Welcome to the time of year when every optimistic NFL fan sees a route to get a beloved team into the playoffs.
And every pessimistic one can’t believe the bad luck of the draw to see their beloved team dealt such a brutal schedule.
There are countless ways to judge a schedule, including opponents’ winning percentage last year, opponents’ projected winning percentage this year, home/road splits, difficult back-to-back stretches and bye week timing.
Here is The Post’s analysis of which teams drew the hardest and easiest schedules for 2020:
Tom Brady leaves the AFC East and still the Jets have the NFL’s toughest schedule? That’s a bad break.
Once every 12 years the Jets (and the rest of the division) simultaneously face the entire NFC and AFC West divisions, which means a lot of airline mileage and stiff competition.
The Jets have two games in Los Angeles (Chargers and Rams) and visit one of the NFL’s toughest road venues against the Seahawks. Both Super Bowl participants (at Chiefs, home for 49ers) are on the schedule.
While the Patriots should take a step back, the Dolphins and Bills are on the rise. Five of last year’s top-10 offenses and six of the top-10 defenses lie in wait.
Jets opponents had a .533 winning percentage last season – second-highest to the Patriots – and are projected to have a .527 winning percentage in 2020, which is third-highest based on over/unders from William Hill Sportsbook.
Any way you slice it, the Ravens should coast: Their opponents’ 2019 winning percentage (.438) is the lowest and their opponents projected 2020 winning percentage (.494) is tied for the third-lowest.
The rival Browns and Steelers are huge question marks, and two games against the rookie-quarterback-led Bengals give the Ravens five against the handful of worst teams in the NFL (Giants, Redskins, Jaguars).
Top teams are not supposed to have easy schedules based on the formula to match up defending division champions against one another, but the Ravens draw the Chiefs and Titans at home, and their visit to the Patriots is much less intimidating without Brady.
The AFC North, NFC East and AFC South — accounting for 14 of the 16 games — are mediocre or worse compared to other divisions. The schedule is a boon to the Ravens in the chase for the AFC’s No. 1 seed and only bye in the new playoff format.
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