Another week of the NFL is in the books and that means it is time for another NFL simulation. Last week I wondered why Jim Caldwell was still coaching, and he was so inspired he led the Lions to an upset win in Lambeau. Thanks for reading coach! This week, I’ll do my best not to hurt Andy Dalton’s feelings. 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.
Both the Patriots and Panthers remained undefeated this week although in vastly different ways. Carolina went on the road and dominated the Titans 27-10. New England went on the road and barely scraped by the Giants 27-26 with the help of some poor clock management, a dropped interception, and a 54-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski. However, a win is a win and the Patriots’ quest for a perfect season continues. The latest simulation has New England finishing 16-0 in 25.3% of simulations while the Panthers completed an undefeated regular season in 6.9% of simulations.
Despite the loss to the Texans last night, the Bengals are still in a prime position to earn a bye in the playoffs. Prior to the season, the simulation was a fan of the Vikings to go over their season win total but a 7-2 start is more than even the most optimistic Minnesota fans were expecting. The Vikings won the NFC North in 73% of simulations and winning this Sunday against the Packers will go along way towards achieving that goal.
All four of these teams are still likely to make the playoffs but all face various challenges. A few weeks ago the Broncos looked like they were on an undefeated collision course with the Patriots. After two straight losses and a Peyton-benching, they look as vulnerable as they have in years.
The Falcons got off to a torrid start but have lost three of their last four games including a disastrous loss to the Blaine Gabbert-led 49ers last week. The Atlanta offense averaged 32.4 points per game during their 5-0 start, but have averaged only 16.8 points over their recent 1-3 stretch.
The Packers have lost 3 straight games after a 6-0 start. While losses at Denver and at Carolina weren’t necessarily bad, the loss at home to the Lions as double-digit favorites was eye-opening to say the least. As stated above, the Packers have a chance to get right back on track with a game at Minnesota on Sunday.
AFC Wildcard Chasers
If you click on each team, you’ll notice the most likely result for all three teams is a 9-7 record. The Chiefs and Texans are still on the peripheral, but it’s most likely that the final AFC playoff spot will come from one of these three teams.
Jekyll and Hyde Teams
The Giants are a .500 team but also have had the best game against the league-best Patriots. The Chiefs just won their third straight game after a five-game losing streak. Washington has yet to win a game on the road and yet are only half a game behind the aforementioned Giants in the standings. The Seahawks have already lost as many home games this year as they lost in their previous three full seasons.
Good Bad Teams
All of these teams are most likely to finish with a losing record but are all still good enough to spoil some games for the contenders listed above. These are the best of the bad NFL teams this season. The Colts and Texans still have a shot to make the playoffs due to the weakness of the AFC South, and the Eagles are in the same situation in the average NFC East.
All of these teams aren’t making the playoffs this season and need to start re-tooling their rosters for future seasons. While the Bucs and Jags seem like they have young teams prepared to make the rebuild, the Saints seem stuck in the middle of nowhere.
A reset button would do all of these teams some good. None of these teams are particularly bad, but have dealt with some bad luck. The Cowboys lost their starting quarterback and best playmaker for most of the season. The Ravens’ seven losses have been by an average of 4.6 points and not one game have they lost by more than one possession. Philip Rivers is second in the league in passing yards, but San Diego still hasn’t been able to find a running game to balance the offense.
It took the Browns being the worst team in the NFL before they finally decided to see what Johnny Manziel can do. The Browns ended up with the first overall pick in the 2016 draft in 30.9% of simulations. That was followed by the Lions (20.8%), 49ers (15.0%), and the Titans (11.5%).
Most Likely Playoff Picture