Latest NFL Playoff Picture & Projected Brackets: Chiefs & Saints Clinch Berths

Latest NFL Playoff Picture & Projected Brackets: Chiefs & Saints Clinch Berths article feature image
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Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Baker Mayfield

The 2020 NFL playoff picture is finally taking shape.

On Sunday, two teams claimed the first of the 14 total postseason berths: the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints. The Saints currently sit atop the NFC, but the Chiefs still trail the Pittsburgh Steelers (who play Monday) in the race for the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

Let’s take a closer look at how things stand in both conferences as of Sunday night, then dig into our model’s projected final brackets.

NFL Playoff Picture

Current AFC Picture
No. 1 Steelers (11-0)
No. 7 Colts (8-4)
No. 2 Chiefs (11-1)
No. 6 Dolphins (8-4)
No. 3 Bills (8-3)
No. 5 Browns (9-3)
No. 4 Titans (8-4)
Bubble: Raiders (7-5), Ravens (6-5), Patriots (6-6)

The AFC North is starting to look crowded.

The Cleveland Browns pulled out a 41-35 win over the Tennessee Titans to improve to 9-3 and maintain their position in the conference’s fifth spot. The Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts also won their respective matchups to hold onto the final two wild-card spots and create further separation from those chasing them.

Of the teams on the outside looking in, our model gives the Baltimore Ravens a 65% chance to make playoffs, slightly better than the 64% mark it gives the Colts.

Current NFC Picture
No. 1 Saints (10-2)
No. 7 Vikings (6-6)
No. 2 Packers (9-3)
No. 6 Buccaneers (7-5)
No. 3 Rams (8-4)
No. 5 Seahawks (8-4)
No. 4 Giants (3-8)
Bubble: Cardinals (6-6), 49ers (5-6), Bears (5-7), WFT (4-7)

The race for the NFC West crown is still hot.

After starting the day in the conference’s No. 2 spot, the Seattle Seahawks fell to fifth following their loss to the New York Giants. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams jumped from fifth to third with a win over the Arizona Cardinals, who now find themselves on the outside looking in.

Elsewhere in the NFC, while it wasn’t pretty, the Minnesota Vikings are now in control of the final wild card after edging out the Jaguars in overtime.

NFL Playoff Bracket Predictions

Below is how we project the end-of-season bracket as of Sunday night.

Final AFC Projections
No. 1 Steelers
No. 7 Ravens
No. 2 Chiefs
No. 6 Dolphins
No. 3 Bills
No. 5 Browns
No. 4 Titans
Final NFC Projections
No. 1 Saints
No. 7 Cardinals
No. 2 Packers
No. 6 Buccaneers
No. 3 Rams
No. 5 Seahawks
No. 4 Giants

How did we forecast these brackets? We used our model to project the top-four seeds of each conference by ranking the most likely division winners by their chances to land the Nos. 1-4 seeds. Then, we identified teams with the next highest playoff odds, and assigned the subsequent standings based on highest average wins.


NFL Playoff Picture: Sunday Morning

AFC

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)
3. Tennessee Titans (8-3)
4. Buffalo Bills (8-3)
5. Cleveland Browns (8-3)
6. Miami Dolphins (7-4)
7. Indianapolis Colts (7-4)

On the bubble:

8. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)
9. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

NFC

1. New Orleans Saints (9-2)
2. Seattle Seahawks (8-3)
3. Green Bay Packers (8-3)
4. New York Giants (4-7)
5. Los Angeles Rams (7-4)
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
7. Arizona Cardinals (6-5)

On the bubble:

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-6)
9. Chicago Bears (5-6)
10. San Francisco 49ers (5-6)

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Projected NFL Playoff Bracket

Below is how we’re projecting the end-of-season bracket as of Sunday morning — before the main slate kicks off.

We used our model to project the top four seeds of each conference by ranking the most likely division winners by their chances to land the 1-4 seeds. Then, we identified teams with the next highest playoff odds, and assigned the subsequent standings based on highest average wins.

Projected AFC Bracket

No. 1 Steelers (first-round bye)
No. 7 Ravens
No. 2 Chiefs
No. 6 Dolphins
No. 3 Titans
No. 5 Browns
No. 4 Bills

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Chance to make playoffs: 100%
  • Chance to win division: 99.7%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 22.3%

2. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Chance to make playoffs: 100%
  • Chance to win division: 99.8%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 19.4%

3. Tennessee Titans

  • Chance to make playoffs: 96%
  • Chance to win division: 78.3%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 3.6%

4. Buffalo Bills

  • Chance to make playoffs: 89%
  • Chance to win division: 68.8%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 2.4%
nfl-odds-picks-chargers-vs-bills-betting-total-week-12-2020
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Allen

5. Cleveland Browns

  • Chance to make playoffs: 73%
  • Chance to win division: 0.3%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.5%

6. Miami Dolphins

  • Chance to make playoffs: 78%
  • Chance to win division: 29.4%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 2.7%

7. Baltimore Ravens

  • Chance to make playoffs: 72%
  • Chance to win division: 0.00%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 3.2%

Projected NFC Bracket

No. 1 Saints (first-round bye)
No. 7 Cardinals
No. 2 Seahawks
No. 6 Buccaneers
No. 3 Packers
No. 5 Rams
No. 4 Giants

1. New Orleans Saints

  • Chance to make playoffs: 100%
  • Chance to win division: 99.3%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 21.5%

2. Seattle Seahawks

  • Chance to make playoffs: 99%
  • Chance to win division: 65.2%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 4.5%

3. Green Bay Packers

  • Chance to make playoffs: 99%
  • Chance to win division: 96.3%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 7.4%

4. New York Giants

  • Chance to make playoffs: 39%
  • Chance to win division: 39%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 0.1%

5. Los Angeles Rams

  • Chance to make playoffs: 95%
  • Chance to win division: 29%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 4.3%

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Chance to make playoffs: 81%
  • Chance to win division: 0.7%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 3.4%

7. Arizona Cardinals

  • Chance to make playoffs: 67%
  • Chance to win division: 5.3%
  • Chance to win Super Bowl: 2%

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