 30 14 0.682 105 20 34 0.370 -158
OAK 0.505 19 20 0.487 -57 30 28 0.517 60
SEA 0.505 26 18 0.591 -33 23 30 0.434 -42
CLE 0.500 20 24 0.455 -16 29 25 0.537 143
TEN 0.495 19 21 0.475 -45 30 29 0.508 -57
BAL 0.490 28 18 0.609 99 21 33 0.389 -98
STL 0.490 23 18 0.561 157 26 33 0.441 -59
TB 0.490 17 23 0.425 -117 32 28 0.533 -39
CAR 0.485 15 26 0.366 -119 34 26 0.567 31
MIN 0.485 14 27 0.341 -217 34 24 0.586 100
NO 0.485 27 19 0.587 111 21 32 0.396 -183
SD 0.485 26 19 0.578 67 21 31 0.404 -152
DEN 0.480 13 27 0.325 -132 34 24 0.586 87
NE 0.475 18 22 0.450 -47 29 30 0.492 45
JAC 0.469 25 20 0.556 41 21 32 0.396 -61
NYJ 0.469 20 20 0.500 38 26 32 0.448 -61
ATL 0.459 18 29 0.383 -113 27 24 0.529 -116
ARI 0.455 16 31 0.340 -232 29 23 0.558 71
GB 0.454 14 26 0.350 -176 30 27 0.526 -20
CIN 0.431 14 27 0.341 -62 30 31 0.492 -16
MIA 0.430 15 25 0.375 -95 28 32 0.467 46