Welcome to this week's edition of playoff probabilities, now complete with bonus graphics! As always, these numbers come courtesy of Chris Cox at NFL-forecast.com and are generated with the help of the NFL-Forecast software app, which uses the win probabilities generated by the team efficiency model to simulate the NFL season 5,000 times. And if you don't buy the game probabilities from Advanced NFL Stats, you can tweak them as much as you like to generate your own playoff projections. I encourage everyone to download the app and test out your own scenarios.
How 'bout them Giants? In the most exciting game of the year thus far, Eli Manning drove the Giants to victory over the Patriots, giving New York a two game lead over their nearest opponent in the NFC East. At #9, the Giants sit relatively high in the rankings, yet they're projected to win the East in only 55% of simulations—less often than both the Chargers and the Ravens, neither of whom are even in sole possession of first place in their divisions.
A lot of this comes down to the degree of difficulty of the Giants' upcoming games. Over the weekend, I heard a lot of sports chatter about how tough their remaining schedule is, and the team efficiency rankings bear this out. The chart below lists the average GWP of each team's remaining opponents:
As you can see, the conventional wisdom is right on this one: the Giants have the toughest schedule ahead of them of any team by far, with their remaining opponents averaging .601 GWP. As a result, the model expects them to win an average of just four more games over the rest of the season.
High-Leverage Games of the Week
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati | Sunday, November 13 | 1:00 pm
|Playoff Prob.||CIN Win||PIT Win|
If the playoffs started today, Cincinnati would be the #1 seed in the AFC, but the model is not yet convinced of their viability as a playoff contender. The Bengals have yet to play a team ranked in the top ten in GWP, but beginning with this Sunday's game against the Steelers, they embark on a very challenging stretch of games which should give us a better sense of their true potential.
Regardless of whether you consider the Bengals to be a legit contender, competition for the AFC North title is projected to be intense. As expressed in this nifty chart, presented here in a form too small to be read by human eyes (click to embiggen), we can use Brian's game probability model to estimate the joint probability of Baltimore and Pittsburgh each finishing with a certain number of wins:
Baltimore's number of wins are along the horizontal axis, Pittsburgh's along the vertical, and the middle contains the joint probability of each combination. The marginal probabilities of either team finishing with a certain number of wins are listed in bold in the bottom row and rightmost column, and at the very bottom in large numbers is the total probability of one team finishing ahead of the other. (Blank cells have probability zero; cells that contain "0.0" have a non-zero probability that was rounded down.)
So what do we learn? For one, that Cincinnati is going to have to perform very well over the rest of the season if they want to win the North—the model projects that either the Ravens or the Steelers will finish the season with 11+ wins 92% of the time.
That said, while a win on Sunday won't make Cincinnati the favorite to win the division (it would actually help the Ravens' chances most of all), it does have significant upside potential for their Bengals, raising their probability of a wild card berth to 45% and their overall playoff probability to 60%.
New England at New York Jets | Sunday, November 13 | 8:20 pm
|Playoff Prob.||NYJ Win||NE Win|
After back-to-back losses, the Patriots find themselves in a three-team tie atop the AFC East. And like last week's game between the Jets and the Bills, the outcome of this week's matchup will have large implications for the division race. There is a crowded wild card field in the AFC, with each of the three leaders in both the East and North having chances of greater than 20% at a wild card berth. Given that, neither team will want to lose ground here.
A New York victory would move the Jets into first place and turn the division race into a true toss-up between themselves, the Patriots, and the Bills, with each team having about a one-in-three chance of winning the division. A Patriot win on the other hand would put the Patriots back on top of the East, giving them a 66% chance to win the division. The Jets meanwhile would fall behind, with their chances of a division title dropping to only 6%.
News & Notes
- The model projects either the Texans or the Packers as the Super Bowl champion in over 48% of simulations. Place your bets now.
- The Colts' chances of winning the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes are up to 82%. My chances of making it through the season without using the phrase "the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes" have dropped to 0%.
|AFC Percent Probability Playoff Seeding|
|NFC Percent Probability Playoff Seeding|