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Packers have easiest 2016 schedule based on 2015 records

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Looking solely at the schedule, Green Bay should have every opportunity to be a top contender in the NFC again next season.

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If the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings end up locked in a battle for the NFC North division crown again in 2016, it seems entirely plausible that the winner of the division could end up with a first-round bye in the playoffs, if not the NFC's top overall seed.

This is because the NFC North has come up with what appears to be a lucky schedule draw in 2016. The two divisions that match up with the Packers, Vikings, Lions, and Bears are the AFC South and NFC East. Combined, those sets of teams only featured a pair of squads above .500 in 2015 - division winners Houston and Washington - and the eight teams they contain combined for a 51-77 record last year.

As CBSsports.com details, the divisional matchups combined with the Packers' second-place finish in the North a year ago leads to Green Bay having the easiest strength-of-schedule of any team in the NFL in 2016 when looking strictly at 2015 records. Combined, the Packers' opponents went 117-139 last year, one game worse than the next-easiest schedules (the Bears and Giants).

Joining Green Bay and Chicago among the easiest schedules are the Lions, who are just one game back of the Bears. Minnesota, on the other hand, ends up closer to the middle of the pack, ranking 15th with an opposing record of 125-131. This is in part due to a matchup with the 15-1 Panthers instead of the Packers drawing the 9-7 Atlanta Falcons.

On the other end of the spectrum are those Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco, in the NFC West, not only has a pair of 10-win teams in their own division, but also will play games against three other 10-win teams in Carolina, New England, and the New York Jets. The Falcons' tough schedule also comes as a result of divisional matchups, with four combined playoff teams from the AFC and NFC West on their schedule, as well as a pair of divisional games against the Panthers.