NFL Projected Wins and Playoff Teams

Original article edited and updated on 12/15/2014

We’re almost through 15 weeks of the NFL season and the playoff picture still isn’t settled.  Prior to the season, we projected wins for every NFL team and compared them to the season win totals at LVH.  We have decided to recalculate our projections with the benefit of actually being able to have some data on played games.

For these projections, we used each team’s Pythagorean expectation and the Log5 method to determine each team’s chances of winning the remaining games on their schedule.  Below is a table with the results.

Team Current Wins Projected Wins Preseason Win Total
Patriots 11 12.58 10.5
Broncos 11 12.49 11.5
Cardinals 11 12.07 7.5
Packers 10 11.42 10.5
Colts 10 11.38 9.5
Seahawks 10 11.29 11
Cowboys 10 11.20 8
Lions 10 11.09 8.5
Eagles 9 10.34 9
Bengals 9.5 (Tie) 10.33 9
Ravens 9 10.32 8.5
Steelers 9 10.08 8.5
Chiefs 8 9.18 8
Bills 8 9.13 6.5
Chargers 8 8.88 8
Dolphins 7 8.45 8
Texans 7 8.32 7.5
49ers 7 7.84 10.5
Browns 7 7.76 6.5
Vikings 6 7.04 6
Rams 6 6.84 7
Saints 5 6.74 10
Panthers 5.5 (Tie) 6.33 8
Falcons 5 6.10 8.5
Bears 5 6.03 8.5
Giants 5 5.83 8
Redskins 3 3.52 7.5
Jets 3 3.31 7
Jaguars 2 2.64 5
Titans 2 2.63 7
Buccaneers 2 2.58 7
Raiders 2 2.26 5

You can use this table to see how well your NFL season win total bets are doing and also to get a clearer view of the playoff picture. Using these methods, here is the current projection for the postseason for the AFC:

AFC Playoff Spot After Week 15 After Week 14 After Week 13 After Week 12 After Week 11 After Week 10
1-Seed Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Broncos
2-Seed Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Chiefs Patriots
3-Seed Colts Colts Colts Ravens Ravens Colts
4-Seed Bengals Ravens Bengals Colts Colts Browns
Wildcard 1 Ravens Steelers Chargers Chiefs Broncos Chiefs
Wildcard 2 Steelers Bengals Chiefs Steelers Dolphins Ravens

The 1-3 seeds remain static, while the three AFC North teams remain in, but in different slots this week.  As it becomes increasingly likely that the AFC North teams will end with the same amount of wins, the tie that Cincinnati has in their back pocket is why they are projected as the division champion.

And now the postseason projection for the NFC:

NFC Playoff Spot After Week 15 After Week 14 After Week 13 After Week 12 After Week 11 After Week 10
1-Seed Cardinals Packers Packers Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals
2-Seed Packers Cardinals Eagles Packers Packers Lions
3-Seed Cowboys Eagles Seahawks Eagles Cowboys Eagles
4-Seed Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints
Wildcard 1 Seahawks Seahawks Lions Cowboys Lions Cowboys
Wildcard 2 Lions Lions Cardinals Lions Eagles Packers

The Cardinals continue to win and Arizona is now the projected 1-seed in the NFC even though their quarterback situation is a mess and they are rumored to be looking at signing Shane Falco to compete for the starting job.  The Cowboys won a huge game in Philadelphia on SNF and are in the driver seat for the NFC East title.

New Twist – Most Likely Scenario

You may have noticed the image at the top of the post and that it is different than the projections in the tables.  Note that the tables are an average of all scenarios.  But what happens when we look at the most likely scenario?  Using ESPN’s NFL Playoff Machine, combined with the Pythagorean Expectation yielded this prediction:

Full Standings 2

Seattle is most likely to win their last two games and gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  Even though the Cowboys are in control, the math likes Indianapolis to win in Dallas this week opening the door for the Eagles to retake the lead in the East.  The math is also not a fan of the Bengals who if they lost vs. Denver and at Pittsburgh would be left out of the playoffs.

Continuing the projections leads to the Colts, Ravens, Eagles, and Cardinals winning Wildcard Round matchups.  Followed by all four bye teams taking care of business in the Divisional Round, and then New England and Seattle moving on the Superbowl with the Patriots having the edge in the big game.

But as we all know, “most likely” doesn’t seem to mean much when it comes to the NFL playoffs.

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