Saints, Bucs have tough road schedules

Here’s something else to ponder as we get ready for Tuesday evening’s release of the NFL regular-season schedule.

We’ve already shown you the league-wide chart on strength of schedule and it says the Carolina Panthers have the NFC South’s toughest schedule (based on the 2011 record of opponents). But let’s take that a little further. With some help from ESPN Stats & Information, let’s see who has the division’s toughest schedule at home and on the road.

The New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the division’s toughest road schedules. The Saints have the division’s hardest road schedule and also are tied for No. 9 in the NFL. Their road opponents had a .531 winning percentage last season. The Bucs are No. 14 (.508). The Panthers are tied for No. 17 (.492). The Atlanta Falcons have the division’s easiest road schedule. They’re tied for No. 23 with road opponents compiling a .477 winning percentage in 2011.

The Buccaneers have the division’s easiest home schedule. Their opponents combined for a .461 winning percentage last year. Only seven teams have easier home schedules. The Saints, who have been especially good in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in recent years, also have what appears to be a pretty easy home schedule. The teams the Saints host had a .477 winning percentage in 2012.

Atlanta’s home opponents went .500 last season. Carolina has the division’s hardest home schedule. The Panthers will host teams that had a .523 winning percentage. Only 10 teams face tougher home schedules.