It's no secret that the Atlanta Braves are down four games to the Washington Nationals in the NL East with 51 games to play. Though the two clubs have six head-to-head matchups, let's take a look at factors outside those contests.
The Braves' opposition (not including the Nats) in the next two months have a combined .470 winning percentage thus far in 2012. This equates to playing a 76-win team for the rest of the season. Only three series come against teams above .500, including 3 at home against the Dodgers, a four-game set at San Francisco, and another three contests against the Pirates at PNC Park. Pittsburgh could still be in the hunt come the final series of the season, so that should provide plenty of late-season drama for the Braves. Fortunately, the Giants series is the only baseball the Braves will play west of the Mississippi, which means the team won't experience much travel or baseball games at late hours.
Meanwhile, the Nats' opponents (not including Atlanta) have a combined .484 winning percentage, which equates to them playing a 78.5-win team every game through the regular season. Washington has five series against teams above .500, including a four-game set at Arizona, a three-game trip to San Fran and two series with the Cardinals, whom the Braves hope can match last season's magic in the final eight weeks of the season (at the Nats' expense, of course). Four games will be in D.C. while three will be held in St. Louie. Like Pittsburgh, these games could also drastically alter the Cards' playoff hopes and we can be sure they'll be looking to scratch out every game prior to facing the rival Reds for the final homestand of the season. The Nats are currently beyond the banks of the Mississippi and will stay there for their next three series, with one game left in Houston as well as their sets against the Diamondbacks and Giants. St. Louis is technically west of that border, but close enough that the travel and time change associated with the games shouldn't be drastically different than what the team is used to.
Both teams have played better ball on the road in 2012, which may favor the Braves, since Atlanta has 28 away games to Washington's 23 (not including the three games each will play on the road against each other) remaining. Mutual out-of-division teams faced will include San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles.
The Braves and Nats each have four "stinker" games left, with Atlanta facing Colorado four times at home and the Nats having one contest at Houston and three versus the Cubs upcoming. In case you're wondering, the Rockies have a homestand prior to coming to Atlanta, which is typically ideal for Atlanta because the altitude change is difficult for the Rockies to quickly adjust to (yes, it works both ways).