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2017 NFL Strength Of Schedule For All 32 NFL Teams

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With the close of the regular season, the NFL's scheduling formula has already determined which teams will face each other, just not when and in what sequence. And with that info, we can take a quick look at how the 2016 Strength Of Schedule plays out for the Cowboys and every other NFL team.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Looking ahead to next year's schedule just two days after the end of the regular season is always a tricky proposition. The Dallas Cowboys are a good example for the vagaries of Strength of Schedule (SOS) calculations yo-yoing from 12-4 in 2014 to 4-12 in 2015, and back up to 13-3 in 2016.

This inherent volatility in the league makes it almost impossible to figure out in advance which teams will have a soft schedule and which teams will have a tough schedule in 2017. On paper, the NFL scheduling formula actually delivers a fairly balanced schedule year after year. Here's how the highs and lows in terms of SOS compare over the last ten years:

SOS by Year
Year 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
High .539 .598 .594 .547 .555 .547 .543 .578 .579 .555 .578
Low
.461 .387 .414 .445 .441 .453 .430 .430 .406 .457 .424
Cowboys .496 .523 .516 .543 .504 .504 .475 .488 .467 .465 .531

Overall SOS: The Cowboys' 2017 opponents finished the 2016 season with a combined 134-118-4 record for a .531 winning percentage (if we count each tie as half a win), one of the toughest schedules they've faced over the last decade. Overall, that .531 SOS is the 10th "toughest" schedule.

Part of that tough schedule is driven by the six divisional games the Cowboys will play against the 11-5 Giants, the 8-7-1 Redskins, and the 7-9 Eagles. Part of it is also driven by the Cowboys having to play the AFC West, which combined for 38 wins in 2016, one less than the league-leading NFC East. And having to play a first-place schedule, which entails games against the 11-5 Falcons and 10-6 Packers, does the rest.

The four AFC West teams have the toughest 2017 schedules, led by the Broncos with .578. The AFC West has the dubious honor of playing the NFC East, the best division in football in 2016, and the AFC East, the third-best division in football with 36 wins in 2016.

The Colts have the softest schedule in the league with .424, first because they play in the decrepit AFC South, and second because they have the equally decrepit NFC West on their schedule. But there are more ways to look at SOS than just winning percentage.

Winning opponents: Another way to understand just how tough a schedule a team may be facing is to look at the number of with a winning record (teams with nine or more wins in the 2016 regular season). Two teams (Chargers, Chiefs) play 10 such games, nine teams only play six such games next season. All four NFC East teams face exactly eight such opponents each.

Point differential: Yet another way to look at the quality of your opponent is through point differential. The Raiders play 16 games in 2017 against opponents that had a positive combined point differential in 2016 of +478 points. Bringing up the rear are the Jaguars, whose 2017 opponents combined for a -508 point differential in 2016. The Cowboys are 9th on this list with a combined opponent score of +237.

Here is the full list SOS data for all NFL teams. For your convenience, the table is sortable (just click on the blue column headers).

2017 Strength Of Schedule By Team
Team Opp W/L Opp Win % 9+ win opponents Point Differential
DEN 147-107-2 0.578 8 472
KC 147-108-1 0.576 10 382
LAC
145-110-1 0.568 10 271
OAK 144-111-1 0.564 9 478
BUF 143-112-1 0.561 9 342
MIA 140-116-0 0.547 8 362
WAS 138-116-2 0.543 8 298
NYJ 137-119-0 0.535 9 353
NYG 135-117-4 0.535 8 210
DAL 134-118-4 0.531 8 237
PHI 134-118-4 0.531 8 64
NE 135-121-0 0.527 9 48
ATL 133-122-1 0.521 8 104
TB 132-123-1 0.518 7 307
NO 130-125-1 0.510 8 8
CAR 129-127-0 0.504 8 126
LAR
121-130-5 0.482 10 180
GB 122-132-2 0.480 7 -30
CHI 122-133-1 0.479 7 -14
SF 119-132-5 0.475 6 -176
CLE 119-135-2 0.469 6 -116
DET 119-135-2 0.469 6 -13
ARI 118-135-3 0.494 8 -504
BAL 117-137-2 0.461 8 -375
HOU 115-138-3 0.455 6 -158
SEA 115-138-3 0.455 6 -311
PIT 115-139-2 0.453 6 -220
MIN 115-139-2 0.453 7 -316
CIN 115-141-0 0.449 7 -308
TEN 111-142-3 0.439 6 -517
JAC 111-142-3 0.439 6 -508
IND 107-146-3 0.424 7 -506

Like every year, the Cowboys will play three home games and three away games against the NFC East in 2017. The NFC division on the schedule for 2017 is the NFC West; the AFC division is the AFC West. Finally, they'll play the first-placed teams from the NFC South and NFC North.

The home and away matchups have also already been determined. Per the NFL Record & Fact Book these are:

Division Home
Away
NFC East Eagles
Eagles
Giants
Giants
Redskins Redskins
NFC West Seahawks Cardinals
Rams 49ers
AFC West Chiefs Raiders
Chargers Broncos
NFC 1st place teams
Packers Falcons

The incredible 2016 regular season is behind us, and while we'll now focus our attention on the playoffs, a little peek at the 2017 schedule won't hurt anybody.

What are your thoughts on the 2017 schedule?