Looking at the remaining schedules, three teams pop out. Jacksonville, Kansas City and Baltimore. I think all three of those are going to benefit from playing easy schedules the rest of the way.
The Jaguars are 6-3, and with the league’s easiest remaining schedule, I don’t think they’re going away. They’ve still got five games left against the Browns, Cardinals, Colts, Texans and 49ers. A flawed team, but Jacksonville is going to the playoffs.
Similarly with the Ravens, who are an underwhelming 4-5. This is a flawed, middle-of-the-pack team. But they play good defense, and given the opponents they’ll be facing the rest of the way, I think Baltimore will be a wild-card team. They’ve got a game against Pittsburgh, but they’re other remaining games are against teams that are currently 19-36. They might win all of those.
Kansas City has lost three of its last four, but with its schedule getting a lot easier, I expect it will get things turned around and start cranking out wins.
At the other end of scale, two teams contending for playoff berths have the hardest remaining schedules: Falcons and Rams.
Other playoff contenders with difficult closing schedules: Carolina, Seattle, Buffalo and Dallas.
|STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (Weeks 11-17)|