With week 14 of the NFL kicking off on Thursday with a tight Kansas City Chiefs 21-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders, the playoff landscape immediately changed with Oakland falling out of the West Division lead into the top wild card spot. Before the Sunday games, the current NFL standings are:
We then perform the usual Bradley-Terry and Weighted Poisson regression models to identify some predictive methods for estimating future games, conditional on home field advantage and team match-ups. As a result, we are able to simulate the remainder of the season.
Using these models, we find the following expected final standings. Note: These are averaged over one million MCMC runs.
Hence, the most likely NFL Playoffs is given by:
- New England Patriots (13-3)
- Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
- Houston Texans (8-8)
- Oakland Raiders (12-4)
- Denver Broncos (10-6)
- Dallas Cowboys (14-2)
- Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
- Detroit Lions (10-6)
- Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
- New York Giants (10-6)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
While these are the most likely teams to make the playoffs, based on record, there are still effectively 24 teams still able to make the playoffs, from the Dallas Cowboys’ 100% (guaranteed in the playoffs) to the San Diego Chargers’ 0.01% chance! Due to this, we also simulated the NFL playoffs. This results in every teams’ chance of winning the Super Bowl:
This shows that the Dallas Cowboys have the best chance of winning the Super Bowl, with the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots close behind. If we break down the numbers, we simulated that the AFC has a 49.64% chance of winning the Super Bowl. This means while three of the top four teams winning the Super Bowl are AFC contenders, the NFC has a better overall chance of winning the Super Bowl.
The question is, with roughly 63 games remaining in the season, how much will these probabilities change?