3 teams who were absolutely screwed by the NFL schedule, and 3 who weren’t

There are two components to the release of the NFL schedule each year. Firstly the opponents, announced back in January, which is just a small piece of the puzzle. Then we have the timing of each game, which was published on Wednesday night — which is the real bones of a team’s chances.

The importance of scheduling pacing has never been more pronounced. With Wild Card playoff spots being settled by a game or two, and divisions around the NFL hinging on a few critical matches, it means that a well-timed bye week, or ensuring there’s not a tight turnaround could be the difference between a deep playoff run and an early vacation.

In this 2024 NFL schedule we have some teams who came out relatively unscathed — and tk teams who were absolutely screwed by the league office.

The worst NFL schedules

No. 1: Pittsburgh Steelers

What did the Steelers do to piss off the NFL? Those having championship dreams in Pittsburgh this year will need to temper their expectations after the slate dropped like a hammer on the organization.

We all know the AFC North is a dog fight. It’s the league’s most competitive division, where any of the four teams could conceivable and convincingly win. That means balance is a razor’s edge, and an absolute sicko must have devised the final eight games of the Steelers’ schedule.

Week 11: Baltimore Ravens
Week 12: AT Cleveland Browns, on three day’s rest on Thursday Night Football
Week 13: AT Cincinnati Bengals, coming off TNF
Week 14: Cleveland Browns
Week 15: AT Philadelphia Eagles
Week 16: AT Baltimore Ravens
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs, on four day’s rest on Christmas Day
Week 18: Cincinnati Bengals

This is absolute hell. Not only is the entire Steelers divisional schedule crammed into the back-end of the year after the bye, but they have games on light rest, and two of their toughest non-divisional games weaved in.

There’s a very real chance the Steelers could go 9-0 to start the year and see it all collapse because of this final stretch. It’s simply unfair.

No. 2: New England Patriots

The Patriots are terrible and rebuilding. What did they do to deserve this?

Getting a solid start to the regular season is key for a team looking to grow. Getting some wins under your belt and the confidence that comes with it can set a season up to be successful, or do the opposite.

If you look at how New England starts the 2024 season it’s tough to find an odds-on win until Week 9 at the earliest. Look at how this team opens the year:

Bengals, Seahawks, Jets, 49ers, Dolphins, Texans, Jaguars, Jets

There’s just no room in this slate for the team to ever reliable string some wins together, which can be really dangerous for a young team trying to build up a rookie quarterback in Drake Maye. I hate this schedule for the Patriots, and what it could lead to.

No. 3: Houston Texans

Houston were a breakout team in 2023, and they best get ready because life is getting difficult for them immediately. We knew the Texans schedule was going to be brutal based on their opponents, but there are some features of how this schedule was constructed that’s going to make this season a real battle.

They have a ludicrously late bye-week, which doesn’t happen until Week 14. This means there’s very little room for in-season retooling, and the key restructuring week around the league will happen after the NFL trade deadline.

This is also a slate that features three primetime games in a row, which makes not only for uneven scheduling, but too much attention. The Texans face the Jets on Thursday Night Football in Week 9, then the Lions on short rest on Sunday Night Football, then the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

If you’re trying to fly under the radar like 2023 it’s means a lot of distractions all at once.

The best NFL schedules

No. 1: Atlanta Falcons

There’s no doubt Atlanta have a rough start to the year by facing the Steelers, Eagles and Chiefs — but from there it’s all gravy.

Once the Falcons round out the first month the schedule breaks incredibly easy for them, with very few rough patches or difficult back-to-back games. Their only short portion involves facing the Saints, Buccaneers and Panthers — all of which should be supremely easy games, meaning they’ll be in good stead for a playoff run.

Couple this with a Week 12 bye which comes at a pretty ideal time and all the pieces are there for a good run.

No. 2: Carolina Panthers

The biggest boon for the Panthers when it comes to their schedule is what they don’t have: Scheduling adversity. This is far from the easiest collection of teams in the league, but it’s a distraction-free schedule that’s perfect to rebuild from.

There are no primetime games, no short turnarounds, just a lot of consistent Sunday football with a perfect mid-season bye. Based on the construction of their schedule alone I’m pretty bullish on the team’s ability to exceed the 5.5 wins most sportsbooks are giving them.

No. 3: Indianapolis Colts

Everything looks good for the Colts other than having a rough middle-third to their schedule. The difficulty of this portion is all relative too, and depends on how you feels about the Vikings in 2024 or the Jets.

Otherwise there’s plenty of room on the slate for this team to look ahead to its most difficult games as they come off fairly easy ones. Take a look at how their most brutal contests go down.

Week 7 vs. Miami — but coming off a Titans game
Week 10 vs. Buffalo — but coming off a Vikings game
Week 4 vs. Pittsburgh — but coming off a Bears game

This is a really solid schedule for a building team.

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