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Saints with One of the Toughest Schedules for 2016

The combined winning percentage for the 2016 New Orleans Saints schedule is out, and it's definitely going to be a battle all season. Even still, the Saints are unlikely to see any sympathy from the rest of the NFC South.

Don't smile just yet, Drew.
Don't smile just yet, Drew.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Despite finishing with a 7-9 record last season, the New Orleans Saints, the Saints actually have the third toughest schedule ahead of them in the entire NFL for the 2016 season. The combined record of the Saints 2016 opponents is 140-116, making the winning percentage for the Saints 2016 opponents a lofty .547.

The relocated Los Angeles Rams are directly ahead of the Saints with a slightly tougher opponents' winning percentage of .551. NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers are tied with the highest percentage at .555. Another NFC South team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are directly behind the Saints (tied with the Seahawks and Cardinals) at .543. The remaining NFC South team, the Super Bowl 50 runner-up Carolina Panthers, are only 12th at .512.

Exactly 15 of the 32 NFL teams (so less than half) have an opponents' combined winning percentage above .500. All four of the NFC South teams are in that group of 15. Cue the conspiracy theories!

It is a bit odd that the NFC South team with the easiest schedule ahead of them are the reigning NFC Champions. While not a sign of a conspiracy, there is a trend of having competitive teams from 2015 have a seemingly advantageous schedule for 2016. Even the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos come in at 14th, with an easier schedule than the Panthers (and the rest of the NFC South). The Green Bay Packers, who made the post-season in 2015, have the easiest cake walk schedule at .457.

Obviously a lot can change in the offseason. Remember: past performance does not equal future results. Teams who did well in 2015 might not be able to retain veteran free agents. Teams who underperformed in 2015 might add that piece or two to push them over the edge in 2016. Either way, the Saints have one of the toughest schedules ahead of them as it stands right now, adding fuel to the "Goodell Hates the Saints" fire.