With the NFL regular season headed into its final week, you'd think there would be some clarity in the playoff situation, but that simply hasn't happened.
In the AFC, only three of seven spots have been clinched. Out the three teams that are already in, only one already knows its seeding (the Chiefs), which means the seeding is completely up in the air for the six other spots. In the NFC, there have been four playoff spots clinched, but on the flip side, NO ONE KNOWS WHICH SEED THEY'RE GOING TO BE. All seven spots are still up for grabs, which means Week 17 should be a wild one.
Since you're probably wondering who's going to make the playoffs and where everyone's going to be seeded, that's where our projections come in. The projections here are 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 the 26 teams who are still alive, plus the projected 14-team playoff field.
Craving even more NFL coverage focusing on previews, recaps, news and analysis? Listen below and subscribe to the Pick Six podcast for a daily dose of everything you need to follow pro football.
If your team has already been eliminated from playoff contention, here's a mock draft you can read to pass the time. Spoiler alert: That mock draft has five quarterbacks going in the top-15.
Anyway, 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, be sure to click here.
With that in mind, let's get into it.
AFC Playoff Projection
|1. AFC West champion|
|The computer didn't have to do any projecting here because the Chiefs have already clinched the top seed in the AFC. One thing notable about Kansas City is that the Chiefs have a 28.05% chance of winning the Super Bowl, which is more than double the next closest team in the NFL (Packers are at 13.98%). |
|2. AFC East champion|
|The Bills are in the driver's seat for the two seed and the computer is fully expecting them to get it. If the Bills beat the Dolphins on Sunday, that will clinch it. The Bills can also get the two seed with a loss, but only if the Steelers also lose and the computer is expecting the Steelers to lose due to the fact that they'll be resting multiple starters, including Ben Roethlisberger. |
|3. AFC North champion|
|Although the Steelers will be resting several key players this week, that doesn't mean they can't win. Last year, a Steelers team without Ben Roethlisberger beat the Browns during the regular season. Of course, in last year's game, the Browns weren't in a do-or-die situation, which they'll kind of be facing on Sunday, which is one reason why the computer is projecting the Steelers to lose. |
|4. AFC South champion|
|To clinch the AFC South title, all the Titans have to do is beat the Texans. Even if they lose, they still have multiple ways to earn a wild-card, which is one reason why Tennessee is being given an 88.5% of making the playoffs.|
|5. Wild card 1|
|Less than a month ago, the Ravens had a 6-5 record and their playoff chances appeared to be on life support, but since then, they've won four straight games and the computer fully expects that to turn into five straight with a win over the Bengals on Sunday. Of course, the Ravens probably shouldn't take anything for granted and that's because they've already lost to the Bengals once in a situation like this (2017) and the Bengals are 12-1 in their past 13 home finales. |
|6. Wild card 2|
|We have some good news and some bad news for Browns fans. The good news is that the computer is projecting you to make the playoffs. The bad news is that the computer is projecting that the Browns will have to travel to Pittsburgh for the first round of the playoffs and unlike Week 17, the Steelers would actually be playing their starters in that game. We also have some more bad news that we forgot about: The Browns are 0-10 in Week 17 games since 2010, including 0-7 against the Steelers. |
|7. Wild card 3|
|The Colts are playing the Jaguars, so it's not a surprise that the computer thinks Indy is going to win and make the playoffs. The surprise here is that the computer has the Dolphins out. The one x-factor in the projection for the final AFC wild-card spot is that the computer is assuming the Bills will play their starters on Sunday. If the Bills decided to rest key players, it's possible the computer would project Miami to beat Buffalo and if the Dolphins win, they would make the playoffs over the Colts.|
First team out: Dolphins
NFC Playoff Projection
|1. NFC North champion|
|All the Packers have to do to lock up the top seed in the NFC is beat the Bears and the computer is expecting it to happen. Although the Packers will have a much easier route to the Super Bowl if they get a bye, the computer isn't giving them roughly the same chance of winning it all as New Orleans. The Packers have a 13.98% chance of taking home the Lombardi Trophy while the Saints are just a hair behind at 13.46%. |
|2. NFC South champion|
|The Saints have an outside chance at getting the top seed in the NFC, but for that to happen, they'd need a Packers loss combined with a New Orleans win over the Panthers and a Seahawks win over the 49ers. The Bears have a lot to play for against Green Bay on Sunday, so it's not an implausible scenario, but the computer doesn't see it happening. |
|3. NFC West champion|
|Like the Saints, the Seahawks also have a shot at the top seed in the NFC. However, for Seattle to get the first-round bye, both the Packers and Saints would have to lose and the Seahawks would have to take care of business in San Francisco. The computer doesn't see that happening, which is why the Seahawks have been projected as the third seed. |
|4. NFC East champion|
|This one is pretty simple: If Washington beats Philadelphia on Sunday night, then the Football Team will take home the division title and the computer is projecting a Washington win. That being said, computers are not perfect, so this is where we tell you that if Washington doesn't win, then the NFC East crown will go to the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game. |
|5. Wild card 1|
|The Buccaneers are the only NFC team that has clinched a wild-card spot so far. Based on what happens this week, Tampa Bay could either end up with the fifth or sixth seed. If the Buccaneers beat the Falcons, they'll lock up the fifth seed and the computer is expecting them to beat the Falcons.|
|6. Wild card 2|
|We made sure to let the computer know that the Rams aren't going to have Jared Goff this week and despite that injury, the projection here is that the Rams still end up getting in the playoffs with a win over the Cardinals. The one problem for Arizona is that Kyler Murray is also banged up and there's a chance he might not play.|
|7. Wild card 3|
|Not only is there a chance that an NFC team could make the playoffs at 8-8, but the computer is expecting it to happen. If the Bears lose to the Packers and the Cardinals lose to the Rams, that would leave both teams at 8-8, but Chicago would get in based on the best winning percentage in common games tiebreaker.|
First team out: Cardinals (46% chance of getting into the playoffs)
Note: The Cowboys and Giants are still alive because they have a shot of winning the NFC East.
Wild-card round projection
(7) Colts at (2) Bills
(6) Browns at (3) Steelers
(5) Ravens at (4) Titans
(7) Bears at (2) Saints
(6) Rams at (3) Seahawks
(5) Buccaneers at (4) Washington