There are 32 teams in the NFL and they share one goal, to win the Super Bowl. To get there each must first reach the postseason. We began our 2017 NFL preview by looking at division winners. Today, we explore the playoff probabilities for the upcoming season.

To create our projections, we simulated the 2017 NFL season 10,000 times using team projections and adjusting for Strength of Schedule.

Cellar Dwellers

Combined, the Rams, Bears, 49ers, Jets and Browns won 15 games last year. New York led the way with five wins! Four of the five teams finished at the bottom of their divisions and are likely to end up in the basement once again. A lot has to go right for a team in this group to make the playoffs.

TeamDivision WinnerPlayoffs
Los Angeles Rams2.96.4
Chicago Bears2.34.8
San Francisco 49ers1.02.6
New York Jets0.32.2
Cleveland Browns0.41.3

Better Luck Next Year

The Broncos don’t have a quarterback, San Diego can’t stay healthy, Washington’s defense is horrible, the Jags have Blake Bortles, you get the idea. Each squad has a flaw that prevents them from being playoff participants. This isn’t to say they can’t surprise but at best you are looking at a 1-in-4 chance of sneaking into the postseason.

TeamDivision WinnerPlayoffs
Denver Broncos14.125.4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers12.624.2
Los Angeles Chargers12.023.5
Detroit Lions12.023.1
Washington Redskins11.622.3
Jacksonville Jaguars10.818.3
Miami Dolphins2.114.3
Buffalo Bills1.611.1

Wild Cards

Meet your Wild Card contenders. There are 15 MVP candidates in this group but the average team record is 8.3 games. For these franchises, it could come down to records in close games and turnover luck if they play past Week 17.

TeamDivision WinnerPlayoffs
Baltimore Ravens20.948.2
Kansas City Chiefs30.947.6
Indianapolis Colts29.643.2
Cincinnati Bengals16.541.1
New York Giants23.541.1
Arizona Cardinals19.739.6
Minnesota Vikings20.738.2
Houston Texans22.633.9
Philadelphia Eagles17.631.3
New Orleans Saints16.731.0

Division Winners

There is better than a 50% chance that Oakland, Tennessee, Atlanta and Carolina make the playoffs. The Raiders and Titans  are projected to win their respective divisions, and it is a coin flip between the Falcons and Panthers in the NFC South.

TeamDivision WinnerPlayoffs
Oakland Raiders43.058.8
Atlanta Falcons38.457.3
Carolina Panthers32.452.4
Tennessee Titans37.050.5

Playoff Locks 

The Patriots, Seahawks, Steelers and Packers have all made the playoffs the last three years. New England and Green Bay have been postseason staples for eight straight seasons. Dallas has one of the best young quarterbacks in the game and was the No. 1 seed in the NFC last year. These are the oddsmaker’s five favorites to win the Super Bowl and they are locks for the playoffs.

TeamDivision WinnerPlayoffs
New England Patriots96.198.5
Seattle Seahawks76.586.0
Pittsburgh Steelers62.382.0
Green Bay Packers65.277.2
Dallas Cowboys47.462.6

Your most likely playoff teams in the AFC:

  • Patriots (98.5%)
  • Steelers (82.0%)
  • Raiders (58.8%)
  • Titans (50.5%)
  • Ravens (48.2%)
  • Chiefs (47.6%)

You most likely playoff teams in the NFC:

  • Seahawks (86.0%)
  • Packers (77.2%)
  • Cowboys (62.6%)
  • Falcons (57.3%)
  • Panthers (52.4%)
  • Giants (41.1%)

The Titans, Ravens and Panthers are your new playoff teams for 2017. The Dolphins, a Wild Card team in 2016, have a 14.3% chance of returning, the lowest among last year’s postseason teams.


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