2019 NFL Playoff Projections: Cowboys stumble to NFC East title, Packers' division title chances shoot up

With four weeks to go in the NFL regular season, only one playoff berth has been officially claimed, which means there are still 11 spots up for grabs. The only team that has already locked up a berth for the postseason is the New Orleans Saints, who clinched the NFC South title with a 26-18 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving night. As we head into Week 14, there are a total of six playoff spots that could be clinched with the 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, Patriots, Bills and Chiefs all on the cusp of punching their ticket to the postseason (For a look at how each of those teams could end up clinching a spot, click here). 

So how will all of this play out? That's where our projections come in. 

Each week, number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com plugs some numbers into his SportsLine computer, and that computer simulates 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. 

Unfortunately, these playoff projections are basically meaningless to some fan bases out there. The Bengals, Dolphins, Lions, Cardinals, Falcons, and Giants have officially been eliminated from playoff contention, which means fans of those teams 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, click here to see Will Brinson's thorough breakdown of what the playoff race looks like as we head into Week 14. For individual conference breakdowns, click here for a look at the AFC and click here for a look at the NFC

AFC Playoff Projection

1. (AFC North champion)
After rolling off eight straight wins, the computer is finally convinced that the Ravens are going to be the top seed in the AFC. Not only is Baltimore now locked into the No. 1 spot in the AFC, but the computer also views them as the overall favorite to win the Super Bowl. According to SportsLine, the Ravens have a 29.3% chance of taking home the Lombardi Trophy, which is a huge number, when you consider that no other team even has a 20% chance. Since you're probably wondering, the Patriots' chances of winning the Super Bowl are currently sitting at 16.4%. Ravens remaining schedule: At Bills, Jets, at Browns, Steelers
2. (AFC East champion)
After watching New England lose two of its past four games, the computer has finally decided to bump the Patriots out of the top seed in the AFC. The good news for the Patriots is that the computer seems absolutely confident of two things: One, that New England is going to win the AFC East (They have a 97.2% chance) and two, that the Patriots are still going to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. The computer really likes the fact that the Patriots get to play three of their final four games at home, making them one of just three teams in the NFL that will have that distinction to finish the season. The Patriots are 25-1 against AFC teams in December home games since 2003. Patriots remaining schedule: Chiefs, at Bengals, Bills, Dolphins. 
3. (AFC West champion)
The Chiefs better get comfortable in this slot, because the computer basically views them as a lock to earn the third seed out of the AFC. Thanks to their win over the Raiders, the Chiefs now have a 99.5% chance to win the division, which means they're going to win the division unless Oakland somehow pulls off a miracle. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, even if they get to 12 wins, the computer doesn't think they'll be able to improve their seed at all in the AFC. Chiefs remaining schedule: at Patriots, Broncos, at Bears, Chargers
4. (AFC South champion)
The AFC South is the only division in the AFC that's still up for grabs, and although the Texans are in the driver's seat to win the title, the computer is still giving the Titans a strong chance to steal the division crown away from the Texans. According to SportsLine, the Texans have a 70.9% chance of winning the division, while the Titans chances are sitting at 27.0%. The thing about the Titans though is that they actually control their own fate, and that's because they play Houston twice over the final four weeks, which means if they win out, they'll win the division. Texans remaining schedule: Broncos, at Titans, at Buccaneers, Titans. 
5. (Wild Card 1)
The Bills didn't officially clinch a playoff berth when they upset the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but they basically did in the eyes of the computer (Yes, the computer has eyes). Thanks to that win, the Bills' chances of reaching the postseason are up to 94.2%, which makes them a virtual lock to get in. One thing that could hurt the Bills though is that they have the third-most difficult schedule down the stretch out of any team in the NFL. Bills remaining schedule: Ravens, at Steelers, at Patriots, Jets. 
6. (Wild Card 2)
The battle for the sixth seed in the AFC is turning into a two-horse race with the computer viewing the Steelers and Titans as the only two teams that really have a chance to earn it. With four weeks left to play, the Steelers have a 55.6% chance of snagging the final playoff spot in the AFC while the Titans chances are sitting at 42.4%. The good news for the Titans is that if the wild card doesn't work out, they also have a 27.0% chance of winning the AFC South. For the Steelers, the backend of the schedule could turn into a problem, and that's because they're one of just three teams in the NFL that has to play three of their final four games on the road. Steelers remaining schedule: At Cardinals, Bills, at Jets, at Ravens. 

Just missed: Titans (42.4% 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): Raiders (9.1%), Colts (8.6%), Browns (3.0%), Jaguars (0.2%), Broncos (0.1%), Chargers (0.0%), Jets (0.0%), Dolphins (0.0%), Bengals (0.0%). 

NFC Playoff Projection

1. (NFC South champion)
With the 49ers going down in Week 13, the Saints are now the undisputed favorite to get to the Super Bowl out of the NFC. According to SportsLine, the Saints have a 39.9% chance of reaching the Super Bowl, which is way higher than the chances being given to both the 49ers (25.3%) and the Seahawks (15.0%). The computer has basically written off every other team in the conference because no one else has more than a 5% chance of earning a trip to Miami in February.  Saints remaining schedule: 49ers, Colts, at Titans, at Panthers.
2. (NFC West champion)
The biggest winner of Week 13 was probably the Seahawks. Last week, we were projecting them to get a wild-card spot, but after a win over the Vikings and a 49ers loss, the Seahawks are now in line to not only win the NFC West title but also to earn a first-round bye. According to SportsLine, the Seahawks currently have a 55.8% chance of winning the division, which is more than 10% better than the 49ers, who are sitting at 43.8%. These two teams play each other in Week 17 and there's a good chance the division title will be on the line when that happens. Seahawks remaining schedule: At Rams, at Panthers, Cardinals, 49ers.     
3. (NFC North champion)
The Packers might want to think about sending a thank you note to the Seahawks, and that's because Green Bay's chances of winning the division shot up following Seattle's win over the Vikings on Monday. Before the kickoff to that game, the Packers had just a 47.4% chance of winning the division, but after the Vikings loss, the number skyrocketed up to 63.9%. As for the Vikings, their chances of winning the division fell from 52.4% to 36% after the loss. Packers remaining schedule: Redskins, Bears, at Vikings, at Lions.
4. (NFC East champion)
Although the Cowboys have lost two in a row, their chances of winning the division have actually IMPROVED during their losing streak, thanks to the fact that they play in the woeful NFC East. Two weeks ago, the Cowboys had a 60.6% chance of winning the division, and although they've lost two straight games, those chances are now up to 66.1%. The Eagles are also still very much alive in this race and currently have a 33.1% chance of winning the division. One thing working in the Eagles favor is that they have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL. Cowboys remaining schedule: At Bears, Rams, at Eagles, Redskins.
5. (Wild Card 1)
The computer isn't feeling too confident about the 49ers' chances of winning the division, and that's because they finish the season with one of the most brutal stretches out of any team in the NFL. As a matter of fact, the 49ers have the fourth-most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL. Only the Titans, Bears and Bills have it tougher over the final four weeks of the season. 49ers remaining schedule: At Saints, Falcons, Rams, at Seahawks.
6. (Wild Card 2)
Although the Vikings are no longer being projected to win the NFC North anymore, the good news for Minnesota is that the computer still views them as a lock to make the postseason. Despite the loss to Seattle on Monday, the Vikings are still being given an 80.5% chance of making the playoffs. The only wild card contender that's even remotely within striking distance of stealing the final NFC playoff spot is the Rams, who currently have a 24.5% chance of getting into the playoffs (The Eagles have a 33.5% chance of getting in the postseason, but that would come from winning the NFC East. The computer is basically giving them a 0% chance of earning a wild-card berth). The Vikings are just one of three teams in the NFL that will get to play three of their final four games at home. Vikings remaining schedule: Lions, at Chargers, Packers, Bears.

Just missed: Eagles (33.5% of making the playoffs), Rams (24.5%)

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): Bears (4.4%), Redskins (0.1%), Buccaneers (0.1%), 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

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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