Week 15 got us one step closer to the postseason but the playoff picture is still uncertain. The Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars, Eagles and Vikings will play past Week 17 but seven spots are still up for grabs as is home-field advantage and first-round byes. Here are the probabilities for the Week 16 NFL Playoff scenarios.
Our projections are based on 10,000 simulations of the 2017-18 season using player and team statistics adjusted for strength of schedule.
AFC Playoff Picture
New England Patriots
The Pats are in the driver’s seat in the AFC after a crazy win over the Steelers. New England can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win + Steelers loss + Jags loss or tie. The probability of Week 16 shaking out exactly like this is 4.4%. Looks like home-field won’t be decided until the last week of the regular season.
New England can clinch a first-round bye with:
1.) a win + Steelers loss (19.6% chance) Or
2.) a win + Jaguars loss (18.3% chance)
Cumulative probability of the Patriots clinching a first-round bye in Week 16: 34.3%
The heartbreaking loss at home to the Patriots not only hurt the team’s chances of getting home-field advantage in the playoffs but also cost the team Antonio Brown for the remainder of the regular season. The Killer B’s (what are they called if Big Ben, Le’Veon and Brown aren’t playing together?) need to turn the page quickly with a chance to lock-up a first round bye in Week 16.
Pittsburgh can clinch a first-round bye with:
1.) a win + Jaguars loss (17.0% chance)
Blake Bortles and the Jags are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2007, ending the fourth-longest postseason drought in the NFL. Jacksonville has never won the AFC South but that can change on Sunday.
Jacksonville can clinch the AFC South division title with:
1.) a win (77.6% chance) Or
2.) Titans loss (68.6% chance)
Cumulative probability of the Jags winning the AFC South in Week 16: 93.0%.
Kansas City Chiefs
What four-game losing streak? The Chiefs erased all memories of its mid-season swoon by winning back-to-back games over division rivals, including Saturday’s decisive 30-13 defeat of the Chargers. KC can punch its playoff ticket by beating the six-win Dolphins in Arrowhead.
Kansas City can clinch the AFC West division title with:
1.) a win (79.4% chance) Or
2.) Chargers loss (28.0% chance)
Cumulative probability of the Chiefs winning the AFC West in Week 16: 85.2%
The Titans lost last week to a then three-win 49ers club. It’s been that kind of season in Tennessee. The Titans have been up (beat the Jags 37-16) and down (lost to the Dolphins 16-10) all season. The roller coast ride might have made fans squeamish but a playoff appearance would soothe any upset tummy.
Tennessee can clinch a playoff berth with:
1.) a win + Ravens loss + Bills loss (2.9% chance)
NFC Playoff Picture
It was closer than many expected, but Sunday’s win over the Giants clinched a first-round bye for Philly. The Eagles can ensure the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Lincoln Financial Field with a win in Week 16.
Philadelphia can clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with:
1.) a win (72.3% chance) Or
2.) Vikings loss (32.3% chance)
Cumulative probability of the Eagles getting home-field advantage in Week 16: 81.2%
Home-field advantage is a long shot for the Vikes, who need to win out plus have the Eagles lose out, but Mike Zimmer’s team can earn a first round bye.
Minnesota can clinch a first-round bye with:
1.) a win + Panthers loss (17.8% chance)
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are trying to complete one of the greatest turnarounds in NFL history. L.A. has won six more games than it did a season ago and one more would give the team its first division title since 2003.
Los Angeles can clinch the NFC West division title with:
1.) a win (68.6% chance) Or
2.) Seahawks loss (59.9% chance)
Cumulative probability of the Rams winning the NFC West in Week 16: 87.4%
Los Angeles can clinch a playoff berth with:
1.) Lions loss + Panthers loss + Falcons loss (7.3% chance)
New Orleans Saints
Brees and the Saints hold a tiebreaker over the Panthers in the NFC South but could lose the division to the Falcons if Atlanta wins out. New Orleans is a 5.5-point favorite at home over the Dirty Birds in Week 16.
New Orleans can clinch the NFC South division title with:
1.) a win + Panthers loss (17.2% chance)
New Orleans can clinch a playoff berth with:
1.) a win (65.4% chance)
NFL Week 16: Saints-Falcons
This Pro System is 158-96-3 (62.2%) since 2003
One more win and the Panthers can clinch a Wild-Card berth. It would be a great turnaround for Carolina after failing to reach the postseason following its Super Bowl run in 2015.
Carolina can clinch a playoff berth with:
1.) CAR win (73.7% chance)
Atlanta could run the table and steal the NFC South from the Saints but there is just a 15.3% chance that occurs. As sizeable underdogs in the Big Easy, the Falcons are better off just trying to return to the playoffs.
Atlanta can clinch a playoff berth with:
1.) a win (34.6% chance)
Below are the updated playoff probabilities for every NFL team.
|Team||Division Winner %||Make Playoffs %||Win Super Bowl %|
|New England Patriots||100||100||21.72|
|Los Angeles Rams||98.51||99.13||9.63|
|New Orleans Saints||62.98||98.74||6.75|
|Kansas City Chiefs||96.62||96.67||3.08|
|Los Angeles Chargers||3.24||44.02||0.68|
|Green Bay Packers||0||0||0|
|New York Giants||0||0||0|
|New York Jets||0||0||0|
|San Francisco 49ers||0||0||0|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0||0||0|