Oakland’s 2007 season over before it starts

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Aug 03, 2007



The once-mighty Raiders just can't catch a break.
 
Twenty-five years ago, the Raiders were so tough they struck fear in the hearts of opponents – so much so that they inspired one of our new-old all-time favorite NFL Films segments, "The Autumn Wind."
 
These days?
 
The only thing tough about the Raiders is their 2007 schedule.
 
Like others out there on Planet Pigskin, we calculated each team's strength of schedule based upon the record of their opponents in 2006.
 
Oakland comes out on top with the toughest schedule in football – adding insult to their brutal 2-14 campaign of 2006.
 
Unlike others out there on Planet Pigskin, we looked at the strength of schedule based upon their opponents' performance against Quality Teams.
 
 
As you no doubt have come to learn by perusing our grease-stained pages, record against Quality Opponents is much more important than overall record. (The Cold, Hard Football Facts define a Quality Opponent as any team with a winning record. Simple? Yes. But as loyal readers have come to learn, it's brutally effective.)
 
Of course, we all know that year-to-year records can vary wildly. So, in certain respects, strength of schedule is merely a trivial exercise here in the preseason.
 
But it is good to take a look ahead and see what each team might be up against this season.
 
What the Raiders are up against is the walls of pigskin prison, bent over with their pants around their ankles as the gridiron guards confiscate any hope that they may be trying to smuggle into the 2007 season.
 
Oakland's 2007 opponents went an amazing 41-60 (.406) against Quality Teams last year. That means that Oakland's 2007 opponents were so good last year that, even against teams above .500, they won more than 40 percent of their games.
 
Nobody else's schedule tops .400. In fact, 10 teams – nearly a third of the league – face a schedule in which their opponents were worse than .300 against Quality Teams.
 
Even without the Cold, Hard Football Facts at your disposal, a quick look at Oakland's schedule is enough to dash the hope of even the most rosy-eyed Raiders fan. They face both defending conference champions (Indy, Chicago), they twice play the team with the best record in football last year (San Diego, 14-2) and they close the season with a brutal combination of Indy (4-1 last year against Quality Teams), Jacksonville (4-3) and San Diego (4-2). Those were the only three teams in football last year to earn four victories against Quality Opponents.
 
That spells tough ... and tough spells trouble for the Oakland Raiders.
 
The strength of schedule against Quality Opponents for every NFL team is listed below. A couple things jump out, which we highlight at the bottom.
 
2007 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE vs. QUALITY TEAMS
TEAM
W
L
Total
Pct.
Oakland
41
60
101
.406
Houston
41
62
103
.398
Tennessee
38
59
97
.392
Buffalo
36
58
94
.383
New England
35
61
96
.365
Pittsburgh
36
66
102
.352
Indianapolis
35
65
100
.350
Baltimore
35
67
102
.343
Atlanta
32
62
94
.340
Tampa Bay
30
59
89
.337
N.Y. Jets
34
67
101
.337
Cincinnati
32
65
97
.330
Jacksonville
33
68
101
.327
Kansas City
34
71
105
.324
San Diego
33
69
102
.324
Green Bay
29
61
90
.322
Denver
33
70
103
.320
Seattle
30
64
94
.319
New Orleans
29
63
92
.315
Arizona
29
64
93
.312
Dallas
28
64
92
.304
Cleveland
30
70
100
.300
St. Louis
28
66
94
.298
Minnesota
28
68
96
.292
N.Y. Giants
25
61
86
.291
Detroit
27
68
95
.284
Philadelphia
25
63
88
.284
Chicago
26
67
93
.280
Carolina
25
67
92
.272
San Francisco
25
67
92
.272
Miami
26
70
96
.271
Washington
24
67
91
.264
 
Here are the Cold, Hard Football Facts we can derive from this list (new CHFF troll-in-training and Villanova student Will Kantrowitz compiled the numbers for us):
 
The dominance of the AFC remains unchallenged
As loyal readers know, the AFC is in the midst of a truly amazing stretch of dominance over their NFC opponents. This dominance is evident in the Quality Opponents strength-of-schedule list. The top eight teams on the list – and 13 of the top 15 – are from the AFC.
 
You might want to roll the dice with Chicago
The Bears were clearly the dominant team in the NFC last year. Even if they've declined slightly here in 2007, they still have a shot to win the conference again. After all, their pathetic strength of schedule makes them a clear choice to win a lot of games. Chicago's opponents went just 26-67 (.280) against Quality Teams last year.
 
Oakland ain't the only lousy team up against it
Houston struggled through a 6-10 campaign in 2006 and shows few signs of ever truly competing in the near future. It's doubtful that it will happen in 2007, as the Texans face a schedule nearly as tough as Oakland's. Their opponents went 41-61 (.398) last year against Quality Teams.
 
The NFC sucks like a troll at the business end of a beer funnel
Nine of the 10 easiest schedules in football this year belong to NFC teams. This means Washington – which stumbled last year after such a promising 2005 season – has a puncher's chance to return to prominence. Their 16 opponents this year earned just 24 Quality Wins last year (fewest on the list), against 67 losses. Their only opponent with more than one win against a Quality Team last year is the AFC's Miami, who Washington faces in Week 1. Nine of their 16 opponents could not win more than one game last year against a Quality Team.
 
For once, there is some similarity between Quality Standings and overall standings
Whenever a team's record against Quality Opponents conflicts with a team's record against all opponents, you should always side with the quality record. And these records do often conflict sharply. But in this instance, there are quite a few similarities. Even when we look at overall strength of schedule, Oakland is still No. 1, tied with Buffalo (their opponents went 138-118 – .539 – against all opposition last year). The AFC still dominates the top. The NFC is still mired at the bottom.
 
And the bottom line for Oakland is still the same ... wait 'til the next next year.

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