Week 12 NFL Projections Update: 4-Way Tie For AFC #1 Seed & Saints Pass 49ers For #2 In NFC

Welcome to our NFL projections update, in which we check out how the games of the past few days have impacted the NFL playoff outlook. Let’s start with the most practical and fun part of the post — the updated playoff forecast.

Projected Playoff Seeding & Super Bowl Winner

Via our NFL season projections, here is how the playoffs will shake out, if our ratings and forecasts end up being spot on.

The biggest change this week is that the Lions have dropped out of our projected playoff field, something that seemed pretty unlikely 6 games ago, when Detroit sat at 5-0. In fact, in our Week 5 NFL Projections post, we put Detroit’s chances of making the playoffs at almost 90%. As you’ll see below, their odds now sit at 49%. Quite a drop, but losing 4 of 6 will do that to you.

The other main change is that the Ravens have flip-flopped with the Patriots yet again. Four teams have average projected records of 12-4, but the Ravens nab the top seed in 40% of simulations, compared to only 28% for the Patriots, and 15% each for the Steelers and Texans — though take Houston’s number with a grain of salt, given that they are now down to their third string QB, following the injury to Matt Leinart.

Without further ado, the seeds:

SeedAFC TeamRecord SeedNFC TeamRecord
#1Baltimore Ravens12-4#1Green Bay Packers15-1
#2New England Patriots12-4#2San Francisco 49ers13-3
#3Houston Texans12-4#3New Orleans Saints12-4
#4Oakland Raiders9-7#4Dallas Cowboys10-6
#5Pittsburgh Steelers12-4#5Chicago Bears10-6
#6Cincinnati Bengals10-6#6Atlanta Falcons10-6
Dropped OutDetroit Lions10-6

Now, if we choose the winner in each playoff matchup by advancing the team with the higher Super Bowl win odds, here’s what the postseason will look like (winning teams in bold):

Wildcard Round

– Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
– Pittsburgh Steelers @ Oakland Raiders
– Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints
– Chicago Bears @ Dallas Cowboys

Division Round

– Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
– Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
– Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
– New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers

Conference Championships

New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens
– New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl

– Green Bay Packers over New England Patriots

Green Bay once again is head and shoulders above the crowd, with a 32% chance to win the Super Bowl, compared with 19% for the runner up Patriots, and 14% for third wheel Baltimore.

This week the Saints passed the 49ers as the second most likely NFC team to win the Super Bowl, at 7.9% versus SF’s 6.5%. That’s mostly because San Francisco’s chances of nabbing the top seed fell from 22% to 6% this week, due to the combination of their loss to Baltimore and Green Bay’s win on the road in Detroit in what was likely their toughest remaining game. The Packers nearly have the top seed wrapped up, with a 93.5% chance.

Changes In Playoff Odds For All Teams

Those who were hoping to see Tim Tebow and the Broncos edge past Oakland into the lead in the projected AFC West standings must have been terribly disappointed by the Raiders’ win over the Bears, which kept Denver out of first. Despite lagging behind the Raiders, the Broncos were still the biggest winners of the week, with their projected playoff odds climbing from 29% to 45%. Their victims, the Chargers, were the biggest losers, as they were all but eliminated from playoff contention — their odds fell from 23% to 3%.

Over in the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons both took solid steps towards securing a playoff births, with their chances rising by 15% each. The Cowboys barely squeaked by Miami, but were helped by the Giants laying down against the Saints, and saw their odds rise from 64% to 79%. The Falcons, on the other hand, notched a solid enough win over Minnesota that they rose a spot in our power ratings, which contributed to their playoff chances moving from 57% to 72%.

Of course, those weren’t the only playoff odds changes this week. Below, we lay out every team’s predicted percent chance of making the postseason, along with how that was altered due to last week’s games.

The table shows projected playoff odds before this weekend, current NFL playoff odds, and the difference between those values, plus each team’s projected chance of winning the Super Bowl. It’s sorted by the change in playoff odds, so you can quickly see which teams had the best and worst Week 11:

AFCLast WkNowChangeSB Win% NFCLast WkNowChangeSB Win%
Houston95.0%97.4%2.4%8.0%New Orleans90.4%96.6%6.2%7.9%
Baltimore95.6%97.5%1.9%14.0%San Francisco100.0%100.0%0.0%6.5%
New England97.2%99.0%1.8%19.0%Green Bay100.0%100.0%0.0%32.1%
NY Jets21.7%22.5%0.8%0.5%Washington0.2%0.2%0.0%0.0%
Indianapolis0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%St Louis0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Miami0.7%0.0%-0.7%0.0%Tampa Bay0.9%0.4%-0.5%0.0%
Kansas City4.0%1.2%-2.8%0.0%Philadelphia8.3%3.0%-5.3%0.0%
San Diego23.4%3.3%-20.1%0.0%NY Giants34.3%22.3%-12.0%0.3%

The Andrew Luck Sweepstakes

As we mentioned last week, this is pretty much in the bag for Indianapolis. Now that they’ve lost to Carolina, we put their chances of finishing the season winless at 36%.

TeamCurrent WinsTR RankFuture SOSProj Wins
St Louis2321.63.0

Not only are the Colts awful, they have the toughest future schedule in the NFL. They face the Patriots in Foxboro this week, and then travel to Baltimore the following game. So don’t expect the situation to change any time soon.