The NFL playoffs are just over a month away, and if you’re like me, you want an idea of who’s in line for a playoff bid and who should start planning their January vacations to Saint Thomas. Can the Chiefs hold off the surging Chargers to win the AFC West? Allow me…
Because I don’t sleep 6-8 hours like normal humans, I have the time to construct meaningless things like playoff projection spreadsheets. A couple of notes to consider before viewing/analyzing/cursing my playoff projections:
First, the projections are based on each team’s health and performance RIGHT NOW. Obviously, some teams will go on winning streaks while some will unexpectedly lose three of four. Others may even lose a critical piece of their team to injury, perhaps a quarterback or defensive end. There’s just so much that can happen between now and the end of the season. Obviously, my projections are a complete guess and mostly for my own entertainment.
Second, the projections will be continually updated on a weekly basis to accommodate for injuries, poor play, coaching changes, and the imminent disaster that will plague players who blame God for dropped touchdown passes. Yes, I’m talking to you, Stevie Johnson.
Third, the tiebreakers used to determine the final standings use the projected finishes of each team. Therefore, tiebreakers will change as frequently as the projections.
Finally, my method for choosing who wins and loses each week is neither logical nor methodical. Mostly, I pick according to my gut, and sometimes, I even pick games based on specific scenarios that may or may not happen. It’s not perfect. It’s not science. It’s totally subjective.
I think that’s all for now. If something comes up, I’ll be sure to add it. Onto the projections.
You can access the NFC projections here.
As you can see, the Falcons schedule suggests they’re locked in for that top playoff spot and home field throughout the NFC playoffs. I have the Packers rallying to finish in second ahead of the Eagles.
Philadelphia’s loss to Chicago essentially eliminated the Eagles from contention for a first round bye. They’ve now lost to both the Bears and Packers, so the winner of the NFC North will win any tiebreaker if they finish with identical records. If Green Bay would have won on Sunday, Philadelphia would still be alive for a bye because they toppled Atlanta earlier this season.
The biggest loser in my projections is the Chicago Bears. I have Chicago losing four of five and missing the playoffs entirely. Maybe I’m jaded. Maybe I don’t trust Jay Cutler. Either one works for me. Conversely, the biggest winner is the New Orleans Saints. Winning the 5th seed in the NFC is equivalent to a first round bye. Raise your hand if you think the Giants, Packers, Eagles, Saints, Bears, Falcons or Vikings will lose on the road in Seattle, St. Louis, or San Francisco. That’s what I thought.
Moving onto the AFC projections. You can view them here.
First of all, whoa. That’s a powerhouse playoff lineup. There will be no freebies in the AFC playoffs, unless of course the Jaguars or Chiefs hold on to win their respective divisions.
The biggest loser is the Jets, whom I have losing three of their final five, dropping them from 1st to 6th in just over a month. The Chargers make the biggest leap, finishing 5-0 and claiming the 3rd spot in the conference.
There’s little intrigue regarding the AFC’s wildcard spots. However, if there’s one team that could sneak in and knock off the lesser of the Ravens/Steelers and Patriots/Jets, it will be the second place team in the AFC West. I expect the Chargers to win the division, but if they drop a game unexpectedly and the Chiefs can finish a game ahead (or beat San Diego in week 14), the Chargers could possibly snag a wildcard berth if one of the favorites stumble down the stretch. Although the same is true if Kansas City finishes second, it’s less likely because of their poorer conference record.
Plenty of teams are still technically alive in the AFC playoff hunt. However, it would take a mammoth run by a 6-5 or 5-6 team, or an epic collapse by a top tier team for the wild card to change. Realistically, this is a seven team race for six spots. And right now, the wildcard spots are overwhelmingly leaning toward the AFC North and AFC East.