Ranking NFL contenders’ strength of schedule in final 9 weeks: Here’s who has the hardest and easiest paths

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Midway through the NFL season, the picture began to clear up as to which teams would contend for the Super Bowl title. Philadelphia Eagles (8-0), Minnesota Vikings (7-1), Kansas City Chiefs (6-2), Dallas Cowboys (6-2), Buffalo Bills (6-3), Baltimore Ravens (6-3) and Miami Dolphins (6-3) certainly belong in this conversation.

What about the New York Giants (6-2) or the New York Jets (6-3)? Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) or Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)? At worst, these teams are setting themselves up to make the playoffs and make the playoffs on their own.

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As the league enters the second half of the season, playoff chasing, division title races and home field advantage become the focus. Teams will be reviewing their schedules and their path to play at the end of January.

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Let’s take a look at the top 20 playoff contenders so far this season. Only teams with four or more wins count, unless the team was eliminated from the division race for one game – like the New Orleans Saints by a score of 3-6.

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Before we get into the exercise, let’s take a look at each team’s schedule for the first half of the season.

Schedule strength for each team until week 9

TeamTotal record of opponents facedWin percentage

lions

45-24

0.652

Steelers

43-26

0.623

Cardinals

43-33

0.566

crows

44-34

0.564

The Bears

42-33-1

0.553

packers

43-35

0.551

accounts

37-31

0.544

Dolphins

42-36

0.538

commanders

40-35-1

0.526

Jaguars

33-31-3

0.517

cowboys

35-33

0.514

Jets

39-38

0.506

browns

35-35

.500

The Saints

39-40

0.494

bengals

38-40

0.487

Giants

34-36

0.486

Chiefs

32-34-1

0.478

Texans

32-34-1

0.478

Titans

31-33-3

.470

Sheep

31-35

.470

Colts

35-40-1

0.461

vikings

32-38

0.457

Buccaneers

35-42

0.455

Panthers

35-42

0.455

Falcons

35-42

0.455

Broncos

30-36-1

0.448

49ers

30-38

.441

Seahawks

33-43

0.434

Raiders

29-37-1

0.433

Patriots

34-44-1

.430

Charging device

28-38-1

0.418

Eagles

28-38-1

0.418

As for those 20 applicants? Here’s who has the easiest schedule for the rest of the journey – from easiest to hardest – along with the remaining key games.

1. Crows

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 24–44 (0.353)
  • Rank in schedule strength: 32nd
  • Division/Conference Rank: 1st AFC North / 3rd AFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 18 in Bengals (5-4)

The Ravens only play one team with a winning record last week, with the Bengals in week 18. They have seven games in a row against teams with a losing record.

2. Falcons

  • Overall record of the remaining opponents: 27-44 (0.380)
  • SOS Grade: 31st
  • Division/Conference Rank: 2nd in NFC South / 8th in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 12 in Commanders (4-5), Week 15 in Saints (3-6), Week 16 in Ravens (6-3), Week 18 vs Buccaneers (4-5)

The Falcons are tied for first place with the Buccaneers in NFC South (the Buccaneers have a tie-break). There are opportunities to stay alive in the playoff race.

3. Leaders

  • Overall record of the remaining opponents: 31-43-1 (.420)
  • SOS Grade: 30th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 1st AFC West / 2nd AFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 11 with the Chargers (5-3), Week 13 with the Bengals (5-4), Week 16 with the Seahawks (6-3)

Thanks to their schedule, the Chiefs are well positioned to take home field advantage in the AFC with six games to go against under 0.500 teams. The away games against the Chargers and Bengals will be tough.

4. Buccaneers

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 30-40 (0.429)
  • SOS Grade: 29th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 1st in NFC South/4th in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 10 vs. Seahawks (6-3), Week 14 vs. 49ers (4-4), Week 15 vs. Bengals (5-4), Week 18 vs. Falcons » (4-5)

The Buccaneers have a path to the NFC South title where they face five teams with a losing record, including three in a row at the end of the year. The Seahawks and Bengals are their most difficult matchups.

5. Seahawks

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 30-37 (0.448)
  • SOS Grade: t-25th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 1st in NFC West/3rd in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 10 vs. Buccaneers (4-5), Week 15 vs. 49ers (4-4), Week 16 vs. Chiefs (6-2), Week 17 vs. Jets (6-3)

From Weeks 15 to 17, the Seahawks must make it through every challenge, battling teams 16-9 on aggregate. This site can identify NFC West.

6. Saints

  • Overall record of the remaining opponents: 30-37 (0.448)
  • SOS Grade: t-25th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 3rd in NFC South / 12th in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 13 at Buccaneers (4-5), Week 15 vs. Falcons (4-5)

The Saints are playoff contenders only because they are in the NFC South and one game behind the division lead. Their divisional games against the Buccaneers and Falcons are the most important games.

7.49ers

  • Overall record of the remaining opponents: 36–43 (0.456)
  • SOS Grade: 24th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 2nd in NFC West/7th in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 10 vs. Chargers (5-3), Week 13 vs. Dolphins (6-3), Week 15 at Seahawks (6-3),

The 49ers do have a tougher schedule than they appear on paper. Week 13 to 16 consists of dolphins, pirates, sea hawks and commanders. This should decide the NFC West and possibly their fate in the playoffs.

8. Chargers

  • Overall record of the remaining opponents: 35-39-1 (.473)
  • SOS Grade: 23rd
  • Division/Conference Rank: 2nd AFC West / 7th AFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 10 vs 49ers (4-4), Week 11 vs Chiefs (6-2), Week 14 vs Dolphins (6-3), Week 15 vs Titans (5-3)

The Chargers have tough games ahead of them in December, but they will end the year against three teams with under-.500 records. Week 17’s game against the Rams could be a trap game.

9. Sheep

  • Overall record of the remaining opponents: 37-40 (0.481)
  • SOS Grade: 20th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 3rd in NFC West/10th in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 12 with Chiefs (6-2), Week 13 with Seahawks (6-3), Week 17 with Chargers (5-3), Week 18 with Seahawks (6–3)

The Rams will have to pass the Seahawks to get back into the NFC West race. They are already 2.5 games behind the division.

10. Titans

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 37-38-1 (.493)
  • SOS Grade: 19th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 1st AFC South / 4th AFC South
  • Key remaining games: Week 12 vs. Bengals (5-4), Week 13 vs. Eagles (8-0), Week 15 vs. Chargers (5-3), Week 17 vs. Cowboys (6-2)

The Titans have a tight schedule but are running away with AFC South. These games will determine their playoff seeding in a tight race for home field advantage.

11. Dolphins

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 33-33-1 (.500)
  • SOS Grade: 16th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 3rd AFC East / 6th AFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 13 in 49ers (4-4), Week 14 in Chargers (5-3), Week 15 in Bills (6-2), Week 17 in Patriots (5-4), Week 18 vs Jets (6-3)

The Dolphins have a challenging year-end schedule and will face five teams that currently hold winning records in the last six weeks. This is the result of every team in the AFC East hitting over .500 in nine weeks.

12. Eagles

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 39-37-1 (.513)
  • SOS Grade: 14th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 1st in NFC East/1st in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 13 vs Titans (5-3), Week 14 vs Giants (6-2), Week 16 vs Cowboys (6-2), Week 18 vs Giants (6-2)

The Eagles own the NFC East by two games and are looking for home advantage in the NFC. Their toughest games will be against their own division in the last five weeks, although the Titans will also be a tough matchup. The Eagles are the last undefeated team.

13. Vikings

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 40-36-1 (.526)
  • SOS Grade: 13th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 1st in NFC North / 2nd in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 10 vs. Bills (6-2), Week 11 vs. Cowboys (6-2), Week 12 vs. Patriots (5-4), Week 13 vs. Jets (6-3), 16- i week vs Giants (6-2)

The Vikings are winning by 4.5 games in NFC North, but they’re on a tight schedule. In the next four games, the rivals of the Vikings have a total score of 23-11. This may be their attempt to gain an advantage in their field or to stay in the race.

14. Accounts

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 42–36 (0.538)
  • SOS Grade: 12th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 1st AFC East / 1st AFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 10 vs Vikings (7-1), Week 13 vs Patriots (5-4), Week 14 vs Jets (6-3), Week 15 vs Dolphins (6-3), 17- i week vs. Bengals (5-4) 4), week 18 vs. Patriots (5-4)

The Bills have a busy schedule for the remainder of the journey, including three consecutive games against the AFC East. With a divisional polygame advantage, AFC Buffalo East could be determined here—and the fate of a potential home field advantage.

15. Cowboys

  • Overall record of the remaining opponents: 40-34-2 (.539)
  • SOS Grade: 11th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 2nd in NFC East / 5th in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 11 Vikings (7-1), Week 12 vs Giants (6-2), Week 16 Eagles (8-0), Week 17 Titans (5-3)

The Cowboys are two games behind the Eagles in the NFC East race and will have a busy schedule in a few weeks. The Vikings and Giants games take place over five days.

16. Jets

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 38-31 (0.551)
  • SOS Grade: 10th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 2nd AFC East / 5th AFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 11 in Patriots (5-4), Week 13 in Vikings (7-1), Week 14 in Bills (6-2), Week 17 in Seahawks (6-3), Week 18 in Dolphins (6-3)

The Jets have been looking for their first playoff spot since 2010, but they have a tough game ahead of them in the second half. They have five games left against teams with over .500 from eight games remaining.

17. Bengals

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 37-30 (0.552)
  • SOS Grade: 9th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 2nd AFC North / 9th AFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 12 Titans (5-3), Week 13 vs Chiefs (6-2), Week 16 Patriots (5-4), Week 17 vs Bills (6-2), Week 18 vs Ravens (6-2) 3 )

The Bengals have a brutal streak to close out the season against teams that are 17-9. The 2022 top-place schedule is taking its toll on this talented roster.

18. Giants

  • Overall record of remaining opponents: 43-30-2 (.587)
  • SOS Grade: 4th
  • Division/Conference Rank: 3rd in NFC East / 6th in NFC
  • Key remaining games: Week 12 at the Cowboys…



Source: www.cbssports.com

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