Courtesy of Chris Cox at NFL-forecast.com, I bring you the latest playoff probabilities for each team.
These are generated with the help of the NFL-Forecast software app, which uses the win probabilities generated by the team efficiency model to simulate the NFL season 5,000 times. And if you don't buy the game probabilities from Advanced NFL Stats, you can tweak them as much as you like to generate your own playoff projections. I encourage everyone to download the app and test out your own scenarios.
The AFC North: A Closer Look
Though not doing much to shake up the team rankings, Pittsburgh's win over New England helped the Steelers further solidify their position in the AFC and increased their overall playoff probability by 24 points to 90%. As of now, the model sees the North as being more or less a two-team race between the Steelers and the Ravens, with one of these two winning the division in 92% of simulations.
This may seem counter-intuitive—the Bengals are 5-2 (and actually win the tiebreaker over the Ravens based on common game win percentage), yet they are forecast to win the division only 8% of the time. The reason for this apparent disparity lies in the tepid competition Cincinnati has faced thusfar—those five wins come courtesy of a schedule with the second worst GWP in the league, with victories against such football powerhouses as Seattle, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. In the end, the Bengals are forecast to finish the season with around eight or nine wins—almost certainly not enough to win the North.
Speaking of winning the North, much of that will be decided on Sunday night when Baltimore faces off against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. I'm guessing this game will get a lot of hype as a pivotal mid-season matchup between division rivals, much like last week's Cowboys-Eagles showdown. Much of this will be deserved: If Pittsburgh wins, they are projected to win the North 74% of the time (vs. Baltimore's 18%), and if Baltimore wins, they are projected to win the North 64% of the time (vs. Pittsburgh's 27%). The playoff implications of this game are somewhat lessened, however, by the fact that both teams are well-positioned for a postseason berth regardless of the outcome, with the loser still making the playoffs in at least 70% of simulations.
High Leverage Games of the Week
Two games make the cut yet again this week as being of particularly high importance to the unfolding playoff picture.
New York Jets at Buffalo | Sunday, November 6 | 1:00pm ET
|Playoff Prob.||BUF Win||NYJ Win|
The truly important division battle this week will take place in Buffalo, where the Jets will look for their first win on the road against a team who—along with every other team in the AFC East not named the Miami Dolphins—are undefeated at home. With New England's stumble against the Steelers opening things up in the East, the outcome of this game will have a large impact on the race for the division title.
If the Jets win, their probability of winning the East increases to 17% and their overall playoff probability rises to 40%. Yet this outcome might benefit New England most of all, allowing the Patriots to open up some space between themselves and the Bills in anticipation of their own game against the Jets in Week 10.
Buffalo, on the other hand, has an opportunity to knock New York down a peg and reduce the Jets' chances to win the East to a meager 2%, effectively turning the East into a two-team race between themselves and the Patriots (a race they go on to win in slightly more than half of simulations).
Chicago at Philadelphia | Monday, November 7 | 8:30pm ET
|Playoff Prob.||PHI Win||CHI Win|
The model has this game tilted rather sharply in Philadelphia's favor, projecting an Eagles victory 72% of the time. And if you're entering a multi-team playoff race already several games in the hole, one thing you cannot afford to do is lose games that you're projected to win. Throw in the fact that Chicago is among the Eagles' primary competitors for a wild card spot and you have a game that Philadelphia does not want to lose.
The outcome of the game has an even larger impact on the Bears, who have less than a 1% chance to pass both the Lions and the Packers to win the NFC North and will almost certainly have to rely on a wild card berth in order to make the postseason. However, apart from a Week 16 matchup at Green Bay, the rest of Chicago's schedule is full of very winnable games, so an unexpected win here would almost double their total playoff probability, raising it to 60%.
The probabilities below may not add up to 100 (in percent form) due to rounding. Enjoy.
|AFC Percent Probability Playoff Seeding|
|NFC Percent Probability Playoff Seeding|