The NFL season is just two weeks old, but that does not change the fact that fans are already starting to worry about the Playoffs. If your team is 2-0, you feel good about where your team is headed this year. If you are 1-1 on the year, you are stuck in the middle, not sure what will happen. And, if you are 0-2, you may be getting close to the panic button.
This morning, we take a look at the NFL Playoff picture, but not in terms of ranking the division winners and the two Wildcard spots for the AFC, but rather just grouping the teams into the three possible records and providing the percentage chance for teams to make the postseason. All of these percentages come via ESPN Stats and Info.
2-0: 63% make Playoffs
Based on the percentages, two of these teams will make the Playoffs (2.5 to be more precise), and two will not. The Bengals will face competition from Pittsburgh and (likely) Baltimore this year, while the Broncos will have to contend with Kansas City. The Patriots and Jets will also have to deal with Buffalo and Miami this year, so the AFC East is going to be a dog fight until the end.
Going strictly by the odds, my guess would be the Broncos and Patriots make the Playoffs, the Jets and Bengals do not.
1-1: 41% make Playoffs
This group will see three teams (3.69) make the post season. Assuming the 2-0 predictions are true, the likely AFC North and AFC South winners still have to be claimed. Giving the AFC North to the Steelers, and assuming the AFC South winner will bounce back from a 0-2 start, means both Wildcard positions will likely come from this group.
Based on expectations from before the season (though this past week should have taught us that pre-season expectations mean nothing), the Browns, Jaguars, Raiders, and Titans should all fall out of contention. That leaves the Bills, Chiefs, Dolphins, and Chargers to fight for those two spots. Giving one of those to Kansas City (though they could just as easily win the division and send Denver into the Wildcard spot) means the two AFC East teams and San Diego will be battling all season for the final spot. All three teams have question marks, and whichever one can find their rhtyhm first might be able to join the postseason tournament.
0-2: 12% make Playoffs
The Ravens should be able to get back into the Playoffs picture this year, but give only 12-percent make if to the tournament after an 0-2 start, I can really only pick one team (0.36). The AFC South consists of the Colts, the Titans, the Texans, and the Jaguars. Of those four teams, the Colts seem like the best choice to win the division, even after the two losses to start the year. That gives them the final spot in the postseason and, essentially, eliminates the Ravens from making the run.
Projected Playoff teams
Here are the projected six postseason teams for the AFC, using the percentage chances to make the Playoffs:
AFC East: New England Patriots
AFC North: Pittburgh Steelers
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts
AFC West: Denver Broncos/Kansas City Chiefs
Wildcard 1: Kansas City Chiefs/Denver Broncos
Wildcard 2: Buffalo Bills/Miami Dolphins/San Diego Chargers