Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

7DnBrnc53
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

Post by 7DnBrnc53 »

CSKreager wrote:
Sonny9 wrote:1991 Redskins. 7 games against teams with 10 or more wins
9 of their 14 wins were against teams that didn’t make the playoffs
They also beat one-hit wonders Atlanta and Detroit in the playoffs. This team gets way, way more credit than they deserve.
Mark
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

Post by Mark »

I would think most teams have had a majority of their wins vs. non=playoff teams so "9 out of 14 wins were against non-PO teams" doesn't sound bad to me. Looking at Pro Football reference the 1991 Redskins strength of schedule was +.31. Looking through the seasons that appears higher than most SB champions though interestingly more recent champions seem to have higher SOS than earlier ones. I wasn't able to find any ranking of SOS throughout history but some teams that stood out to me: 1979 Steelers +2.29; 1998 Broncos -3.13; 1970 Colts -5.81 [maybe the weakest?] 1984 49ers -2.75; 1985 Bears -.19; 1986 Giants +.61.
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Bryan
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

Post by Bryan »

Mark wrote:I would think most teams have had a majority of their wins vs. non=playoff teams so "9 out of 14 wins were against non-PO teams" doesn't sound bad to me. Looking at Pro Football reference the 1991 Redskins strength of schedule was +.31. Looking through the seasons that appears higher than most SB champions though interestingly more recent champions seem to have higher SOS than earlier ones. I wasn't able to find any ranking of SOS throughout history but some teams that stood out to me: 1979 Steelers +2.29; 1998 Broncos -3.13; 1970 Colts -5.81 [maybe the weakest?] 1984 49ers -2.75; 1985 Bears -.19; 1986 Giants +.61.
The 79 Steelers are pretty remarkable....they had a tough schedule, were getting old and injured, had always played extra games due to previous postseasons and still finished strong in 79.

Of the 10 easiest schedules in history, 3 of those teams won titles (all mentioned in this thread)...70 Colts, 72 Fins, 99 Rams.

The teams with the hardest schedules in history is kind of random....1973 Niners, 1951 Cardinals, 1970 Packers. But....trivia!

The team with the hardest schedule in history actually played the team with the easiest schedule in history. The result was a 42-10 game. Can you guess which team won (easy schedule team or hard schedule team)? Can you name the actual teams?
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74_75_78_79_
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

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Bryan wrote: Thu Jul 13, 2023 3:25 pm
Mark wrote:I would think most teams have had a majority of their wins vs. non=playoff teams so "9 out of 14 wins were against non-PO teams" doesn't sound bad to me. Looking at Pro Football reference the 1991 Redskins strength of schedule was +.31. Looking through the seasons that appears higher than most SB champions though interestingly more recent champions seem to have higher SOS than earlier ones. I wasn't able to find any ranking of SOS throughout history but some teams that stood out to me: 1979 Steelers +2.29; 1998 Broncos -3.13; 1970 Colts -5.81 [maybe the weakest?] 1984 49ers -2.75; 1985 Bears -.19; 1986 Giants +.61.
The 79 Steelers are pretty remarkable....they had a tough schedule, were getting old and injured, had always played extra games due to previous postseasons and still finished strong in 79.

Of the 10 easiest schedules in history, 3 of those teams won titles (all mentioned in this thread)...70 Colts, 72 Fins, 99 Rams.

The teams with the hardest schedules in history is kind of random....1973 Niners, 1951 Cardinals, 1970 Packers. But....trivia!

The team with the hardest schedule in history actually played the team with the easiest schedule in history. The result was a 42-10 game. Can you guess which team won (easy schedule team or hard schedule team)? Can you name the actual teams?
Vikings winning at Cleveland in Wk#2, 1975 - Min with the easiest schedule, Browns with the hardest?

When looking at the '75 Vikings page on wiki, it says that according to Pro Football Reference, the '99 Rams had the weaker schedule. That could be an inaccuracy. Either way, the easy schedule is an example as to why IMHO, all due respect to Vking-fans who feel the contrary, they are not at all the best Viking squad in the Bud Grant Era ('69 #1, '73 #2 IMO). If they avert the 'Hail Mary', they likely-enough beat Rams due to they normally beating them but I just don't see at all Minny playing any better vs Pittsburgh than they did the year before (Steelers even better than the year before to say the least). In fact, I think they do even worse; and I'm not just saying that because.

Browns? After getting so beat up with that '75 schedule, and the following year's schedule practically being the opposite, quite understandable the 3-11 to 9-5 turnaround. As already brought up on this thread, it wouldn't be the first time a Forrest Gregg team got baptized-under-fire/toughened-up with a brutal schedule.
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Bryan
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

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74_75_78_79_ wrote: Thu Feb 22, 2024 12:11 pm Vikings winning at Cleveland in Wk#2, 1975 - Min with the easiest schedule, Browns with the hardest?
Yes, that is the game I was referencing.
SeahawkFever
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

Post by SeahawkFever »

7DnBrnc53 wrote: Tue Jul 11, 2023 11:49 pm
CSKreager wrote:
Sonny9 wrote:1991 Redskins. 7 games against teams with 10 or more wins
9 of their 14 wins were against teams that didn’t make the playoffs
They also beat one-hit wonders Atlanta and Detroit in the playoffs. This team gets way, way more credit than they deserve.
Ah Yes, the 91 Skins. One of the more interesting cases out there in my opinion.

On the downside of things, they were in the perfect spot in history to accomplish everything they did. Atlanta and Detroit who they played on the NFC side of the playoffs being labeled one hit wonders is rather fair (though Detroit would make the playoffs a few more times in the 90's, they wouldn't win another playoff game that decade).

Also, Dallas, San Francisco and New York were in transition simultaneously. Specifically, the Cowboys were pretty darn good, but hadn't drafted a few players from their Super Bowl teams (in the secondary in particular), San Fran had just handed Steve Young the keys to the car, and started Steve Bono for a few games. They played a good 10-6 season (one statistical analysis I did found them to be the second best team that regular season), but missed the playoffs for the only time from 1983-1998.

The Giants had an 8-8 record the year after winning the Super Bowl. They had lost Bill Parcells to retirement, and Bill Belichick was hired by Cleveland, and they were coached by Ray Handley. Even with Parcells and Belichick, I don't think they are repeating as champions, but that was an average team at the end of the day.

Also, if you are someone who is a fan of teams who were dynasties, or who favors teams with a lot of Hall of Fame players, then the 91 Skins probably won't occur to you either. In 1990 and 1992, they had many of the same players, and put together solid seasons that ended in the divisional round at the hands of the 49ers both times. They had only three Hall of Fame players as of the day of this writing (Darrell Green, Art Monk, and Russ Grimm; the latter of whom wasn't even starting anymore). If you want to include non players, that team was coached by Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard was the GM I believe, and both are in Canton.

Some also may mark them down for having Mark Rypien at quarterback who is one of the least accomplished Super Bowl winning quarterbacks career wise (though he arguably played well in 1991 itself).

So this was a team in a great situation, and who didn't have the most talent in the world, and didn't repeat. I could see why some would be lower on the 91 Skins because of that.

But on the upside of things, while the 91 Skins were handed a tremendous opportunity, they also parlayed that situation into a lot.

That Skins team went 14-2, with the losses by a combined five points. They had the top offense by points, and the second best defense by points.

In addition to a stellar point differential of +261 in the regular season (the best that year by a margin of 107), they also had the best differentials of yards (+1,448), first downs (+60), turnovers (+18), passer rating (+39.1), sacks (+41), adjusted net yards per attempt (+5.03), and third down conversion rate (+16.5%).

As far as I can tell, they are the only team in NFL history to officially lead the league in every differential I just listed in a season.

These Skins also had nine players named first or second team all pro by the Associated Press in the same season.
Jim Lachey at left tackle and Darrell Green at cornerback were the only first team all pro selections, but there were seven players that the AP named second team all pro:
Their kicker Chip Lohmiller, Mark Rypien at quarterback, Wilber Marshall at linebacker, Gary Clark at wide receiver, Earnest Byner at running back, Charles Mann at defensive end, and their return man Brian Mitchell.

If they are ranking top two by points on both sides of the ball, and had multiple all pros on both sides of the ball (or all three if you want to count special teams), then they must've been a very well rounded team.

The 2007 Patriots, 1998 Vikings, and 2012 49ers are the only other three teams since the merger (when all pro selections covered both conferences) to have nine players who were named first or second team all pro in a season. Say what you want about who did and didn't deserve that accolade, but if you are one of only four teams since the merger to do something positive like that like that, then it's something going for you.

Their schedule in the regular season was of opponents whose collective winning percentage was .5041 which is 12th among Super Bowl champions through 2023. Though as pointed out earlier, that did include a couple teams that narrowly missed the playoffs, and if I averaged the statistics of their opponents (which I did do an analysis of on my own time), it'd be well below average; though still probably better than 15 champions.

Also, while the 91 Skins had a relatively easy set of playoff opponents (as stated earlier they faced the Falcons and Lions, and a pretty good Bills team but arguably the worst of their four Super Bowl teams), they also played quite well in their playoff games.

In three playoff games, the 91 Skins put up a point differential of +61, had 14 takeaways to only two turnovers, had 14 sacks produced to none allowed, and never outright trailed.

The 91 Skins are the last team to my knowledge to go through an entire NFL postseason without ever trailing.

All told, a lot of analyses have found Washington in 1991 to have played the best regular season statistically of any team that played at least 16 games, and followed it up with a Super Bowl title. The now defunct Football Outsiders' DVOA stat has also found their team to have played the best season since 1981 after factoring in the playoff games.

Don't get me wrong, if you think the 91 Skins' season wasn't as impressive or the team wasn't one of the most talented ever, because of the things I typed earlier, I could totally see it. But if you think they played one of the best seasons ever because of the things I typed later and how they executed, I could totally see that line of logic too.

As for the hardest schedule ever, they aren't one of the hardest or easiest I'd say. The opposing record is above average for a Super Bowl champion, but a statistical analysis might find their schedule to be easier by a similar margin.

As for the statistical analysis I ran that produced the opposing record, (and a few other things I've thought of), I can share it in another post if you'd like. I'll also say that there are definitely teams with higher opposing win percentages and lower win percentages than any Super Bowl champion.

What do you think?
Last edited by SeahawkFever on Fri Feb 23, 2024 5:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Bryan
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

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SeahawkFever wrote: Fri Feb 23, 2024 5:49 am That Skins team went 14-2, with the losses by a combined five points. They had the top offense by points, and the second best defense by points.

In addition to a stellar point differential of +261 in the regular season (the best that year by a margin of 107), they also had the best differentials of yards (+1,448), first downs (+60), turnovers (+18), passer rating (+39.1), sacks (+41), adjusted net yards per attempt (+5.03), and third down conversion rate (+16.5%).

As far as I can tell, they are the only team in NFL history to officially lead the league in every differential I just listed in a season.

In three playoff games, the 91 Skins put up a point differential of +61, had 14 takeaways to only two turnovers, had 14 sacks produced to none allowed, and never outright trailed.
I think the sack differential is the most impressive thing about the 91 Skins. They didn't really have a monster pass rusher, and Mark Rypien was their QB. I remember Rypien getting sacked and fumbling quite a bit early in his career.
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

Post by Saban1 »

In 1970, the AFL and NFL merged and became the NFL with the AFC and NFC having Inter-Conference games and the scheduling was much different than usual. Unlike the previous 3 years, the teams in the same division would play different teams outside of their division. For instance, in the NFC Eastern Division, the New York Giants only played 1 winning team outside of the NFC Eastern Division (Rams) and not any teams that made the playoffs. The Washington Redskins played 5 playoff teams in 1970 (49ers, Lions, Vikings, Raiders. and Bengals).

The Giants nearly won the Eastern Division as a result of this with a 9 and 5 record after their best since 1963 being 7 and 7. A couple of more breaks were that a game with the Jets had the Jets backfield (Namath, Snell, Boozer) wiped out with injuries. So, the Jets, Bills, and Patriots had three of the worst records in the AFC, and the Giants played all 3 of them as their AFC scheduled teams, and of course, the Giants won all 3 games of those games.

Another big break was the death of Vince Lombardi during the 1970 training camp. The Giants won both games with Washington with big 4th quarter comebacks. Would that have happened if Lombardi was still alive and healthy? I really don't think so. So, the Giants in 1970 played only one winning team out of 6 outside of their division and no playoff teams. They should have won their division.

The ultimate team that prospered from this was Dallas, who finally went to the Super Bowl that year. Dallas also got an easy schedule outside of their division that year, and with the Vikings getting upset in the first round of the playoffs, the Cowboys got to play first time playoff teams, Detroit and the 49ers, to get to the Super Bowl.
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74_75_78_79_
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

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Saban1 wrote: Sun Feb 25, 2024 4:48 pm In 1970, the AFL and NFL merged and became the NFL with the AFC and NFC having Inter-Conference games and the scheduling was much different than usual. Unlike the previous 3 years, the teams in the same division would play different teams outside of their division. For instance, in the NFC Eastern Division, the New York Giants only played 1 winning team outside of the NFC Eastern Division (Rams) and not any teams that made the playoffs. The Washington Redskins played 5 playoff teams in 1970 (49ers, Lions, Vikings, Raiders. and Bengals).

The Giants nearly won the Eastern Division as a result of this with a 9 and 5 record after their best since 1963 being 7 and 7. A couple of more breaks were that a game with the Jets had the Jets backfield (Namath, Snell, Boozer) wiped out with injuries. So, the Jets, Bills, and Patriots had three of the worst records in the AFC, and the Giants played all 3 of them as their AFC scheduled teams, and of course, the Giants won all 3 games of those games.

Another big break was the death of Vince Lombardi during the 1970 training camp. The Giants won both games with Washington with big 4th quarter comebacks. Would that have happened if Lombardi was still alive and healthy? I really don't think so. So, the Giants in 1970 played only one winning team out of 6 outside of their division and no playoff teams. They should have won their division.

The ultimate team that prospered from this was Dallas, who finally went to the Super Bowl that year. Dallas also got an easy schedule outside of their division that year, and with the Vikings getting upset in the first round of the playoffs, the Cowboys got to play first time playoff teams, Detroit and the 49ers, to get to the Super Bowl.
For what it's worth, the G-men swept the Cardinals. Yes, the second win was late in the season when StL was already on their slide. But the first of those wins was when Cards were in midst of that 8-2-1 start, and G-men beat them convincingly, 35-17. They also, at least, split with Dallas.

But a strange team they were. Yes, like you said Saban they took advantage of Jets/BIlls/Pats being on their schedule, but they did allow the Saints to beat them early; and later on they allowed Philly to beat them on MNF - Dandy Don and Keith Jackson, for some reason, announcing the 2nd half by themselves, lol. They had their chance in the finale, but totally laid an egg; and to a team who also didn't make the playoffs (Rams as mentioned)! So they didn't really deserve it end-of-day.

Two years later, despite no more Fran, Webster FWIW brought the G-men to another winning finish at 8-6. However, and not just because of the lesser record, I think they were weaker than two years prior. I'd say that the 1970 Giants were also better than the 1981 team that made the playoffs.

Both being just above mediocre, what '72 and '81 also have in common was that they split with Dallas in the finale due to the Cowboys already having their playoff positioning set. The difference was that the latter had the benefit of an extra playoff spot per conference thus they took that final spot and got on in. Yes, the '72 Giants wouldn't have gotten in anyway. The 8-5-1 Lions would have gotten that 6-seed instead.

'70 Redskins? Other than Dallas beating them convincingly both times, they were not bad; respectable-enough at 6-8. The tough schedule you point out, Saban, and beating NYG once or twice had Vince been around is quite agreeable. I think Washington likely-enough makes the playoffs had he been around for that sophomore effort that never was. A 9-win just-miss (still "in it" going into Wk#14) at the very least.

Upon going back to their old unis in 2000 (ditching 'GIANTS' and going back to 'ny'), I wish the BIG numbers on each side of the helmet stripe would have also returned! Same exact uni, as well as shade of (darker) blue, as the time-period being discussed!
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Re: Toughest/Easiest schedules in football history

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Bryan wrote: Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:46 pm
SeahawkFever wrote: Fri Feb 23, 2024 5:49 am That Skins team went 14-2, with the losses by a combined five points. They had the top offense by points, and the second best defense by points.

In addition to a stellar point differential of +261 in the regular season (the best that year by a margin of 107), they also had the best differentials of yards (+1,448), first downs (+60), turnovers (+18), passer rating (+39.1), sacks (+41), adjusted net yards per attempt (+5.03), and third down conversion rate (+16.5%).

As far as I can tell, they are the only team in NFL history to officially lead the league in every differential I just listed in a season.

In three playoff games, the 91 Skins put up a point differential of +61, had 14 takeaways to only two turnovers, had 14 sacks produced to none allowed, and never outright trailed.
I think the sack differential is the most impressive thing about the 91 Skins. They didn't really have a monster pass rusher, and Mark Rypien was their QB. I remember Rypien getting sacked and fumbling quite a bit early in his career.
I'd have to double check, but the +55 sack differential counting the playoffs that the 91 Skins put up might be a record for a team in a season. Charles Mann who was one of the second team all pros I mentioned earlier had the most sacks on the team with 11.5, and they had eight other players who had between 3 and 6.5 sacks apiece including three who came off the bench regularly. I'd have to double check, but I'm not aware of any other champions that had nine players with three sacks in their season.

I remember reading somewhere that Joe Gibbs rotated his linemen in and out regularly to try to get the best matchup possible with Mann being the one constant, and if so, that's a good way to utilize a lot of your defensive players, but to have few with a total number of sacks that would jump off the page.
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