Scheduling Conflict

Westside Rob chimes in with this little bit of research:

I’ve been seeing a lot of people starting to talk up Rivers MVP candidacy and one of the arguments they seem to be using is that the Colts haven’t played anyone (See PK’s MMQB-Tues Edition). So I did a quick breakdown on the respective schedules, that goes a little beyond CHFF’s Quality wins analysis. CHFF counts a .500 team the same as a 1-13 team in terms of quality wins which I think is unjustified. Anyone AT or above .500 in the NFL is a quality opponent and this year at least is in the playoff hunt.

The current NFL basically falls roughly into 3 tiers: Winning clubs, .500 clubs, and horrible clubs, so I broke each teams opponents through week 15 down as such

Combined Rec of Opp

Colts

95

101

.500 +

4

0

34

22

0.607

.500

7

0

49

49

0.500

.500 -

3

0

12

30

0.286

No team under .500 since week 9

Chargers

93

103

.500 +

5

2

60

38

0.612

.500

1

1

14

14

0.500

.500 -

5

0

19

51

0.271

2 teams under .500 since week 9

Basically the Chargers have faced more teams over .500 but lost to two of them (they have 5 wins against +.500 teams vs the Colts 4 wins).

However more importantly in my opinion the Colts have faced a total of 11 teams at or above .500 and won all of those contest.  SD has faced 9 total teams at or above .500 and gone 6-3 against them.  The Chargers have also had 5 cupcakes to the Colts 3.  The overall winning percentage of teams they’ve faced just slightly favors the Colts having the harder schedule but that’s is almost always the case with the way the NFL schedules currently, in terms of schedule difficulty doesn’t vary in the aggregate wins and losses by much.  I don’t think that anyone can really make a case that Rivers has faced a dramatically more difficult schedule.  In fact if just a couple of the 3 AFC South teams end up finishing above .500 the Colts would have faced and won 8 games against teams with winning records.  SD can only at best add 2 games against above .500 teams to their schedule.

DZ Comments:  There are other ways to look at it, but they all come out the same.  By DVOA, Indy has the 12th toughest schedule, the Chargers the 20th.  By just winning percentage, Indy has played a schedule of .485 (95-101 brought down by the 1-13 Rams).  The Chargers have played a schedule of .474 (93-103).  Neither team has played an especially difficult or easy slate.  I tend to think people make too much out of scheduling differences in the NFL.  I don’t think there’s any good evidence that Indy or San Diego has played a tougher schedule than the other.  Indy plays in a much tougher division, and San Diego crossed with the toughest NFC division.  It’s basically a wash.  It certainly doesn’t do much to bolster River’s case for MVP.

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