The kids are on Thanksgiving break, and we’re just a few days away from one of my favorite days of the year. Family, friends, football … Thanksgiving is the best. After tonight’s Chiefs-Eagles game on Monday Night Football, we’ll flip the page to Week 12. That means that we’ve only got about a month and a half left in the NFL’s regular season, and the NFL playoff picture is beginning to take shape.
So, let’s examine where we stand today, and plan on circling back every Monday as we enter the home stretch of the regular season.
Here are the current standings and each team’s chances of making the playoffs according to ESPN’s projection model.
AFC Playoff Picture
1. Kansas City Chiefs 7-2 (>99%)
2. Baltimore Ravens 8-3 (96%)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars 7-3 (93%)
4. Miami Dolphins 7-3 (96%)
5. Cleveland Browns 7-3 (82%)
6. Houston Texans 6-4 (63%)
7. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-4 (52%)
Buffalo Bills 6-5 (40%)
Indianapolis Colts 5-5 (32%)
Denver Broncos 5-5
Cincinnati Bengals 5-5
Las Vegas Raiders 5-6
Los Angeles Chargers 4-6
New York Jets 4-6
Tennessee Titans 3-7
New England Patriots 2-8
AFC Playoff Seeding Chances
The Kansas City Chiefs have a 59 percent chance of claiming the AFC’s top seed when the dust settles, and it’s not a particularly close race at this point, according to ESPN’s projection model. Baltimore is behind the Chiefs with a 14 percent chance to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and the Dolphins have an 11 percent chance.
The Ravens have a 23 percent chance of earning the second seed in the AFC. If they were to find a way to leapfrog the Chiefs, Kansas City has the best chance of achieving the second see, along with the Dolphins and Jaguars.
The wild card is where things get interesting. As of this morning, Cleveland has a 30 percent chance of getting the top wild card spot, the fifth seed. The Steelers are most likely to get the sixth and seventh seeds, with the Browns and Texans behind them. Obviously, depending on which seed the Steelers would end up with, the Texans have the best likelihood of ending up with the other.
Notably, the Bills only appear once here and have a 12 percent likelihood of earning a playoff spot, which is different from their straight-up playoff percentage. Their next three games have something to do with that. Buffalo has to take on the Eagles, Chiefs, and Cowboys between now and December 17.
NFC Playoff Picture
1. Philadelphia Eagles 8-1 (>99%)
2. Detroit Lions 8-2 (99%)
3. San Francisco 49ers 7-3 (>99%)
4. New Orleans Saints 5-5 (65%)
5. Dallas Cowboys 7-3 (99%)
6. Seattle Seahawks 6-4 (56%)
7. Minnesota Vikings 6-5 (79%)
Atlanta Falcons 4-6 (31%)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-6 (26%)
Green Bay Packers 4-6 (23%)
Los Angeles Rams 4-6
Washington Commanders 4-7
New York Giants 3-8
Chicago Bears 3-8
Arizona Cardinals 2-9
Carolina Panthers 1-9
NFC Playoff Seeding Chances
The Philadelphia Eagles own a 49 percent chance of taking the NFC’s top seed for the second straight year. The 49ers are behind the Eagles with a 28 percent chance, and the Lions and Cowboys have a 10 percent chance, respectively.
Four teams have a 99 percent or greater chance of making the playoffs. The Eagles, 49ers, Lions, and Cowboys are virtual locks for the postseason according to the projection model, and that tracks with the eye test and the standings. After those four teams, it’s wide open.
The Saints lead the NFC South at 5-5 right now and have a 50 percent chance of claiming the fourth and final divisional winner seed in the NFC playoffs. The Falcons are 4-6 and have a 31 percent chance of making the postseason. They have a 21 percent likelihood of overtaking the Saints, winning the NFC South, and earning the fourth seed.
The Dallas Cowboys have a 64 percent chance of clinching the top wild card spot, putting them on the road for the postseason despite having one of the best records in the NFL. Behind the Cowboys, the Vikings and Seahawks have the best likelihood of earning the final two wild card spots.
NFL Playoff Matchups if the Season Ended Today
Here’s what the first-round matchups would look like if the season ended today in the AFC and NFC.
2. BAL vs. 7. PIT
3. JAX vs. 6. HOU
4. MIA vs. 5. CLE
2. DET vs. 7. MIN
3. SF vs. 6. SEA
4. NO vs. 5. DAL
If things ended today, we would have a heck of a first-round to look forward to that features four divisional matchups. Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and Houston, Detroit and Minnesota, and San Francisco and Seattle in the opening round is a dream scenario regarding seeding.