There are only 66 days until the start of the NFL Playoffs and while you may think that we still have a good portion of the season left and things can change; typically that is not the case.
Since 2017, the 64 teams that would be in the playoffs at the beginning of Week 10; only 16 of those teams ended up not qualifying for the playoffs; which means that 75% of the teams that would make the playoffs today will be in the playoffs when they start on January 15, 2023. Here is a look at the current playoff picture in the NFL:
1st Seed: Buffalo Bills
Probability Rate of Making the NFL Playoffs: 95%
Key Games Remaining: Week 10 vs Vikings, Week 15 vs Dolphins and Week 17 at Bengals
The Bills had won five games in a row before losing to the Jets on Sunday. Despite the loss on Sunday, the team still has the highest point differential of any team in the league and ranked first in both offense and defense in the league. The Bills have won 13 of their last 17 games at home so getting a one seed would be very good for this team.
The Bills do have 1-8 record in one-score games since Week 1 of the 2021 season so that could be an issue in the playoffs. Quarterback Josh Allen is the odds on favorite to win NFL MVP but it appears that Allen appeared to hurt his elbow in the game vs the Jets and that is a situation that should be watched but other than that it looks like the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC will go through Orchard Park.
2nd Seed: Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)
Probability to Make the NFL Playoffs: 97%
Key Games Remaining: Week 11 at Chargers, Week 12 vs Rams, Week 13 at Bengals and Week 16 vs Seahawks
The Chiefs continue to be defined by the magic that quarterback Patrick Mahomes makes with his arm and how wide-open tight end Travis Kelce always seems to be. The Chiefs lead the league in points per game and have the best probability of making the playoffs in the AFC.
However, after the trade of Tyreek Hill this off season the replacements for Hill have struggled. If you take away the seven touchdown receptions for Kelce this year, the other wide receivers have a total of eight touchdowns. Can the Chiefs develop someone on the outside to take the pressure off Travis Kelce?
3rd Seed: Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
Probability to Make the NFL Playoffs: 94%
Key Games Remaining: Week 15 at Browns and Week 18 at Bengals
The Ravens are poised to possible earn a higher seed because of their upcoming schedule. The Ravens only play two teams who are currently has an above .500 record for the rest of the season. The team needs to get healthy as both leading receiver tight end Mark Andrews has been in and out of the lineup and running back Gus Edwards missed their last game vs the Saints.
One of the areas of concern is the defense. The defense is ranked 28th in passing yards allowed and has allowed the 6th most first downs in the league. Will the defense come into form so that they can compete with the best teams in the AFC?
4th Seed: Tennessee Titans (5-3)
Probability Rate of Making the NFL Playoffs: 93%
Key Games Remaining: Week 12 vs Bengals, Week 13 at Eagles, Week 15 at Chargers and Week 17 vs Cowboys
The Titans have won five of the last six games however they have not been very dominant during their win streak. The average margin of victory in that win streak is 5.8 points. The team wins by running the ball with Derrick Henry who leads the league in rushing (again) and playing stingy defense which has been the formula for the Titans during the Mike Vrabel era.
The Titans are currently averaging 18.9 points per game which is 23rd in the league. In the current playoff field, that would be the lowest point per game for any team in the AFC. Can the Titans get enough offense to make it far in the playoffs?
5th Seed: New York Jets (6-3)
Probability to Make the NFL Playoffs: 58%
Key Games Remaining: Week 13 at Vikings, Week 14 at Bills, Week 17 at Seahawks and Week 18 at Dolphins
The Jets are trying to return back to the playoffs from the first time since 2010 which is the longest current playoff drought in the NFL. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams has been outstanding this season with 7 sacks which is tied for first among defensive tackles. The Jets are also getting a great season from rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner who is only allowing a 54.2 passer rating.
One of the concerns is quarterback Zach Wilson. Wilson has a QBR of 48 which would be the third lowest among possible quarterbacks in the playoff field. Wilson has only 4 touchdown passes, 5 interceptions and a completion percentage of 57.5%. Can the Jets make the playoffs despite the shaky quarterback play of Zach Wilson?
6th Seed: Miami Dolphins (6-3)
Probability to Make the NFL Playoffs: 80%
Key Games Remaining: Week 13 at Niners, Week 14 at Chargers, Week 15 at Bills, and Week 18 vs Jets
Wide receiver Tyreke Hill has been the best the receiver in the league this year; Hill leads the league in receiving yards and is on pace to break Calvin Johnson single-season receiving record of 1,964 receiving yards. Currently, Tua Tagovailoa leads the league in quarterback rating and is currently 6-0 is games that he starts and finishes.
The Dolphins are atrocious in pass defense ranking 25th in pass defense. The Dolphins have allowed over 300 yards passing in four out of nine games this year. Can this explosive offense cover for this defense that has an inability to get stops?
7th Seed: Los Angeles Chargers (5-3)
Probability to Make the NFL Playoffs: 55%
Key Games Remaining: Week 10 at Niners, Week 11 vs Chiefs, Week 14 vs Dolphins, and Week 15 vs Titans
The Chargers have allowed the least amount of sacks in the league and have the second-fewest turnovers in the league. The Chargers also have the third best offense in the league and average over 350 yards per game. The Chargers offense has been gaining yards versus defenses and can score with the best of them.
The Chargers have some key contributors battling injuries. Wide Receiver Keenan Allen, wide receiver Mike Williams, cornerback J.C. Jackson, offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, kicker Dustin Hopkins and defensive lineman Joey Bosa were all week 1 starters who have missed more than three games this year because of injury. Bosa, Jackson, and Slater are currently all on injured reserve.
Can the Chargers overcome all their injuries and hold their position as the last team to make the playoffs in the AFC?
In the Hunt:
New England Patriots (5-4)
Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
1st Seed: Philadelphia Eagles (8-0)
Probability Rate of Making NFL Playoffs: 99%
Key Games Remaining: Week 13 vs Titans, Week 14 at Giants, Week 16 at Cowboys and Week 18 vs Giants
The Eagles are currently the only undefeated team in the NFL and have the best point differential in the NFC. Much like the Bills, the Eagles are doing it on both offense and defense. The Eagles rank 3rd in offensive DVOA and 2nd in defensive DVOA. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is a legitimate NFL MVP candidate and is in the top 5 in total touchdowns, yards per game, yards per attempt and quarterback rating.
The Eagles seemed to be ready for a deep playoff run but of their eight wins only two of those came against teams that are currently above .500. Will the Eagles and their third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts be ready for the bright lights of the playoffs?
2nd Seed: Minnesota Vikings (7-1)
Probability Rate of Making NFL Playoffs:99%
Key Games Remaining: Week 10 at Bills, Week 11 at Cowboys, Week 12 vs Jets and Week 16 vs Giants
The Vikings have not gotten the publicity for their six-game win streak which is the second longest winning streak in the league behind the Eagles. The Vikings have been excellent in one score games; the Vikings are 5-0 in one score games this season which is a great improvement over their 6-8 record in one score games last season. The offense is in the top five in points scored in the fourth quarter and the defense is only allowing 4.6 points per game in the fourth quarter.
We will learn a lot about the Vikings during the month of November with games vs the Bills, Cowboys and Jets. Can the Vikings keep up the Eagles and maybe get the number one seed in the NFC?
3rd Seed: Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
Probability of Making the NFL Playoffs: 84%
Key Games Remaining: Week 15 vs Niners, Week 16 at Chiefs and Week 17 vs Jets
The Seahawks were not expected to be in the position after trading away Russell Wilson this offseason and naming Geno Smith the starting quarterback. Coming into the season, Smith had a career record as a starting quarterback of 12-23 and the Seahawks were reportedly looking to trade for Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo to be their starting quarterback.
Smith has 15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 107.2. Also, rooking running back Kenneth Walker II leads all rookies in rushing touchdowns and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
Seattle only has a plus 11-point differential, and the defense has settled lately but has still given up the 5th most points in the league. Can the Seahawks keep up this Cinderella season and make the playoffs?
4th Seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5)
Probability of Making the NFL Playoffs: 65%
Key Games Remaining: Week 10 vs Seahawks, Week 14 at Niners, Week 15 vs Bengals and Week 18 at Falcons
To say the Buccaneers have had a disappointing season would be an understatement. The team has lost games to the Steelers, Packers and Panthers this season who have a combined record of 7-19. One of the causes that has contributed to their 4-5 record is their offense which has not been explosive at all.
This season, they are averaging 18 points per game as compared to last season when they averaged 31 points per game. The team is last in rushing yards and has averaged 47 rushing yards the last three weeks.
However, the Bucs have the fifth easiest schedule going forward and in 2020 when they won the Super Bowl they had 7-5 record after week 12 and they won eight games in a row to win the championship. Can the Bucs find their stride?
5th Seed: Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
Probability to Make the NFL Playoffs: 98%
Key Games Remaining: Week 11 at Vikings, Week 12 vs Giants, Week 16 vs Eagles and Week 17 at Titans
The Cowboys have done it with their 3rd ranked defense and their timely offense to get to this record. Linebacker Micah Parsons is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year and is part of a Cowboys defensive unit that leads the league in sacks. While starting quarterback Dak Prescott was sidelined with his thumb injury, the Cowboys established the running back duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to pace the offense and those two players have totaled 949 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns.
The Cowboys are ranked 26th in passing offense and have only gotten five receiving touchdowns from their wide receivers this season. There has been rumors of them signing free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr who is coming off an torn ACL. Can the Cowboys generate enough in their passing game to make a playoff run?
6th Seed: New York Giants (6-2)
Probability to Make the NFL Playoffs:58%
Key Games Remaining: Week 12 at Cowboys, Week 14 vs Eagles, Week 16 at Vikings and Week 18 at Eagles
When you look at the Giants by the numbers, you are not impressed at all. Their point differential is only +6, their offensive DVOA is 14th, the defensive DVOA is 24th and their leading receiver has only 242 yards for the season. So how are the Giants 6-2?
First of all, in all of six of their wins they have trailed in the fourth quarter but then have found a way to comeback in those games. The other main reason is the bounce back season from Saquan Barkley. Barkley is currently third in the league is rushing yards, third in the league in rushing yards per game and most importantly has not missed a game this season after two injury plagued seasons.
The Giants have the third worst passing offense in the league and have only scored over 24 points once this season. Will the Giants late-game magic continue for the remainder of the season and the playoffs?
7th Seed: San Francisco 49ers (4-4)
Probability to Make the NFL Playoffs: 77%
Key Games Remaining: Week 10 vs Chargers, Week 13 vs Dolphins, Week 14 vs Buccaneers, and Week 15 at Seahawks
In their last six games, the Niners are 3-3. In their last 3 wins, they have outscored their opponents 92-38. In their last 3 losses, they have been outscored 83-47 by their opponents. The Niners are a dangerous team because when you look at some of the names on their roster you know that they can play better and were a bad fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game from playing in the Super Bowl last year.
The defense has only given up more than 300 total yards twice this season and the offense should get a boost from the addition of running back Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers.
Six out of their last nine games this season are against teams who are currently below .500. Last season, the Niners were 4-5 after week 10 and then went 9-2 in their last eleven games before losing in that NFC Championship game. Are the Niners ready to be consistent and make a playoff run?
In the Hunt:
Atlanta Falcons (4-5)
Washington Commanders (4-5)
Los Angeles Rams (3-5)
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