There are many roads to the NFL playoffs.
With the 2021 regular season nearing its end, some teams looking to make a run at January football might have a tougher challenge than they think. The Browns, who were levied with playoff-or-bust expectations in 2021, sit at .500 and currently own the league’s most difficult remaining schedule entering Week 14.
MORE: NFL playoff picture — Who’s teetering on the edge of playoff contention?
On the other hand, the repeat-hopeful Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have one of the NFL’s easiest remaining schedules, a fact that certainly bodes well in Tampa Bay.
Here’s how the rest of the season shakes out:
NFL remaining strength of schedule
Several Super Bowl-hopeful squads, including the Buccaneers, Packers and Titans, get a pretty easy stretch of games entering Week 14 towards the remainder of the season.
Some teams jockeying for a playoff spot have a bit rougher go of it.
(Numbers courtesy of Tankathon):
|7||Las Vegas Raiders||6-6||.557|
|9||Los Angeles Rams||8-4||.550|
|10||Kansas City Chiefs||8-4||.542|
|13||Washington Football Team||6-6||.516|
|15||New York Giants||4-8||.508|
|18||San Francisco 49ers||6-6||.500|
|20||New York Jets||3-9||.475|
|23||New Orleans Saints||5-7||.459|
|26||New England Patriots||9-4||.440|
|27||Los Angeles Chargers||7-5||.443|
|29||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9-3||.417|
|31||Green Bay Packers||9-3||.408|
Who has the hardest remaining schedule?
Entering Week 14, a pair of AFC North squads are tied atop the table for hardest schedules: The Browns and the Ravens both hold a .608 remaining SOS, with five games left.
The Browns have dealt with injuries to key offensive players this year, as well as a battered Baker Mayfield, who is dealing with a host of ailments, including a torn labrum. The Ravens currently lead the AFC North, but Lamar Jackson has had a down season, throwing 16 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, along with just two TDs on the ground this year.
Who has the easiest remaining schedule?
The Tennessee Titans hold the easiest remaining schedule by a small margin over the Green Bay Packers: The Titans face the Jaguars and Texans (combined four wins) in their final five games, but still have difficult opponents in the surging Dolphins and 49ers.
The Packers, at 9-3 and very dominant in 2021, are tied with the Falcons at .408 for two of the easiest schedules remainin in the league.
The Buccaneers, also at 9-3, have one of the easiest schedules remaining this season as well, with just a .417 winning percentage in opponents they have yet to face. The Bucs play the Panthers twice and the Jets over their five games left.