DENVER (CBS4) – If the Broncos are going to chase another championship in 2017, they’ll face the toughest road in the NFL.
In addition to Denver at No. 1, the AFC West holds the next two spots in CBS Sports’ strength of schedule rankings. That’s due in part to the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders both went 12-4 in 2016 and every AFC West team faces all of their division foes twice.
The AFC West also plays the NFC East in 2017. That means the Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers will each have to play the 13-win Dallas Cowboys and 11-win New York Giants next season.
Facing the most difficult schedule rarely works out well. Of the teams playing the 10 most difficult schedules in 2016, a grand total of zero of those teams made the playoffs. Seven teams that played the 10 easiest schedules made the playoffs.
Check out the entire strength of schedule list below, featuring combined 2016 opponents and combined winning percentage:
1. Denver Broncos: 147-107-2, .578
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 147-108-1, .576
3. Los Angeles Chargers: 145-110-1, .568
4. Oakland Raiders: 144-111-1 .564
5. Buffalo Bills: 143-112-1, .561
6. Miami Dolphins: 140-116-0, .547
7. Washington Redskins: 138-116-2, .543
T-8. New York Giants: 135-117-4, .535
T-8. New York Jets: 137-119-0, .535
T-10. Dallas Cowboys: 134-118-4, .531
T-10. Philadelphia Eagles: 134-118-4, .531
12. New England Patriots: 135-121-0, .527
13. Atlanta Falcons: 133-122-1, .521
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 132-123-1, .518
15. New Orleans Saints: 130-125-1, .514
16. Carolina Panthers: 129-127, .504
17. Los Angeles Rams: 121-130-5, .482
18. Green Bay Packers: 122-132-2, .480
19. Chicago Bears: 122-133-1, .479
20. San Francisco 49ers: 119-132-5, .475
T-21. Detroit Lions: 119-135-2, .469
T-21. Cleveland Browns: 119-135-2, .469
23. Arizona Cardinals: 118-135-3, .467
24. Baltimore Ravens: 117-137-2, .461
T-25. Seattle Seahawks: 115-138-3, .455
T-25. Houston Texans: 115-138-3, .455
T-27. Minnesota Vikings: 115-139-2, .453
T-27. Pittsburgh Steelers: 115-139-2, .453
29. Cincinnati Bengals: 115-141-0, .449
T-30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 111-142-3, .439
T-30. Tennessee Titans: 111-142-3, .439
32. Indianapolis Colts: 107-146-3, .424
So how does the NFL schedule games?
Each team plays a home and away with its three division opponents.
There are four games against teams in another division within the same conference, on a three-year rotating cycle.
The league schedules four games from a division in the other conference, on a four-year rotating cycle.
There are two intraconference games based on the previous season’s standings. These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions that the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.
Here are the Broncos’ home and away games. The time and dates of each game will be released in the spring:
Home: Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Patriots, Jets, Bengals, Cowboys, New York Giants
Away: Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Bills, Dolphins, Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins