Another week of the NFL is in the books and that means it is time for another NFL simulation. I’m going to try a different format today, ranking the teams from 1-32 while breaking them into groups. The ranking is based on the projected number of wins at the end of the season, not the actual strength of the team. Click on any team to see their full projections. Let’s get started:
For the first time in NFL history, there are three teams that are 8-0. The Patriots are clearly the class of the league at this point and the simulation supports that. The Patriots finished with a 16-0 record in a ridiculous 20.6% of simulations, while the Bengals and Panthers finished undefeated in 8.6% and 3.6% of seasons respectively. More than a quarter of the simulations (27.8%) finished with at least one team finishing with a perfect regular season record.
All five of these teams averaged more than ten wins in the simulation, which should be good enough to get into the postseason. Arizona is actually the highest rated of this group but ends up with fewer projected wins than the Broncos. In fact, the Cardinals are actually a better team than the undefeated Bengals and Panthers in the previous list.
The Vikings may seem out of place or “overrated”, but with a 6-2 record, they would only need to go 4-4 to finish with a 10-win season which is their most likely result according to the simulation. The Falcons finish with either ten or eleven wins in 59% of simulations but most likely would be the 5th seed in the playoffs as they are chasing Carolina in the NFC South. If the Falcons want to avoid going on the road in the playoffs, they’ll likely need to sweep Carolina in weeks 14 and 16.
In The Hunt
The numbers really love the Jets this season. Part of it is based on performance thus far, and part of it is the remaining schedule having a number of winnable games for Gang Green.
The Steelers are a good team when everyone is healthy. Unfortunately for them, they have been healthy for about 30 minutes this season. Even still, the Steelers most likely result is a 9-7 finish which would probably sneak them into the playoffs in the weaker AFC.
Outside Looking In
The Raiders are a great story in that they are actually a watchable franchise for the first time in years. While the simulation doesn’t expect a playoff berth, an 8-8 season would be a huge step in the right direction for Oakland. Five of the remaining eight games for the Bills will be on the road, making it a tough path for the Bills to climb into playoff contention.
The Weird as Hell Colts
19. Indianapolis Colts 4-5
The Colts are terrible. Or maybe not. But probably. A 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos this past week proved that the Colts can hang with the AFC playoff teams. Then again, that is their only win this season outside of their crap division. While most teams at 4-5 would have a slim chance of making the playoffs, divisional alignment is going to offer Indy a mulligan and likely allow them a home playoff game in January.
All of these teams aren’t mathematically eliminated by any means, but they are all holding on to hope that they probably shouldn’t. Sure, Tony Romo could come back and furiously lead the Cowboys to the NFC East title. It’s possible, but not likely to happen. Sure, the Bears could overcome the Matt Forte injury and ride Jay Cutler to a playoff berth. Maybe Jameis is the guy! Maybe Hoyer is the guy! Maybe we just needed to get rid of Philbin! Sorry guys, it’s not happening this season. (Probably)
Looking at Next Year
All of these teams should be making plans to improve in 2016 at this point. The Ravens and Chargers are much better than their record suggests, but you just can’t overcome that deficit to start the season. The Titans and Jaguars’ young quarterbacks at least give their fans some optimism going forward, while the Redskins are still the Redskins.
#1 Draft Pick Contenders
Don’t be fooled by the 49ers’ win over the Falcons this past weekend, they are still a very bad football team that is expected to start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback for the foreseeable future. The Lions have one win thus far and their most likely result is a 3-13 season, leaving many to wonder why Jim Caldwell is still employed.