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NFL Analyst Names The League's Hardest 2020 Schedule

A general view of the Falcons stadium.

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: A general view of Mercedes-Benz Stadium prior to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys on November 12, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Usually we evaluate the hardest schedule in the NFL by the win-percentage of a team's opponents from the previous year. But one analyst has a different methodology with a different result.

Over the weekend, Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report published his ranking of every team's strength of schedule based on other criteria. Gagnon evaluated the hardest and easiest schedules in the NFL based on more fluid metrics such as opponents' expected wins and rough patches on the schedule.

Under Gagnon's model, the New England Patriots with the hardest strength of schedule by last year's numbers, have the 11th toughest in the NFL. The real toughest schedule, per Gagnon, are the Atlanta Falcons.

Gagnon explained that the projected win total for the Falcons' opponents in 2020 is .541 - the hardest in the league. Atlanta has a league-leading nine games against teams expected to have at least nine wins in 2020.

Via Bleacher Report:

The Falcons and Giants are the only teams in football with nine matchups against teams projected to win nine-plus games and just three against teams projected to win seven or fewer. And Atlanta actually has "just" three meetings with teams that have double-digit win projections (compared to four for the Giants). But with that .541 projected win rate for 2020 and that .525 2019 win rate, you can't deny the Falcons the top spot.

The icing on the cake? They open with Seattle, Dallas and Green Bay in three of their first four games and close with New Orleans, Tampa Bay (twice) and Kansas City in their last five. Good luck with that!

Based on last year's results, the Falcons are actually tied for the fifth-hardest strength of schedule. But with division games against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers, the revamped Carolina Panthers and the perennially contending New Orleans Saints, going .500 in the NFC South is a tough ask.

Combine that with games against the Cowboys, Packers, Vikings, and Chiefs among others, and you have a recipe for a very rough season.

How many wins will the Atlanta Falcons have in 2020? Can they make the playoffs with this schedule?