Still hope for the Cowboys

Examining 5 easiest, hardest second-half schedules shows Dallas not done yet

Originally Published: November 7, 2012
By Nik Bonaddio and Keith Goldner | numberFire
Tony RomoDaniel Shirey/US PresswireThe Dallas Cowboys have the easiest second-half schedule according to numberFire.

At this point in the season, every NFL team has played at least eight games. The biggest question for most fans: Will my team make the playoffs? Having a tough schedule can be devastating in terms of playoff hopes, so we at numberFire look to quell those worries by digging into how the second half of the 2012 schedule will affect your team's playoff odds.

In order to do this, we projected out the remainder of the 2012 season with the actual schedule and compared that to thousands of randomly generated schedules. By looking at the difference between each team's playoff odds for 2012 and the average playoff odds over the randomly generated schedules, we can see which teams have the easiest and toughest roads ahead.

Keep in mind, the statistics and rankings being used to evaluate team efficiency are all based on the situation, not yards. Teams are evaluated based on how they perform versus league-average expectation. So, for example, a third-and-15 play is treated very differently than a third-and-1 in our analysis. If a running back gains 10 yards on third-and-15, it's not as valuable as a runner gaining 2 yards on third-and-1.

Here are the five easiest and five toughest second-half schedules:

Easiest

Tony RomonumberFireFive easiest second-half schedules.

1. Dallas Cowboys

2012 playoff odds: 29.6 percent
Random schedule odds: 6.4 percent
Difference: +23.2 percent