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49ers strength of schedule 2014: What 2013 does and does not tell us about the opponents

We take a look at the 49ers 2014 schedule of opponents, and what 2013 performances may or may not tell us.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Each offseason, one of the running discussions is about the 49ers upcoming schedule, and how it shakes out. One common measurement used, at least in mainstream media, is the strength of scheduled based on 2013 performances. It is far from the most reliable way to assess the 49ers 2014 schedule, but it gives us something to assess.

ESPN posted the full rundown of strength of schedule, and the San Francisco 49ers are listed with the fifth most difficult schedule for 2014. It is not at all surprising that the top eight teams are comprised of NFC West and AFC West teams. Oakland, Denver, St. Louis and San Diego are in front of the 49ers, while Seattle, Kansas City and Arizona are immediately behind the 49ers.

Here is a rundown of the 49ers list of opponents, including their 2013 record.


Arizona Cardinals - 10-6
Kansas City Chiefs - 11-5
Philadelphia Eagles - 10-6
San Diego Chargers - 9-7
Seattle Seahawks - 13-3
St. Louis Rams - 7-9
Washington - 3-13
Chicago Bears - 8-8


Arizona Cardinals - 10-6
Dallas Cowboys - 8-8
Denver Broncos - 13-3
New York Giants - 7-9
Oakland Raiders - 4-12
Seattle Seahawks - 13-3
St. Louis Rams - 7-9
New Orleans Saints - 11-5

The NFC West and AFC West square off in 2014, which is why a significant reason the two divisions are so stacked in 2013 records. The NFC West was far and away the best division in football, but the AFC West was next behind them, even with a poor year from the Raiders.

Of that group, do you see any as most likely to improve or slip from last year's performances? Washington is a tough one to figure out. If Robert Griffin III is able to fully recover, that offense could carry them places. Of course, if they don't improve the defense, it won't matter. The Raiders have a ton of cap space this offseason, but if they are smart they will be slow-playing this a little bit. They need to improve, but they can't be impatient and blow the money just to blow the money.

The Rams were wildly inconsistent last season, but enter this offseason with a pair of first round picks. They could make some serious changes, but they need to hit big on those two first round picks.

On the other side of things, Seattle will be solid again next year, but 13-3? It's not easy to put up back-to-back seasons like that. The same holds true for the Broncos, although they'll also be plenty difficult even if they regress a little bit.

How do you see it shaking out?