2012 NFL Schedule: Contenders That Face Easiest Road to Playoffs
The consolation prize for the New England Patriots as the runner up in the 2012 Super Bowl is the easiest schedule in the NFL next season.
Now, the official week-by-week schedule has yet to be released, but based solely on the opponents they are slated to play, the Patriots have the easiest schedule ahead of them.
For a top-level team looking to head back to the Super Bowl, there is no question that an easy schedule helps pave the way. Let’s take a look at a few other contenders whose schedule will allow them to waltz into January.
Green Bay Packers
A year removed from their Super Bowl bid, the team with the best regular season record last year will get quite a few breaks this coming season. The Packers' opponents were a combined 120-136 last season, and according to ESPN’s NFL Nation blog, they are slated to face seven quality opponents.
Of course, take this with a grain of salt. The Packers will be facing teams like the Bears and the Rams. Both had dismal seasons last year, but both have reason for hope. The Bears should have Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler on the field for 16 games, and the Rams are counting on Sam Bradford to shake off his sophomore slump.
The Texans were so gifted last year that even when they lost starter Matt Shaub, they still managed to make their way to the AFC Championship game behind the legs of Arian Foster and a top-notch defense. Their effort to take things a game further this year will be supported by opponents with a winning percentage of less than .500.
Where the Packers' schedule might be a bit clouded, the Texans' schedule is as easy as it sounds. The Texans will face the Colts twice, as well as the Vikings, Bills and Dolphins. No question that the Texans will be in a prime position to do damage this season.
New England Patriots
The wining percentage of Patriots' opponents is the worst in the NFL, and the caliber of their opponents verifies this: two games against the Bills and another two against the Dolphins. They’ll also face a hopeful but rebuilding Indianapolis Colts team, as well as lowly Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams.
While almost anything is possible in the NFL, the chance that New England's schedule becoming more competitive than it appears is not one of those things.
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