Our weekly NFL projections will be coming at you with a twist this week.
Instead of just projecting the 12-team playoff field, we’re also going to list the playoff chances for all 32 teams. Since no team has officially been eliminated yet, everyone still technically has a shot to get to the postseason, well, except for the Bills. They’re literally the only team in the NFL that is being given a zero percent chance to make the playoffs by our projection computer (That doesn’t mean they’ve been eliminated from playoff contention, it just means that the computer thinks their playoff chances are dead).
Speaking of the computer, these playoff projections will be based on data from number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com. Basically, Oh plugged some numbers into his SportsLine computer this week and simulated the rest of the NFL season, and using those numbers, we’re going to let you know the playoff chances for all 32 teams, plus the projected 12-team playoff field.
Alright, let’s get to this week’s playoff projections, well, except for Bills fans. Since the computer has lost all hope in your team, here’s a mock draft for you to read, that will be way more exciting.
Note: Remember, this is a projection based on how we think the rest of the regular season will play out. If you want to see the current playoff standings, click here to see Will Brinson’s thorough breakdown of what the playoff race looks like as we head into Week 11.
AFC Playoff Projection
Projected wins in parentheses
1. Kansas City Chiefs: (13.2 wins) AFC West Champs
With a two-game lead over the Patriots for the top seed in the AFC, the computer thinks that Kansas City’s biggest threat might end up being the Chargers. With seven weeks left to play in the regular season, the Chiefs are being given an 81.2 percent chance to win the AFC West while the Chargers are being given an 18.2 percent shot. The AFC West title is a big deal, because if the Chiefs falter down the stretch, they could tumble from the top seed in the AFC down to the fifth seed. The Chiefs and Chargers still have to play each other one more time and that will come in the final Thursday night game of the year in Week 15.
2. New England Patriots: (11.5) AFC East Champs
Despite being blown out by the Titans, the computer still views the Patriots as the team with the best chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. The Patriots are being given a 31.26 percent chance to be the AFC’s Super Bowl team, while the Chiefs are a smidgeon back at 30.65 percent.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: (10.1) AFC North Champs
After slaughtering the Panthers in Week 10, the computer now basically views the Steelers as a lock to make the playoffs. The Steelers are being given a 92.7 percent chance of making the postseason and an 88.1 percent chance of making the playoffs as the division winner out of the AFC North. Apparently, the computer is completely OK with the fact that Le’Veon Bell decided not to play this year.
4. Houston Texans: (9.8) AFC South Champs
The Texans might be on a six-game winning streak, but the computer apparently doesn’t like them anymore. The Texans fell from the third spot to the fourth spot in this week’s projections, even though they didn’t even play in Week 10. The good news for the Texans is that the computer loves their chances of making the playoffs (76.6 percent). On the other hand, the computer isn’t so sure they’re going to win the AFC South. Although the Texans are being given a 50.7 percent chance to win the division, the computer views the Titans (35.3 percent) as a serious threat.
5. Los Angeles Chargers: (11.5) Wild Card
Thanks to the Patriots loss in Tennessee on Sunday, the Chargers are now being projected to finish with the second best record in the AFC. Of course, the problem for the Chargers is that the Chiefs are being projected as the top team in the AFC, which means having the second-best record basically means nothing, because the Chargers are still going to have to play on the road in a wild-card game.
6. Tennessee Titans: (8.9) Wild Card
This is the third week of our playoff projections, and for the third week in a row, we have a new team in the AFC’s final playoff spot. First, we had the Ravens. Then, we had the Bengals, and now, we have the Titans. After shocking the Patriots on Sunday, the Titans vaulted into this spot, and the crazy thing is that the computer actually likes them here. The Titans have a 46.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, which is 20 percent more than any other team on the outside looking in. The computer views the Colts (24.3 percent), Bengals (23.4 percent) and Ravens (16.5 percent) as the biggest threats to the Titans’ spot. Oh, and the Titans play the Colts this week, so the computer might have to re-project things if Indy wins.
Just missed: Colts (8.1), Bengals (8.0), Ravens (7.8).
Here’s a list of all the other AFC teams (their percentage chances of getting into the playoffs is listed next to them in parentheses): Dolphins (11.6 percent), Jaguars (3.0 percent), Browns (1.6 pecent), Broncos (1.5 percent), Jets (0.2 percent), Raiders (0.1 percent), Bills (0.0 percent).
I’ll be honest, I don’t know why the Raiders have slightly better playoff chances than the Bills, but I’ve learned not to question the computer anymore, so we’re just going to roll with it.
NFC Playoff Projection
1. Los Angeles Rams: (13.2 wins) NFC West Champs
The computer was NOT impressed by the Rams shaky win over the Seahawks on Sunday. Although the computer still sees them finishing the season as the NFC’s top seed, the Rams are viewed as just the fourth best team in the NFL, behind the Saints, Chiefs and Patriots.
2. New Orleans Saints: (12.8) NFC South Champs
You know who was really impressed by the Saints 51-14 win over the Bengals? The computer. Although the Saints are projected to get the second seed in the NFC, the computer actually now views them as the best overall team in the NFL. Not only are the Saints now viewed as the most likely team to win the NFC title game, but they’re also being given the best chance to take home the Lombardi Trophy. The Saints are being given a 20.98 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, which is higher than the Rams (17.47 percent), Patriots (17.21 percent) and Chiefs (16.58 percent).
3. Chicago Bears: (9.9) NFC North Champs
The Bears aren’t a lock to win the division yet, but the computer loves their chances of making the playoffs. SportsLine is giving the Bears an 80.9 percent chance of getting into the postseason. As far as the division goes, the computer thinks that the race is down to the Bears (60.8 percent chance to win the NFC North) and the Vikings (25.2 percent). If the Bears beat the Vikings on Sunday, the computer will likely view them as a lock to win the division.
4. Washington Redskins: (9.4) NFC East Champs
The computer might just be the Redskins biggest fan this year. SportsLine has been projecting for the past two weeks that Washington would win the NFC East and now the projection is moving closer to lock territory. With the Redskins now holding a two-game lead over both the Cowboys and Eagles, the computer is giving Washington a 71.6 percent chance of winning the division and a 79.9 percent chance of making the postseason. Of course, the computer isn’t factoring in the years of heartbreak and suffering that Redskins fans have gone through, so you probably shouldn’t go buying your playoff tickets just yet if you’re a Redskins fan.
5. Carolina Panthers: (9.2) Wild Card
The Panthers got beat down by the Steelers in Week 10, but the good news for Carolina is that the computer didn’t really seem to care. The Panthers were locked into the fifth slot in the NFC before the loss and they’re still locked into it now. As for Carolina’s chances to win the division, SportsLine was already projecting the Saints to run away with the NFC South and so the loss to Pittsburgh didn’t change things. Currently, the Panthers are being given just a 4.8 percent chance to win the division.
6. Minnesota Vikings: (8.4) Wild Card
The Vikings didn’t even play in Week 10, but they were still the biggest winners in this week’s projection. Thanks to Seattle’s loss in Los Angeles, Minnesota is now projected to be the second wild card team out of the NFC. Unlike the Seahawks, the computer actually likes the Vikings and is giving them a 51.1 percent chance of making the postseason. No other team in the NFC Is even being given a 40 percent chance with the computer viewing the Packers (35.1 percent), Seahawks (33.1 percent), Eagles (20.4 percent) and Cowboys (19.8 percents) as the biggest threats to Minnesota.
Just missed: Seahawks (8.2), Packers (7.8), Cowboys (7.8), Eagles (7.6)
Here’s a list of all the other NFC teams (their percentage chances of getting into the playoffs is listed next to them in parentheses): Falcons (17.9 percent), Lions (2.6 percent), Buccaneers (1.1 percent), 49ers (0.1 percent), Cardinals (0.1 percent), Giants (0.1 percent).
Wild-Card Round Projection
(6) Titans at (3) Steelers
(5) Chargers at (4) Texans
Byes: Chiefs, Patriots
(6) Vikings at (3) Bears
(5) Panthers at (4) Redskins
Byes: Rams, Saints
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