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No such thing as an Easy Schedule/Game?

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by Phoenix-Talon, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. Phoenix-Talon

    Phoenix-Talon Eagles Fan Liaison

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    You've heard it before in past years too ...someone makes an assessment about a franchise that they have an easy schedule during the 1st or last segment of the official regular season.

    Listen, I don't believe in easy schedules/games. You've seen it, games that you were expected to win (a.k.a. "easy" games) you lose under the auspices of "up-sets" ...even to the point of shut outs, or spankings. Comeback victories, unexpected 50+ field goals, excessive penalties, overtime wins, and the most notorious variable of them all ...the injury. They all make games more difficult.

    But I'm not trying to be unreasonable, I'd like to hear what you have to say about what makes a schedule/game easy. What's your interpretation of an easy game (don't forget to qualify your argument)?
  2. AmishCowboy

    AmishCowboy if you ain't first, you're last

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    The Texans would be one.:laugh2:
  3. Phoenix-Talon

    Phoenix-Talon Eagles Fan Liaison

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    Reserve this date chuckles ...

    Sun 10/15HOUSTON (CBS)NoonCall 214-253-6060
  4. Aikmaniac

    Aikmaniac Well-Known Member

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    As I live in Tampa, I have the "privilege" of watching Bucs games every week. A completely valid argument for weak schedules helping out average to above-average teams is the 2005 Bucs.

    Look at their opening schedule from last season. They caught the Vikings in the opening game with Daunte Culpepper in his first game without Randy. We all know how Daunte performed last season before the injury (and how he continues to play this season).

    -The second game was against Buffalo who were throwing JP Losman to the wolves on the road. Buffalo went on to have a losing season.

    -The next two games were at Green Bay and then home against Detroit. Green Bay was horrible then and probably worse now. Detroit came close to defeating the Bucs at Raymond James but the Pollard touchdown catch was ruled incomplete from Harrington. We all know how both of these teams ended up last season.

    -A Testaverde-led Jets squad beat up on the Bucs in the Meadowlands to give the Bucs their first loss of the season. A quality team should have annihilated the Jets with Vinny at the helm (and many did as the season progressed).

    -And finally, the week before their bye, the Bucs faced the first above average team with the Dolphins in Tampa. Griese was injured in the game and Simms came in to start for the rest of the season.

    So, as you can see, the Bucs happened to catch all the teams over the first quarter or so of the season at exactly the right time.

    I guess you could apply the same theory to the 2003 Cowboys.
  5. DallasKen

    DallasKen New Member

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    Opening with the Texans makes an easy schedule.
  6. Ashwynn

    Ashwynn Well-Known Member

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    I dont know about no easy games. Put the 40whiners and packers on the boys schedule 8 times each. Hell, make em all away games too. I wager we caome out 14-2 at the worst.
  7. aikemirv

    aikemirv Well-Known Member

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    All I can say to this post is that the Eagles beat a cellar dweller at home.

    The Giants lost to a good team at home - a game they should have won.

    The Skins lost to a good team at home - A game they could have won.

    And the Cowboys lost to a very good team on the road. I won't mention the should of or could haves.

    So despite the 0-1 record for the last three - it looks like a tie to me.
  8. DipChit

    DipChit New Member

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    No reason to even guess.. it absolutely applied in '03. Not just for overall record but for the Defensive ranking as well.

    Too bad we didnt even have a halfway stout team. Coulda parlayed that good fortune into something better.
  9. vicjagger

    vicjagger Well-Known Member

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    Good point, but I'm pretty sure that game was in Houston.
  10. Phoenix-Talon

    Phoenix-Talon Eagles Fan Liaison

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    I'll give you credit for a well thought out post and research. But the concept remains unchanged. Teams have advantages and disadvantages. While some are administered, others are obtained along the way. There's no clear cut advantage/disadvantage in playing a team that may have been terrible one week, yet bounces back when they play your team.

    That's very close to superstition. That said, there's no sense in even showing up to play the previous year Superbowl Champs ...you might as well forfeit due to their advantage at being the defendsig champions.

    That's the relevance of watching films of your next opponents ...to determine their weaknesses, to observe how a secondary reacts to a run or blitz. It's all about giving it your best shot ...regardless of what that opponent team does.
  11. Hiero

    Hiero New Member

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    seattle had a very easy schedule last year. I think anytime your division is absolutely horrible that's a pretty good basis for an easy schedule.
  12. aikemirv

    aikemirv Well-Known Member

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    My bad - I don't know why I thought it was in Philly.
  13. DipChit

    DipChit New Member

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    I would hope you agree that sometimes there most certainly is clear cut advantages to playing a certain team at a certain time.

    For example... late in '03 the Skins and Giants had both basically packed it in by the time we played them for the 2nd time around. the Skins started Hasselbecks bro for what what prolly his first start ever and we promptly held him to a QB rating of 0. Then we played the Giants who gave the start to Jessie "pretty boy" Palmer... once again his first start if I remember correctly.

    I would imagine that if those were must win games for the sake of our Playoff run (which they were) they were alot more winnable than having to beat those 2 teams as they stood near the end of last year instead.
  14. percyhoward

    percyhoward Research Tool

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    Oh some games are definitely easier than others.

    Philly just beat a team that will probably go 0-4 against the NFC East this year.

    That example just came to mind for some reason.
  15. Phoenix-Talon

    Phoenix-Talon Eagles Fan Liaison

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    I'll concede that You make sense and I hear your position. Sure, drive and desire to win are ket. Who wants to win more, which team is hungrier, what are the stakes, is this a "must win" game, winner moves on - losers goes home ...high stakes come with high intensity.

    Climatic conditions ...believe it was the Falcons that were said to lose when they played under certain temperatures. North-Western/Eastern teams that practice in the snow may play better than South-Western/Eastern team that have mild tropic-like weather. Also believe something was said about Denver and Seattle play better in elevated regions of the Rockies than teams who haven't assimilated to thinner oxygen levels.

    Easy/difficult, advantage/disadvantage, superstition/basic football. None of that will stop the team that Is Best qualified, healthy and has the strongest determination to win ...sprinkle In a Little talent and you've got yoyr recipe to contend regardless of the odds.
  16. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    I'll post information from somebody who actually did some research, not some Eagles' homer pumping out his chest after a victory over the league's worst team:



    Coaches babble the cliché "play the hand you're dealt" almost as often as they give the "one game at a time" speech.

    It's the mission of coaches to make sure players focus on the upcoming game. Players can't get lost in the big picture. What coaches of teams playing easy schedules don't want is for their players to become overconfident and complacent. On the flip side, they don't want players nervous and apprehensive about tough schedules.

    Regardless of the cliché, one axiom is clear: Schedule means everything in the NFL. Former Chiefs coach @#%$ Vermeil was one of the few who realized that reality. Each year, he had statisticians compile detailed reports on schedules. His theory was simple. A team can win the Super Bowl going .500 against winning teams, the key is to not having to play a lot of winning teams.

    The easy schedule trend has been around for years, but it really became clear in the mid 1990s when the NFL adopted the salary cap, preventing coaches from stockpiling an all-star team of backups. Playing too many winning teams has a negative impact on more than just a team's record. Those games are physical, and injuries will take a toll on the health of the roster. Plus, the mental drain of going against good teams week after week wears out a club.

    Vermeil understood that a tough schedule can grind down a team and prevent it from making the playoffs. Teams have to play the hands they're dealt. But sometimes, they're dealt bad hands.

    Go back to the San Diego Chargers last season. Drew Brees got hot in 2004 and Marty Schottenheimer and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips put together one of the league's best defenses. The result: The Chargers went from 4-12 in 2003 to 12-4 and won the AFC West. But last season, they had the league's toughest schedule -- playing teams with a .559 winning percentage -- and dropped to 9-7. They played 11 games against teams that finished with winning records, going 5-6 in those games.

    They were dealt a bad hand.

    The Bengals and the Giants appear to have been dealt the bad hands this season. While you obviously can't say how difficult a team's schedule will actually end up being, it's pretty easy to see that the Bengals and Giants face a tough road, going up against teams with a combined 2005 record of 139-117 (.543 winning percentage).

    The Bengals went 11-5 last season against an easy schedule (opponents' combined .477 winning percentage). The Bengals went 3-4 against winning teams. By winning the AFC North, they have to face two other division winners -- the Patriots and the Colts -- along with eight games against two tough divisions: the AFC West and NFC North. Along with their two games against the Steelers and two games against the improved Ravens, the Bengals face playoff-caliber teams in 12 of 16 games.

    The Giants play 11 games against teams that were .500 or better in 2005, including an opening stretch that sees them play six of their first seven games against teams that are .500 or better. New York might find itself in a hole that's too big to dig out of.

    Since going to the four-team, eight-division format, the NFL has a rotating schedule that has division teams facing 12 common opponents. In figuring out seedings for the ESPN.com Power Rankings, I have the league broken into three sections. Nine teams in each conference are considered in my opinion to be playoff teams: four in the NFC East (Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins), three each in the NFC South (Panthers, Bucs, Falcons) and AFC North (Steelers, Bengals, Ravens), two in the AFC South (Colts, Jaguars), AFC East (Patriots, Dolphins) and AFC West (Broncos, Chargers) and one in the NFC West (Seahawks) and NFC North (Bears).

    The next group of four teams has a chance: the Chiefs, Vikings, Cardinals and Rams.

    That leaves a bottom 10 that should still be in the bottom 10 at the end of year. The Raiders and Texans might inch their way out of that group, but those 10 teams are facing another year of losing.

    If those forecasts come true, the biggest beneficiaries of easy schedules are the teams that play in the NFC West and NFC North. Because those two divisions play each other, they have a significant edge. It's the reason the Bears have the easiest schedule right now, facing teams with a 114-142 record (.445 percentage) last season. The Seahawks have the third-easiest schedule at 117-139 (.457). The winners of those divisions should be the top two seeds in the NFC.

    Here are a few observations from this season's schedule:

    1. The Giants are the Chargers of 2006. Their schedule is impossible. In his first full season as the starting quarterback, Eli Manning was very good, managing an offense that scored 26 points a game. But this year will be tough. From the start of the season to Nov. 20, the only easy defense he faces -- if you want to call it easy -- is the Texans' on Nov. 5. Other than that, the Giants face six top-11 defenses, and two other good defenses (Atlanta and Philadelphia) that have the talent to be in the top 10.

    2. Coming off his knee surgery, Carson Palmer will have to fight hard for the Bengals not to get off to a 1-3 start against the Chiefs, Browns, Steelers and Patriots. Then the Bengals take a bye and start on a five-game stretch against three tough NFC South teams (the Bucs, Panthers and Falcons) followed by the Ravens and Chargers.

    3. The winner of the NFC East is probably doomed to a third or fourth seed at best. The East has four teams that are legitimate playoff teams. The Giants, Redskins and Eagles have three of the 12 toughest schedules in the league. Since 1997, no team has won more than 11 games against opponents with a winning percentage of .518 or better. The Cowboys have a slightly easier schedule than the rest of the division because of games against the Cardinals and Lions.

    4. How important is an easy schedule? Only two teams -- the Patriots (.508 opposing winning percentage) and Redskins (.516) -- made the playoffs last year facing opponents with a combined winning record. Since 1997, the only team facing a winning schedule that had a better seed than fourth was the 2002 Raiders team that lost to the Bucs in the Super Bowl.

    5. After being a big schedule loser last year, the Chargers could be the big winner this year. The opposition's 2005 winning percentage drops from .559 to .488. That compares well to their biggest rivals in the AFC West, the Broncos (.512) and the Chiefs (.527). The Chargers get the break of playing the Titans and Bills while the Broncos play the Colts and Patriots and the Chiefs play the Jaguars and Dolphins.

    6. The key to any schedule is having a manageable division. The Eagles benefited for years from a weak NFC East. They went to four consecutive NFC title games and five trips to the playoffs from 2000 to 2004 with the benefit of easy schedules. The Bears and Seahawks will continue to have a huge edge until the other teams in their divisions catch up to them.

    7. Of the four teams slightly behind the nine elite teams in each conference, the Cardinals, Rams and Vikings have the best chance to make a run because of their schedules. The Chiefs face a difficult task, playing 10 games against winning teams.

    8. It's still fascinating how some division races are set via the schedule. The Colts exhaust their three AFC South home games by Oct. 8. If they could beat the Giants in the opening week and win against the Texans, Jaguars and Titans to get off to a 5-0 start, they could go into the Oct. 15 bye week with a two- or three-game lead over the Jaguars. The Jaguars open against Dallas, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and the Redskins. Even if they go 2-2, they could be two games behind the Colts after the first month.


    Those are the facts, not some wishful thinking that's in full display here.

    The bottom line is the Eagles beat one of the league's worst teams under a new head coach. A game they absolutely should have won. If they didn't there would have been (even more) rioting in the streets of Philly.

    Everyone knew their ealry schedule was easy outside of game against the Giants and Dallas.

    If and when they win either or both of them, then talk.
  17. DipChit

    DipChit New Member

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    Now mind you this doesnt have a lot to do with you having the "luxury" of playing the Texans out of the chute other than winning your first game.. because thats not a very good team and everyone in our division should beat them when the time comes anyway.

    But what if we're talking about Indy instead? Obviously it would be easier to beat them if Sorgi were starting instead of Manning due to injury or because it was the end of the regular season and they were resting guys.

    Anyway.
  18. AmishCowboy

    AmishCowboy if you ain't first, you're last

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    :hammer: :fact: :eaghomer:
  19. peplaw06

    peplaw06 That Guy

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    Great post Stash, but in case PT won't read all that, I'll make another point here.

    PT if your team is "best qualified" and has more talent than most teams they face on their schedule, wouldn't that be an advantage?? Determination and health are obvious factors, but if you're more talented than the other teams, those factors won't mean a whole lot.

    I'd guess determination will lead to 1-2 wins when you shouldn't have won... max. Health is all relative. It's impossible to quantify at this point. Unless a team has NO depth, injury concerns probably account for a maximum of 1-2 losses.
  20. MossTDMossTD

    MossTDMossTD New Member

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    How did I know an Eagles fan posted this right after I read the title.
    Go put your homer glasses on teh shelf two other NFC East teams will see you at 1-1 next week.

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