We will learn the San Francisco 49ers schedule for the 2015 regular season later today, and immediately can begin prognosticating what it means. One area that holds fairly modest value is strength of schedule. The general use has been a look at the final records of opponents from the previous season. According to that statistic, the 49ers have the third most difficult schedule, with 13 opponents holding a .561 winning percentage in 2014.
Of course, we also know some teams will change dramatically from year-to-year. There will be teams that fall apart, and others that make a strong push to respectability. Basic SOS will not reflect that. Neil Greenberg at the Washington Post took a look at two other strength of schedule measurements. Neither is a sure-fire predictor for 2015, but they add a little more context. And that context indicates the 49ers likely face a tough schedule in 2015.
Greenberg took a look at what is viewed by many as the Bill James Pythagorean Theorem, and also the Las Vegas odds for winning the Super Bowl. The theorem looks at previous season points allowed and points scored to determine how many games a team should have won. If a team actually won more than that, they over-performed, and if a team won less, they underperformed.
According to that, the estimated true talent win percentage of 49ers opponents would be .519. This is the second most difficult behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Super Bowl odds puts together an average of the Super Bowl odds for all of a team's opponents. For the 49ers, the 49ers end up with the toughest average of odds, with the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings coming in second.
What does all this mean for 2015? There is nothing definitive, but it does indicate a potentially tough 2015 schedule. I've posted the list of opponents below. The 49ers will face seven teams that took part in the 2014 playoffs. That includes two divisional teams (Seattle, Arizona), two NFC North teams (Green Bay, Detroit) and three AFC North teams (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore).
It is entirely possible not all seven of those teams make the playoffs this season. Of course, they could also be replaced by some of the other teams. Maybe Atlanta figurea things out, or Chicago turns things around. Or maybe Teddy Bridgewater takes Minnesota to the next level. There are a lot of possibilities.
Home: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
Away: New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams