It took 16 weeks, but the NFL playoff picture is finally starting to clear up. Well, at least in the NFC, where five of the seven playoff spots have been clinched before Week 17.
In the AFC, the only team that can sleep soundly right now is the Chiefs, and that’s because they’re the only team that has clinched a playoff berth, which means there are still six spots up for grabs in the conference. And the crazy part is that there are 13 teams fighting for those spots.
With the AFC still up for grabs, we’re here to help you make sense of all the chaos, and we’re going to do that by projecting the 14 teams that are going to make the playoffs. The projections are based on data from number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com. Oh plugged some numbers into his SportsLine computer and simulated the rest of the NFL season, and using those numbers, not only were we able to figure out the playoff chances for every team, but we’re also going to project 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 Jets, Texans, Jaguars, Lions, Bears, Seahawks, Giants and Panthers fans might want to read. Those eight teams have officially been eliminated, and if you’re a fan of one of those eight teams, a mock draft will probably be much more exciting to read than this playoff 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
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): Ravens (26.6%), Raiders (24.3%), Dolphins (19%), Steelers (17.1%), Browns (9%), Broncos (0%), Jaguars (ELIMINATED), Jets (ELIMINATED), Texans (ELIMINATED).
NFC Playoff Projection
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 (28%), Vikings (9.8%), Washington (1.9%), Falcons (1.9%), Seahawks (ELIMINATED), Giants (ELIMINATED), Panthers (ELIMINATED), Bears (ELIMINATED), Lions (ELIMINATED).
Wild card round projection
(7) Chargers at (2) Titans
(6) Patriots (3) Bills
(5) Colts at (4) Bengals
(7) Eagles at (2) Buccaneers
(6) 49ers at (3) Rams
(5) Cardinals at (4) Cowboys