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2015 NFL schedule: Which teams have the easiest and hardest matchups?

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Good news for the NFC South!

The release of the NFL schedule provides fans the opportunity to project how their favorite team will do in the upcoming season. For many, their estimations are forced almost entirely by how teams played the year before. That's not a foolproof method, but it still makes for some interesting discussion.

Because of the fluid nature of the NFL, it's difficult if not impossible to figure out which teams will have the easiest and toughest schedule at the outset of the regular season. Teams coming off great seasons could lose an integral player to injury (think the Indianapolis Colts without Peyton Manning in 2011) or see an older veteran or two regress (the Denver Broncos with a 39-year-old Manning in 2014).

In other cases, teams that finished outside of the playoff picture manage to improve significantly, whether via free agency, the draft or simply the current roster developing into better football players.

Because each team plays divisional opponents twice each year, strength of schedule is mostly a reflection of how the division performed a year ago. For teams in the NFC South, that means a very favorable outlook. For those locked in the death match known as the NFC West, not so much.

Below is the strength of schedule for every team as it enters the 2015 season:

Rank Team Record Opp. Win %
1 Pittsburgh Steelers 147-107-2 0.579
2 Cincinnati Bengals 144-112 0.563
3 San Francisco 49ers 143-112-1 0.561
4 Seattle Seahawks 142-112-2 0.559
5 Arizona Cardinals 142-113-1 0.557
6 St. Louis Rams 141-114-1 0.553
7 (tie) Oakland Raiders 139-116-1 0.545
7 (tie) Kansas City Chiefs 139-116-1 0.545
9 Cleveland Browns 138-116-2 0.543
10 Denver Broncos 138-117-1 0.541
11 Baltimore Ravens 137-117-2 0.539
12 Minnesota Vikings 138-118 0.539
13 Chicago Bears 136-120 0.531
14 Green Bay Packers 135-120-1 0.529
15 Detroit Lions 135-121 0.527
16 San Diego Chargers 132-123-1 0.518
17 Miami Dolphins 126-130 0.492
18 New York Jets 125-131 0.488
19 Buffalo Bills 124-131-1 0.486
20 (tie) Washington 122-133-1 0.478
20 (tie) New York Giants 122-133-1 0.478
22 New England Patriots 122-134 0.477
23 Philadelphia Eagles 121-134-1 0.475
24 Dallas Cowboys 119-136-1 0.467
25 Jacksonville Jaguars 118-137-1 0.463
26 Tennessee Titans 111-144-1 0.435
27 Carolina Panthers 111-145 0.434
28 New Orleans Saints 109-145-2 0.429
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 108-146-2 0.425
30 Houston Texans 106-148-2 0.417
31 Indianapolis Colts 106-149-1 0.417
32 Atlanta Falcons 104-150-2 0.409