Easiest NFL schedules 2024: 5 teams with easiest schedule breakdown

The 2024 NFL schedule is set to be released, allowing fans to circle the dates on their calendars for the fall and winter. That’s about all it is, though.

All 32 teams already know their opponents in 2024. The NFL’s scheduling cycle ensures fans know which opponents their team will host and which they will face on the road as soon as the previous regular season ends. That’s why we already know which teams have the toughest and easiest schedules in 2024, at least by one metric.

Of course, there’s no perfect way to gauge whether a schedule is truly easy. A matchup many peg as easy might end up being a team that goes from worst-to-first just as the Texans did last season. On the other hand, a matchup thought to be tough could be upended by a major quarterback absence.

Still, opponents’ combined win percentage from 2023 is a solid way to determine strength of schedule until we actually see teams take the field in the fall.

Based on that metric, here’s a look at the five easiest NFL schedules in 2024.

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Easiest NFL schedules in 2024

1. New Orleans Saints (tied)

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .453

This tour through the NFC South begins with the Saints, who again have one of the NFL’s easiest schedules. The NFC South itself is the biggest factor. Facing the Panthers twice after Carolina’s 2-15 season weighs New Orleans’ opponent win percentage down, though the Buccaneers are coming off a winning season and the Falcons (7-10) should be improved with Kirk Cousins under center.

Outside of the division, the Saints face the entire AFC West. The Chiefs are not easy by any means, but their 11-6 record in 2023 means they don’t drag up the combined win percentage too dramatically. The Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers all enter 2024 with fairly low expectations, at least from the outside looking in. 

The Saints also face the entire NFC East, which features two strong teams in the Eagles and Cowboys. However, both the Giants and Commanders are coming off brutal seasons. New York and Washington are hoping to be much improved in 2024, though that’s much easier said than done.

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The Saints’ two second-place opponents in the NFC are the Packers and Rams, and their AFC “17th game” opponent is the Browns. All three reached the playoffs last season, so the schedule might not be as easy as it seems when you consider how much the Panthers weigh it down. 

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1. Atlanta Falcons (tied)

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .453

The Falcons are tied for the easiest schedule in 2023, with only three games differing from the Saints outside of two matchups against each other.

Like New Orleans, Atlanta will face the entire AFC West as well as the entire NFC East. That means the Chargers, Broncos, Raiders, Giants, and Commanders are all on the docket for Kirk Cousins and the Falcons. Each of those teams earned a top-12 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

The Falcons’ two third-place opponents in the NFC are the Vikings and Seahawks, and their AFC “17th game” opponent is the Steelers. That’s a bit easier than the Saints’ extra three games, based on win percentage. The Steelers finished behind the Browns, while the Seahawks and Vikings finished behind the Rams and Packers, respectively.

So, why are their strengths of schedule even? The Saints (9-8) are on the Falcons’ schedule twice, while the Falcons (7-10) are on the Saints’ schedule twice. By 2023 record, the Falcons are the easier opponent. Raheem Morris might disagree that the season will actually play out that way after Atlanta upgraded at quarterback.

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3. Carolina Panthers (tied)

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .467

How could the Panthers face a last-place schedule but still have a tougher schedule than the Saints and Falcons? Well, the answer is that they don’t get to face themselves.

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Having two games against a team that went 2-15 last season significantly weighs down the Falcons’ and Saints’ strength of schedule. The Panthers don’t get that luxury, as their NFC South opponents went a combined 25-26 (.490) last season. 

Carolina does benefit from facing the AFC West, with no surefire playoff contender outside of the Chiefs, while the NFC East brings two potentially tough matchups but perhaps a couple of breaks with the Giants and Commanders.

The Panthers’ last-place opponents in the NFC are the Bears and Cardinals. Facing the Cardinals weighs down Carolina’s schedule compared to their division rivals, as every other NFC West team finished above .500 in 2023. The Panthers’ AFC “17th game” opponent is the Bengals, which isn’t much of a break. Cincinnati went 9-8 as a last-place team in 2023 and will be getting QB Joe Burrow back after he missed a portion of last season.

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3. Chicago Bears (tied)

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .467

The Bears are the only team outside the NFC South with a schedule that ranks among the five easiest in the NFL. How did they get here?

First, Chicago finished last in the NFC North. The Bears’ variable games come against the Panthers and Commanders, who finished as the two worst teams in the NFL by record last season. That’s one way to weigh down the opponent’s win percentage.

The Bears’ AFC “17th game” then comes against the Patriots, who were the third-worst team in the NFL by record last season. That means the Bears, who owned the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft, will face each of the three teams that actually earned the top three picks. 

Along with the rest of the NFC North, the Bears will face the entire AFC South and the entire NFC West. The 49ers were the only team from those divisions to win more than 10 games last season, though six of the eight teams had a winning record. 

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Facing the rest of the NFC North won’t be easy. The Packers surged late last season, while the Lions look like a Super Bowl contender. The Vikings face some uncertainty without Kirk Cousins, but they have a talented group of weapons for either J.J. McCarthy or Sam Darnold. Those six games could still be a bit of a gauntlet for Caleb Williams and the rejuvenated Bears.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .478

As the first-place finisher in the NFC South, the Buccaneers don’t benefit quite as much as their division rivals.

Tampa Bay’s first-place matchups in the NFC come against the 49ers and Lions, so there are no breaks afforded. The Buccaneers’ AFC “17th game” is a matchup with the Ravens, who had the conference’s best record last season. 

That means the Bucs face each of last season’s conference finalists, as the Chiefs are also on their schedule thanks to the NFC South facing the entire AFC West.

The Buccaneers still have a relatively easy schedule because the competition steeply drops off after those four games. Tampa Bay still faces the Panthers twice in addition to the Giants, Commanders, Chargers, Raiders, and Broncos. 

Todd Bowles’ group went 4-2 against the NFC South last season, so the key to how their 2024 season turns out might depend on whether they can still take care of business against three teams that believe they will be better this year.

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