The idea of talking about NFL schedules for the upcoming season prior to the NFL Scouting Combine taking place is clearly somewhat crazy, but who wants to be sane these days anyway? For the San Diego Chargers, their 2013 slate of games could be the most optimistic thing that one can say about the team looking ahead to the season ahead at this point. Their opponents certainly set up to give the Bolts a great chance at bouncing back in the year ahead.
According to the numbers, the Chargers actually have the second easiest schedule in all of the league in 2013. Unfortunately the least difficult road belongs to AFC West divisional foes the Denver Broncos, but when there is only one winning record in the division, that tends to skew the percentages just a bit.
Obviously Denver doesn’t expect to slip much from their impressive 2012 regular season with Peyton Manning at the helm, but the other teams in the division have to be a little better. The Kansas City Chiefs hold the number one overall pick, but they had plenty of Pro Bowlers on their roster this past season. Expect their two-win total from this past year to improve regardless of if Matt Cassel is still under center.
For the Oakland Raiders, Carson Palmer’s days as a starter may be over. Terrelle Pryor got his shot at the end of the year to lead this club and didn’t look too bad. He may very well be the starter come week 1 and the Bolts really don’t like defending mobile quarterbacks. They too should be expecting a bit of an uptick in their win total.
The important thing to remember here is that strength of schedule numbers only take into account team’s wins and losses from the previous year. Upgrades to personnel, coaching staffs, or elsewhere are not factored into this equation. Clearly when a team plays in the worst division in football they are bound to have one of the easiest slates of games the following year. The Chargers have to hope that the biggest factor in their improvement is their upgraded coaching staff rather than an easier schedule.
With all of that being said, the Chargers’ opponents in 2013 have a 110-146 combined record for a .457 winning percentage. While that looks promising on paper, keep in mind that the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens had the fourth most difficult road according to these parameters at this point in time last offseason. While there are no guarantees that this perceived easier track will get the Bolts back in the postseason for the first time in four years, it can’t hurt.