NFL postseason outlook: Surprise, the Patriots are monster favorites

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The Dallas Cowboys are back atop the NFC East thanks to their statement win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7. Our Bet Labs model — which simulates the rest of the season 10,000 times — now gives America’s Team a 66.93 percent chance of winning the division.

So how does our model project every team’s postseason chances as we reach midseason? Let’s take a look.

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Everything is looking thumbs-up for Tom Brady and the Patriots. (Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Everything is looking thumbs-up for Tom Brady and the Patriots. (Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NFL playoff rankings & projections

1. New England Patriots (7-0)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 99.94%

  • Chance to win division: 97.97%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 36.00%

No surprises here: The Patriots are rolling as one of two remaining undefeated teams. Their 87.85% chance to land the AFC’s top seed is as close to a lock as you can get with half the season left to play.

2. New Orleans Saints (6-1)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 91.77%

  • Chance to win division: 80.03%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 10.76%

The Saints are 5-0 in Teddy Bridgewater’s starts since losing Drew Brees, solidifying themselves as a top contender in the NFC. They could even welcome Brees back as early as this week.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 91.30%

  • Chance to win division: 88.70%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 8.06%

The Chiefs will have to weather the next few weeks without Patrick Mahomes (knee), but their path to the postseason isn’t expected to change much. Our sims still give them a decent chance (29.65%) to secure a first-round bye.

4. San Francisco 49ers (6-0)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 89.71%

  • Chance to win division: 72.87%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 10.99%

The 49ers are looking strong in the NFC. Their grip on the NFC doesn’t quite match the Patriots’ in the AFC, but our sims still give the Niners a 35.63% chance of locking in the No. 1 seed and a 56.73% chance of securing a first-round bye.

5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 87.73%

  • Chance to win division: 80.86%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 5.11%

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are coming off a statement win over MVP contender Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Seattle. Our sims give them the best chance to win the AFC North.

6. Green Bay Packers (6-1)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 85.79%

  • Chance to win division: 68.26%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 7.73%

The Packers are rolling and perhaps most notably, Aaron Rodgers has found his groove in coach Matt LaFleur’s offense.

7. Buffalo Bills (5-1)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 78.74%

  • Chance to win division: 2.03%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.64%

The Bills’ only loss was to the Patriots. Granted, their five wins have come against five teams below .500, but Buffalo is firmly in the AFC wild-card race.

8. Indianapolis Colts (4-2)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 70.16%

  • Chance to win division: 47.87%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 1.65%

The Colts leapfrogged the Texans in the division standings with last week’s win. Our sims give Indy the best chance to win the AFC South, but it’s a slim margin over the Texans (47.87% vs. 41.34%).

9. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 68.75%

  • Chance to win division: 66.93%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 3.25%

The Cowboys’ win over Philadelphia on Sunday put them back in the driver’s seat of the NFC East.

10. Houston Texans (4-3)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 68.25%

  • Chance to win division: 41.34%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 2.66%

The Texans are coming off a tough divisional loss to the Colts, tightening the race for the AFC South.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has been playing well lately. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has been playing well lately. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

11. Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 65.79%

  • Chance to win division: 26.27%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 3.77%

The Packers might be sitting pretty atop the NFC North, but the Vikings aren’t far behind, and a near one-in-three chance of winning the division is nothing to ignore.

12. Los Angeles Rams (4-3)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 48.73%

  • Chance to win division: 11.06%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 3.49%

The 49ers’ emergence and Russell Wilson’s MVP-caliber campaign have complicated things for the Rams. Their chances of reaching the postseason are still good, but not exactly the odds you’d want just a season removed from a Super Bowl appearance.

13. Seattle Seahawks (5-2)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 43.75%

  • Chance to win division: 15.63%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 1.75%

Russell Wilson is playing like an MVP and has the Seahawks in a favorable position just behind the 49ers in the NFC West.

14. Carolina Panthers (4-2)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 41.13%

  • Chance to win division: 18.73%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 1.77%

Christian McCaffrey has been good enough to launch himself into the mainstream MVP discussion while Kyle Allen is 4-0 starting for the injured Cam Newton, keeping the Panthers in the thick of the NFC wild-card race.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 33.20%

  • Chance to win division: 29.57%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.88%

The Eagles’ chances of winning the NFC East looked good before getting steamrolled by the Cowboys in primetime. Still, they win the division one in three times, according to our sims.

16. Cleveland Browns (2-4)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 24.42%

  • Chance to win division: 11.67%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.21%

The Browns have underwhelmed relative to the preseason hype and now face their toughest task yet: Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough. A loss would hurt, but our sims aren’t totally out on their divisional and playoff chances.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 21.08%

  • Chance to win division: 7.44%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.14%

The season hasn’t gone to plan for the Steelers, who lost Ben Roethlisberger early and even had to rely on their third-string quarterback in Week 6. Still, they average 7.28 wins in our sims.

18. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 15.26%

  • Chance to win division: 5.70%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.07%

Indy and Houston are neck-and-neck, but the Jaguars aren’t out of play for the division title.

19. Chicago Bears (3-3)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 14.94%

  • Chance to win division: 4.06%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.52%

Things are not looking great for the reigning NFC North champs in coach Matt Nagy’s second year at the helm.

20. Tennessee Titans (3-4)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 14.76%

  • Chance to win division: 5.09%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.07%

Just like the Jaguars, the Titans aren’t out of the hunt for the AFC South (or at least a wild-card spot).

21. Oakland Raiders (3-3)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 14.41%

  • Chance to win division: 4.80%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.03%

The Raiders have followed a turbulent camp with a middle-of-the-road first half. They’re second in the AFC West (for now).

Things aren't going well for Philip Rivers and the Chargers right now. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Things aren't going well for Philip Rivers and the Chargers right now. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

22. Los Angeles Chargers (2-5)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 9.70%

  • Chance to win division: 5.96%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.27%

The Chargers have gone from serious contenders to last-place in the uninspiring AFC West. Philip Rivers & Co. have hit new season lows in our sims across the board.

23. Detroit Lions (2-3-1)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 5.48%

  • Chance to win division: 1.41%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.03%

The Lions are losers of close back-to-back division battles against the Packers and Vikings. Detroit now sits at the bottom of the NFC North and is a massive underdog to mount a comeback to win the division.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 4.30%

  • Chance to win division: 1.17%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.07%

The Buccaneers are potentially looking at a below.500 season, with our sims giving them 6.85 average wins.

25. New York Giants (2-5)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 3.84%

  • Chance to win division: 3.49%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.02%

Our sims like the Giants to effectively hit their preseason win total (6) with an average of 6.01 wins.

26. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 2.71%

  • Chance to win division: 0.44%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.04%

The Cardinals average 6.26 wins in our sims — which at least clears their preseason total of 5 — but their final nine games won’t be easy. They visit New Orleans this week, then face the Rams and 49ers twice each.

27. Denver Broncos (2-5)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 2.14%

  • Chance to win division: 0.54%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.02%

The Chiefs steamrolled the Broncos on Thursday, a game in which Kansas City lost Patrick Mahomes midway through the second quarter. The outlook isn’t great for Denver’s postseason chances.

28. New York Jets (1-5)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 2.05%

  • Chance to win division: 0.00%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.00%

There was enough hope coming off Sam Darnold’s return and their upset of the Cowboys to make some think the Jets had at least a chance to cover the 10-point spread on Monday. Things didn’t work out that way.

29. Atlanta Falcons (1-6)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 0.10%

  • Chance to win division: 0.07%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.00%

To say it’s been a disappointing season for the Falcons would be an understatement. After opening the season with a win total of 8.5, they’re 1-6 and now head into Week 8 with a hobbled Matt Ryan (sprained ankle).

30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-7)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 0.06%

  • Chance to win division: 0.03%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.00%

The Bengals are still looking for their first win, but it doesn’t look like that’ll come in Week 8 as they head across the pond to take on the Rams as 12.5-point underdogs. Needless to say, Year 1 is not going as coach Zac Taylor had hoped.

31. Washington Redskins (1-6)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 0.01%

  • Chance to win division: 0.01%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.00%

Landing a top-five draft pick is as good as it’s going to get for a team that has already fired its coach. Our sims give the Redskins a 74.59% chance of doing so.

32. Miami Dolphins (0-6)

  • Chance to make playoffs: 0.00%

  • Chance to win division: 0.00%

  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.00%

The “Tank 4 Tua” campaign is going well in Miami. The Dolphins have far-and-away the best chance (72.89%) to land the first overall pick of the 2020 draft.

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