With nine weeks of the NFL season in the books, that means we're exactly halfway through the year, which makes right now the perfect time to start talking about the playoffs.
The beauty of the NFL playoff race heading into Week 10 is that all 32 teams are currently still alive, which means that yes, even the Texans could still make the playoffs. I'm guessing they won't, but they're still mathematically alive, which is why everyone in Houston should love math right now.
To help you figure out who's going to make the playoffs this year, we're going to be publishing a projection every week for the rest of the 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 14 teams we expect to make the playoffs.
With that in mind, let's get to the projections.
AFC Playoff Projection
|1. (AFC East Champion)|
|The computer currently feels like the Bills (6-2) have the best chance of earning the top seed in the AFC, but that could all change if Josh Allen's injury knocks him out for any amount of time. As things currently stand, the Bills have a 98.7% chance of making the playoffs and a 77.5% chance of winning the AFC East. |
|2. (AFC West Champion)|
|There is no team the computer likes more right now than the Chiefs (6-2). According to SportsLine, the Chiefs have a 93.2% of chance of winning the AFC West, which is the highest percentage for any division leader in the AFC. The Chiefs also have a 99% chance of making the playoffs, which means the computer basically views them as a lock. |
|3. (AFC North Champion)|
|Although the Ravens (6-3) only have a one-game lead in the AFC North, the computer is viewing them as a virtual lock to win the division. The Ravens have a 91.5% chance of winning the AFC North and most of that has to do with the fact that they have the NFL's easiest remaining strength of schedule. |
|4. (AFC South Champion)|
|The Titans (5-3) play in the NFL's least competitive decision, which is one reason why the computer likes them so much. According to SportsLine, the Titans have a 84.6% chance of making the playoffs and an 82.7% chance of winning the AFC South. A big reason the computer likes the Titans is because they're 3-0 in division play, which is going to give them a huge advantage in the tiebreaker department if they somehow end up with the same record as the Colts, Jaguars or Texans. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|The computer loves the Dolphins' chances of getting to the playoffs, but it isn't giving them much of a chance to win the division. According to SportsLine, Miami's chance of winning the AFC East are sitting at just 10.5%. However, the Dolphins do have a 71.5% chance of making the playoffs. |
|6. Wild Card 2|
|The Patriots are currently one game out of a playoff spot, but the computer thinks they'll end up getting in. According to SportsLine, the Patriots have a 60.7% chance of getting in the postseason. The computer likes the Patriots even though New England has the second-most difficult remaining schedule with six of its eight remaining games against teams that currently have a winning record. |
|7. Wild Card 3|
|The computer currently has the Chargers pegged into the final wild-card spot, but that might not last for long, because it is projecting that the battle for the seventh spot could get a little crazy. The Chargers have a 57.6% of getting in the postseason, which is less than 2% better than the Jets. The Bengals are also lingering in the background with a 30% chance of getting in. Of those three teams, the Chargers have a much easier remaining schedule, which is one reason why the computer likes them more (The Chargers remaining opponents have a winning percentage of .473 while the Bengals are at .552 and the Jets at .551).|
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): Jets (55.2%), Bengals (30%), Browns (12.8%), Jaguars (12.3%), Colts (10.4%), Broncos (3.9%), Raiders (2.6%), Steelers (1.6%), Texans (0.7%). .
NFC Playoff Projection
|1. (NFC East Champion)|
|The Eagles are the 29th team in the Super Bowl era to start 8-0 and the previous 28 all made the playoffs, which is probably why the computer view Philadelphia as a lock to get in. The Eagles currently have a 99.9% chance of getting to the postseason, which is currently the highest of any team. However, they're not a total lock to win the division: According to SportsLine, the Eagles have an 85.9% chance of winning the NFC East, which is waaaaaay ahead of the Cowboys (7.6%) and Giants (6.5%),|
|2. (NFC North Champion)|
|Halfway through the season, the computer only views one team as an absolute lock to win its division and that team is the Minnesota Vikings (7-1). According to SportsLine, the Vikings have a 99.5% chance of winning the NFC North, which is the highest percentage of any division-leader in the NFL. Of course, Vikings fans probably don't feel too comfortable considering this team once started 5-0 and didn't make the playoffs (2016). |
|3. (NFC West Champion)|
|The Seahawks (6-3) are one of the biggest surprises of the NFL season and the computer thinks they're going to be able to ride this surprise all the way to the playoffs. According to SportsLine, the Seahawks have a 92.7% chance of getting to the postseason. |
|4. (NFC South Champion)|
|The NFC South is the ugliest division in football right now and although the Bucs are currently tied for first with the Falcons, the computer thinks Tampa Bay (4-5) will end up running away with it. According to SportsLine, the Buccaneers have a 74.4% chance of winning the division. One thing working in the Buccaneers' favor is that they have the NFL's fourth-easiest schedule over the second half of the season. The Falcons have the second-easiest, but the computer thinks that Tampa Bay is a better team. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|The Cowboys (6-2) haven't made consecutive trips to the playoffs since 2006 and 2007, but the computer thinks that drought is going to end this year. According to SportsLine, the Cowboys have a 97.9% chance of getting into the postseason, which is the highest percentage in the NFL for any non-division leading team.|
|6. Wild Card 2|
|The Giants haven't made the playoffs since 2016, but the computer thinks the drought is going to end this year. According to SportsLine, the Giants have a 92% chance of getting into the postseason. The computer likes the Giants' chances despite the fact that New York has the fourth-toughest remaining strength of schedule of any team in the NFL.|
|7. Wild Card 3|
|The 49ers are being given a 73.7% chance of getting in the postseason and the notable part here is that no other team below them is even being given a 25% chance. The computer doesn't seem to think that there's really a dark horse contender in the NFC. With nine weeks left to play in the season, this might sound crazy to say, but the computer thinks that all seven NFC playoff spots are more or less locked up.|
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): Falcons (22.6%), Saints (12.8%), Rams (9.9%), Commanders (7%), Packers (6.4%), Cardinals (4.9%), Bears (2%), Panthers (1.4%), Lions (0.6%).
Wild-card round projection
(7) Chargers at (2) Chiefs
(6) Patriots at (3) Ravens
(5) Dolphins at (4) Titans
(7) 49ers at (2) Vikings
(6) Giants at (3) Seahawks
(5) Cowboys at (4) Buccaneers