4. Washington (6-5-1) vs. Philadelphia (5-7) — 81 total ‘swing’ points Detroit9091893– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF WSH WINSIF PHI WINSSWING Atlanta8684874– Tennessee1142825– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS Detroit9088913– Denver70%82%43%39– Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown Baltimore3937436– Buffalo1061710– Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown Denver7065716– Tampa Bay55%24%70%46– Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS Atlanta8688853– Pittsburgh67497223– New Orleans512112– Indianapolis3941347– Miami15122412– 3. New Orleans (5-7) vs. Tampa Bay (7-5) — 95 total ‘swing’ points Minnesota2833258– The Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos all won last week, and we now think it’s pretty likely that the West will take both AFC wild card slots. Tennessee has had a commendable bounceback season, but they’re in a tough playoff situation. The AFC West’s success means that even if the Titans run the table to end the season at 10-6, that might not be enough to make it as a wild card, and their 0-3 record against the Texans and Colts makes it unlikely that they’d win a division tiebreaker. We give them just an 11 percent chance of making the playoffs, much lower than the chances of Green Bay, Minnesota, Indianapolis and Houston, who all share the same 6-6 record. Tampa Bay is playing meaningful December football! The Buccaneers haven’t had a winning season since 2010, and they’ve come in last in the NFC South for five straight years. But a four-game win streak with upsets against the Chiefs and Seahawks has sent their Elo rating skyrocketing, and they’re now contenders for both the division title (25 percent chance of winning) and an NFC wild card (30 percent chance). 5. Baltimore (7-5) vs. New England (10-2) — 77 total ‘swing’ points Washington3943376– Green Bay2225213– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF HOU WINSIF IND WINSSWING Pittsburgh6766693– Green Bay2220255– Indianapolis3945955– N.Y. Giants6571638– Houston52554312– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS Washington39%61%21%40– Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown N.Y. Giants6562697– The NFL has its first playoff team! While the 11-1 Cowboys don’t quite have a lock on the NFC East title, they will at least make it as a wild card. They’ll now be playing for a bye and home-field advantage while the rest of the league fights for the remaining playoff spots.For the last couple weeks, we’ve been using the model behind our 2016 NFL predictions to calculate how much each team’s playoff chances “swing” depending on the outcome of each game. For example, we currently give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 67 percent chance of making the playoffs. If they beat Buffalo this week, we project those chances will increase to 84 percent (independent of other games). If they lose, their chances drop to 53 percent.1Our NFL predictions are based on 100,000 simulations of the rest of the season and are updated after every game ends. In the simulations in which Pittsburgh beats Buffalo, they make the playoffs 84 percent of the time. In simulations where they lose, they make the playoffs 53 percent of the time. But it’s unlikely that Pittsburgh’s playoff probabilities will be exactly 84 percent or exactly 53 percent at the end of Week 14, because the team’s chances depend on the outcome of several games (most notably Baltimore’s), not just their own. That’s a 31 percentage point swing! By doing this same math for every matchup and factoring in how each team’s resulting record will affect others’ playoff odds, we can find out which games are the most impactful.Here are the top five for Week 14: As straightforward as it gets. Whichever team wins takes control of the AFC South and gets a big playoff boost. The Titans have an outside chance at the division but don’t really care who wins here. Arizona8792– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF NO WINSIF TB WINSSWING Baltimore39%66%32%35– Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown Tampa Bay5551587– Minnesota2825306– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF DEN WINSIF TEN WINSSWING Houston52%87%32%55– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF BAL WINSIF NE WINSSWING Miami1517152– Philadelphia has blown a promising season and now has just a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs. Washington is in danger of similar collapse, narrowly falling the last two weeks in winnable games against the Cowboys and Cardinals. They’d be out of the playoffs if the season ended today, and this week Philadelphia has the opportunity to play spoiler and knock another 18 percentage points or so off their rival’s chances. 1. Denver (8-4) vs. Tennessee (6-6) — 119 total ‘swing’ points CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS Philadelphia2<144– 2. Houston (6-6) vs. Indianapolis (6-6) — 117 total ‘swing’ points One of the NFL’s best rivalries is heating up again! The Ravens and Steelers both won last week to improve to 7-5. With the AFC West bogarting the wild cards, it’s looking like only one of the two will make the playoffs as AFC North champ. So why do we give the Ravens, who would make the playoffs if the season ended today, just a 39 percent chance of advancing? For one, we have them as nine-point underdogs in Foxborough this week. For another the Steelers still have a game to play against the lowly Browns, plus an opportunity to tie up the season series at home against the Ravens in Week 16.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
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