After all of Week 13’s NFC action, the New York Times’ playoff machine has the Green Bay Packers making the wildcard cut on 71 percent of simulations. One reason for this, despite the Packers having just a .500 record, is Green Bay’s strength of schedule moving forward.
With the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs in the Packers’ rearview mirror, Green Bay has the easiest remaining schedule in the entire NFL in the final five weeks of the season. According to Tankathon, the Packers’ next five opponents have a combined win percentage of .333 this season — the lowest mark in the league for remaining schedules. Four of the five teams Green Bay will finish out the season against have a losing record, with the exception being the .500 Minnesota Vikings, who will be starting a backup quarterback.
For comparison, the three teams who are currently jostling with the Packers for the final two wildcard spots are the Vikings, the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams. The Vikings still have to play the Packers once and the Lions twice this season. The Seahawks have to play the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, the top teams in the NFC. The Rams also have to play the 49ers as well as the Baltimore Ravens.
As long as the Packers go 3-2 or better against a cupcake schedule, they’ll probably get a ticket for the postseason. What an incredible turnaround for a team that was 2-5 and were sellers on Halloween’s trade deadline.
Somehow, this schedule has lined up perfectly for a young team catching its stride. Now that the Packers have closed the door on a tough two-game stretch, they can coast for the rest of the season with seventh-seed positioning in the NFC playoffs already in hand.