We’re officially in those standard offseason discussions on strength of schedule, and who will have an easy path to the playoffs and who has a grueling gauntlet. As Fooch noted a few months back, the way SOS is figured is taken by win/loss totals of the previous season.
As you might guess, this process is flawed. While I doubt it’s the sole factor in determining SOS, so many things happen to teams that cause them to take nosedives or emerge that previous record is one of the harder things to consider. In 2011 Indianapolis Colts went 2-14 due to a neck injury to quarterback Peyton Manning, and I think we all know that record would have been quite different if they had their quarterback. That’s just one example.
In the post I linked above, SOS was determined by a single oddsmaker and here’s one that gets even more analytical. Warren Sharp at Rotoworld calculates strength of schedule using analytics, three sportsbooks (Westgate, South Point, CG Technology), and adjusting juice totals. For those of you non-gamblers, juice is the amount of money a sportsbook gets for taking your bet. Usually this is set at 10 percent and adjusted based on the bet. So if you win a $10 bet that pays 1-1 odds, you would get $9 back and the house would get a dollar.
So with all that said, where does this put the 49ers? Why at 10th easiest. A bit harder of a schedule than 15th if using the standard method. Here’s what Sharp said:
It was a great time for Jimmy Garoppolo to arrive in San Francisco. The Cardinals are in rebuild mode. The Seahawks aren’t close to the team they were two years ago. The 49ers’ 2018 schedule is extremely segmented, however. They open as underdogs in five of their first seven games, facing the NFL’s third-toughest schedule with four games against top-ten teams in that stretch. But from Week 8 onward, the 49ers have the NFL’s second-softest slate and face the league’s fourth-easiest schedule of opposing offenses. This translates to positive game-script city with the Niners set up to get a ton of production from their Jerick McKinnon-infused run game.
Sharp says he’ll be updating totals as the offseason goes on as the numbers fluctuate as it it’s an indication from the oddsmakers. The overall strengths of schedule are very interesting when factoring these numbers. We’ll check back in in a few months to see if anything changes, but it looks like when numbers are crunched, the 49ers SOS gets even better.