This is a game-day, so let's just offer you a short and quick blog entry, but one that can often be vitally important. The NFL claims to have schedule fairness and it is much more so than it used to be. Years ago, the schedule would vary plenty to try to keep parity, but now days it is far less.
Still, though, with today's schedule plans, all things are not equal. 14 of the 16 games are with the same opponents (although location varies) and only 2 games are determined by how good a team was the previous season. Those 2 games might make a significant difference, but the whole of location for which AFC teams you play and where you play them as well as your division matchup often end up being a pretty big deal.
So, today, I wanted to look at the NFC East teams from a simple standpoint of how their schedules may differ. We know that any team in the East will play the same division schedule, so now, what about those other 10 games?
We will start with the NFC East Champions, Washington:
|Team||NFC N Home||NFC N Away||AFC N Home||AFC N Away||NFC W #1||NFC S #1|
|WASH||GB, Minn||At Chi, At Det||Pitt, Clev||At Balt, At Cin||At Arz||CAR|
As you can see, Washington has a regression filled schedule by playing 2 NFC powers that nobody in the division has to deal with - At Arizona and Carolina at home. Meanwhile, they have Green Bay and Minnesota at their place, as well as Pittsburgh. So, tough schedule with 6 playoff opponents, but four of them are in Washington.
Now, the 2015 NFC East 2nd place Philadelphia Eagles:
|Team||NFC N Home||NFC N Away||AFC N Home||AFC N Away||NFC W #2||NFC S #2|
|PHIL||GB, Minn||At Chi, At Det||Pitt, Clev||At Balt, At Cin||At Sea||ATL|
As you can see, the Eagles have the exact same schedule as Washington does, but with a trip to Seattle and a home game with the Falcons switched out. But, otherwise, they still get the same divisional draw. So, 5 playoff opponents, with three at home.
Next, the 3rd place finishers from last season, the New York Giants:
|Team||NFC N Home||NFC N Away||AFC N Home||AFC N Away||NFC W #3||NFC S #3|
|NYG||Chi, Det||At GB, At Minn||Balt, Cin||At Cle, At Pitt||At LA||NO|
Now, you see a major switch. New York has only four playoff opponents, but they must go to Green Bay, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh. Cincinnati is at home, and the two swing games are the Rams and Saints. So, some good news and some bad news there.
And, finally, your last place Dallas Cowboys:
|Team||NFC N Home||NFC N Away||AFC N Home||AFC N Away||NFC W #4||NFC S #4|
|DAL||Chi, Det||At GB, At Minn||Balt, Cin||At Cle, At Pitt||At SF||TB|
Again, four playoff teams outside of divisional play. Three of those are on the road. But, that home schedule looks pretty doable. And then, you get the last place teams in San Francisco and Tampa Bay instead of playing the Cardinals and Panthers like Washington must.
You can see how the league tries to equalize the top teams having to play those two swing games with getting a break on the home/away games inside the rotated divisional schedule.
This won't determine everything, but you can definitely see how things are different enough that getting three or four wins inside your division combined with the 10 games each team has above will pave the way to either playing football in January or not.
Anyway, something to consider. One detail to enter into your preseason thought process.