In its Tuesday news release, the NFL included strength of schedule for all 32 teams and New Orleans comes in tied at No. 2, its opponents carrying a .539 winning percentage in 2012.
In other words, it’s a good thing Sean Payton, king of the little things that win games, is back in the fold for the Saints.
New Orleans’ opponents went 137-117-2 a season ago (the two ties being the 49ers and Rams 24-24 November game). Seven of New Orleans’ 16 games this season are against opponents who were .500 or better in 2012 and five games will played against teams that made the playoffs (twice against Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, New England).
Only Carolina has a tougher schedule percentage-wise.
Detroit also faces a schedule whose opponents won at a .539 clip, but its schedule is technically harder because 12 games come against opponents who were .500 or better and seven games are against 2012 playoff teams.
St. Louis, too, has a schedule with a .539 percentage. The Rams will play nine games against teams that finished .500 or better and seven against teams that made the playoffs.
Let’s look at the rest of the NFC South:
No. 1 Carolina: .543 (138-116-2)
No. 15 Atlanta: .504 (128-126-2)
No. 17 Tampa Bay: .500 (127-127-2)
Of course, we realize this is based on last year's records and things change. But until there is a base of games this season to go off of, this is what we have to gauge a team's schedule by.