Here is what’s at stake in Week 17: home-field advantage and two Wild Card spots in the AFC, a first-round bye and the sixth seed in the NFC, plus a division title in the NFC South. It all comes down to this.
Our projections are based on 10,000 simulations of the 2017-18 season using player and team statistics adjusted for strength of schedule. Note: There are scenarios that involve ties, like the Pats getting home-field advantage if both New England and Pittsburgh tie, but we will ignore those because they are so improbable. Also, the simulations are based on all available information as of Tuesday morning. The probabilities would change if teams rest players.
AFC Playoff Picture
New England Patriots
A 37-16 win over the Bills earned New England a first-round bye. Another win over an AFC East bottom-dweller on Sunday locks up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The Pats are 16.5-point favorites over the Jets.
New England can clinch home field advantage with:
1. a win OR
2. Steelers loss
Cumulative probability of the Patriots getting AFC’s No. 1 seed: 90.9% chance
Antonio Brown will have an extra week to get healthy after Pittsburgh smashed Houston 34-6, earning the team a first-round bye. The road to the Super Bowl could go through the Steel City if New England loses (unlikely).
Pittsburgh can get the AFC’s No. 1 seed with:
1. a win + Patriots loss (9.1% chance)
Baltimore is in a great position to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Ravens could sneak in even if they lose.
Baltimore can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. a win OR
2. Bills loss OR
3. Titans loss
Cumulative probability of the Ravens making the playoffs: 96.8% chance
Three straight losses aren’t enough to knock the Titans out of the playoff hunt. Tennessee just needs to beat Jacksonville to get in. Marcus Mariota & Co. are 6-point favorites against a Jags team that can’t improve its playoff positioning. Our simulations have Jacksonville as a sizable favorite to win this game but the betting market anticipate the Jags resting players, which explains the difference between the spread and our projections. Our numbers will change once more information becomes available.
Tennessee can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. a win OR
2. Bills loss + Chargers loss
Cumulative probability of the Titans making the playoffs: 40.1% chance
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are the most likely beneficiaries if Tennessee stumbles as a home favorite. First, the Bolts need to beat the Raiders and get some additional help.
L.A. can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. a win + Titans loss + Bills loss OR
2. a win + Titans loss + Ravens win
Cumulative probability of the Chargers making the playoffs: 45.2% chance
Week 17: Chargers vs. Raiders
This Pro System is 178-106-5 (62.7%) ATS since 2003
Buffalo is the proud owner of the league’s longest playoff drought. A win and some help could change all of that in Week 17.
Buffalo can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. a win + Ravens loss OR
2. a win + Chargers loss + Titans loss
Cumulative probability of the Bills making the playoffs: 17.9% chance
NFC Playoff Picture
The Vikings are trying to become the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. A first round-bye would get the team one step closer.
Minnesota can clinch a first-round bye with:
1. A win OR
2. Panthers loss OR
3. Saints win OR
4. Rams win
Cumulative probability of the Vikings getting a first-round bye: 99.5% chance
New Orleans Saints
A win against the Falcons earned the Saints a playoff spot, but the NFC South is still up for grabs. New Orleans needs a win or a Carolina loss to lock-up the division.
New Orleans can clinch the NFC South with:
1. a win OR
2. Panthers loss
Cumulative probability of the Saints winning the NFC South: 85.6% chance
Carolina knows it will play past Week 17 but when is the question. If everything goes right the Panthers could earn a first-round bye or it could finish the season as a Wild Card team.
Carolina can clinch the NFC South with:
1. a win + Saints loss (14.4% chance)
Carolina can clinch a first-round bye with:
1. a win + Saints loss + Vikings loss + Rams loss (0.5% chance)
A win gets the Falcons in the playoffs, a loss wouldn’t end their season, but Atlanta would need Arizona to pull off the upset as underdogs of more than a touchdown.
Atlanta can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. a win OR
2. Seahawks loss
Cumulative probability of the Falcons making the playoffs: 63.7% chance
Two things have to happen for Seattle to extend its playoff streak to six straight years: a win + a Falcons loss. The 12th Man will be Panthers backers in Week 17.
Seattle can clinch a playoff berth with:
1. a win + Falcons loss (36.3% chance)
Below are the updated playoff probabilities for every NFL team.
|Team||Make Playoffs %||Division Winner %||Win Super Bowl %|
|New England Patriots||100||100||24.74|
|Los Angeles Rams||100||100||15.69|
|New Orleans Saints||100||85.62||5.52|
|Kansas City Chiefs||100||100||2.82|
|Los Angeles Chargers||45.23||0||0.75|
|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|
Photo via Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports