Everybody does it. About midway through preseason, when you have a decent feel for the team, you print out the season schedule, grab a pen and count wins. You tell yourself, "I'm gonna be conservative." Say you're an Eagles fan. Week 1 you're at St. Louis. Team on the rise, good quarterback, but it has no wideouts and you have the best corners in the league. So you stack the box, eat up S-Jax and probably even cover as road favorites. Red "W" next to Week 1. In Week 2, you waver and decide to come back to the Atlanta visit. Week 3, Giants at home. Maybe you would split on the year, but no way the Giants win at Philly early with that rebuilt O-line.
Then you look at Weeks 4 and 5 and smile. These are, without question, the fastest "W" fill-ins of the year. A rebuilding Niners team in the final year of dragging around the Alex Smith anchor traveling to Philly -- "W." Then a stopover in Buffalo, a team that'll be in Week 5 of "Suck for Luck." You can probably rest Vick in the second half. That's 4-0 with a "thinkaboutit" in Atlanta. Don't lie. You did this. But everybody does in August, even though we know this is a league that turns over half of its playoff teams every year.
But after Week 5 is the point at which, as metrics devotees know, what you see is usually real (sorry, Philly). So let's take a look at the adjusted strength of schedules. Quickly on the formula: We'll start with current win percentage of opposition but also consider overall metric rankings and Vegas odds, because we know there's a difference between visiting one-loss Washington and one-loss New England. There's also the toughest three-game stretch.