NFL Schedule Release: Winners and Losers
Since the World Shut Off on March 12, the question I’ve gotten more than any other one hasn’t been about testing or quarantine or Netflix. It has been this: “Do you think there will be football in the fall?”
My answer as always been the same: we absolutely will have NFL football this fall.
That isn’t the same type of magical thinking that has gripped certain segments of our country. And it isn’t some wistful and naïve ‘I hope that things can get back to normal’ approach to life. No. This unshakeable belief comes from having a relatively firm grasp on The Way Things Are. So, despite all of the uncertainty surrounding, well, pretty much everything in our country right now, the one thing that I have been absolutely, positively sure of is that we will have NFL football this fall. I put the odds at roughly 100 percent.
(College football is a much different, more complicated story. I’ll discuss that at a later date.)
The main reason for my unwavering belief is simple: there is too much money at stake. If we’ve proven anything over the last 200+ years in this country, it is that certain levels of death and ruin are not just acceptable but encouraged when there are substantial amounts of money at stake. I have long said that the NFL football is one of the pillars of our U.S. economy. And with literally hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, there will definitely be football this fall.
We still have three months between now and mid-August, which would be a reasonable time to start a truncated training camp. That works in our favor. I have no faith that our national response to the pandemic will somehow improve toward the level of basic competence between now and then. But one of the most valuable weapons we have right now is time.
The NFL owners are 32 of the most depraved sociopaths and scumbags on the planet. They don’t care about anything but furthering their own interests. They are concerned about public health only to the extent of how it impacts their bottom lines. And every decision they make is based solely on making more money for themselves and their franchises; everything else is secondary. Give them months to hatch a plan, and I am certain they will find a way.
I’m not here to opine about whether or not the return of professional football this fall is a good or a bad thing. I honestly don’t care if it is right or wrong. I am obviously rooting for success in the fight against the global pandemic with the NFL’s return as a reward for a job well done. But I’m also realistic enough to know that The World doesn’t always work that way. And regardless of collective success or failure over the next several months, I know that the self-interest of oligarchs generally wins out over any sort of reason or logic.
Football this fall is going to happen. Prepare yourselves accordingly.
Last week’s release of the NFL schedule is the latest box to be checked on the offseason checklist. Some people view the schedule release as a bit of a formality, a logistical exercise. But for me, the NFL schedule release is actually one of the most meaningful and impactful events of the offseason. It’s a road map for the upcoming season and can be one of the best predictors of future success or failure.
Granted, it is not an exact science. The teams are fluid. And what may look like a brutal schedule to someone in May could look entirely different come November. However, there are certain traits and tips in the schedule that savvy football bettors can pick up on and use to help their NFL handicapping in the fall.
This year’s schedule is, in practical terms, no different from any other seasons. It has its usual quirks and contours. There are some teams that were fortunate and prime beneficiaries from the announced slate, while others end up with the short end of the stick. Here is a look at the winners and losers from the 2020 NFL schedule:
NFL TEAM SCHEDULE BIGGEST WINNERS
Cleveland Browns – The Browns spent last offseason basking in the glow of elevated expectations. They enter 2020 flying a bit under the radar. But a favorable schedule could make a massive difference for this group. Their most difficult portion may be the opening two games: at Baltimore on Sunday and then at home against Cincinnati on Thursday. After that the Browns are in a good spot. They crossover with the worst division in the NFC (East) and they get the two top teams from the AFC South (Colts and Texans) at home. Cleveland also has swing games against the Raiders and Jets. Throw in the fact that they get the Bengals twice, and I can see this team finishing over .500.
Indianapolis Colts – I think the Colts have the easiest schedule in the NFL this year. They have the fourth-easiest schedule in terms of opponents expected win total. Beyond that, the Colts get their most difficult non-divisional opponents – Vikings Ravens, and Packers – at home. A flimsy division and just one road game against a team that was over .500 last year means that the Colts should be in the driver’s seat in the AFC South this year.
Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars stink. They aren’t going to be very good this year, but it won’t be because of their schedule. Games against the Bengals, Dolphins and Lions (the latter two of which are at home) are winnable. And the fact that the NFL decided not to play any games in Europe this year means Jacksonville gets to play eight home games for the first time in 2012.
Chicago Bears – Things actually broke in a favorable way for the Bears in 2020. They start the season against three non-playoff teams (Lions, Giants, Falcons) and then have back-to-back home games against the Colts and Bucs. They draw the top teams from their crossover divisions (AFC and NFC South) all in Chicago, which is a big advantage. Swing games against bad teams like the Giants and Panthers also give them an edge over division rivals. And from Oct. 27 to Dec. 19, they play only two road games.
Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens have the easiest schedule in the league according to 2019 opponents winning percentage. They also have the 10th-easiest schedule based on their opponents’ expected win totals for 2020. And the coup de grace: Baltimore only has to travel a total of 6,310 miles for the entire season, the fewest by any team in the league over the last four seasons.
NFL TEAM SCHEDULE BIGGEST LOSERS
Las Vegas Raiders – Travel is the major issue for the Raiders. Because they crossover with the AFC East and NFC South, that means a load of East Coast games and 10 a.m. PST kickoffs. It starts in Week 1 with an early start in Carolina. Then in Week 3, they have to fly to Foxboro on a short week after an emotional Monday Night Football home opener. Four of their first seven games are going to kickoff at 10 a.m. PST, and then in Weeks 12-13 they have back-to-back East Coast games in Atlanta and New York. This all comes after the Raiders had to travel over 32,000 total miles in the 2019 schedule.
Tampa Bay Bucs – The Bucs are victims of their own hype. The excitement surrounding Tom Brady’s decision to sign in Tampa has put the Bucs at the top of every network’s wish list. The result is Tampa Bay playing five primetime games. They have three short weeks due to Monday or Thursday night games. And Tampa Bay plays a league-high six games against teams that are coming off more rest then the Bucs. Mix in the fact that they play in a tough division, and that they crossover with two of the league’s deepest divisions (NFC North, AFC West), and the Bucs have one of the most difficult schedules in football.
Houston Texans – The Texans will be featured in the Thursday night season opener, traveling to Kansas City to take on the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. They get to follow that up with a home opener against the Baltimore Ravens. And things don’t get much easier from there. Besides two games against Jacksonville and a bye week, there is absolutely nothing easy in their first 10 weeks. Their most winnable games are on the road, including a stretch of three road games in four weeks at Jacksonville, at Cleveland, versus New England and at Detroit. Houston has already been having a pretty bad offseason. The schedule has made a return trip to the postseason almost impossible.
New York Giants – The Giants are not a good football team, and they are undergoing their third coaching change in five years. The new staff – which hasn’t been able to work with the team due to the pandemic – is going to be tested early. They play three road games in four weeks between Weeks 2-6, and four of their first five opponents (Steelers, Bears, 49ers, Cowboys) finished in the Top 10 in defense last year. From Oct. 19 to Dec. 12 (seven weeks), they play just two home games. Mix in December trips to Seattle and Baltimore, and the Giants’ prospects for a quick turnaround don’t look good.
New England Patriots – The Patriots have the most difficult strength of schedule in the NFL based on the 2019 winning percentage of their opponents. Making matters worse, the Patriots have a stretch from Halloween to Christmas in which they play just two of eight games at home. These aren’t easy road trips, either; the Patriots have three games on the West Coast, and they have to play three games (Week 10, Week 14 and Week 17) on short weeks. Add in the fact that five of the Pats’ opponents will be playing with more rest than New England, and the Brady-less Pats have their work cut out for them.
Robert Ferringo has been the top football handicapper in the country the past 10 years, earning nearly $40,000 in total football profit (average profit: +$4,000). He has also posted 8 of 10 winning seasons (including four straight winning years) and produced an amazing 54 of 82 winning football months over the past 13 years. Robert has nine of 11 winning NFL preseasons and he is at nearly 60 percent winners over his last 1,000 totals picks. Also, Robert's proprietary KING College Football Betting System has posted three of five winning seasons. Robert is looking for a fifth straight winning football campaign and wants more profit this fall.
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