Playoff Projections - Week 14


All of the numbers below come from Chris Cox at NFL-forecast.com. His app uses the win probabilities from the ANS team efficiency model to run a Monte Carlo simulation of the remaining NFL games thousands of times. Based on current records, our estimates of team strength, and knowledge of the NFL's tie breaking procedures we can come up with some pretty interesting predictions of how each team will fare come the end of the season. If you want to use a different model or just fiddle with the numbers by hand, go ahead and download the app yourself.

Week 14's biggest movers

Dallas took a major hit by losing to Chicago. Coupled with Philadelphia's win against Detroit, this caused the Cowboys' playoff odds to drop 18%.

San Francisco's big win over the rival Seahawks propelled them to their current 93% playoff probability. The jump came mostly at the expense of the Panthers, who lost their big rivalry game against the Saints. The Saints are now one game up on the Panthers and considered a much better team by the ANS model, so a New Orleans divisional championship is now deemed 95% likely.


A few weeks ago Pittsburgh was getting attention after storming back into playoff contention with a 3 game win streak and some fortunate losses by other AFC wildcard hopefuls. But now a second straight loss, this time to the Dolphins, has virtually eliminated the Steelers. They trail Miami and Baltimore by 2 games with 3 left.

Some playoff scenarios

The different elimination scenarios possible this week were explained on reddit. You can play around with it yourself at ESPN's Playoff Machine and of course with the NFL-forecast app.

Coming off the least expected 3 game win streak of the season, the Jags are still in playoff contention. The parting of the Red Sea would pale in comparison to the miracle they need, but they are not yet mathematically eliminated. First and foremost they need to win out. This is very unlikely, but if we assume victories over Buffalo, Tennessee, and Indianapolis, then Jacksonville's playoff odds would be 0.5%.

Detroit, Chicago, and Green Bay are in a 3 way race for the NFC North. Barring the collapse of multiple NFC wildcard contenders, the division winner will be the only one to make the playoffs. The Lions are one game up on Green Bay, have the head-to-head tie-breaker against Chicago, and finish the year with a very soft schedule (BAL, NYG, @MIN). The Bears and Packers have much stiffer competition in the next two weeks and face each other in week 17. If Green Bay or Chicago wins out, they would have a 68% chance of winning the division. The other 32% remains because the Lions control their own destiny and automatically become king in the North if they win their last 3.

Philadelphia is currently up a game against Dallas, but lost their first meeting. That means that if the Eagles get one more win than the Boys in the next two weeks they clinch the East. If Dallas wins both of the next two and Philadelphia loses both, the Cowboys will have clinched (because of a superior record within the division). Otherwise the week 17 meeting will be the de facto divisional championship game. The model currently considers Philadelphia about a 67% favorite in that game and an 82% favorite overall.

Highest leverage game of the week: BAL @ DET

Both teams badly need this game. Baltimore needs the win to keep up with the Jets in the wildcard race and to prevent the Jets and Chargers from catching up. A Detroit victory would put them one step closer to clinching the division. Baltimore faces a 29% playoff probability swing and Detroit a 38% swing.

Both teams in the Green Bay-Dallas tilt are both sorely in need of a victory. The loser in this game will likely drop to a sub-10% playoff chance.

The individual team with the most on the line is Miami, who is hosting New England. A loss would put their playoff odds at a 50-50 proposition, but a win would make them around an 80% favorite for the final AFC wildcard position.

The Numbers

AFC EAST
Team1st2nd3rd4th
NE98200
MIA283141
NYJ0146719
BUF011980
AFC NORTH
Team1st2nd3rd4th
CIN99100
BAL173251
PIT0215227
CLE052372
AFC SOUTH
Team1st2nd3rd4th
IND100000
TEN080191
JAC020791
HOU00298
AFC WEST
Team1st2nd3rd4th
DEN98200
KC29800
SD00955
OAK00595
NFC EAST
Team1st2nd3rd4th
PHI821800
DAL188110
NYG02962
WAS00298
NFC NORTH
Team1st2nd3rd4th
DET712460
CHI1345430
GB1632520
MIN000100
NFC SOUTH
Team1st2nd3rd4th
NO95500
CAR59500
TB005149
ATL004951
NFC WEST
Team1st2nd3rd4th
SEA98200
SF29260
ARI06940
STL000100

AFC Percent Probability Playoff Seeding
Team1st2nd3rd4th5th6thTotal
DEN79153020100
NE163837802100
CIN44250301100
KC1100962100
IND0488800100
MIA001026266
BAL001002324
SD0000055
NYJ0000044
TEN0000011
PIT0000011
BUF0000000
CLE0000000
OAK0000000
JAC0000000
HOU0000000
NFC Percent Probability Playoff Seeding
Team1st2nd3rd4th5th6thTotal
SEA9440020100
NO6872041100
PHI027190284
CAR0500522986
SF0200385393
DET0012590071
CHI00760013
DAL005130119
GB002140017
ARI000041417
NYG0000000
WAS0000000
MIN0000000
ATL0000000
TB0000000
STL0000000

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5 Responses to “Playoff Projections - Week 14”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lions have a 32% chance of winning all three games?

    That seems extremely high, since 60% favoured in each game only gives them a 21% chance. Frankly, i'd give them a 7/13 chance of winning each particular game.

  2. Rob Hendryx says:

    Yes, the model says they have a 32% chance of winning out. The probabilities are 79% vs. BAL, 66% vs. NYG, and 61% @ MIN. 0.79*0.66*0.61 = 0.32.

    This might be different than your gut because the model has the Lions as the 8th best team in the league (better than New England, for example).

  3. Anonymous says:

    thanks for the info Rob.

  4. Anonymous says:

    "This might be different than your gut because the model has the Lions as the 8th best team in the league (better than New England, for example)."


    are you going to be able to correct that?

  5. Rob Hendryx says:

    "are you going to be able to correct that?"

    I don't follow what you are asking. There was no calculation error. The model thinks the Lions are a pretty good team because they are doing well in the efficiency stats that the model tracks.

    If you have an issue with the methodology for some reason, you are welcome to download the app and adjust the win probability numbers to your liking.

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