It finally happened and it took 13 weeks: a team has officially been eliminated from the NFL playoff race and surprisingly, it WASN'T the Detroit Lions.
The Lions survive for at least one more week, thanks to their win over the Vikings on Sunday. However, the same can't be said for the Houston Texans, who became the first team to get eliminated following their Week 13 loss to the Colts.
With the Texans out, that means there are 31 teams still alive, which brings us to to this week's playoff projections. The projections are based on data from number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com. Oh plugged some numbers into his SportsLine computer 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 Texans fans might want to read. Since your team has been eliminated from the playoffs, a mock draft will probably be much more exciting to read than this projection.
As 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. SportsLine simulates every game leading up to the playoffs 10,000 times, and you can see the model's picks both straight up and against the spread here.
AFC Playoff Projection
|1. AFC East Champion|
|The more things change, the more they stay the same. After a one-year hiatus, the Patriots are back on top of the AFC, and the computer thinks they are going to stay there. According to SportsLine, the Patriots are now the overwhelming favorite to reach the Super Bowl out of the AFC. New England is being given a 29.49% chance of winning the conference, while the next best team (Chiefs) has just a 15.72% chance. |
|2. AFC South Champion|
|The Titans were one of the biggest winners of Week 13 and they didn't even play. With the Ravens and Bills both losing, the computer now feels confident that the Titans are going to end up with the second seed in the AFC. One reason the computer likes the Titans so much is because they have the easiest remaining schedule of any team in the NFL. |
|3. AFC West Champion|
|After beating the Broncos on Sunday night, the computer thinks the Chiefs are basically a lock for the playoffs with an 84.8% chance of getting in. However, the computer isn't ready to hand the AFC West title over to the Chiefs just yet. Although they currently have a 58.6% chance of winning the division, the Chargers are within striking distance with a 37.7% chance of taking home the AFC West crown. |
|4. AFC North Champion|
|Despite their upset loss to the Steelers, the Ravens are still viewed as the favorite to win the AFC North and it's not even close. According to SportsLine, the Ravens have a 53.6% chance of winning the division, which is 25% more than the next closest team. The Bengals (28.4%), Steelers (10.5%) and Browns (7.5%) all have a shot at winning it, but the computer doesn't like their chances. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|Even though the Bills have lost three of their past five games, the computer still hasn't given up on them. According to SportsLine, the Bills have a 80.3% chance of making the playoffs, which would comfortably put them in as a wild card. |
|6. Wild Card 2|
|As far as playoff chances go, there's no team that helped themselves more in Week 13 than the Chargers. Going into Week 13, L.A. had just a 49.1% chance of making it, but thanks to their win over the the Bengals, those chances have now shot up to 73.2%. |
|7. Wild Card 3|
|The computer thinks the race for the final playoff spot in the AFC is down to two teams: the Colts and Bengals. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, the computer doesn't think it's going to be a close race. According to SportsLine, the Colts have a 61.9% chance of making the playoffs while the Bengals are sitting at just 48.7%.|
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 (48.7%), Steelers (29.2%), Browns (14.6%), Broncos (12.7%), Raiders (12.7%), Dolphins (4.1%), Jaguars (0.0%), Jets (0.0%), Texans (ELIMINATED).
Note: The Jets and Jaguars 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 either of those teams to make it.
NFC Playoff Projection
|1. NFC West Champion|
|The computer loved the Arizona Cardinal even when Kyler Murray was out, and now that he's back, it loves them even more. Not only are the Cardinals projected to get the top seed, but they're also the favorite to win the Super Bowl in the eyes of the computer. (To put this in perspective, they are currently tied for the fourth-best odds in Vegas.) According to SportsLine, the Cards have an 18.23% chance of winning it all, which is well ahead of the Patriots (14.37%), Buccaneers (12.5%) and Packers (10.69%), who are the next three teams on the list. |
|2. NFC North Champion|
|The computer think there's going to be a dog fight between the Packers and Buccaneers for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Right now, the two teams are projected to finish with the same amount of wins, but we're going to give a slight edge to Green Bay because the Packers have the second-easiest remaining schedule of any team in the NFL, which actually isn't a huge advantage, because the Buccaneers have the fourth-easiest. |
|3. NFC South Champion|
|Although Tom Brady won a Super Bowl last year with the Buccaneers, one thing he didn't do was win the NFC South title. That could change as early as this week. If the Buccaneers beat the Bills on Sunday, they could clinch the NFC South as long as the Panthers and Saints both lose or tie. Even if that doesn't happen this week, the computer is confident it's going to happen eventually because it's 100% sure the Buccaneers are going to win the division and make the playoffs. |
|4. NFC East Champion|
|Although Washington has slowly been creeping into the NFC East race, the computer is still pretty confident that the Cowboys are going to win the division. According to SportsLine, the Cowboys have a 79.9% chance of taking home the NFC East crown, and that number will probably shoot above 90% if the Cowboys beat Washington on Sunday.|
|5. Wild Card 1|
|The Rams might be in a tailspin right now with three losses in their last four games, but the computer doesn't think they're in any danger of missing the playoffs. According to SportsLine, the Rams are a virtual lock to get in as they have a 97.9% chance of making it. That's the highest percentage of any wild card contender in either conference.|
|6. Wild Card 2|
|Although they had a setback in Seattle on Sunday, the computer is still confident that the 49ers will be earning a postseason berth. Despite the fact that they're currently the seventh seed, the computer thinks the 49ers will shoot up and finish with the sixth seed. The computer is also giving the 49ers a 68.1% chance of making the playoffs.|
|7. Wild Card 3|
|The computer almost malfunctioned trying to figure out who's going to get the final wild-card spot in the NFC. According to SportsLine, the race is down to the Eagles and Washington, with Philadelphia just barely getting in the playoffs over the Football Team, and we mean barely. Both teams actually have a 43.4% chance of making the playoffs, but the Eagles get the nod here because they have a slightly friendlier schedule down the stretch that includes three of their final four games at home. Of course, the race between these two teams will be decided on the field since Washington and Philly will play each other twice over the final five weeks of the season (Week 15, Week 17).|
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): Washington (43.4%), Saints (18.6%), Vikings (16.9%), Falcons (5.7%), Panthers (4.2%), Giants (2.6%), Seahawks (1.9%), Bears (0.2%), Lions (0%).
Wild-card round projection
(7) Colts at (2) Titans
(6) Chargers at (3) Chiefs
(5) Bills at (4) Ravens
(7) Eagles at (2) Packers
(6) 49ers at (3) Buccaneers
(5) Rams at (4) Cowboys