Panthers 2014 Strength of Schedule is Deceiving

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

For the first time in three seasons the Panthers have a strength of schedule ranking in the bottom half of the league. Unfortunately I think it doesn't mean the Panthers have an easy schedule.

I say this because the Panthers are playing a number of teams that had down years but could easily rebound in 2014. First there is the bottom half of the NFC South the Falcons and Bucs. Both went 4-12 but both could easily be playoff contenders in 2014.

Here's the rankings for the NFC South:

#11 Falcons .512

#19 Bucs .484

#22 Panthers .473

#23 Saints .469

Now consider these additional teams on the Panthers schedule that missed the playoffs with record at or around .500:

@ Packers (8-7-1)

@ Ravens (8-8)

Bears (8-8)

Steelers (8-8)

Lions (7-9)

That's five teams that I think could all play better than a .500 team. Finally look at the winning teams that remain beyond the two games with the Saints:

Bengals (11-5)

@ Eagles (10-6)

Seahawks (13-3)

So you can see having four games against 4-12 teams can knock you down the SoS rankings without really cutting you much of break in difficulty. Yet I have a new found confidence in these Panthers given they had one of the tougher schedules in 2013 yet finished 12-4. I don't think you can say the Panthers 2013 schedule ended up being tougher than advertised either. It was a tough road but the Panthers suddenly learned how to win the close games leaving me hopeful they can repeat it again in 2014.

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