If you're starting to feel like there's less drama this year in the NFL playoff race than there has been in the past, you're not crazy.
Through 15 weeks, we've already seen a total of eight teams clinch a playoff berth, which is the highest number of teams to have clinched this early since 1990 when eight teams had also clinched through the first 15 weeks of the season. If this year plays out like 1990, that will be good news for Bills fans, because Buffalo ended up in the Super Bowl that year.
Although eight postseason spots have been taken, there will definitely be some drama this week, and that's because there's still four spots up for grabs.
So who's going to end up getting them? Let's get to our weekly projections and find out.
As always, our projections are calculated by number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com, who plugs some numbers into his SportsLine computer to simulate the rest of the NFL season. Using those numbers, we project the 12-team playoff field and also the postseason chances for every team that's still alive in the playoff race.
The Browns are a mess, Drew Brees' legend is growing and the 2020 draft is just four months away. Brady Quinn, Ryan Wilson and Will Brinson break down all that and more on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
Unfortunately, these playoff projections are basically meaningless to most fan bases out there since most teams have already been eliminated from contention, so if you're a fan of the Bengals, Chargers, Colts, Jets, Jaguars, Broncos, Dolphins, Bears, Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Cardinals, Lions, Giants or Redskins, you will probably have more fun clicking here and reading our latest mock drafts.
For everyone else, let's get to the projections.
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,.
AFC Playoff Projection
|1. (AFC North champion)|
|After watching the Ravens win 10 games in a row, the computer is now riding front-and-center on Baltimore's bandwagon. SportsLine is currently projecting the Ravens to get the top seed in the AFC, and that could happen as soon as Sunday if Baltimore can beat the Browns. The computer seems to have a crush on the Ravens, who are now the overall Super Bowl favorite. According to SportsLine, the Ravens have a 30.93% chance of taking home the Lombardi Trophy, which is a huge number when you consider that no other team in the NFL is even being given a 20% chance (The Patriots are at 12.52% and the Chiefs are at 9.58%). Ravens remaining schedule: At Browns, Steelers. |
|2. (AFC East champion)|
|If you haven't been impressed by the Patriots offense lately, don't worry, you're not the only one, neither has the computer. Despite the Patriots' 21-point win over the Bengals on Sunday, New England's chances of winning the AFC actually took a hit this week. According to SportsLine, the Patriots currently have a 22.88% chance of winning the AFC title game, which is down from 24.92% last week. Patriots remaining games: Bills, Dolphins. |
|3. (AFC West champion)|
|If the Bills can beat the Patriots on Sunday and the Chiefs can knock off the Bears on Sunday night, then Kansas City will head into Week 17 as the No. 2 overall seed in the AFC, which would give them an inside track at getting a playoff bye. Unfortunately for the Chiefs though, the computer doesn't see that happening. SportsLine is projecting the Patriots to win out, and if that happens, the Chiefs will be stuck playing in the wild-card round. Chiefs remaining schedule: At Bears, Chargers. |
|4. (AFC South champion)|
|Thanks to their win over the Titans on Sunday, the computer now views the Texans as a virtual lock to make the playoffs. Although the Texans haven't officially clinched a spot, SportsLine is giving them a 98.2% chance of making the postseason. The reason the Texans chances are so high is because even if they don't win the division, they could still earn a wild-card spot. The Texans can clinch a playoff berth on Sunday if they win OR if the Titans lose OR if the Steelers lose. Texans remaining schedule: At Buccaneers, Titans. |
|5. (Wild Card 1)|
|Although the Bills have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, the computer definitely does not like their chance of stealing the AFC East title away from the Patriots. According to SportsLine, the Bills have just a 2.6% chance of winning the division, and that's mainly because they'd have to win out, plus have the Patriots lose out, which the computer views as highly unlikely since New England closes the season with the Dolphins. Bills remaining schedule: At Patriots, Jets. |
|6. (Wild Card 2)|
|The final wild-card spot in the AFC is basically a two-horse race, and after running some extra calculations, the computer is pretty convinced that the spot is going to go to the Steelers. According to SportsLine, Pittsburgh has a 53.1% chance of making the playoffs, which is just barely ahead of the Titans, who have a 48% chance of getting in. Steelers remaining schedule: At Jets, at Ravens. |
Just missed: Titans (48.0% chance of getting into the playoffs)
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): Browns (0.7%), Raiders (0.0%), Colts (0.0%), Jaguars (0.0%), Broncos (0.0%), Chargers (0.0%), Jets (0.0%), Dolphins (0.0%), Bengals (0.0%).
NFC Playoff Projection
|1. (NFC South champion)|
|With just two weeks to go in the regular season, the computer seems pretty convinced that the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC is going to have to go through New Orleans. Although the Saints currently hold the No. 3 seed in the NFC, the computer is projecting them to earn the top seed, even though they have to play their final two games of the season on the road. According to SportsLine, the Saints also have the best chance of winning the Super Bowl (16.18%) out of any team in the NFC. Saints remaining schedule: At Titans, at Panthers.|
|2. (NFC West champion)|
|Although the computer is projecting Seattle to finish as the second seed in the NFC, it's definitely not a big fan of the Seahawks. For one, the computer has the Seahawks ranked as the 10th best team in the NFL. Also, the Seahawks are only being given a 4.83% chance of winning the Super Bowl, which is barely above the Vikings (4.09%). That's mildly surprising since the computer sees the Seahawks getting a bye while the Vikings would have to win three straight road games just to get to the Super Bowl since the computer is projecting them to get the sixth seed in the NFC. Seahawks remaining schedule: Cardinals, 49ers. |
|3. (NFC North champion)|
|Heading into Week 16, the Packers are currently slotted into the No. 2 seed in the NFC, but unfortunately for Green Bay, the computer doesn't see that lasting. According to SportsLine, the Packers are going to lose to the Vikings on Monday, which is going to cause them to drop to the third overall seed, which means they'll be stuck playing on Wild-Card Weekend. And in a twist of irony, SportsLine is projecting that the Packers are going to play the Vikings in the opening round of the playoffs. Packers remaining schedule: At Vikings, at Lions.|
|4. (NFC East champion)|
|Although the NFC East has been a total dumpster fire this season, the winner of the division still gets a playoff spot and we'll likely find out on Sunday who that winner is going to be. Right now, the computer is kind of confident in the Cowboys, but not completely sold on them beating Philadelphia this week. According to SportsLine, the Cowboys have a 59.9% chance of winning the division while the Eagles chances are sitting at just 40.1%. A win by the Cowboys on Sunday would clinch the division title. However, a loss by the Cowboys would take the NFC East drama into Week 17. Cowboys remaining schedule: At Eagles, Redskins.|
|5. (Wild Card 1)|
|If Kyle Shanahan had any fond memories of his coaching days in Atlanta, they're probably gone now after the Falcons stunning upset over the 49ers on Sunday. The loss was a devastating one for the 49ers, who are now being projected to earn a wild-card berth. Before the loss, the Niners were being projected to win the NFC West title and get a first-round bye, but now they're staring at the No. 5 seed and a possible road playoff game against the Cowboys. 49ers remaining schedule: Rams, at Seahawks|
|6. (Wild Card 2)|
|If the Vikings win out, there's a good chance the NFC could end up having two 12-4 wild-card teams, which is extremely rare. If that does happen, it would be first time ever under the current division format that two 12-4 teams made it to the playoffs as a wild card. The last time it happened came in 2001 when there were only three divisions in each conference. Coincidentally, 2001 was a year where an NFC North team (the Packers) and the 49ers got stuck in the wild-card round with records of 12-4. According to SportsLine, the Vikings have just a 12.5% chance of winning the division, and beating the Packers on Monday won't help much, because they're also going to need Green Bay to lose to the Lions in Week 17. Vikings remaining schedule: Packers, Bears.|
Just missed: Eagles (40.1% of making the playoffs)
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): Rams (4.5%), Bears (0.0%), Redskins (0.0%), Buccaneers (0.0%), Panthers (0.0%), Lions (0.0%), Cardinals (0.0%), Falcons (0.0%), Giants (0.0%).
Wild-card round projection
(6) Steelers at (3) Chiefs
(5) Bills at (4) Texans
Byes: Ravens, Patriots
(6) Vikings at (3) Packers
(5) 49ers at (4) Cowboys
Byes: Saints, Seahawks