NFL Playoff Picture: Projecting Berth Odds for the Bubble Teams
As Thanksgiving rolls around, the playoff picture in the NFL starts to become clearer as we see which teams really have a shot at the postseason.
Some teams, like the Texans and Patriots, are a lock to make the playoffs, even if they haven't mathematically clinched yet.
Other teams aren't so lucky, as their playoff hopes will either be granted or crushed based upon the next six games.
This is a look at those teams on the playoff bubble and the likelihood of getting a playoff berth for each team.
We will look at the remaining schedule and how the team is currently constructed.
All playoff odds are taken from Football Outsiders' DVOA Playoff Odds.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
F.O. Playoff Odds: 76.6 percent
At 7-3, it seems strange to consider the Bears "on the bubble," but it's not as crazy if you watched them play against San Francisco.
The Bears' playoff hopes rest completely on the health of Jay Cutler. Putting Jason Campbell behind Chicago's offensive line gives them a better chance at a 7-9 record than a playoff berth, as Campbell was getting hit by three guys when the 49ers were only sending a three-man pass rush.
If Cutler is healthy, the Bears should be able to at least clinch a wild-card spot. If not, the defense could win a couple of games, but the path to the playoffs becomes much more difficult—especially with five division games still remaining.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
F.O. Playoff Odds: 9.9 percent
Minnesota started off as one of the surprise teams in the NFL at 5-2.
The remaining schedule alone is the reason the Vikings will probably miss the playoffs. Minnesota still has to play Chicago twice, Green Bay twice, St. Louis and Houston.
At 6-4, it seems unlikely the Vikings could go 4-2 during that stretch to get a wild-card spot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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F.O. Playoff Odds: 31.8 percent
Tampa Bay has come on strong after a 2-4 start to the season. The offense is one of the best in the league with Josh Freeman having the breakout season many were expecting last year.
Doug Martin has been almost unstoppable running the football.
Tampa does not have an easy schedule left—Atlanta twice, Denver, Philadelphia, New Orleans and St. Louis—but they could surprise some teams in that stretch.
If the Bucs can upset Atlanta in Week 12, they have a great chance to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card.
New Orleans Saints
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F.O. Playoff Odds: 8.6 percent
As well as the Saints have played recently—at least offensively—the 0-4 start to the season could be too much to overcome.
A New Orleans playoff run would be a nice story after the offseason they had, but that slow start, which included losses to Carolina and Kansas City, is probably a hole too big to climb out of.
Kevin Casey/Getty Images
F.O. Playoff Odds: 75.0 percent
The Seahawks have played very well behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and a dominant defense.
With a favorable remaining schedule and their college-like home-field advantage, the Seahawks have put themselves in great position for a wild-card berth.
With the way it has played so far the season, Seattle could easily go 4-2 against Miami, Chicago, Arizona, Buffalo, San Francisco and St. Louis.
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
F.O. Playoff Odds: 79.5 percent
Like the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh's playoff hopes are on the shoulders—or ribs—of a healthy starting quarterback. If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, the Steelers should not have a problem making the playoffs considering the remaining schedule.
However, even with a fairly easy schedule, if Roethlisberger cannot get back on the field, it will be hard to imagine any combination of Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich and Brian Hoyer taking the Steelers to the playoffs. (Hoyer is probably the best chance, but he was only signed this week.)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
F.O. Playoff Odds: 38.3 percent
If the Steelers can't stay healthy, look for the Bengals to be the team to capitalize. Cincinnati has played great the past two weeks, blowing out the Giants and Chiefs.
The Bengals have an unstoppable weapon on offense in receiver A.J. Green, and the defense is starting to shape up.
If the past couple years have taught us anything about the playoffs, it's beware of the hot team at the end of the season, and Cincinnati could become that team—especially if it can pull out good games against the Steelers and Ravens in the last two weeks of the season.
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F.O. Playoff Odds: 34.5 percent
Don't be discouraged by the game against the Patriots. The Colts are still a decent team. Don't expect Andrew Luck to throw two pick-sixes in another game this year.
The one hitch in Indianapolis' road to the playoffs is still having to face Houston twice. The rest of the games aren't difficult on paper, but the Colts probably need to go 4-2 against Buffalo, Tennessee, Detroit and Kansas City—especially if they end up going 0-2 against the Texans.
Is it really too much to ask to get a No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed Denver-Indianapolis Wild Card Game? I can't be the only one hoping for it.