The hand-wringing about the Green Bay Packers’ 2022 schedule, particularly around the team’s negative rest differential and travel concerns, might be a bit overblown. That’s the takeaway from a breakdown of every NFL team’s 2022 slate, as published by NFL data scientist Tom Bliss.
Bliss posted the rest differential breakdown on the evening of the schedule release last week, but today he has a more in-depth analysis of the overall difficulty level of each NFL team’s schedule, one that finds the Packers’ overall challenges to be less significant than first thought.
Using a model that estimates the number of wins added or subtracted vs. average for numerous factors, Bliss has estimated the impact of each team’s schedule in wins. This model looks at issues due to rest, home vs. road games (including “home” games in London), and the quality of opponents both inside and outside a team’s division.
Here’s the breakdown for all 32 of the teams in the NFL:
Using our analysis where we estimated value of travel, rest and playing at home while accounting for team strength, here are wins added via matchups and schedule advantages for each team in 2022: pic.twitter.com/HSjxSpxZrA— Tom Bliss (@DataWithBliss) May 17, 2022
As you can see, the Packers have the worst rest differential in the league this year, but this model illustrates that rest has a very minuscule impact on the overall difficulty level of a schedule. Indeed, the Packers’ negative-0.06 wins coming from rest is equal or less than 12 different teams’ travel differential.
But dwarfing either of those factors is the impact of a team’s opponents. Whether this takes just 2021 results or future forecasted performance into account, the Packers have a pretty stark difference between the wins added from their divisional vs. out-of-division opponents. In just six games against NFC North teams, the Packers are projected to gain 0.42 wins over an average schedule; by contrast, their out-of-division schedule is 0.35 wins tougher than average, due in large part to having three division winners (including the reigning AFC #1 seed) coming up.
Still, with all of those factors baked together, the Packers actually have the schedule that projects to be the closest to an average difficulty of any in the NFL this year, wrapping up at just 0.01 win easier than average.
Interestingly, the three other NFC North teams have substantially easier-than-average schedules, even despite each having two games against the Packers. The Bears and Lions both have very easy out-of-division schedules, each getting at least a quarter of a win over average, as well as slightly favorable rest and travel factors. Meanwhile, Minnesota gets the benefit of playing both the Bears and Lions, which helps to balance out a somewhat tougher batch of opponents from outside the division, as well as the league’s easiest travel schedule that provides them +0.15 wins over average.
Despite the favorable slates for the other teams in the division for 2022 this analysis is a bit encouraging for Packers fans. Even though Green Bay’s schedule looks challenging on the surface due to rest and travel factors, those issues tend to have relatively minor impacts and the overall schedule should be about an average one this fall.