In the standings, a tie counts as a half-win and a half-loss. In Football Outsiders' playoff odds simulation, Green Bay's tie on Sunday was a half-win and a half-loss for its postseason prospects. On the plus side, losses by Detroit and Chicago meant that Green Bay's chances of winning its division increased from 12.5 percent to 18.1 percent. On the minus side, a full win against Minnesota would have made the Packers the favorite in the NFC North. Someone should have told that to Mike McCarthy when he took the field goal route in overtime.
That missed opportunity looks even worse for Green Bay when you consider that, among the three teams vying for the NFC North, the Packers have by far the toughest remaining schedule. The average opponent for Green Bay has an above-average weighted DVOA (1.2 percent), whereas Detroit's (minus-3.0 percent) and Chicago's (minus-3.4 percent) are below average. And when you add in these teams' own weighted DVOAs, as well as home-field advantage over the final five weeks, our simulations project the Packers to win -- wait for it -- 0.5 games fewer than the Bears.
Of course, with Aaron Rodgers sidelined and Green Bay having to travel to both Detroit and Chicago over the final five weeks, the Packers' tie probably will be a nonfactor in the end. Last week, they failed to make the playoffs in 86 percent of our simulations, and this week they fail 81 percent of the time.
You can find the full playoff odds report, including the odds of each team winning each of the six seeds, on FootballOutsiders.com.
No. 1 - Denver Broncos
Current record: 9-2 | Weighted DVOA: 29.9 percent
Projected wins: 12.7
Total playoff odds: 100.0 percent | Weekly change: 0.0 percent
Upon losing a heartbreaker to the Patriots on Sunday, the Broncos' likelihood of earning the AFC's top seed dropped from 68.3 percent to 61.7 percent. But since Kansas City lost as well, Denver's chance to win the AFC West increased from 74.4 percent to 79.7 percent, as did the Broncos' chances of a first-round bye (73.4 percent to 77.1 percent). On average, the Broncos are a projected 78.8 percent favorite in each of their final four games, so this week's return bout with the Chiefs is likely their last difficult matchup of the regular season. Our model might not know that post-surgery Peyton Manning might be slightly less effective in cold weather, but it's almost a moot point because Denver's only such games remaining are at home. (It travels to the warmer climes of Houston and San Diego to finish the year.)
No. 2 - New England Patriots
Current record: 8-3 | Weighted DVOA: 21.8 percent
Projected wins: 11.4
Total playoff odds: 99.5 percent | Weekly change: +2.0 percent
Surprisingly, the Patriots' playoff situation was impacted more by other results around the AFC than the one that occurred in Foxborough. By virtue of beating Denver, New England more than tripled its chances of earning the No. 1 seed; however, that's still only 18.0 percent. With Miami, Indianapolis and the New York Jets all losing, though, the Patriots are now a 98.8 percent favorite to win the AFC East -- up from 93.9 percent last week -- and increased their chances of a first-round bye from 35.8 percent to 60.0 percent. It seems that New England's only competition is Cincinnati, but the Pats have the advantage of an easier schedule over the final five weeks. Their average opponent has a minus-13.1 percent weighted DVOA, whereas the Bengals' average opponent sits at minus-4.3 percent. It amounts to only 0.3 projected wins more than the Bengals during that span, but it's good enough when all they have to do is avoid losing one more game than Cincinnati.
No. 3 - Cincinnati Bengals
Current record: 7-4 | Weighted DVOA: 14.9 percent
Projected wins: 10.4
Total playoff odds: 94.2 percent | Weekly change: -2.2 percent
The bye week barely moved the dial at all in terms of Cincinnati's weighted DVOA and projected wins (15.0 percent and 10.4, respectively, after Week 11). And yet there were a couple of large shifts in Cincinnati's chances of various seeds in the AFC, which served to clear up the Bengals' situation considerably. As mentioned, New England's win means Cincinnati is a long shot for a first-round bye at this point. The good news, though, is that it's still an 86.5 percent favorite to win the AFC North, despite Pittsburgh's victory over Cleveland and the Steelers still getting to host the Bengals in Week 15. That probability might have dropped below 90 percent for the first time in ages, but the Colts' implosion in recent weeks means the AFC North champion has an inside track to the all-important No. 3 seed. The home game against Indianapolis that we've been highlighting for weeks still looms large, but not as large as it did when we first started writing about it.
No. 4 - Indianapolis Colts
Current record: 7-4 | Weighted DVOA: -3.2 percent
Projected wins: 9.7
Total playoff odds: 97.5 percent | Weekly change: -1.9 percent
Before the season, we projected Indianapolis to be a slightly below-average team that sneaks into the playoffs, and that's exactly what it seems destined to be three months later. Such is life in the dreadful AFC South. Currently, the Colts are a 35-to-1 favorite over the Titans to win the division, largely because they have almost identical schedules in December and Indianapolis hosts Tennessee this week. Given how unlikely it is that they choke away a two-game lead with five games remaining -- and while we're patting ourselves on the back -- it's worth pointing out that our playoff odds model had been warning Colts fans about the Cardinals for two weeks running.
No. 5 - Kansas City Chiefs
Current record: 9-2 | Weighted DVOA: 7.1 percent
Projected wins: 11.8
Total playoff odds: 99.7 percent | Weekly change: -0.2 percent
On Football Outsiders' playoff odds page, we list the probability of each AFC team winning each of the six playoff seeds. That's 96 values, and the Chiefs' 78.4 percent chance of earning the No. 5 seed is the highest of them all. They might still have a 20.9 percent chance of winning the division according to our simulations, but losing to a below-average Chargers team didn't exactly inspire confidence. Further, although most of that division-winning probability is wrapped up in beating Denver at home this week, Kansas City's pass rush has gone M.I.A. just as it's about to face a quarterback who ranks third all time in sack rate.
No. 6 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Current record: 5-6 | Weighted DVOA: 3.4 percent
Projected wins: 7.9
Total playoff odds: 38.0 percent | Weekly change: +18.3 percent
Thanks to a three-game winning streak, the Steelers have seen their playoff odds increase six-fold over the past two weeks (from 6.8 percent after Week 10), which is good enough to vault them into the final AFC playoff spot in our simulations. At 28.4 percent, however, it's nowhere near a stranglehold. What gives Pittsburgh a slight edge right now is that it's the only team with a positive weighted DVOA among the six vying for the No. 6 seed. What makes the Steelers' edge tenuous is that, while our simulations view them as a projected favorite in three of their final five games, they view San Diego as a favorite in four games.
Last week, we wrote that the Jets were still very much alive -- unless they lost to Baltimore. Naturally, they went out and lost to Baltimore. Except for a Week 15 game at Carolina, New York's remaining schedule is quite friendly (minus-14.4 percent weighted DVOA average opponent). Unfortunately, losing to the Ravens means that schedule is unlikely to matter: The Jets now lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
No. 1 - Seattle Seahawks
Current record: 10-1 | Weighted DVOA: 37.6 percent
Projected wins: 13.5
Total playoff odds: 100.0 percent | Weekly change: +0.1 percent
Well, that was quite a bye week in the Great Northwest. Because of results around the league, Seattle's weighted DVOA actually increased 3.2 percentage points, and it's now a virtual lock to make the playoffs. What's more, our simulations currently peg the Seahawks as 491-to-1 favorites over Arizona to win the NFC West, 61-to-1 favorites over San Francisco to win the West and 7-1 favorites over New Orleans for the NFC's top seed. They're one of three teams -- along with New England and Denver -- that figure to be favorites in each of their final five games. And yet, with Brandon Browner's potential one-year ban, all bets are off. Seattle's next two games are against the aforementioned Saints and 49ers, both of which have above-average pass offenses, according to DVOA. Then, in Week 15, the Seahawks travel to New York to play the Giants, who figure to have Hakeem Nicks back by then and might very well be playing for their postseason lives.
No. 2 - New Orleans Saints
Current record: 9-2 | Weighted DVOA: 23.3 percent
Projected wins: 11.5
Total playoff odds: 98.2 percent | Weekly change: +1.7 percent
Like Seattle, New Orleans is a sure-fire playoff team that has its seeding and division-title hopes on the line over the next two weeks. Unlike the Seahawks, however, the Saints have a much more tenuous hold on the NFC South (60.8 percent division title probability) and have two games remaining against their nearest competitor. Aside from the obvious, though, if you really want to know which upcoming matchup has the potential to derail the Saints' aspirations, it's the quintessential "trap game" at St. Louis in Week 15. It's the meat in a Panthers sandwich, and the Rams surprisingly rank 12th in weighted DVOA despite their 5-6 record. Put it all together and our simulations currently view that game as a coin-flip.
No. 3 - Philadelphia Eagles
Current record: 6-5 | Weighted DVOA: 12.7 percent
Projected wins: 9.2
Total playoff odds: 58.2 percent | Weekly change: -2.8 percent
We hate to be a broken record, but only death and taxes are more inevitable than the NFC East coming down to Week 17 this season. With Dallas officially catching up to Philadelphia in the standings, the two teams are now both 50 percent favorites to win the division. That said, the Eagles do have one slight advantage over the Cowboys in terms of overall playoff positioning: While a long shot (8.5 percent chance), they're three times as likely to earn a wild-card spot should they miss out on a division title.
No. 4 - Chicago Bears
Current record: 6-5 | Weighted DVOA: 11.9 percent
Projected wins: 9.0
Total playoff odds: 43.0 percent | Weekly change: -7.8 percent
We know what getting blown out by the Rams looks like, but all is not lost, Bears fans. St. Louis is a better team than most give them credit for (6.5 percent weighted DVOA, ranked 12th), and last week's simulations viewed Chicago as only a 54 percent favorite to win that game. To put that in perspective, this week's simulations view them as at least a 65-35 favorite versus Dallas in Week 14, at Cleveland in Week 15 and versus Green Bay in Week 17. Detroit and Green Bay each have only two games remaining for which they can say that.
No. 5 - Carolina Panthers
Current record: 8-3 | Weighted DVOA: 27.0 percent
Projected wins: 11.2
Total playoff odds: 94.8 percent | Weekly change: +3.9 percent
For the past three weeks, Carolina's division-winning probability has hovered right around 40 percent, and that's unlikely to change until after the Panthers' upcoming home-and-home series with the Saints. However, if you're a Panthers fan, don't sleep on their Week 14 opponent, Tampa Bay. After starting the season 0-8, the Buccaneers have rattled off three straight victories, and their 2.0 percent weighted DVOA means our metrics view them to be a slightly above-average team right now. Carolina is the hottest team in the NFL, and won its earlier matchup with Tampa Bay in convincing fashion, but Sunday's game figures to be closer than many people expect. "Looking ahead" to New Orleans would be disastrous for Carolina's continued ascension up the NFC seeding ladder.
No. 6 - San Francisco 49ers
Current record: 7-4 | Weighted DVOA: 18.4 percent
Projected wins: 9.9
Total playoff odds: 63.6 percent | Weekly change: +11.6 percent
When your playoff odds are in free fall and you're hungry for a win three days before Thanksgiving, there's nothing like getting served up the hulking carcass that is Washington. San Francisco's feast on Monday night put its wild-card probability back above 60 percent and kept hope alive for the No. 5 seed. Of course, the 49ers have higher hopes. Browner's suspension might very well put the NFC West division crown back in play, especially considering San Francisco hosts Seattle in Week 14. Our simulations give the 49ers only a 1.6 percent chance of stealing the division, and only an 0.8 percent chance of pulling even by Week 15, but those simulations are ignorant to both the suspension and the impending return of Michael Crabtree.
You might be wondering, "How are the Cardinals' total playoff odds so much lower than two teams with worse records?" The answer is that, unlike Dallas and Detroit, Arizona has virtually zero chance of winning its division, and it projects to 0.6 fewer wins than San Francisco over the final five weeks, when it currently needs to win one more game than the 49ers. As long as the two teams remained tied, you won't see Arizona's chances change in a meaningful way. To wit, they increased by only 2.1 percent this week despite beating Indianapolis.