FO is now calling the Hawks schedule up until now the 9th toughest in the NFL. They are calling the Giants schedule up until now the 32nd toughest. Doesn't change the way the Giants handled us... but I think this sort of year may be good for the future of our young core.
I don't think many of us saw this schedule as being this tough. The Bills and Dolphins were supposed to be pushovers and they are both better than .500 teams, that sucks for the hawks for an east coast road game. You ideally want the easiest games on the road (so you win them), the toughest games on the road (so you don't waste a home game losing) and the close games at home. We have had our easiest contests at home (SF, STL) which has compounded the problem.
In addition to supposedly bad teams like BUF and MIA turning out to be good. The mix of teams that we expected to be pretty good have turned out to be awesome. You usually expect some team that was hot last year to suck the next year, but we haven't gotten that: GB, NYG, PHI, and TB are all top 10 DVOA teams. The only break we have gotten has been STL and SF being bad. STL being as bad as they are actually makes our schedule seem easier than it is: STL is so bad that if they got a little better we would still beat them, but we can still only get 2 wins out of them so it doesnt really help us much that they are atrociously bad vs. just bad.
The 'break's would be coming in our future schedule, as NWE and DAL are not as bad-ass as was projected, but even those teams have still been solid. With Romo coming back and Cassel heating up, even those games are very tough. Plus we have the Jets playing way better than anyone thought and they are coming up in our schedule. Arizona is light years from what we expected coming in... They pretty much totally cancel out the weakness of SF and STL. Last but not least, the Redskins are yet another top 10 DVOA team...
This had turned out to be easily the toughest schedule we have played in quite some time. We have still underperformed one way or the other.. but I think it is a plus going forward to have this sort of season under our belts.
Injuries haven't been huge in number but have seemed to hit us precisely where the depth has lacked. Darby going down and Mebane coming to fruition was not the kind of injury we lucked into this year.
I am now hoping that in a week or two once we are 'mathematically' out of the running for the playoffs, Homgren steps down and we start looking to the future..