With nine weeks of the NFL season in the books, that means we're 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 PANTHERS and CARDINALS could still make the postseason. I'm guessing they won't, but they could, and that's what matters here.
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. 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 West Champion)|
|After getting the No. 1 overall seed in 2022, the computer is projecting that the Chiefs (7-2) will once again finish at the top of the AFC. The big thing working in Kansas City's favor is that they have wins over two of the teams that might compete with them for the top seed (Jaguars and Dolphins). Also, they currently have the best conference record in the AFC (5-1), and that's one of the main tiebreakers used if they finish with the same record as a team that's not on their schedule this year, like the Ravens. |
|2. (AFC North Champion)|
|The AFC North is currently the best division in football, and right now, the computer thinks the Ravens are nearly a lock to win it. According to SportsLine, the Ravens (7-2) have a 73.1% chance of winning the division, which is well ahead of the Bengals, who are the next closest team at 10.4%. |
|3. (AFC East Champion)|
|The Dolphins (6-3) have yet to beat a team with a winning record this year, but the computer doesn't seem to care about that. SportsLine is giving Miami a 72.1% chance of winning the AFC East. The biggest thing working in the Dolphins' favor is that only three of their eight remaining opponents currently have a winning record. |
|4. (AFC South Champion)|
|The Jaguars (6-2) currently hold a two-game lead in the AFC South, and the computer doesn't think any team in the division is going to be able to catch them. The Jags are projected to win the division comfortably over a Texans team that's being projected to finish in second place. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|With a four-game winning streak, the Bengals (5-3) are the hottest team in the NFL right now, but the computer doesn't think they'll be able to overtake the Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North. The upside for the Bengals, though, is that the computer thinks they're going to earn the top wild-card spot. |
|6. Wild Card 2|
|Heading into Week 10, all four AFC North teams are currently in a playoffs, but the computer doesn't think that will hold up over the course of the season. Instead, the computer has three AFC North teams making the playoffs with the Steelers as the odd man out. The computer has the Browns (5-3) finishing a full game ahead of the Steelers in the AFC North. |
|7. Wild Card 3|
|The computer currently has the Bills (5-4) 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 Bills have a 43.8% chance of getting in the postseason, which is just barely better than Houston and Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a 42.5% chance of getting in while the Texans chances are sitting at 39.3%. Although the Bills are currently being projected into the seventh spot, it's not going to be easy for them to hold it and that's because they have the fourth-most difficult remaining strength of schedule.|
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): Steelers (42.5%), Texans (39.3%), Chargers (36.9%), Jets (14%), Colts (8.2%), Titans (8.2%), Raiders (4.9%), Broncos (2.1%), Patriots (0.6%).
NFC playoff projection
|1. (NFC East Champion)|
|Not only are the Eagles (8-1) being projected to win the NFC, but the computer thinks they have the best chance of winning the Super Bowl. According to SportsLine, the Eagles have a 20% chance of winning it all, which is the highest in the NFL. (The Chiefs are second at 18.92%.) |
|2. (NFC North Champion)|
|We haven't even played Week 10 yet, and the computer is already crowning the Lions (6-2) as the champions of the NFC North for 2023. According to SportsLine, the Lions have an 85.1% chance of winning the division. Even better: The Lions have a 96.5% chance of making the playoffs, which means the computer essentially views them as a lock to make the postseason for the first time since 2016. If the Lions do win the division, that means they'd also be in line to host their first playoff game since the 1993 season. |
|3. (NFC West Champion)|
|The 49ers (5-3) are currently in a tailspin with three straight losses, but the computer has decided it's going to overlook that. The 49ers were banged up during their losing streak, but they should be healthy coming out of their Week 9 bye. Due to that fact, the computer is giving them a 77.3% chance of winning the NFC West. |
|4. (NFC South Champion)|
|The NFC South appears to be the most unpredictable division in the NFL heading into Week 10, but nothing is unpredictable to a computer, which is good news for the Saints (5-4). The computer actually loves New Orleans to win the division, with the Saints being given a 74% chance of taking home the NFC South crown. The Falcons have the next best chance of winning the division, but they're only at 12.5%. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|The Cowboys (5-3) are being projected to compete with the Lions and 49ers for the second-best record in the NFC, but unfortunately for Dallas, that won't mean much for them. The Cowboys are being projected to finish behind the Eagles in the NFC East, which means that getting the top wild-card spot is the best they can hope for, even if they finish with the second-best record in the NFC.|
|6. Wild Card 2|
|Even though we've barely reached the midpoint of the season, the computer feels very confident that the top six spots in the NFC are all locked up. According to SportsLine, the Seahawks have a 78.3% chance of making the postseason, which means we should see them playing in mid-January barring a total collapse.|
|7. Wild Card 3|
|Could Josh Dobbs actually lead the Vikings to the playoffs? The computer says yes. According to SportsLine, the Vikings' main competitor for this spot will be the Falcons, but Minnesota has a head-to-head win over them after picking up a wild victory in Week 9. Due to that win, the Vikings have a 48.9% chance of making the playoffs while the Falcons are all the way back at 26.2%. The computer actually sees the battle for the last spot as a three-way race that will also involve the Buccaneers.|
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): Buccaneers (29%), Falcons (26.2%), Packers (20.7%), Rams (12.3%), Commanders (6.6%), Bears (1.1%), Panthers (0.4%), Giants (0.3%), Cardinals (0.0%).
Note: The Cardinals aren't eliminated from playoff contention, but their chances are listed at zero because the computer has given up on them.
Wild-card round projection
(7) Bills at (2) Ravens
(6) Browns at (3) Dolphins
(5) Bengals at (4) Jaguars
(7) Vikings at (2) Lions
(6) Seahawks at (3) 49ers
(5) Cowboys at (4) Saints