Despite a 7-9 record, the Carolina Panthers will have the hardest schedule in 2013 based on the 2012 season. That’s likely due to playing the Atlanta Falcons twice and the New England Patriots in the same year. This will be an excellent test for Cam Newton to say the least, however he should rise to the occasion.
The Panthers opposing team’s record is a combined 138-116-2 which is a strength of schedule of .545. In a sharp contrast, the Denver Broncos have the easiest rank 110-146-0 or a strength of schedule of .430. The AFC East will give the Panthers fits especially if the climate isn’t exactly friendly in some parts of the northeast.
In the long run this could help them if the Panthers if they make a playoff surge next season, as it could be weighed into tie breaking procedures. It also has draft implications as well if they don’t make the playoffs since strength of schedule is considered in the event that teams end up with the same record which often happens when there is a log jam of teams in the bottom tier of the league.
That being said, if a team plays against tougher competition in the regular season, it does help them come playoff time as they are battle tested and become much more confident as they have beat elite level competition already.