If we learned one thing from Week 10, it's that the NFL playoff picture can change in an instant. The Bills, Saints and Ravens all found that out the hard way on Sunday for very different reasons.
Does losing a your starting quarterback hurt you in our playoff projections? How far do you fall when you lose a game you were supposed to win like the Ravens did? Does our computer even care if you lose on a fluke play like a Hail Mary?
We're going to answer all those questions in our weekly playoff projection. 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 all 32 teams, plus the projected 14-team playoff field.
With that in mind, let's get to this week's playoff projections. Actually, before we do that, here's a mock draft that fans of the Jets, Jaguars, Chargers, Bengals, Broncos, Texans, Falcons and Panthers might want to read. Since the computer is believes those teams basically have a zero percent chance of getting into the playoffs, that mock will probably be way more exciting than this projection.
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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 to the projections.
AFC Playoff Projection
|1. (AFC North Champion)|
|With the Ravens losing in Week 10, the Steelers are now basically being viewed as a lock to win the AFC North. According to the computer, the Steelers have a 97.1% chance of winning the division, which is the highest percentage being given to any team heading into Week 11. The Steelers also have the best chance of winning the Super Bowl at 19.47% (The Saints are the next closest at 18.05%). |
|2. (AFC West Champion)|
|The Chiefs can't officially clinch the division this week against the Raiders, but they can come pretty close. If Kansas City beats Las Vegas, that would give the Chiefs a three-game lead in the AFC West with just six games to play. The Chiefs are already being given a 91.7% chance of winning the division and that number will creep pretty close to 100 with a win on Sunday. |
|3. (AFC East Champion)|
|Although the Bills lost on a miracle play, the computer didn't really punish them for the lost. The Bills still have the best shot to win the division, however, the Dolphins are creeping up on them. Miami is being given a 32.1% chance of winning the AFC East, which is up from 18.8% last week. That being said, the Bills still have the best chances of winning the division at 64%. |
|4. (AFC South Champion)|
|The Colts were the biggest winner of Week 10 in the AFC and that's because their win over the Titans vaulted them from sixth to fourth in our computer projections. Thanks to the win, Indy is now being given a 58.3% chance of winning the division, which is up from 30.8% last week. That being said, the Colts only have a 72% chance of making the playoffs, which is the lowest number of the four division leaders in the AFC. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|Despite an embarrassing loss to the Patriots, it doesn't seem like the computer has lost any faith in the Ravens. Last week, Baltimore had a 97.5% chance of making the playoffs, and after the loss, those chances only dropped down to 83.4%. Basically, the computer seems pretty confident that not only are the Ravens going to get in, but they're going to get in with the fifth seed. |
|6. Wild Card 2|
|The computer doesn't have a favorite team, but if it did, it would probably be the Miami Dolphins. The computer was one of the first people/things to jump on the Miami bandwagon as it has been projecting the Dolphins to make the playoffs for the past few weeks. This week, the computer is putting the Dolphins' playoff chances at 71.6%. |
|7. Wild Card 3|
|If there's any race in the AFC that's going to cause the computer to malfunction, it's the battle for the final wild card spot. Right now, the computer is giving the seventh spot to the Titans, who are being given a 67.8% chance of making the playoffs. The Titans are also being projected to win 9.9 games, which is slightly more than the Raiders (9.6) and Browns (9.5). Basically, the computer feels like Tennessee will get to 10-6 while the Raiders and Browns are more likely to finish 9-7.|
First team out: Raiders (56.5% chance of getting into the playoffs)
Note: The first team out could end up making the playoffs. The NFL has approved a proposal that will expand the playoffs to 16 teams, but that will only happen if COVID-19 causes the cancellation of multiple regular season games that have a bearing on who might make the playoffs.
Here's a list of the playoff chances for all the other AFC teams (their percentage chances of getting into the playoffs is listed next to them in parentheses): Browns (43.3%), Patriots (13.3%), Chargers (0.2%), Broncos (0.2%), Texans (0.1%), Bengals (0.1%), Jaguars (0.0%), Jets (0.0%).
Note II: The Jets and Jaguars haven't been eliminated from playoff contention, but they have a zero percent chance of making it because the computer hates them. Actually, the computer doesn't love or hate, it has no feelings, it just doesn't think there's a mathematical chance for either team to make it.
NFC Playoff Projection
|1. (NFC South Champion)|
|In what is easily the most surprising news of the week, the computer is still projecting the Saints to get the top seed in the NFC, despite the fact that they might have to play the next few weeks without Drew Brees. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Saints have four very winnable games coming up on their schedule (Falcons, Broncos, Falcons, Eagles) and the computer is confident that they should be able to win at least two of those, if not more, without Brees. |
|2. (NFC North Champion)|
|Despite a lackluster performance against the Jaguars, the computer still rewarded the Packers this week. Not only did they jump up after being projected as the third seed last week, but they are being given a 87.5% chance of winning the division, which is up from 80.2% last week. According to the computer, the Packers' biggest threat for the division title is still the Bears, although they're not really a threat as they're being given just a 6.9% chance of winning the division. |
|3. (NFC West Champion)|
|The Rams win over the Seahawks has vaulted Los Angeles into the top spot in the NFC West. That being said, the computer doesn't really seem to have any idea who's going to win this division. The Rams currently have a 43.6% chance, which is followed by the Seahawks (31.2%) and then the Cardinals (24.9%). Cardinals fans, please send all hate mail to the computer. |
|4. (NFC East Champion)|
|The Giants tried to throw a wrench into the NFC East race with a win over the Eagles, but the computer isn't having it. Despite New York's win on Sunday, the Eagles are still being projected to win the division. According to SportsLine, the Eagles have a 64.4% chance of winning the division, followed by the Giants, who are being given a 21.1% chance. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|Unless the Buccaneers have a total meltdown, the computer sees them landing in the fifth spot and that's because they don't have a great shot of winning the division (17.5% chance), but the computer does view them as a near lock to make the postseason (84.6% chance).|
|6. Wild Card 2|
|The Seahawks took the biggest tumble in the NFC this week. Instead of being projected to host a home game as the division winner, Seattle is now being projected to play on the road as the sixth seed. In a twist of fate, they're being projected to play against the same Rams team they lost to on Sunday. Despite the fact that the Seahawks have lost three of four, the computer is still giving them an 88.5% chance of making the playoffs.|
|7. Wild Card 3|
|The "Hail Murray" was the most exciting play of Week 10, but unfortunately for the Cardinals, the computer doesn't deal in excitement, it only deals in numbers, and right now, it still doesn't love Arizona. Although the Cardinals are being given a 75.1% chance of making the playoffs, the computer is giving them less than a 25% chance of winning the NFC West even thought they're currently on top of the division heading into Week 11.|
First team out: Bears (27.5% chance of getting into the playoffs)
Note: The first team out could end up making the playoffs. The NFL has approved a proposal that will expand the playoffs to 16 teams, but that will only happen if COVID-19 causes the cancellation of multiple regular season games over the final eight weeks of the season.
Here's a list of the playoff chances for all the other NFC teams (their percentage chances of getting into the playoffs is listed next to them in parentheses): Vikings (22.1%), Giants (21.1%), Lions (9.7%), 49ers (4.9%), Cowboys (8.1%), Washington (6.5%), Falcons (0.9%), Panthers (0.3%)
Note: The Giants, Cowboys and Washington have a higher percentage than several other teams because they computer believes they have a better shot of winning the NFC East than the most other NFC teams have of earning a wild-card berth.
Wild-card round projection
(7) Titans at (2) Chiefs
(6) Dolphins at (3) Bills
(5) Ravens at (4) Colts
Bye: Steelers (Pittsburgh would host Las Vegas in the wild-card round of a 16-team playoff)
(7) Cardinals at (2) Packers
(6) Seahawks at (3) Rams
(5) Buccaneers at (4) Eagles
Bye: Saints (New Orleans would host Chicago in in wild-card round of a 16-team playoff)