Assessing Every NFL Team's Odds of Making the 2012 Playoffs

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Assessing Every NFL Team's Odds of Making the 2012 Playoffs

This is every NFL team's percentage chance at making the playoffs in 2012.

Here is the fine print:

I looked at all 32 teams' schedules, game by game, and decided each team's best possible dream scenario for winning percentage, and every team's worst-case "Tom Brady gets hurt in the first game" scenario. 

I then averaged those outcomes together to create my own personal projection variable. 

I averaged these new variables in with each team's Vegas over/under wins totals to serve as respective measures of central tendency.

This is an interesting task, assigning a "percentage chance" to each NFL team's playoff hopes. For this extrapolation of NFL crystal ball voodoo, we need to start at the division level. Meaning, there needs to be two separate distributions of likelihood awarded.

The first distribution occurs within each division. The combined percentage totals of all four teams in each division (in percentage likelihood to make the playoffs) must equal exactly 100. The reason being, the division winner gets an automatic berth into the playoffs. This is obvious. Division winners are guaranteed a spot. There is a 100 percent chance that one team from each four-team group will make the postseason. 

So, here we have set aside 400 percentage points per conference, meaning 800 total. Eight total divisions, each collectively awarded with the 100 total percentage points that guarantees their respective rights to send one member of their division to the playoffs.

This is where the second distribution comes in. Wild-card teams must be accounted for.

Twelve teams go to the playoffs, not eight. So, the 800 percent that we started out with for all eight divisions now needs 400 percent more added on top, to total 1,200 percent. Twelve teams are 100 percent guaranteed to make it to the playoffs this year. The extra 400 percent must be dispersed at exactly 200 percent per conference. 

Once division winners are identified via the process previously outlined, a new baseline is created for measuring winning percentage versus each conference's respective "cut off" for wins to get in to the playoffs. With a newly established a baseline, percentage points out of the 200 percent "wild card escrow account" per conference can be allocated appropriately.

These disbursement values are set at a rate that is correspondent to their original averaged projection; above, or below the cut off for "best-case scenario" outcomes as defined in my original projection.

No division can be awarded under 100 percent, of course, but no division is guaranteed to be assigned over 100 percent, either. All divisions were given wild card disbursements in our case, however, some more than others.

Take the NFC West. My experimenter average coupled with Vegas yields no wild card team from this division. Therefore, there is no allotted disbursement to any NFC West teams' original percentages dedicated, outside of the predicted winner, San Francisco, who projects a win total well above the secondary established median.

These extra percentage points are instead granted to teams in competitive divisions, such as the NFC North, which grades out as more likely to produce one or more wild-card berths. 

These slides are your postseason hopes in the preseason. 

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