How do the NFL playoff teams measure up? Part II

Yesterday we took a look at the points for and points against for the 12 teams that have reached the NFL playoffs which start today. That was the first step of our analysis, and we’ll take that a step further by looking at the strength of the schedule which each team has faced during the season.

For those unaccustomed to how the NFL schedule works, the 32 teams are divided into 8 divisions – it is fair to say the quality of those divisions varies greatly. See here for a breakdown as to how the fixtures are formulated.

Ahead of the playoffs, we have explored the strength of schedule each team has faced by looking at the records in the regular season of their opposition, and there were some interesting outliers. The majority of them were insignificant, but it was notable that both Carolina and Arizona had the easiest two schedules of all 12 teams.

On the flipside, Green Bay and Seattle had the toughest schedules, so there is a chance that they are a little underestimated in these playoffs.

Here's a breakdown of each team:

Panthers

Regular season record: 15-1 (Wins-Losses)

Total record of opposition in regular season: 113-143 (Wins-Losses)

Notes: Almost went undefeated but only played 4 teams with a winning record over the season and had the easiest schedule based on the records of their regular season opposition

Cardinals

Regular season record: 13-3

Total record of opposition in regular season: 118-138

Notes: Second best record in the regular season but had second easiest schedule of all playoff teams based on the record of their opposition

Patriots

Regular season record: 12-4

Total record of opposition in regular season: 120-136

Notes: Lost 4 of their last 6 matches as injuries took their toll, leading to players being rested and held out

Broncos

Regular season record: 12-4

Total record of opposition in regular season: 128-128

Notes: Mid-range in terms of strength of opposition, but season a little disrupted by QB issues. Best D in the league for long parts of regular season

Bengals

Regular season record: 12-4

Total record of opposition in regular season: 122-134

Notes: Biggest challenge is overcoming psychological issues to win a playoff game, even more so against rival Steelers. Talent is there however

Chiefs

Regular season record: 11-5

Total record of opposition in regular season: 127-129

Notes: Arguably the form team coming into the playoffs with ten consecutive wins, but only two of those ten had winning records

Vikings

Regular season record: 11-5

Total record of opposition in regular season: 127-129

Notes: Great achievement beating the Packers out for top spot in their division, but tough match-up against Seahawks awaits.

Packers

Regular season record: 10-6

Total record of opposition in regular season: 136-120

Notes: Had the toughest schedule of all the playoff teams based on the record of their regular season opponents

Seahawks

Regular season record: 10-6

Total record of opposition in regular season: 131-125

Notes: Had 7 games (same as the Packers & Steelers) against teams with winning records in the regular season & second toughest schedule after the Packers

Steelers

Regular season record: 10-6

Total record of opposition in regular season: 127-129

Notes: Scraped through to the playoffs in the final game, but the team that nobody will want to face. Came through tough division and schedule however to get there

Texans

Regular season record: 9-7

Total record of opposition in regular season: 128-128

Notes: Along with the Redskins, have benefited from woeful quality in their division, but too reliant on a handful of players to make a run at the Superbowl

Redskins

Regular season record: 8-8

Total record of opposition in regular season: 119-137

Notes: Played just 3 matches against teams that had higher than a .500 record at the end of the season and lost all three with a pts difference of -59

For an outstanding cheat sheet with previews of all the wild card weekend matches including injury news, weather updates and the key match-ups, check out this link with everything else you need to know!