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NFL strength of schedule: Steelers and Browns have most difficult remaining slates, Packers have third-easiest

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With the calendar hitting December, you’d think the NFL playoff picture would be clearing up a little bit at this point, but somehow, it seems like things have just gotten murkier over the past few weeks. 

With just six weeks to go in the season, we still haven’t seen a single team clinch a playoff berth. We also haven’t seen a single team get eliminated from playoff contention (yes, that means the 0-10-1 Lions are still mathematically alive). 

If you’re trying to figure out who’s going to make the playoffs, one way to make an educated guess is to look at the remaining strength of schedule for each playoff contender. For instance, although the Eagles are currently on the outside looking in of the NFC playoff race, things are actually shaping up well for them down the stretch and that’s because they have the fifth-easiest remaining strength schedule of any team in the NFL

Over their final five games, the Eagles will only play one team that currently has a winning record (the Cowboys). On the other hand, the Browns are going to have to navigate through the most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL if they want to make the playoffs. Not only do all five of their remaining opponents have a record of .500 or better, but the Browns also have to face the top team in the AFC (Ravens) and the current No. 2 team in the NFC (Packers). On top of that, they also have to play the Bengals, Raiders and Steelers

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The Browns are one of just three teams that has a remaining strength of schedule that’s above .600. 

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The only upside for the Browns is that every team in the AFC North has to deal with a tough schedule down the stretch. Of the five teams with the most difficult remaining schedules, four of them belong to the teams in the AFC North. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the Titans have the easiest remaining schedule. Tennessee’s final five opponents have a combined winning percentage of just .366, which is the lowest in the league by far. Going into Week 13, no other team in the NFL has a remaining schedule that’s even under .400. 

The Cardinals and Packers have the next two easiest schedules, which should make things interesting in the battle for the top seed in the NFC. 

Here’s a look at remaining strength of schedule for each team. 

Team: Opponents combined record (opponents combined winning percentage)

1. Browns: 35-20-1 (.634)
2. Steelers: 42-26 (.618) 
3. Panthers: 33-22 (.600)
4. Ravens: 39-27-2 (.588)
5. Bengals: 39-28 (.582) 
6. Chiefs: 36-29-1 (.553) 
7. Lions: 37-30 (.552) 
8. Bills: 37-32 (.536) 
9. Raiders: 36-32 (.529) 
10. Bears: 35-32 (.522) 
11. Broncos: 33-32-1 (.508) 
T-12. Rams: 33-33 (.500) 
T-12. Washington: 34-34 (.500) 
14. Jaguars: 34-35 (.493)
15. Cowboys: 33-34 (.493)
16. Dolphins: 28-29 (.491)
17. Saints: 33-35 (.485)
18. Chargers: 32-34 (.485)
19. Colts: 27-29 (.482)
20. 49ers: 32-35 (.478)
21. Patriots: 27-30 (.474)
T-22. Jets: 32-36 (.471)
T-22. Giants: 32-36 (.471)
24. Falcons: 31-35-1 (.470)
25. Texans: 31-37 (.456)
26. Vikings: 29-36-2 (.448)
27. Buccaneers: 30-38 (.441)
28. Eagles: 24-31 (.436)
29. Seahawks: 28-37-1 (.432)
30. Packers: 23-32-1 (.420)
31. Cardinals: 27-39-1 (.410) 
32. Titans: 20-35-1 (.366)

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