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Packin' for the playoffs

Green Bay rides easy schedule into January

That was a pivotal win for the Packers. It pulls them back to 6-6, and their remaining schedule indicates they have an inside track on a playoff berth – it will be a surprise if they don’t get in.

Green Bay has made it through the meat of its schedule. Its last five are against the Giants, Bucs, Panthers, Vikings and Bears. They’ll need to win only three of those games, but they look more likely to win four or even all five.

Combined, those opponents have a win-loss record of 20-40. Even if we set aside 1-11 Carolina, those other four teams are currently 19-29. Jordan Love, I’m thinking, will be starting a playoff game.

Two other teams will play their final five games against opponents who collectively have won fewer than 40 percent of their games: the Falcons and Saints. I’m not sure that either of them are any good, but their remaining opponents are 22-38, and somebody needs to win the NFC South.

Teams with difficult closing schedules include the Ravens, Cowboys, Titans and Giants.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (Wks 14-18)
TeamWLPct
Green Bay2040.333
Atlanta2238.367
New Orleans2238.367
Kansas City2436.400
Philadelphia2635.426
Denver2634.433
Tampa Bay2634.433
Houston2634.433
Jacksonville2634.433
San Francisco2834.452
NY Jets2932.475
Cleveland2931.483
Pittsburgh3030.500
Carolina3030.500
Chicago3130.508
LA Rams3130.508
Detroit3129.517
LA Chargers3129.517
Indianapolis3129.517
New England3129.517
Las Vegas3228.533
Miami3228.533
Seattle3328.541
Buffalo3327.550
Minnesota3525.583
Cincinnati3525.583
Washington2820.583
Arizona2919.604
NY Giants3723.617
Tennessee3723.617
Dallas3823.623
Baltimore3921.650

If we’re going with points rather than wins, the Cowboys, Falcons and 49ers project to play the most favorable remaining schedules. (The Cowboys are interesting in that they’re the 2nd-toughest by win-loss percentage, but number one via points, with a couple of possible shootouts against Philadelphia and Miami remaining).

The Dolphins and Commanders have the hardest remaining schedules, with opponents currently allowing only 19 points per game.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE, POINTS (Wks 14-18)
TeamAvg
Dallas23.9
Atlanta23.5
San Francisco23.3
Philadelphia23.3
Green Bay23.1
NY Jets23.0
Minnesota22.4
New Orleans22.4
Arizona22.1
Cleveland22.1
NY Giants22.1
Chicago22.0
Tennessee21.9
Denver21.9
Tampa Bay21.8
Las Vegas21.8
Houston21.8
Pittsburgh21.7
Detroit21.7
LA Chargers21.6
LA Rams21.5
Kansas City21.1
Seattle21.1
Indianapolis20.8
Jacksonville20.8
Carolina20.7
Cincinnati20.4
New England20.3
Buffalo20.1
Baltimore19.9
Washington19.0
Miami19.0

—Ian Allan

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