After 11 weeks of the regular season, all 32 teams are still alive to make the playoffs, but that's something that could be changing in Week 12.
With a loss on Thanksgiving Day, the Detroit Lions could become the first team to officially be eliminated from playoff contention this year. However, it's not that simple. Even if the Lions lose, several other things would have to work against them Sunday for their elimination to happen.
For now, every team is still mathematically alive, which brings us to to this week's playoff projections. The projections here are based on data from number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com. Oh plugged some numbers into his SportsLine computer this week and then simulated the rest of the NFL season, and using those numbers, we were able to figure out the playoff chances for all 32 teams. We also projected the 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 Jaguars, Jets, Texans and Lions might want to read. Although those four teams haven't been technically eliminated yet, the computer is basically giving them a 0% chance of making the playoffs, so a mock draft might be more exciting to read than this projection if you're a fan of one of those four teams.
For everyone else, let's get to the projection.
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. For a breakdown of the current playoff picture, be sure to click here.
With that in mind, let's get to the projections..
AFC Playoff Projection
|1. (AFC South Champion)|
|Despite losing a shocker to the Texans in Week 11, the computer is still projecting the Titans to finish with the top seed in the AFC and that's mostly due to the fact that Tennessee has the second-easiest remaining schedule of any team in the NFL. Although the Titans are favored to land the top spot in the conference, the computer does not like their chances of winning the Super Bowl. According to SportsLine, the Titans have a 6.87% chance of winning it all, which ranks fourth in the AFC and seventh in the NFL. |
|2. (AFC North Champion)|
|Heading into Week 12, the AFC North is the only division in the NFL where every team is above .500. Despite the stiff competition, the computer really seems to like the Ravens' chances of winning the division crown this year. According to SportsLine, the Ravens have a 56.3% chance of taking home the AFC North title, which is well ahead of the Bengals (18.7%), Steelers (13.5%) and Browns (11.5%). |
|3. (AFC East Champion)|
|In what is easily the most surprising twist of this week's projections, the computer actually likes Buffalo to win the AFC East even though the Patriots are currently in first place. The Bills have a 57.3% chance of winning the division, which is nearly 15% higher than the Patriots, who are sitting at just 42.7%. Of course, it doesn't matter what the computer thinks because the division title will be decided on the field with the Patriots and Bills facing off against each other twice over the next six weeks. |
|4. (AFC West Champion)|
|The Chiefs might be in first place right now, but when it comes to the AFC West, the computer is giving a slight edge to the Chargers. According to SportsLine, the Chargers have a 47% chance of winning the division while the Chiefs are right behind them with a 45.8%. The two things working in the Chargers' favor are pretty simple. For one, they already have a win over Kansas City. Also, the Chargers have one of the 10 easiest remaining schedules while the Chiefs have the sixth-most difficult schedule. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|Although the Patriots aren't being projected to win the AFC East right now, the computer did show them some serious love this week. According to SportsLine, the Patriots have a 92.4% chance of making the playoffs, which is the second-highest number of any team in the AFC heading into Week 12. Only the Titans -- at 96.6% -- have a higher number. |
|6. Wild Card 2|
|The Chiefs aren't being projected to win the division and as we noted above, it all has to do with their schedule. Over their final six games, the Chiefs will play six teams that all have a record of .500 or better. On the other hand, the Chargers will get to play two of their final seven games against teams that are currently under .500 (Giants, Texans). |
|7. Wild Card 3|
|Even though there's a logjam in the AFC standings for the final wild-card spot, the computer feels pretty confident that the Colts are going to land the seventh seed. According to SportsLine, the Colts have a 69.2% of getting in the postseason, which is well ahead of other postseason contenders like the Bengals (41.4%), Steelers (34.5%) and Browns (22.8%).|
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): Bengals (41.4%), Steelers (34.5%), Browns (22.8%), Broncos (14.8%), Raiders (10.4%), Dolphins (1.1%), Jaguars (0.0%), Jets (0.0%), Texans (0.0%).
Note: The Jets, Jaguars and Texans haven't been eliminated from playoff contention, but they have a 0% 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 any of those teams to make it.
NFC Playoff Projection
|1. (NFC West Champion)|
|Thanks to Colt McCoy, the Arizona Cardinals picked up a huge win without Kyler Murray, and the computer seems to really like the fact that the Cards have been able to win while Murray heals, because Arizona is now the Super Bowl favorite. According to SportsLine, the Cards have a 16.35% chance of winning the Super Bowl, which is a wild number when you consider that no other team in the NFL is even being given a 10% chance. |
|2. (NFC North Champion)|
|Despite losing to an NFC North rival in Week 11, the computer does not think the Packers are going to lose the NFC North crown. According to SportsLine, the Packers have a 91.6% chance of winning the division, which is the computer's way of saying there's probably going to be a home playoff game at Lambeau Field this year. |
|3. (NFC East Champion)|
|The Cowboys might be in a rut, but the computer doesn't seem to care. Despite losing for the second time in three weeks, the Cowboys are still getting some major love from the computer. Not only does Dallas have a 94.9% chance of making the playoffs, but the Cowboys also have an 86.1% chance of winning the division. Even with the Eagles and Washington both on two-game winning streaks, the computer doesn't think either team has a chance of catching the Cowboys. |
|4. (NFC South Champion)|
|The computer thinks the Buccaneers basically locked up the NFC South title with their win on Monday night. Going into Week 11, the Bucs were being given just a 73% chance of winning the division, but with the Saints losing and Tampa Bay winning, the Buccaneers are now being given an 84.7% chance of winning the division. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|The Rams still haven't won a game in November, but the computer doesn't seem to care because it's still viewing L.A. as a lock to make the playoffs. According to SportsLine, the Rams have a 95% chance of earning a wild-card spot. However, the computer is giving them almost no chance of winning the division (13.3%).|
|6. Wild Card 2|
|After watching them win three of their past four games, the computer has officially jumped on the 49ers bandwagon, which is a little weird, because computers aren't supposed to jump on bandwagons. According to SportsLine, the 49ers have a 55.8% chance of making the playoffs, which is a notable number, because no team below them is even being given a 50% chance of making it.|
|7. Wild Card 3|
|If there's one team that did the biggest favor for itself in Week 11, it was the Minnesota Vikings. Thanks to their win over the Packers, the Vikings are being given a 48.1% chance of making the playoffs. Although that's a solid number, the computer still views the Eagles (41.5%) and Saints (37%) as potential threats to steal the NFC's final playoff spot from Minnesota.|
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): Eagles (41.5%), Saints (37.0%), Panthers (8.2%), Washington (7.8%), Giants (3.7%), Seahawks (3.5%), Falcons (2.9%), Bears (0.4%), Lions (0%).
Wild-card round projection
(7) Colts at (2) Ravens
(6) Chiefs at (3) Bills
(5) Patriots at (4) Chargers
(7) Vikings at (2) Packers
(6) 49ers at (3) Cowboys
(5) Rams at (4) Buccaneers