After a wild Week 17, there's not going to be much drama left for the final week of the 2021 NFL season and that's because 11 of the NFL's 14 playoff berths have now been clinched.
Actually, there definitely might still be some drama and that's because there are still hundreds of seeding possibilities despite the fact that there are only three available playoff spots. As a matter of fact, there are 256 seeding scenarios in the AFC alone.
So who's going to get those final three spots and how will the final playoff seedings shake out? That's where our projections come in. Right now, the Packers are the only team that knows which seed they'll be in the playoffs and that's because they clinched the NFC's top seed on Sunday.
Every other seed is up for grabs. To help you figure out how this is all going to play out, we're going to project the 14 playoff teams along with their seedings. These projections are based on data from number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com. Oh plugged some numbers into his SportsLine computer and simulated Week 18 more than 10,000 times, and using those numbers, we projected the entire 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 you might want to read if your favorite team has already been eliminated from the playoffs.
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 South Champion|
|To clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC, all the Titans have to do is beat the Texans on Sunday and as you can see based on where they are in this projection, the computer thinks the Titans are going to beat the Texans on Sunday. |
|2. AFC West Champion|
|The Chiefs' loss to the Bengals hurt big time and that's because they no longer control their fate when it comes to the top seed in the AFC. To earn the a first-round bye, the Chiefs would need to beat the Broncos AND Tennessee would have to lose to Houston. The computer doesn't see that second thing happening. |
|3. AFC East Champion|
|The Bills will clinch the AFC East if they can beat the Jets and as you probably guessed, the computer is projecting them to beat the Jets. |
|4. AFC North Champion|
|The Bengals have an outside shot of earning the top seed in the conference, but the computer doesn't think that's going to happen. Instead, the computer thinks the Bengals are going to take it easy this week so they can prepare for their wild-card game. |
|5. Wild Card 1|
|The only way the Patriots can win the AFC East is if they beat the Dolphins AND the Bills lose to the Jets. The Bills losing to the Jets would be a monumental upset and the computer doesn't think there are going to be any monumental upsets this week, which means the Patriots are likely going to be a wild-card team for the first time ever under Bill Belichick. |
|6. Wild Card 2|
|The Colts can lock up a playoff spot on Sunday by beating the Jaguars, which might not be as easy as it sounds, considering Indianapolis hasn't won in Jacksonville since 2014. Despite that fact, the computer believes the Colts will get an easy win.|
|7. Wild Card 3|
|If the computer malfunctions in the next 24 hours, it's going to be because it can't decide who's going to make the playoffs out of the Chargers and Raiders. According to SportsLine, the Chargers have a 50.4% chance of getting in while the Raiders are at 49.6%. Basically the computer views Sunday night's game as a toss-up. |
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): Raiders (49.6%), Steelers (6.6%), Ravens (2.4%), Dolphins (ELIMINATED), Browns ((ELIMINATED), Broncos (ELIMINATED), Jaguars (ELIMINATED), Jets (ELIMINATED), Texans (ELIMINATED).
NFC Playoff Projection
|1. NFC North Champion|
|The computer didn't have to project anything here and that's because the Packers have already locked up the top seed in the NFC. According to SportsLine, the Packers are also the favorites to win the Super Bowl with a 20.38% chance of winning it all, which is a ridiculously high number when you consider that only one other team is even above 11% (The Chiefs are at 16.38%) |
|2. NFC West Champion|
|If the Rams want to win the NFC West this year all they have to do is beat the 49ers on Sunday and the computer thinks that's going to happen. However, if they do end up losing, they could drop all the way to the fifth-seed and that's because a loss would open the door for Arizona to win the division.|
|3. NFC South Champion|
|The computer is projecting that the Buccaneers will get the third seed. Although the Buccaneers are expected to beat the Panthers, the only way they can move up to the two-spot is if the Rams lose to the 49ers and right now, L.A. is being given a slight edge in that game.|
|4. NFC East Champion|
|Even if the Cowboys win on Saturday, they can't move up if both the Rams and Buccaneers win, and right now, the computer thinks that both of those teams are going to win.|
|5. Wild Card 1|
|The Cardinals have an outside shot at winning the NFC West, but the computer doesn't think it's going to happen. The good news for Arizona is that if these projections hold, they'll get to face the same Cowboys team that they just beat on Sunday.|
|6. Wild Card 2|
|Although the 49ers are being projected to make the playoffs, it's still possible for them to miss out. If they lose to the Rams AND the Saints beat the Falcons, then San Francisco's season will be over. However, the good news for the 49ers is that the computer doesn't think their season is going to end this week.|
|7. Wild Card 3|
|The Eagles have already clinched a playoff spot, so the only drama for them this weekend is whether they'll end up with the sixth-seed or the seventh. The Eagles don't seem to care, which is why we're probably going to see them rest their starters on Saturday against the Cowboys.|
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): Saints (36.5%), Vikings (ELIMINATED), Washington (ELIMINATED), Falcons (ELIMINATED), Seahawks (ELIMINATED), Giants (ELIMINATED), Panthers (ELIMINATED), Bears (ELIMINATED), Lions (ELIMINATED).
Wild card round projection
(7) Chargers at (2) Chiefs
(6) Colts (3) Bills
(5) Patriots at (4) Bengals
(7) Eagles at (2) Rams
(6) 49ers at (3) Buccaneers
(5) Cardinals at (4) Cowboys