NFL Playoff Picture: Playoff Projections, Crowded AFC, First Round Matchups, More

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

The Field

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%)

The Rest

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.

NFL Playoff Picture

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

The Field

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%)

The Rest

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.

written by

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.

more nfl news

2024 NFL Draft: Thoughts on Brugler’s Mock Draft 1.0, Caleb Williams Recency Bias, Bears Options, More

As we flip the calendar to December this week, two central storylines in the football world will ramp up and begin to take shape. The NFL Draft, and the NFL Playoffs. So, yes, we will be spending a lot of...

Wow! Jets Officially Open Aaron Rodgers’ 21-Day Practice Window

Wow. I know there's been speculation that Aaron Rodgers was healing uncharacteristically fast for a torn Achilles tendon. I know we've seen videos of him throwing, and walking without crutches and he's been saying he wants to return. But still,...

NFL Notes: Jonathan Taylor Out Again, DeSean Jackson Retires, More

On the heels of his best game of the season, Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is back on the injury report and will miss some time while he recovers from thumb surgery. Taylor sustained the injury on Sunday during...

NFL Week 12 Stock Check: Packers Big Win, Seahawks Step Back, Falcons Embrace Bijan, More

Week 12 of the NFL season is behind us, and we're hitting the home stretch. Several teams took some important steps this week - granted in different directions. The Packers and Jordan Love picked up a big Thanksgiving win over...

Caleb Williams on NFL Draft:  “Game-time decision”

With USC's loss to UCLA last weekend, all eyes are on Caleb Williams who has a significant decision to make in the coming months. Williams can declare for the 2024 NFL Draft, where he'll be the top QB prospect and...

2024 NFL Mock Draft Medley: New QBs for Bears, Patriots; Marvin Harrison Jr. Heads to the Desert, Draft Order Update, More

Week 12 of the NFL season is in the books, so let's look at the updated NFL Draft order after three months of the regular season courtesy of Tankathon. We're also looking at a few of the latest mock drafts...

NFL Notes: Daniel Jones Will Be Giants QB in 2024, Justin Fields Leads Bears Game-Winning Drive, More

The New York Giants are sticking with Daniel Jones in 2024. Well, at least for now. While speaking to the media on Monday, Giants GM Joe Schoen said that Jones will be the starting quarterback when he is healthy. According...

Panthers Make More Changes, Fire Two More Coaches

Carolina isn't done making changes just yet. After announcing this morning that head coach Frank Reich has been relieved of his duties after just 11 games, Carolina has fired two more coaches this afternoon. Assistant head coach and running backs...

The Raiders Have Released CB Marcus Peters

The Las Vegas Raiders have released cornerback Marcus Peters. Peters was benched by interim coach Antonio Pierce in Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The move will save the team $1.5 million in incentives that Peters was on pace...

Sunday Was a Taste of a Budding Rivalry Between the Jaguars and Texans

You were in for a treat if you tuned into Sunday's Week 12 matchup between the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. C.J. Stroud and Trevor Lawrence combined for 668 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns. Both quarterbacks...

Latest News

Ducks vs. Capitals Prediction: Picks, Live Odds and Moneyline – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Anaheim Ducks are -110 on the moneyline, facing the Washington Capitals at -110, at Honda Center on Thursday.Ducks vs. Capitals Favorite, Moneyline, TotalFavorite: Ducks (-110)Underdog: Capitals (-110)Total: 6Best Ducks vs. Capitals Promo Codes[lasso type="table" id="1" link_id="859805"]How to Watch Ducks...

UCLA vs. UC Riverside Prediction: Picks and Betting Odds – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The UCLA Bruins (4-2) take the court against the UC Riverside Highlanders (3-4) as heavy, 19.5-point favorites on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 11:00 PM ET on Pac-12 Network. The matchup's over/under is set at 129.UCLA vs. UC Riverside OddsUCLA...

Sacred Heart vs. New Hampshire Prediction: Picks and Betting Odds – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Sacred Heart Pioneers (4-3) are favored (by 5 points) to build on a three-game home win streak when they host the New Hampshire Wildcats (4-3) on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET. The matchup has an over/under...

Samford vs. Louisiana Prediction: Picks and Betting Odds – Thursday, November 30, 2023

Two streaking teams meet when the Samford Bulldogs (5-2) host the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (5-2) on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 8:00 PM ET. The Bulldogs are 4-point favorites and put their five-game win streak on the line against the...

North Alabama vs. Tennessee Tech Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The North Alabama Lions (3-3) host the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (2-5) after winning three home games in a row. The Lions are favored by 8 points in the contest, which starts at 8:00 PM ET on Thursday, November 30,...

UNC Wilmington vs. East Carolina Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The UNC Wilmington Seahawks (5-1) hit the court against the East Carolina Pirates (4-3) as just 1-point favorites on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN+. The point total for the matchup is 143.5.UNC Wilmington vs. East...

Butler vs. Texas Tech Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Butler Bulldogs (5-2) take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-1) as only 1.5-point favorites on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 6:30 PM ET on Fox Sports 1. The matchup has an over/under set at 139.5 points.Butler vs. Texas...

Florida Atlantic vs. Liberty Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Liberty Flames (6-0) will try to build on a six-game winning streak when they visit the No. 13 Florida Atlantic Owls (5-1) at 6:00 PM ET on Thursday, November 30, 2023 as 7-point underdogs. The Owls have won three...

Jacksonville State vs. South Alabama Prediction: Picks and Betting Odds – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks (3-4) play the South Alabama Jaguars (4-4) as just 1.5-point favorites on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN+. The matchup has an over/under of 130.Jacksonville State vs. South Alabama OddsJacksonville State odds...

Texas vs. Texas State Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Thursday, November 30, 2023

The No. 16 Texas Longhorns (5-1) face the Texas State Bobcats (3-4) as double-digit, 18.5-point favorites on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 9:00 PM ET on Longhorn Network. The matchup has an over/under set at 138 points.Texas vs. Texas State...

more nfl news

Latest News