The AFC West has become a contested race, with Kansas City running out of steam and the Chargers surging. Both teams potentially could benefit from easy schedules down the stretch. (Best to emphasize “potentially” because Los Angeles has frittered away plenty of games this year, while Kansas City has been unable to take advantage of lesser opponents in recent weeks.)
Atlanta, Carolina and Seattle, meanwhile, are in the thick of the playoff race but could be undermined by difficult schedules. All will play their remaining five games against teams that have won at least 60 percent of their games.
|STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE -- Wins (Weeks 13-17)|
At the same time, we can look at how schedules might have affected things so far.
The Seahawks and Bengals through the first 12 weeks have played the easiest schedules in the league. Both have played opponents that have gone 44-66 in their other games. That is, Seattle’s opponents have gone 48-73 – 4-7 against the Seahawks, and 44-66 against the rest of the league. Cincinnati’s opponents have gone 50-71 (6-5 against the Bengals, and 44-66 against the rest of the league).
Chicago and Washington have the switcher schedules. They’ve played the league’s two hardest schedules so far, but they’ll get a lot easier in the remaining weeks (Washington’s last six games tie as the easiest in the league, while Chicago is just a game back).
New Orleans also have played a difficult schedule so far, making its 8-3 start even more impressive. That team’s only losses have come against 9-2 Minnesota, 9-2 New England and the 8-3 Rams.
|STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE -- Wins (Weeks 1-12)|