Back in August, I ran over 10,000 simulations of the 2015 NFL season and wrote eight divisional previews much like this one. Now, with eight weeks worth of results at our disposal, I can simulate the remainder of the NFL season to project where all 32 NFL teams will finish in the standings.
Based on average number of wins in our simulations, I was able to project the final NFL standings from best to worst:
With those projections, you get a playoff bracket that looks like this:
That’s not a typo. The Colts at 7-9 would host a playoff game because they play in the dumpster fire known as the AFC South. In fact, the winner of the AFC South had a winning record in only 13.1% of all simulations.
The Broncos have the hardest remaining schedule of the three remaining undefeated teams, which helps explain why they are currently slotted in as the 3-seed. They play the Patriots in Week 12 and the Bengals in Week 16 and winning either (or both) of those games will quickly move them up the AFC ladder.
Speaking of undefeated teams, there are still four remaining after Carolina squeaked by the Colts in overtime on Monday night. The table below displays the probability for each team to take a perfect 16-0 record into the playoffs:
Some key games for the four remaining undefeated teams include:
New England @ NY Jets – Patriots 66.4% to win
New England @ Denver – Patriots 55.6% to win
Denver @ Pittsburgh – Broncos 58.5% to win
Cincinnati @ Denver – Broncos 57.5% to win
Cincinnati @ Arizona – Cardinals 65.1% to win
Carolina @ Dallas – Cowboys 53.2% to win (assuming Romo is back)
Carolina @ Atlanta – Panthers 50.2% to win
Fun facts from the simulation:
- In 0.5% of simulations, all four AFC South teams finished with the same record (either 5-11 or 6-10).
- The Cowboys are rated as a 4-win team with Cassel & Weeden and a 10.5-win team with Tony Romo.
- Arizona is rated as the 2nd best team in the NFL and San Francisco is rated as the worst.
- The toughest remaining schedules belong to the Vikings, Redskins, and Giants.
- The easiest remaining schedules belong to the Saints, Jaguars, and Bears.
Finally, here are the win distributions for all 32 teams ranging from the best (Patriots) to the worst (Lions):
The Patriots are currently listed at +475 to finish the regular season with a perfect 16-0 record at 5Dimes and -650 to lose or tie at least one regular season game. When we convert -650 to an implied probability, we find that oddsmakers believe there is an 86.67% chance that the Patriots won’t finish the regular season with a perfect record.
Since our research indicates that there is an 89.7% probability that the Patriots won’t finish the regular season with a 16-0 record, there could be slight value for any degenerate bettors looking for an edge.