NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings For 17-Game Season

Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

The NFL officially approved extending its regular season from 16 to 17 games starting in 2021 on Tuesday, changing the schedule for the first time since 1978 when it first expanded to 16 games.

While the exact regular-season schedule won’t be released until May, we do have every team’s home and away opponents, which is how Travis Reed — our in-house Data Manager — was able to use his model to rank the strength of schedule for all 32 teams.

Let’s dig into those rankings, from easiest to hardest, then run through key information about the extension.

NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings

Rank Team
1 Chargers
2 Broncos
3 Cowboys
4 Jets
5 Raiders
6 Bills
7 Jaguars
8 Eagles
9 Buccaneers
10 Ravens
11 Dolphins
12 Texans
13 Titans
14 Chiefs
15 Falcons
16 Browns
17 49ers
18 Giants
19 Patriots
20 Bengals
21 Colts
22 Washington
23 Cardinals
24 Panthers
25 Steelers
26 Packers
27 Saints
28 Lions
29 Vikings
30 Seahawks
31 Rams
32 Bears

What To Know About the 17th Game

How Matchups Are Set

The 17th game will pit NFC divisions against AFC divisions, determining exact matchups based on the previous season’s division standings. For example, with the AFC East going against the NFC East for this first season with a 17th game, the first-place Buffalo Bills in the AFC East will draw the reigning first-place Washington Football Team in the NFC East.

Here are the exact division matchups for the 17th game in 2021 (which will rotate in future seasons):

  • AFC East vs. NFC East
  • AFC West vs. NFC North
  • AFC South vs. NFC South
  • AFC North vs. NFC West

Determining Home vs. Away

AFC teams will host NFC teams for the 17th game in 2021, meaning AFC teams will play nine home games and eight away games .while NFC teams will play nine away games and eight home games. The conferences will then rotate every season.

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Bye Weeks

With the 17-game schedule playing out over 18 weeks, teams will still only have one bye week.

Preseason Length

Under the latest NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league can play no more than 20 games in total, which means there can be no more than three preseason games played in the new 17-game regular season.


2021 NFL Opponents

Team Home Away 17th Game
ARI GB, MIN, HOU, IND, CAR CHI, DET, JAX, TEN, DAL @ CLE
ATL PHI, WSH, NE, NYJ, DET DAL, NYG, BUF, MIA, SF @ JAX
BAL KC, LAC, GB, MIN, IND DEN, LV, CHI, DET, MIA LAR
BUF HOU, IND, ATL, CAR, PIT JAX, TEN, NO, TB, KC WSH
CAR PHI, WSH, NE, NYJ, MIN DAL, NYG, BUF, MIA, ARI @ HOU
CHI ARI, SF, BAL, CIN, NYG LAR, SEA, CLE, PIT, TB @ LV
CIN KC, LAC, GB, MIN, JAX DEN, LV, CHI, DET, NYJ SF
CLE DEN, LV, CHI, DET, HOU KC, LAC, GB, MIN, NE ARI
DAL ATL, CAR, DEN, LV, ARI NO, TB, KC, LAC, MIN @ NE
DEN BAL, CIN, PHI, WSH, NYJ CLE, PIT, DAL, NYG, JAX DET
DET ARI, SF, BAL, CIN, PHI LAR, SEA, CLE, PIT, ATL @ DEN
GB LAR, SEA, CLE, PIT, WSH ARI, SF, BAL, CIN, NO @ KC
HOU NE, NYJ, LAR, SEA, LAC BUF, MIA, ARI, SF, CLE CAR
IND NE, NYJ, LAR, SEA, LV BUF, MIA, ARI, SF, BAL TB
JAX BUF, MIA, ARI, SF, DEN NE, NYJ, LAR, SEA, CIN ATL
KC CLE, PIT, DAL, NYG, BUF BAL, CIN, PHI, WSH, TEN GB
LAR CHI, DET, JAX, TEN, TB GB, MIN, HOU, IND, NYG @ BAL
LAC CLE, PIT, DAL, NYG, NE BAL, CIN, PHI, WSH, HOU MIN
MIA HOU, IND, ATL, CAR, BAL JAX, TEN, NO, TB, LV NYG
MIN LAR, SEA, CLE, PIT, DAL ARI, SF, BAL, CIN, CAR @ LAC
NE JAX, TEN, NO, TB, CLE HOU, IND, ATL, CAR, LAC DAL
NO DAL, NYG, BUF, MIA, GB PHI, WSH, NE, NYJ, SEA @ TEN
NYG ATL, CAR, DEN, LV, LAR NO, TB, KC, LAC, CHI @ MIA
NYJ JAX, TEN, NO, TB, CIN HOU, IND, ATL, CAR, DEN PHI
LV BAL, CIN, PHI, WSH, MIA CLE, PIT, DAL, NYG, BAL CHI
PHI NO, TB, KC, LAC, SF ATL, CAR, DEN, LV, DET @ NYJ
PIT DEN, LV, CHI, DET, TEN KC, LAC, GB, MIN, BUF SEA
SF GB, MIN, HOU, IND, ATL CHI, DET, JAX, TEN, PHI @ CIN
SEA CHI, DET, JAX, TEN, NO GB, MIN, HOU, IND, WSH @ PIT
TB DAL, NYG, BUF, MIA, CHI PHI, WSH, NE, NYJ, LAR @ IND
TEN BUF, MIA, ARI, SF, KC NE, NYJ, LAR, SEA, PIT NO
WSH NO, TB, KC, LAC, SEA ATL, CAR, DEN, LV, GB @ BUF

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