With five weeks left in the regular season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. And while most teams still can make it, some teams' chances are better than others. FOX Sports' Chris Chase predicts the Packers will win their division, despite sitting at 5-6, in part because of their easy remaining schedule.
Schedule: Sunday vs. Dolphins; Dec. 12 @ Patriots; Dec. 18 vs. Eagles; Dec. 25 @ Steelers; Jan. 1 @ Bengals
Comment: The silver lining in this tough final stretch, which starts with a Miami team that's won six straight, is Baltimore already beat both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati — though Big Ben was three weeks removed from knee surgery, and the Bengals didn't have A.J. Green. The Ravens can only hope Green isn't back (or back to normal) by January; they can take comfort in knowing they won't get Gronk in New England.
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EASIEST: Houston Texans
Record: 6-5 (1st in AFC South)
Schedule: Sunday @ Packers; Dec. 11 @ Colts; Dec. 18 vs. Jaguars; Dec. 24 vs. Bengals; Jan. 1 @ Titans
Comment: Who wins the AFC South? The Texans, Titans and Colts have three of the easiest remaining schedules, in part because they face each other. Jonathan Joseph and Houston are 3-0 against these teams, but might have the hardest schedule of the three, since the Texans are 1-4 away from home and their three toughest remaining games all are on the road.
USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
HARDEST: New York Giants
Record: 8-3 (2nd in AFC East)
Schedule: Sunday @ Steelers; Dec. 11 vs. Cowboys; Dec. 18 vs. Lions; Dec. 22 @ Eagles; Jan. 1 @ Redskins
Comments: No big deal, just games against three division leaders and a Washington team that already beat you at home. The Giants do have wins over the Cowboys and Eagles, however -- though that win in Dallas came in the season opener, and Dak & Co. have won a lot of games since then.
EASIEST: Indianapolis Colts
Record: 5-6 (3rd in AFC South)
Schedule: Monday @ Jets; Dec. 11 vs. Texans; Dec. 18 @ Vikings; Dec. 24 @ Raiders; Jan. 1 vs. Jaguars
Comment: The biggest key is that Andrew Luck is cleared to play Monday night. And if he stays healthy, Indy's schedule looks pretty good despite three road games. The Colts have lost to both Houston and Jacksonville, but should be favored in those rematches.
USA TODAY SportsGreg M. Cooper
HARDEST: Kansas City Chiefs
Record: 8-3 (2nd in AFC West)
Schedule: Sunday @ Falcons; Dec. 8 vs. Raiders; Dec. 18 vs. Titans; Dec. 25 vs. Broncos; Jan. 1 @ Chargers
Comment: Two games against division leaders, and possibly a third by the time they face Tennessee. The good news is the Chiefs are 3-0 against these teams, but two were overtime battles, and the bottom line is these teams are a combined 34-22.
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EASIEST: Tennessee Titans
Record: 6-6 (2nd in AFC South)
Schedule: Dec. 11 vs. Broncos; Dec. 18 @ Chiefs; Dec. 24 @ Jaguars; Jan. 1 vs. Texans
Comment: Just four games left for the Titans, and the biggest two are at home, including a possible duel with the Texans for the AFC South title. Also, that Broncos game could be impacted by whether or not Trevor Siemian is healthy enough to play.
USA TODAY SportsJim Brown
HARDEST: Philadelphia Eagles
Record: 5-6 (4th in NFC East)
Schedule: Sunday @ Bengals; Dec. 11 vs. Redskins; Dec. 18 @ Ravens; Dec. 22 vs. Giants; Jan. 1 vs. Cowboys.
Comment: Good lord. Just three days off between that battle at Baltimore and a duel with the Giants. Then, to cap it off, the Cowboys. Philly's 0-3 against these teams and being led to an 0-6 slaughter.
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EASIEST: Seattle Seahawks
Record: 7-3-1 (1st in NFC West)
Schedule: Sunday vs. Panthers; Dec. 11 @ Packers; Dec. 15 vs. Rams; Dec. 24 vs. Cardinals; Jan. 1 @ 49ers
Comment: Not so easy to play at Green Bay in December, then take the field again four days later. And the Seahawks' record against these teams is just 1-1-1. But chances are they will avenge that early loss in L.A. and that (ugh) tie at Arizona with the rematches at home, where they're 5-0. And the combined records of these teams is 18-36.
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HARDEST: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Record: 6-5 (2nd in NFC South)
Schedule: Sunday @ Chargers; Dec. 11 vs. Saints; Dec. 18 @ Cowboys; Dec. 24 @ Saints; Jan. 1 vs. Panthers
Comment: If the Bucs are gonna get to the playoffs, it's gonna be the hard way. Not one but TWO shootouts with Drew Brees, and a game at Dallas? It's a good thing that the Panthers are trash, or this schedule really would be unforgiving.
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EASIEST: Buffalo Bills
Record: 6-5 (3rd in AFC East)
Schedule: Sunday @ Raiders; Dec. 11 vs. Steelers; Dec. 18 vs. Browns; Dec. 24 vs. Dolphins; Jan. 1 @ Jets
Comment: Guess what makes this one easy is having the Browns and Jets, though the Bills lost to New York in Week 2. (But Ryan Fitzpatrick went off and Buffalo then fired its defensi- ... uh, never mind.) The Bills also lost to Miami in Week 7, but will play the rematch during three straight games at home in the winter. Should be advantage, Buffalo.
HARDEST: Detroit Lions
Record: 7-4 (1st in NFC North)
Schedule: Sunday @ Saints; Dec. 11 vs. Bears; Dec. 18 @ Giants; Dec. 26 @ Cowboys; Jan. 1 vs. Packers
Comment: Detroit sits in the driver's seat in the NFC North, but has some serious road games on the schedule, plus the Lions are 0-2 against these teams: That Jan. 1 game vs. Green Bay could be for the title, and the Lions already lost at Lambeau.
USA TODAY SportsAndrew Weber
EASIEST: Green Bay Packers
Record: 5-6 (3rd in NFC North)
Schedule: Sunday vs. Texans; Dec. 11 vs. Seahawks; Dec. 18 @ Bears; Dec. 24 vs. Vikings; Jan. 1 @ Lions.
Comments: Three division leaders on this schedule, but the Packers already beat the Lions, and the toughest of their other games are all at home. Clear the runway for some Lambeau leaps.