Well gents (and hopefully a few ladies out there), we are another week down and just that much closer to the postseason. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays, feasted on some great food, watched some great football (the MNF game notwithstanding), and began to crave playoff football. Here I am again with your weekly update on the NFC contenders and their remaining schedules. We can finally close the book on the "Dream Team" who felt defeat at the hands of Tom Brady and Wes Welker, and with seven losses, no longer represent a threat to make the postseason. The Tampa Bay Bucs and their clutch QB Josh Freeman choked in the fourth quarter and watched their playoff chances ride off into the night. The Saints beat up on the Giants on MNF and made the Giants upcoming game against the Packers a must-win IMO (yikes). The Falcons future looks bright with TJ Yates now leading the Houston Texans in our marque game next week. The Bears will also be led by an unknown against the injury-riddled Kansas City Chiefs. Who has the most favorable remaining schedule? Who has the most difficult road the rest of the way? Join me after the jump to find out.
Well, I start off with our remaining schedules of the remaining playoff contenders. With the Packers and 49ers having virtually locked up their divisions already, the following six teams are fighting for four playoff spots.
|Team||Week 13||Week 14||Week 15||Week 16||Week 17|
|Atlanta Falcons||at Hou||at Car||vs. Jax||at NO||vs TB|
|New York Giants||vs. GB||at Dal||vs. Wash||at NYJ||vs. Dal|
|Dallas Cowboys||at Ariz||vs. NYG||at TB||vs. Phi||at NYG|
|Detroit Lions||at NO||vs Minn||at Oak||vs SD||at GB|
|Chicago Bears||vs. KC||at Den||vs Sea||at GB||at Minn|
|New Orleans Saints||vs. Det.||at Tenn.||at Minn.||vs. Atl||vs. Car|
And now a quick look at the strength of schedule remaining.
|Atlanta Falcons||Opponents Records||26||29||0.473||32|
|New York Giants||Opponents Records||35||20||0.636||-25|
|Dallas Cowboys||Opponents Records||24||31||0.436||45|
|Detroit Lions||Opponents Records||32||23||0.582||70|
|Chicago Bears||Opponents Records||27||28||0.491||56|
|New Orleans Saints||Opponents Records||25||30||0.455||110|
If you look at the strength of schedule, the Giants have by far the most difficult remaining schedule. Games against Green Bay, the Jets, and two against Dallas spell an early ending to the Giants season (and likely an end to Tom Coughlin's time in New York). Dallas likely only needs to win one of those games to guarantee themselves the division title. The Lions face the most difficult road schedule with games remaining at New Orleans, Oakland, and Green Bay. Anyone want to see what Drew Brees does against the Lions without the threat of Suh running after him? I fret just thinking about the situation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Cowboys have the most favorable remaining record, although the Lions face the easiest home schedule (Minnesota and a struggling SD team will do that to you) and the Saints face a pretty easy road schedule (again Minnesota as well as Tennessee). So what does this all mean for us? In my opinion, I think the playoff picture is starting to get very clear. It is still early for predictions, but I'm going to say the seeding will be: 1. Green Bay 2. San Francisco 3. New Orleans 4. Dallas 5. Atlanta 6. Chicago.... Detroit and New York have such difficult schedules, I don't think they can overcome the teams waiting on them. So, I will now open the floor for discussion. Does anyone else really like the idea of playing in Jerry World or is it just me? If anyone has a chance to upset the Saints early, wouldn't it be the Bears and their defense? Can Mike Tirico call every Falcons game for the rest of the year?