Panthers will have NFL's hardest schedule

The National Football League is releasing its regular-season schedule Tuesday night, but we already know the Carolina Panthers will play the league’s toughest schedule.

That, of course, is based on strength of schedule, which is the combined 2010 win-loss record for all 2011 opponents. So how does a 2-14 team end up with the league’s toughest schedule?

Well, you can put a big part of the blame on the rest of the NFC South. Take the 2010 win totals for the Falcons (13), Saints (11) and Buccaneers (10) and double them. Right there, you’ve got a combined 68 victories and that’s a big part of the reason why Carolina’s 2011 opponents were a combined 142-114 (.555 win percentage) last season.

The Buffalo Bills who will face opponents with a combined .535 percentage have the league’s second most difficult schedule.

The Saints are tied for No. 13 on the list of hardest schedules. Their opponents were a combined 130-126 (.508) last season. The Buccaneers and Falcons face opponents who combined to go less than .500 last season.

Tampa Bay comes in at No. 18 with opponents who went 127-129 (.496). Atlanta is tied for No. 19 with opponents who went 126-130 (.492) last season.