2019 NFL Playoff Projections: Patriots still top AFC seed after loss to Ravens, 49ers get top seed in NFC

It's never too early to start talking about the NFL playoff race, so that's exactly what we're going to do right now. Yes, the postseason is still two months away, but half the fun of following the playoff race is trying to figure out who's going to make it this year, which is where our weekly projections come in. 

If you're a fan of the Patriots, we have some goods news for you: Our projection model still likes New England's chances of earning the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC even though the Patriots had their souls crushed by the Ravens on Sunday. 

So who else is going to make it to the postseason besides the Patriots?

Glad you asked. To help figure out the answer to that question, we'll be providing a playoff projection every Wednesday for the rest of the regular season. These projections will be based on data from number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com. Each week, Oh will plug some numbers into his SportsLine computer and simulate the rest of the NFL season, and using those numbers, we'll project the 12 teams we expect to make the playoffs.  

Under Oh's current projections, the AFC playoff race is nearly over with four of the six spots basically locked up by the Chiefs, Patriots, Texans and Ravens. That doesn't mean those four teams have clinched a spot, it just means that SportsLine doesn't really think it's probable for those teams to miss out on the playoffs at this point. All four teams currently have an 80% chance or better of making it to the postseason. 

Below you'll find all 12 of our playoff projections with each team's expected win total. We'll also list whether or not we expect a team to make the playoffs as a wild card or a division winner. 

Alright, with all of that in mind, let's get to this week's playoff 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 10.

AFC Playoff Projection

1. (AFC East champion)
The computer didn't really seem to mind that the Patriots lost their first game of the season on Sunday. According to SportsLine, the Patriots are still projected to easily end up with the top overall seed in the AFC, despite the loss. As matter of fact, the computer thinks the Patriots are going to finish with 13 wins and comfortably win the top seed by two games over the Ravens. One thing that did take a hit after the loss was the Patriots' Super Bowl chances. The Patriots chances of winning the Lombardi Trophy fell from 32.1% to 28.33% after the loss to Baltimore.
2. (AFC North champion)
The Ravens didn't officially clinch a playoff berth with their win over the Patriots, but the computer basically has them as a lock to get in following their win over New England. The Ravens chances of earning a playoff berth are at 94%, which is 9.1% than their chances before the win. The computer is also now convinced that the Ravens are going to win the AFC North as Baltimore now has an 88.1% chance of winning the division.  
3. (AFC West champion)
Patrick Mahomes or no Patrick Mahomes, the computer seems to really love the Chiefs. According to SportsLine, the Chiefs currently have an 83.5% chance of winning the AFC West, which is basically the computer's way of saying that everyone else is playing for second. Speaking of second, although the 4-5 Chargers have a worse record than the Raiders, the computer likes their chances of winning the division slightly better than Oakland's (9.9% to 6.5%). 
4. (AFC South champion)
The biggest winner of Week 9 was probably the Texans, and that's because they're now the prohibitive favorite to win the AFC South. Not only did the Texans win on Sunday, but the other three teams in the division lost, which the computer definitely took note of. According to SportsLine, the Texans now have a 56.5% chance of winning the division, which is up from 27% last week. On the other hand, the Colts saw their chances of a division title dip from 52.7% to 35.9%. As for the Jaguars and Titans, the computer has basically written off their chances of winning the AFC South, so we're going to pretend they don't exist. 
5. (Wild Card 1)
Although the computer isn't here to project how many foldable tables are going to be broken in Buffalo if the Bills make the playoffs this year, it is here to project whether or not the Bills are going to make the playoffs. Right now, the computer feels good about the Bills' chances of getting into the postseason. According to SportsLine, the Bills have a 71.6% chance of getting into a wild card spot, which is 20.6% higher than the Colts, who are projected to get the second wild card slot in the AFC. 
6. (Wild Card 2)
The Colts aren't expected to win the AFC South this year, but the computer does believe that Indianapolis will be heading to the playoffs anyway. According to SportsLine, the Colts have a 51% chance of getting to the postseason. Although the computer is expecting the Colts to land the sixth seed, the computer is expecting a dogfight for the final spot in the AFC with the Steelers (42.7%), Raiders (21.2%), Jaguars (18%) and Chargers (16.7%) all being given more than a 15% chance of getting the final wild card spot in the conference. 

Just missed: Steelers, Raiders, Jaguars, Chargers

Teams that haven't been officially eliminated from the playoff race, but the computer has basically given up on them: Jets, Bengals, Dolphins, Broncos

Race for the top pick in the NFL Draft: It's been a tough year for Bengals fans, and unfortunately, the computer has some more bad news: Although the Bengals are the only winless team left in the NFL, they still aren't being projected to earn the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Heading into Week 10, the computer is giving the Dolphins a 32% chance of getting the pick, with the Bengals having the second-best chance at 25%. 

NFC Playoff Projection

1. (NFC West champion)
Although San Francisco is the only undefeated team left in the NFL, the computer doesn't view the 49ers as the Super Bowl favorite. According to SportsLine, the 49ers have an 18.3% chance of taking home the Lombardi Trophy, which is actually the third-best odds. The computer believes that both the Patriots (28.3%) and the Saints (19.5%) have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl. Besides those three, no other team in the NFL is being given more than a nine percent chance of winning it all.  
2. (NFC South champion)
The computer currently has the Saints projected as the second seed in the NFC, but to be honest, the Saints probably don't care what the computer thinks, and that's because this seeding will be decided on the field. The Saints will be hosting the 49ers for a Week 14 game in December and there's a good chance the winner will walk away with the top seed in the NFC.  
3. (NFC North champion)
No division had a more disastrous weekend than the NFC North as the Packers, Vikings, Lions, and Bears combined to go 0-4. The Packers' loss stung the most as the computer isn't so sure that they're actually good anymore. Following the surprising loss to the Chargers, the Packers playoff chances dropped from 90 percent to 78.6 percent. It was the biggest drop of the week for any team in the NFC and clearly proves that the computer does not like surprise outcomes. 
4. (NFC East champion)
If there's one divisional race the computer seems split on this year, it's the race for first place in the NFC East. With just eight weeks left to play, the computer basically views the division as a toss-up. According to SportsLine, the Cowboys have a 52.9% chance of winning the division, which is just slightly better than the Eagles, who have a 47% chance. If there are any Giants fans out there who believe in miracles, your team has a 0.1% chance. 
5. (Wild Card 1)
The Seahawks have the toughest remaining strength of schedule of any team in the NFL, but the computer doesn't seem to think that that's going to keep them from earning a playoff spot. According to SportsLine, the Seahawks have a 63.4% chance of getting into the postseason, which puts them comfortably ahead of the other wild card contenders. In a twist, the computer is projecting that the Seahawks would open up postseason play against the Cowboys, which would be a rematch of a Wild Card game last season that the Cowboys won 24-22.  
6. (Wild Card 2)
The computer almost malfunctioned trying to figure out who would be getting the final Wild Card spot out of the NFC, but lucky for us, the computer soldiered through with its calculations and gave us an answer. As things currently stand, it appears the Vikings are in the best position to get the sixth and final seed in the conference. According to SportsLine, the Vikings have a 62% chance of sneaking into the playoffs, which is just slightly better than the Eagles (53.3%) and Rams (49.9%). The only other team in the NFC even above 20% is the Panthers, but the computer isn't feeling very strongly about Carolina's chances (21.8%) of getting in the playoffs. 

Just missed: Rams, Eagles, Panthers.

Teams that haven't been officially eliminated from the playoff race, but the computer has basically given up on them: Redskins, Falcons, Giants, Buccaneers

Wild-Card Round Projection


(6) Colts at (3) Chiefs

(5) Bills at (4) Texans

Byes: Patriots, Ravens


(6) Vikings at (3) Packers

(5) Seahawks at (4) Cowboys

Byes: Saints, 49ers

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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