Toughest NFL schedules 2024: Browns, Ravens, Packers among teams with most difficult outlooks

The 2024 NFL schedule release is almost here, and soon, fans will get to mark down on their calendars when, where, and who their favorite team is playing against next fall. 

The opponents for each team have been known for quite some time. The matchups and whether they are home or away were determined just after the conclusion of the 2023 season, but now, it’s all about scheduling the contests. 

For most fans, once they are done looking at their own favorite club’s schedules, it’s about taking an audit of the rest of the league. Who has the easiest collection of opponents, and who has the most difficult?

Well, for those fanatics looking to see which clubs have been dealt the toughest hand, The Sporting News has you covered. Here are the five teams with the hardest schedules for the 2024 NFL season. 

MORE: Breaking down the strength of schedule of all 32 teams

Toughest NFL schedules for 2024

1. Cleveland Browns

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage .547
  • SOS based on 2024 projected Vegas win totals: 3

Despite playing a game of musical chairs at quarterback, the Browns found a way to finish the 2023 season at 11-6, tied for the second-best record in the AFC and good enough for the top wild-card spot. 

Their reward? Receiving what is projected by some to be the toughest schedule in 2024. 

Not only do the Browns play in arguably the toughest division in football, but the AFC North is also tasked with playing the NFC East this season. For Cleveland, that means traveling to Washington and also Philadelphia. In addition, their division is matched up against the AFC West, meaning the Browns have a date against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. 

With its second-place finish, that also means the Browns have matchups against the Jaguars and Dolphins on the schedule. The team did get a seemingly favorable game against the Saints thrown on the calendar, but it’s on the road in New Orleans. 

2. Baltimore Ravens

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .536
  • SOS based on 2024 projected Vegas win totals: 4

The Ravens were the best team in the NFL during the 2023 regular season. If John Harbaugh and Co. want to do the same in 2024, it will have to be done against a daunting schedule. 

Baltimore, for the most part, is running it back with a majority of the same personnel from last year. Lamar Jackson is coming off his second MVP season, putting together another dominant season on the ground and through the air, but fans want to see that success translate to the postseason. 

The AFC North matchups speak for themselves, and like the Browns, the Ravens have to face the AFC West and NFC East, as well. But Baltimore also has dates against the rest of the 2023 division winners, which includes a home matchup against the Bills and a road contest against the Texans. 

The bottom line is Baltimore has its work cut out of it if the team wants to finish atop the NFL standings again. 

MORE: Ranking all 32 NFL Draft classes from best to worst

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .533
  • SOS based on 2024 projected Vegas win totals: 1

Noticing a pattern here? The 2024 season is not going to be kind to the AFC North. However, that also has to do with how deep the division is. 

The Steelers are going to have a new look on offense this season. The team elected to part ways with 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett, instead trading for both Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. It gives Pittsburgh an entirely new QB room, with an experienced veteran in Wilson likely getting the starting reps to begin. However, the young dynamic Fields is waiting in the wings. 

As mentioned above, the Steelers will have the AFC West and NFC East on its schedule. Pittsburgh travels to Denver, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Washington and hosts Dallas, Kansas City, the Chargers, and Giants. 

If Mike Tomlin wants to secure a 16th-consecutive season with a non-losing record, he’ll have to do so against a gauntlet of opponents. 

T-4. Green Bay Packers

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .526
  • SOS based on 2024 projected Vegas win totals: 14

The youth movement in Green Bay has arrived. In its first season without Aaron Rodgers in over 15 years, the Packers managed to make the postseason, as Jordan Love led the team to a 9-8 season and a wild-card berth. 

The problem for the green and yellow is it is facing a much harder schedule in 2024 than last year. Green Bay jumped from the 24th-hardest schedule last year to tied for the fourth-most difficult calendar this season. 

Not only did the Packers’ division immensely improve, but the NFC North is set to take on the AFC South and the NFC West. That means the team has home matchups against the 49ers, Texans, and Colts, and road contests against the Seahawks, Rams, and Jaguars. That also fails to mention the fact that Green Bay also is hosting Miami and traveling to Philadelphia. 

The team does have contests against the Saints, Cardinals, and Titans, but the Packers’ schedule does not lighten up more than that.  

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft winners and losers

T-4. Houston Texans

  • Opponents’ 2023 winning percentage: .526
  • SOS based on 2024 projected Vegas win totals: 7

From one of the easiest schedules in 2023 to one of the most difficult in 2024. The Texans are finding out the hard way the cost of a quick ascension to contender status. 

Houston accelerated out of its rebuild thanks to a rookie class of C.J. Stroud, Tank Dell, and Will Anderson Jr. Now, the league is fully aware of just how good DeMeco Ryans’ young crew is, and the Texans undoubtedly have a target on their backs after winning the AFC South. 

The Texans have six total matchups against their three divisional opponents, with both the Colts and Jaguars expected to be tough outs. Another division the team has to worry about is the AFC East, as Houston is set to travel to New England and New York and host Buffalo and Miami. 

With its first-place finish in 2023, that means dates against the Ravens and the Chiefs are in the cards for the Texans. In terms of the NFC, the AFC South plays against the NFC North, which means Houston is heading to Green Bay and Minnesota in addition to hosting Detroit and Chicago. 

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