Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (2024)

  • Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (1)

    Dan Graziano, senior NFL national reporterMay 16, 2024, 10:00 AM


      Dan Graziano is a senior NFL national reporter for ESPN, covering the entire league and breaking news. Dan also contributes to Get Up, NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, Sunday NFL Countdown and Fantasy Football Now. He is a New Jersey native who joined ESPN in 2011, and he is also the author of two published novels. You can follow Dan on Twitter via @DanGrazianoESPN.

Admit it. You got your favorite NFL team's full 2024 regular-season schedule Wednesday night, went through it game-by-game and came to the only conclusion any good fan can reach at a time like this.

"We're going 17-0!"

Spoiler alert: No, you're not. The beautiful thing about the NFL is that stuff happens year-round to which we can overreact. The schedule release is no exception. Heck, it's actually one of the best examples.

Maybe you looked at your team's schedule and thought, "I can't find the first loss!" Maybe you looked and thought, "I can't believe how badly the league cheated us!" Maybe you don't like the travel schedule, or the rest days relative to your team's division rivals. Or maybe you're trying to figure out an excuse that will let you ignore the family on Christmas Day because your team ended up with a game on Dec. 25. But whatever your reaction was to the schedule release, there's a decent chance it was an overreaction.

That's what makes it fun, of course. And it's also what gives us a chance to fire up another offseason overreactions column, where we judge some of the biggest potential takeaways from teams' 17-game slates.

Jump to potential overreactions:
Jets | Eagles | Falcons | Bengals | Bears

Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (2)Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (3)

The Jets will be in first place going into their Week 12 bye

The Jets could very well start 0-1, as they open with a road Monday night game against the defending NFC champion 49ers. But after that, only three of their next 10 games come against teams that made the playoffs last season: vs. Bills in Week 6, at Steelers in Week 7 and vs. Texans in Week 9.

Things start to look pretty rough when the Jets come out of their bye and start December, though. Both of their games against the Dolphins are post-bye, and their road game in Buffalo is on Dec. 29 (brrr!). But a healthy Aaron Rodgers should give them a chance to pile up wins in the first two-thirds of the season.

Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (4)play

Greeny exasperated after learning Jets open season on 'Monday Night Football'

Mike Greenberg doesn't hide his feelings about how the Jets' season is scheduled to start almost the same way as last season's disastrous opener.


"A healthy Aaron Rodgers" at this point is still an Aaron Rodgers who turns 41 years old on Dec. 2. The list of quarterbacks who have performed at a championship-caliber level at this age or older is basically Tom Brady. There's a lot riding on a quarterback who hasn't been on the field much since he showed up in Florham Park, and on a coaching staff that didn't handle adversity very well last season.

The Dolphins have been a hot-starting team the past couple of years, and the Bills are still a force in the division. Of the three teams we think have a chance to win the AFC East -- sorry, New England -- the Jets are by far the least proven. The schedule may set up well for them after they get home from San Francisco, but we still don't know for a fact that they're a team capable of taking advantage of it.

Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (5)

Saquon Barkley will lead the Eagles to the playoffs by running all over his old team in Week 18

The former Giants running back signed a big free agent deal with division rival Philadelphia this offseason. This has led to quite a range of reactions, including Barkley getting booed at a Sixers-Knicks playoff game and tweeting that he can't believe fans aren't over it yet. He's likely to get an earful when the Eagles play the Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 7, but if the Week 18 matchup at home means anything to the Eagles' (or I guess the Giants') playoff chances, he'll have the opportunity to show his old team just who it let walk out the door.


The Eagles may well win the NFC East. Heck, they may well have it wrapped up by the time they face the Giants in Week 18. I'm just not imagining Barkley as the difference-maker so many seem to be assuming he will be this season.

Only twice in his six-year career has Barkley made it through a full season without missing at least one game due to injury. And even if 2024 is the third such season for him, I believe the Eagles' success is going to have a lot more to do with whether the passing game rebounds behind quarterback Jalen Hurts and his receivers. The Eagles also have some questions to answer along the offensive line, including how to replace longtime center Jason Kelce, who retired this offseason.

Assuming Barkley can be the key player who elevates a team from good to great ignores the fact that he has not been that over six years in the NFL. Again, the Eagles may well be favored to win the division, but I find it hard to believe Kellen Moore's offense is going to make a running back its focal point.

Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (6)

The Falcons could win the NFC

Atlanta is tied with division mate New Orleans for the easiest schedule in the league, if we're basing things on opponents' 2023 records (.453). The Falcons answered their biggest roster question -- twice! -- this offseason by signing Kirk Cousins to a huge free agent deal and then using the No. 8 pick in the draft on Michael Penix Jr. Only four teams in the league -- the Steelers, Colts, Bengals and Commanders -- have to travel fewer miles than the Falcons do in 2024. And no one in their division has won more than nine games in either of the past two seasons.

So things are set up well for the Falcons in Raheem Morris' first year as their coach, and if they can take advantage of all those factors, they could set themselves up with a great seed in the NFC playoffs.


The Falcons had the easiest strength of schedule last season, too, and they went 7-10. The main reason for this is that the "strength of schedule" metric we're referring to here is bogus. Basing such an assessment on last year's records ignores the repeatedly proven fact that the same teams aren't good every season. We don't actually know who has the toughest strength of schedule in terms of quality of opponent, because we don't know who's going to get hurt and who's going to struggle and who's going to break out.

Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (7)play

Falcons release 2024 schedule 'NFL Street' style

The Falcons take to the animated streets of Atlanta to unveil their schedule for the upcoming NFL season.

And while it may be easy for a Falcons fan to be optimistic based on the team's extensive offseason efforts to improve at the quarterback position, the situation the team has created for itself by signing Cousins and drafting Penix that high has a chance to be complicated -- and especially tricky for a first-year coaching staff to navigate. The Buccaneers won the division last season and brought back pretty much their whole team, so I'm not making someone else the favorite until I see some on-field proof.

Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (8)

A healthy Joe Burrow and the Bengals will return to the top of the AFC North

Every team in the AFC North had a winning record last season. Even with Burrow suffering a season-ending wrist injury, the Bengals still managed to finish 9-8. That was good enough for fourth place in the division, and the benefit of that is the Bengals get to play a fourth-place schedule. While the Ravens, who won the division, have to play the teams that won the other three AFC divisions (Bills, Texans and Chiefs), the Bengals play the teams that finished last in those divisions (Patriots, Titans and Chargers). They also have games against two of the teams that finished last in NFC divisions -- Washington and Carolina.

Elsewhere in the AFC North, the Browns, Ravens and Steelers have the first-, second- and third-hardest schedules based on opponents' 2023 records. Cincinnati, meanwhile, has the 16th-hardest. (Though, again, take that with a grain of salt.)


Honestly, it's still too early to know how well Burrow will recover from his injury. This isn't an ACL or an Achilles, where the recovery process and timeline are well established and relatively common. Burrow's injury is one that directly affects the way he throws the ball, and if that's off, all bets are also off.

All of that said, Burrow is not a player to be underestimated, and he and the Bengals believe he'll make a full recovery. If he does, Cincinnati is set up well. Notoriously slow starters, the early part of the Bengals' schedule is actually pretty favorable (other than that Kansas City game in Week 2). But the Chiefs are one of only two teams the Bengals will face in the first six weeks that finished with a winning record last season. By the time Burrow and the Bengals generally get going, they'll be primed for a Week 10 road matchup against the Ravens -- a team that, for me, has a fair number of question marks due to the losses on the defensive coaching staff and the offensive line.

And coming out of their Week 12 bye, the Bengals only have two tough looking road games remaining: Week 14 in Dallas and Week 17 in Pittsburgh.

Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (9)

Caleb Williams will go 4-0 against his fellow rookie quarterbacks and lead the Bears to the playoffs

Assuming they all win their starting jobs before long, Williams lines up to play four games against teams that drafted quarterbacks in the first round -- one each against the Commanders (Jayden Daniels) and the Patriots (Drake Maye) and two against the division rival Vikings (J.J. McCarthy).

Of those quarterbacks, you can make a strong argument that Williams was drafted into the best situation, with a receiving corps that includes DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, Cole Kmet and fellow rookie Rome Odunze. The Bears also signed running back D'Andre Swift and return a defense that finished last season playing like one of the best in the league. Ten of their 17 games -- and eight of their 11 nondivision games -- come against teams that missed the playoffs last season.


If Williams is as ready to be an NFL star as many believe, there's no reason to think the Bears won't build on their late-2023 season success and make a run at a playoff spot in 2024. They've put resources into the offensive line over the past few years, they're loaded with depth and they have real talent -- most of it quite proven -- at the offensive skill positions.

The oft-maligned coaching staff proved quite a bit over the second half of last season, in case you weren't paying attention, and added offensive coordinator Shane Waldron from the Seahawks to boost things on that side of the ball. Of the teams listed, I like Chicago better than New England, Washington and Minnesota to contend.

Let's overreact to the NFL schedule release: Sorry, your favorite team is not going 17-0 (2024)


What NFL team has the hardest schedule in 2024? ›

Based on projected win totals, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the hardest strength of schedule for the 2024 NFL season.

What are the bold predictions for the 2024 NFL season? ›

ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) has made some bold predictions for the 2024 NFL season. According to their projections, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are expected to lead the league with 11.1 wins, giving them a 24 percent chance of making it to the Super Bowl again.

How does the NFL work? ›

The NFL season format consists of a three-week preseason, an 18-week regular season (each team plays 17 games), and a 14-team single-elimination playoff culminating in the Super Bowl, the league's championship game.

What is the structure of the NFL league? ›

The league's 32 teams are split into two conferences — the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The 16 teams in each conference are split into the East, North, South and West divisions; every division has four teams.

Who has the toughest 2024 football schedule? ›

2024 NFL strength of schedule listed from hardest to easiest, based on opponents' 2023 winning percentages:
  • Browns . 547.
  • Ravens . 536.
  • Steelers . 533.
  • T-4. Packers . 526.
  • T-4. Texans . 526.
  • T-6. Bills . 516.
  • T-6. Giants . 516.
  • T-8. Jaguars . 512.
May 15, 2024

Who has the easiest 2024 schedule? ›

Technically, the Falcons are tied with the Saints with the NFL's easiest schedule. Both teams' opponents won a combined 45.3% of their games last year. The Buccaneers, Seahawks and Dolphins -- three teams that made the playoffs last season -- also have three of the NFL's easier schedules.

Who will win the Super Bowl in 2025? ›

2025 Super Bowl LIX odds: 49ers, Chiefs co-favorites with minicamps ending. Immediately following the Kansas City Chiefs' thrilling overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII, both teams opened atop the betting board as the favorites to win it all next season.

Who is the NFL comeback player for 2024? ›

Joe Flacco wins Comeback Player of the Year at the 2024 NFL Honors!

What will college football look like in 2024? ›

College football in 2024 is going to look different. There's a new 12-team playoff, but there's also 15 teams moving to new conferences. It's a lot to keep track of, so we're here to help.

Who is the richest NFL player? ›

Top 10 Richest NFL Players Ever
RankPlayerNet Worth
1Jerry Richardson$2 billion
2Roger Staubach$600 million
3Tom Brady$300 million
4Fran Tarkenton$300 million
6 more rows
Jan 11, 2024

Who is the highest paid NFL player? ›

The Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Burrow is the highest paid player in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers' Nick Bosa is the highest paid defensive player in the league.

Which state has the most NFL teams? ›

Which state has the most NFL teams? Currently, California, Florida, and New York are tied for the most NFL teams, with three each.

Are there 32 NFL teams? ›

Every NFL team's offseason goal is to improve. Depending on an individual team's timeline, that might mean getting better now, getting better later or simply setting itself up for the chance to get better down the road.

How does the NFL work for dummies? ›

NFL games are 60 minutes long and are split into four 15-minute quarters. If the scores are level at the end of a game, a 10-minute overtime period will be played. That overtime period becomes 15 minutes in the play-offs.

What is the toughest division in the NFL in 2024? ›

The AFC North is the strongest division in football: The AFC North had three playoff representatives in 2023, and there's every chance they repeat that in 2024.

Who has the hardest upcoming NFL schedule? ›

Cleveland has a strength of schedule of . 547, which not only gives them the most difficult schedule for the upcoming season, but it makes them one of only two teams in the NFL -- along with the Baltimore Ravens -- that will have a strength of schedule above . 535.

Who has the easiest NFL schedule 2024 printable? ›

What NFL team has the easiest schedule in 2024: Based on projected win totals, the Atlanta Falcons have the easiest strength of schedule for the 2024 NFL season.

What is the Buccaneers strength of schedule in 2024? ›

The Buccaneers' "easy" strength of schedule figure (. 478) is mostly the product of playing in a division that had just one team over . 500 plus another one that finished with just two wins. In fact, all four teams in the NFC South are listed among the six easiest schedules in 2024.

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