The easiest and hardest QB schedules

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

New England Patriots fans have reason to fret while their Super Bowl MVP quarterback fights a four-game NFL suspension. Tom Brady's importance to the Patriots is obvious, but he's only part of the quarterback equation for the six-time defending AFC East champions. Opposing quarterbacks also matter, and that's one area where New England should like its position.

The projected starting quarterbacks New England will face in 2015 graded lower than those for any team, according to ratings provided by 35 NFL coaches and evaluators in our 2015 QB Tier Rankings. That's good news for New England and for several other teams, especially if the 2015 quarterback tiers foreshadow outcomes as well as the 2014 version did.

As the chart below shows, top-tier starters had a distinct advantage last season in games played against Tier 3 QBs or worse.

For Brady, missing the first four games would swing the quarterback advantages toward Pittsburgh (first game) and Dallas (fourth game), while making it more difficult to get past Buffalo's tough defense (second game).

But as the following breakdowns demonstrate, New England is one of several teams with built-in advantages based on the QBs served up by the 2015 schedule, while the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers are at the other end. Here, we break down the easiest and hardest schedules based on how those 35 coaches and evaluators rated projected starting quarterbacks this offseason.

For a refresher on the QB Tiers methodology, click here.