Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
I believe we've been through this before, but I just spotted the strength of schedule page in the NFL's 2009 Kickoff Guide and it's quite interesting for the NFC South.
The Panthers, Falcons and Bucs have absolutely brutal schedules and the Saints aren't far behind.
Carolina has the league's second-hardest schedule. Their opponents had a .592 winning percentage in 2008. Only Miami, whose opponents had a .594 percentage, has a harder schedule. Carolina plays 15 games against teams that were .500 or better last season - the most of any team in the league. The Panthers also face seven of last year's playoff teams, which ties them for the league lead.
Atlanta has the fourth-hardest schedule. Falcons' opponents were 150-105 (.588) last year. The Falcons have 14 games against teams that were .500 or better and they play five playoff teams.
Tampa Bay is one spot behind Atlanta. The Bucs' opponents had a .580 winning percentage last year. Tampa Bay plays 13 teams that were .500 or better and seven playoff teams.
The Saints rank eighth in degree of difficulty. Their opponents posted a .557 winning percentage last season. The Saints will face 13 teams that were .500 or better and seven playoff teams.