2015 has officially ended for our division, time to look at next year’s opponents and the strength of the schedules, based on last season results. As well should know by now, this is very preliminary, and even week one of the regular season will not give us an answer on how true this all is. Teams change year too year, some that were not good year before suddenly are, and vice versa.
I took all the opponents and added two columns. One with year totals for each, and one that shows that opponents record away or home, depending on where they fall.
Just like the 3rd and 4th place finish, the difference is two games, one at home, one away. The Jets play the Colts and the Patriots host the Texans. Away, the Jets travel to Kansas City, while the Patriots visit Denver.
Overall, the schedule differs by two games for all four teams. As you can see below (picture) the actual comparisons from top to bottom, the difference is not earth shattering.
If we look at the overall records, The Patriots and the Dolphins have the easiest path, at 51.6% (Opponents Win%), followed by the Bills at 52%, the Jets with the toughest at 52.3%. We are talking very small differences.
When I remove the Divisional games from the equation, then you can see how the league tries to be fair in order of finish. The fourth place Dolphins at 45% have the easiest path, followed by third place Bills at 48.1%, second place Jets at 51.3% and first place Patriots at 52.5%
Obviously the moral of this story is rather simple, win in your division and good things may happen. The Dolphins could have finished with a .500 record, had they split with everyone. The Bills benefitted finishing at .500 by winning 4 games. The Patriots have feasted on our teams yearly, and that has always placed them atop the Conference standings; this year losses to the Jets and Dolphins forced them to go and play in Denver. The Jets with a split with the Bills would have made the playoffs at 11-5.
We can complain all we want about our opponents outside the division, ultimately, the teams that take care of business at home end up in the playoffs, or very close to it.