NFL Schedule Makers Pack Pure Gold Into Last Four Weeks With These Upcoming Games

There's more than exact science when schedule makers in the National Football League map out the upcoming season. There's also a hunch.

All NFL teams have played 12 games, meaning only 25 percent of the regular season remains. The remaining schedule includes a slew of games that will go a long way to determine not only which teams make the playoffs, but playoff seedings and home teams as well.

Though this report is focused on the final four weeks, the schedule makers actually pegged the previous three weeks while making the schedule.

First, there was the game last week between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, and the New England Patriots at the Houston Texans. The 49ers and Patriots were both 10-1 and facing tough road tests, and they both lost against good teams. The Ravens defeated the 49ers, 20-17, to improve to 10-2, and then the Patriots lost to the Texans, dropping New England to 10-2—a No. 2 seed at this point, considering it lost to the Ravens head-to-head.

The Dallas Cowboys have lost two-consecutive games with losses to the at New England and at home against the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys are 6-6, yet they still lead the NFC East by one game over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys travel to face the Chicago Bears Thursday in the next scheduled NFL game. The Bears have a tough defense, which could cause trouble for a Cowboys offense needing a spark heading into the backstretch.

Green Bay Packers NFL
Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers makes a snow angel in the end zone in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 01, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The touchdown was called back on penalties.The Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants 31-13. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Here are the marquee games over the next four weeks:

Week 14 (Dec. 5-9)
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m.)
Both teams are 10-2, which is tied with Seattle for the best record in the NFC. The Saints already hold a head-to-head advantage over Seattle, so a win over the 49ers would strengthen the Saints' playoff standing. A 49ers win helps get them back in the thick of the NFC's top spot.

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m.)
The Ravens (10-2) currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win over the New England Patriots by virtue of head-to-head, but the Bills (9-3) could shake things up with a win Sunday. The Bills face the Patriots in the following weeks.

Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders (Sunday, 1 p.m.)
The Titans (7-5) are just one game behind the Houston Texans in the AFC South, while the Raiders (6-6) are two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. A win by either team helps them in the playoff hunt, while a loss by either hurts.

Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, 1 p.m.)
The Colts (6-6) are mathematically still in the hunt for both an AFC South title and AFC playoff spot. The Buccaneers (5-7) need wins and help to make the playoffs.

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (Sunday, 4:25 p.m.)
The Chiefs (8-4) need to keep winning to clinch the AFC West. and the Patriots (10-2) need to keep pace with the Ravens, who hold the AFC advantage over New England. This game will not only have lots of eyeballs, but will have fantasy football league owners on the edge of their seats.

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, 8:15 p.m.)
The Rams (7-5), last year's NFC champion, need a lot of help to get into the playoffs. The Seahawks (10-2) need to win in order to keep pace with the Saints and 49ers.

Week 15 (Dec. 12-16)
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
This matchup could decide the AFC South title with two weeks to go, or it could bring it into a tie if things happen just right for the Titans, who trail the Texans by two games in the division with two games to go. These teams will meet again two weeks later in Houston.

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs could possibly wrap up the AFC West title and automatic playoff berth against their rival, or the Broncos could give the Chiefs another loss at Arrowhead Stadium this year.

Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals
This game has no playoff implication, but it puts the last two No. 1 overall picks—and last two Heisman Trophy winners, both from Oklahoma—in their first matchup against each other. Oh, the game falls one day after the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner is announced.

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys most likely will need a win to keep playoff hopes, and head coach Jason Garrett's job, against the Rams, who will be looking to keep its playoff hopes alive as well.

Week 16 (Dec. 21-23)
Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Saturday, 1 p.m.)
This might not have seemed like a must-watch matchup when it was scheduled, but the playoff race could be affected by this Saturday early game.

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)
This game could likely decide the AFC East champion who would get at least one home game. It could be cold, and possibly snowy, in Massachusetts. These teams are built for this Saturday afternoon game.

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (Saturday, 8:15 p.m.)
If the Rams are still in the playoff hunt, this game will be a must-win. Otherwise, they play spoiler for the 49ers, who could be either in contention for a top 1 or 2 seed or hanging on for their playoff seeding.

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (Sunday)
The Ravens will get to see what happens with Buffalo and New England on Saturday, but the Ravens will still need to win against a Browns team that has talent. The question, though, is will the Browns play up to potential at home against the Ravens?

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday)
This game should decide the NFC East champion for the winner, and the loser most likely stays home for the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (Monday)
One game separates these two teams going into Week 14, and this Week 16 matchup could decide the NFC North title. Playoff seedings for both teams could be majorly affected by this game, too.

Week 17 (Dec. 29)
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
These two teams will meet for the second time in three weeks. There's no telling where they'll stand at this point, but there's a good chance this game could determine the AFC South champion.

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks won the first meeting this season in San Francisco between these NFC West foes, and the NFL's final game could determine the top seed in the NFC and which team becomes a wild card for the playoffs that begin the next weekend.