FWDB #1 (?): An In-Depth Look at Final Third Schedules

  • By John Comey, Day 121, 2022


With the All-Star Game in the rearview, and the final third of the season upon us, we thought it would make sense to look at the remaining schedules of the main playoff contenders. Right now, the playoff seedings and first-round matchups are as follows:

West:

1) Houston vs 8) Los Angeles
2) Las Vegas vs 7) Phoenix
3) Seattle vs 6) Oakland
4) Kansas City vs 5) Mexico City

East:

1) Philadelphia vs 8) Detroit
2) Toronto vs 7) New Orleans
3) Chicago vs 6) Atlanta
4) Miami vs 5) Cincinnati

How do things shape up going forward? Let’s take a look.

Houston (45-12)

125: at Phoenix
135: at Mexico City
136: at Toronto
139: vs Kansas City
149: vs Detroit
152: vs Atlanta
154: vs Chicago
157: vs Las Vegas
159: at Kansas City
164: vs Mexico City
167: at Los Angeles
168: at Seattle

Toughest Stretch: Days 124-138. Seven of nine on the road, including at Phoenix, Mexico City, Louisville, and Toronto.

Easiest Stretch: Days 149-164. Eight of nine at home. Only road game is at KC.

If it’s close late, the schedule doesn’t exactly favor Houston. They close with road games in LA and Seattle on a back-to-back. Chances are, those two teams will be in a dogfight for seeding.

Kansas City (41-18)

124: at Cincinnati
130: vs Los Angeles
135: at Oakland
137: at Mexico City
139: at Houston
140: vs New Orleans
146: vs Oakland
150: vs Phoenix
156: vs Mexico City
159: vs Houston
161: at Los Angeles
166: vs Seattle

Toughest Stretch: Days 135-139: Three road games against three of the toughest teams in the West, culminating with a monster showdown in Houston.

Easiest Stretch: The Knights had a couple difficult stretches early in the year. So, from Days 140-150, they have six home games.

If it’s close late, the schedule favors the Knights. They have to go to Los Angeles in the final week, but then have two home games. They close with Minneapolis on the road.

Mexico City (36-23)

121: at Seattle
123: at Oakland
125: vs New Orleans
129: at Las Vegas
133: vs Houston
135: vs Las Vegas
137: vs Kansas City
139: vs Seattle
140: at Atlanta
145: at Toronto
150: vs Miami
156: at Kansas City
160: vs Oakland
164: at Houston
166: at Miami

Toughest Stretch: The Jags have a fascinating home stretch from days 133-139, hosting Houston, Las Vegas Kansas City, and Seattle. This is bookended by trips to Las Vegas and Atlanta. With the Jags only a game and a half up on the Vultures, this may define their season.

Easiest Stretch: It really doesn’t get easy. Their longest homestand is the one described above. We’ll list Days 147-152, but with consternation. The Jags to go Boston, then host Miami and Dallas. There are hurdles to clear all over the Jags’ schedule going forward.

If it’s close late, the schedule does not favor the Jags. They do get Minneapolis with five games to go, but then host Oakland, before going to Houston and Miami. They close with Oklahoma City at home. Chances are, the Jags will need those games.

Las Vegas (45-14)

129: vs Mexico City
131: at Atlanta
132: at Miami
135: at Mexico City
140: vs Cincinnati
142: at Phoenix
144: vs Oakland
147: vs Detroit
150: at Cincinnati
151: at New Orleans
157: at Houston
159: at Oakland
160: vs Seattle
165: vs Oakland

Toughest Stretch: Days 131-142. The Scorps have to go to Atlanta, Miami, and Mexico City. The game in Charlotte is more of a trap game, as the team has Cincinnati right after. Then there’s a trip to Phoenix. Realistically, this stretch goes through Day 151, as Oakland and Detroit come to town, then Vegas heads out to Cincinnati and New Orleans on a back-to-back. This is their season-defining stretch, and probably the key to them nabbing the top seed out West. Or losing it.

Easiest Stretch: Right out of the break, Days 122-127, the Scorps have four very winnable games, even if two are on the road. Things get a lot more difficult right after that, so any scuffling here could lead to a major situation in Sin City.

If things are close late, the schedule favors Las Vegas. They have three home games in the final week, with Seattle, Minneapolis and Oakland coming to town. They close with the Skyhawks in St. Louis, then a day off on the final day of the regular season.

Seattle (43-14)

121: vs Mexico City
123: vs Los Angeles
130: vs Phoenix
136: vs New Orleans
139: vs Mexico City
141: vs Miami
143: at Oakland
144: at Phoenix
146: vs Detroit
149: vs Atlanta
156: vs Oakland
159: at Los Angeles
160: at Las Vegas
166: at Kansas City
168: vs Houston

Toughest Stretch: The Thunder have hell to the season, having to go to LA, Vegas, and Kansas City from 159-166. Before that, they host Oakland, and close with Houston at home. That’s a very difficult stretch, as difficult as anyone in the league has.

Easiest Stretch: Up until that stretch, Seattle gets a lot of home cooking. Eight of their first nine after the break are at home, and many are against teams not in contention. Even after a semi-road trip, the Thunder return home for six in a row (146-158) before that brutal season-ending stretch. If any team is poised to make a big run at things after the break, it is the Thunder.

If it’s close late, Seattle is going to really have to prove themselves.

Oakland (36-22)

123: vs Mexico City
129: at Atlanta
135: vs Kansas City
141: vs Los Angeles
143: vs Seattle
144: at Las Vegas
146: at Mexico City
150: vs Atlanta
152: vs Phoenix
158: vs Oakland
159: vs Las Vegas
160: vs Mexico City
165: at Las Vegas
167: at Phoenix

Toughest Stretch: From 138-146, the Tritons have four games against likely playoff participants. The first two are at home against retooled LA and hated rival Seattle. The next two are in Las Vegas and at Mexico City. The Tritons are going to be tested considerably over that stretch, and anything better than 2-2 is a bonus…but worse is a collective loss.

Easiest Stretch: The Tritons then return home for four in a row, from 150-156. Yes, they host Atlanta and Phoenix in that stretch, but all should be wins. They have a very navigable slate coming out of the break; just two games of their next six games are against playoff contenders.

If it’s close late, Oakland has a tough road. They go to Vegas and Phoenix to close the season, and have to go to Mexico City and Pittsburgh before. That is a lot of travel in the final week of the season.


Phoenix (34-24)

125: vs Houston
130: at Seattle
132: vs New Orleans
140: vs Detroit
142: vs Las Vegas
144: vs Seattle
147: vs Atlanta
150: at Kansas City
152: at Oakland
160: vs Los Angeles
165: at Los Angeles
167: vs Oakland

Toughest Stretch: The Vultures have, in this estimation, the easiest schedule of the remaining playoff contenders in the West. Their toughest stretch is a seven-game stretch from 134-147, in which three games are all very winnable games on the road (Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis), then four games at home against Detroit, Vegas, Seattle and Atlanta. It is not inconceivable for the Vultures to go 6-1 or 5-2 during that stretch. Of course, drop any of the road games, and that makes the sledding more difficult.

Easiest Stretch: The Vultures open the last trimester with five of six at home, before taking the road for that three game stretch described above. They have Dallas, St. Louis, and Austin during that homestand. And they are capable of beating the Lightning.

If it’s close late…it will be difficult for Phoenix. They have the Fireballs twice in the final week, one home, and one on the road. They also have Oakland at home, before having to fly out to play Dallas on the road to close the year.

Los Angeles (31-26)

123: at Seattle
125: at Atlanta
128: at Miami
130: at Kansas City
134: vs New Orleans
138: vs Cincinnati
141: at Oakland
143: vs Miami
153: at Detroit
158: vs Seattle
160: at Phoenix
161: vs Kansas City
165: vs Phoenix
167: vs Houston

Toughest Stretch: The Fireballs retooled themselves, having acquired Stoyanov Vitas, Sebastian Kidd, Orien Young and Lorenzen Eyles over the All-Star break. They’ll have to get acclimated to their new surroundings while traveling. After starting with St. Louis, the Fireballs have four on the road against playoff contenders from 123-130. None of those games will consider them a favorite, and they’ll be overhauling their rotation in that stretch. The Fireballs may slump during this time.

Easiest Stretch: For the difficult road to start things, the Fireballs have a lot of home cooking late. From 155-167, seven of eight will be at home. Yes, they have Seattle, Kansas City, Phoenix and Houston in that stretch. But if the moves the Fireballs have made pan out, they could win most of those contests.

If it’s close late…well, it likely won’t, given the Fireballs’ being 2.3 games behind Phoenix for the final seed. They’ll have to watch Denver over their shoulder. If things are close there, the Fireballs do have the majority of their games at home, though against quality opponents who will also be jockeying for position.

Eastern Conference

Philadelphia (43-12)

121: at Chicago
123: vs New Orleans
126: at Miami
128: at Cincinnati
135: at Miami
149: at New Orleans
157: at Atlanta
161: at Detroit
163: vs Cincinnati
167: at Atlanta

Toughest Stretch: The Warriors have four of their first five on the road, and eight of their first ten, from 121-138. Over that stretch includes two games in Miami, a trip to Chicago, and one to Cincinnati. Most of those games are winnable for the Warriors, but they will be order a lot of room service for the next couple of weeks.

Easiest Stretch: There are games they should win all over the place in this last stretch. After their long trip, they’ll be home for seven of nine from 140-155. Including there are games against the Vipers, Bullets, Drones, Barons, Rockets, and the Rens. The only trips they have are to New York and New Orleans. The Warriors could put a stamp on the conference’s top seed right here.

If it’s close late, things favor Philly. They have Baltimore, Cincy, St. Louis, and Louisville at home in the final week, with trips to Detroit and Atlanta. They should go at least 4-2 in that stretch, if not 5-1.

One interesting tidbit: Philadelphia and Toronto do not play one another the rest of the way.

Toronto (42-14)

125: vs Detroit
127: at New Orleans
133: vs Atlanta
134: at Detroit
136: vs Houston
145: vs Mexico City
147: at New Orleans
148: at Cincinnati
160: at Cincinnati
165: vs New Orleans
166: at Detroit
168: at Miami

Toughest Stretch: This is likely the three-game stretch the Huskies have from 133-136, when they’ll get Atlanta and Houston at home, around a trip to Detroit. It is a short stint, but these will all be difficult games. The game against Houston is one of the best games on the post-break slate.

Easiest Stretch: The Huskies close with a lot of home cooking. From 150-165, the Huskies will have six of eight at home, with only road trips to Boston and Cincinnati there. They’ll get Baltimore, Portland, Denver, Boston, and Pittsburgh in that stretch. They should collect a lot of wins here.

If it’s close late, it’s going to be tough for Toronto. They have New Orleans on 165, then go to Detroit and Miami to end the season.

Chicago (41-16)

121: vs Philadelphia
136: at Detroit
138: at Atlanta
144: vs Cincinnati
151: at Detroit
154: at Houston
156: at Miami
157: at New Orleans
168: vs Detroit

Toughest Stretch: The Jailbirds have a very manageable slate in the last seven weeks. But this four-game stretch from 151-157 is killer, and may define their season. The Birds have games in Detroit, Houston, Miami, and New Orleans over that six-day trip. Given the rest of their schedule, they get off light. But this will be difficult, especially if they fatten up on their lighter load.

Easiest Stretch: Well, after starting with a home game against Philly, the Jailbirds take the road on 123, but with games against Austin, Baltimore, and Charlotte. Then they come home for games against St. Louis, Boston, and Oklahoma City. They also close with a stretch from 159-166 that includes home games against Nashville, Charlotte, and Baltimore, and road games against Boston and Baltimore. With the advantage in the division, the schedule really affords the Jailbirds some breaks.

If it’s close late…well, it very much favors Chicago, as evidenced above. They do close with a game in Detroit, which is always a difficult challenge, given their rivalry.

Cincinnati (36-20)

124: vs Kansas City
128: vs Philadelphia
132: vs Detroit
138: at Los Angeles
140: at Las Vegas
144: at Chicago
148: vs Toronto
150: vs Las Veas
154: at Miami
160: vs Toronto
163: at Philadelphia

Toughest Stretch: The Kings have six on the road, from 134-144. With the kids (Mason and Poke, obv) showing some signs of fatigue, this will be a difficult stretch for the Kings to manage. However, a tougher stretch might be from 146-155. The Kings have three at home, but against Louisville (hated rival), Toronto, and Las Vegas, Then they hit the road against a Baltimore team that has picked teams off at home, Miami, and Charlotte.

Easiest Stretch: The Kings open with six of seven at home, their only road trip being to Oklahoma City. Yes, they have to play Kansas City and Philadelphia, as well as Detroit…but they also have Nashville, Baltimore, and Denver. The Kings need to make a move here, because that difficult road trip listed above follows immediately.

If it’s close late…things favor the Kings, kind of. They have four straight at home from 157-162, with games against Minneapolis, St. Louis, a tough one against Toronto, and the Stars. After a trip to Philly, they have a home-and-home against a Rens team that will have nothing to play for.

Miami (37-20)

126: vs Philadelphia
128: vs Los Angeles
130: vs Detroit
132: Las Vegas
135: vs Philadelphia
141: at Seattle
143: at Los Angeles
150: at Mexico City
154: vs Cincinnati
156: vs Chicago
160: vs Atlanta
161: at Atlanta
166: vs Mexico City
168: vs Toronto

Toughest Stretch: Miami has a lot of home cooking in the second half, including seven of nine to start the last stretch. However, that stretch includes games against Philly, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Las Vegas (126-132). There is also a stretch, from 139-143, at Dallas, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Take your pick between those.

Easiest Stretch: There may not be one. The home stretches are littered with games against quality opponents. After their West Coast swing, the Cyclones have three of four at home, from 146-152. Denver, New York, and Pittsburgh come to Miami, while the Cyclones take a quick trip to Mexico City on 150. That is their best stretch.

If it’s close late, things are tough…but manageable…for Miami. The Cyclones close with six of eight at home, with trips to Atlanta and New York in there. They do have Mexico City and Toronto to close things out, though.

Atlanta (36-23)

125: vs Los Angeles
129: vs Oakland
131: vs Las Vegas
133: at Toronto
138: vs Chicago
140: vs Mexico City
147: at Phoenix
149 at Seattle
150: at Oakland
152: at Houston
157: vs Philadelphia
159: vs New Orleans
160: at Miami
161: vs Miami
167: Philadelphia

Toughest Stretch: Brutal, brutal West Coast swing awaits the Devils, from 144-155. After Louisville on 144, the Devils go to Phoenix, Seattle, Oakland, and Houston. At least they’ll have two days to rest before playing in Austin. There is another four game stretch right after (157-161) that is sneaky tough, too. The Warriors come to town, then a back-to-back-to-back against the Canes and a home-and-home with Atlanta. Those last two games will be heated, for sure. Oh, and there’s also a LA-Oakland-Vegas-Toronto stretch, the latter being on the road, from 125-133.

Easiest Stretch: Is there one? The Devils have….you know what? No, there isn’t one. There really isn’t. Atlanta has, far and away, the most difficult schedule left of any contender, East or West.

If it’s close late…well, there’s a chance. The Devils have two on the road, in Nashville and Boston, before closing with Philly at home.

New Orleans (34-23)

123: at Philadelphia
125: at Mexico City
127: vs Toronto
129: vs Detroit
132: at Phoenix
134: at Los Angeles
136: at Seattle
140: at Kansas City
147: vs Toronto
149: vs Philadelphia
151: vs Las Vegas
157: vs Chicago
159: at Atlanta
165: at Toronto

Toughest Stretch: Easily that five-game road trip from 132-140, when the Carnes will face Phoenix, LA, Seattle, and Kansas City. New Orleans is staring at 1-4 for that trip, with only Portland being a potential winnable game.

Easiest Stretch: The Canes come home from that for a seven-game home stand, though it isn’t as easy as it seems. Louisville is retooled somewhat, and Toronto, Philly, and Las Vegas all come by in a four-day stretch. Chicago follows. Their easiest stretch is probably from 160-168, as the Canes go to New York, then come home for St. Louis and Charlotte. After going to Toronto and Louisville, the Canes close with the Stars at home.

If it’s close late, things do favor the Canes. See above.

Detroit (28-29)

125: at Toronto
129: at New Orleans
130: at Miami
132: at Cincinnati
134: vs Toronto
136: vs Chicago
140: at Phoenix
146: at Seattle
147: At Las Vegas
149: at Houston
151: vs Chicago
153: vs Los Angeles
161: vs Philadelphia
166: vs Toronto
169: at Chicago

Toughest Stretch: The Mustangs have no chill in their schedule, starting with 125 in Toronto. They return home for the Colonels, before three on the road in New Orleans, Miami, and Cincinnati. Then it’s home for Toronto and Chicago, before hitting the road for a six-game death march out West. Yes, Atlanta has the most difficult stretch remaining overall…but this is the most difficult individual stretch for any team, in our estimation. With the Mustangs already sporting a losing record, this is something that could kill playoff hopes. Louisville is only three games back of the final spot, after all.

Easiest Stretch: From 156-165, the Stangs have some games on the road, but all games they should win. They host the Stars, then see the Rens and Bullets in their lovely cities. After a home date with Philly, they host the Skyhawks, then go to Oklahoma City. They should win the majority of those contests. The pressure will be on, though, as it should be expected that Louisville will climb back into things.

If it’s close late…well, there’s that stretch, but Detroit closes with Toronto (home) and then a trip to Chicago. So…it will be difficult.