Updated Playoff Seed Odds for Every Team in Postseason Hunt

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 16, 2012

Updated Playoff Seed Odds for Every Team in Postseason Hunt

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    It's Week 15 of the NFL season, and that means that the playoff hunt has kicked into high gear, with some teams already having punched their postseason ticket while others are on the outside looking in and need to catch a break in order to do so.

    So from an Atlanta Falcons team that has a stranglehold on the No. 1 seed in the NFC to a New York Jets team that has about much chance of making the playoffs as I do, here's an updated look at the playoff odds for each team, from their chances of making it to where we project they're going to slot into the tournament.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)

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    It's been an up-and-down season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but many pundits expect that their experience at this time of year will pay off with the sixth seed in the AFC.

    However, after the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night and the Steelers lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Pittsburgh now sits a game off the pace with two to go.

    The Steelers now are in desperation mode as they prepare to host the Bengals, and even if they can pull that one out at this point they still would need help.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 20%

    Projected seed: Eliminated from playoff contention

Chicago Bears (8-6)

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    The second half of this season must be looking disturbingly like the second half of last season to fans of the Chicago Bears.

    Once again a promising start to the year has stalled midseason, and a banged-up Bears team that once looked like a lock for the postseason is now fighting for their playoff lives after dropping their NFC North showdown with the Green Bay Packers.

    After that, the Bears close with games at Arizona and at Detroit, and all it takes now is one road stumble or for Jay Cutler to aggravate his neck injury for the Bears' season to go up in smoke.

    One of those things is going to happen.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 30%

    Projected seed: Eliminated from playoff contention

Minnesota Vikings (8-6)

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    Just the fact that the Minnesota Vikings are even in playoff contention is a testimonial to the incredible season being turned in by running back Adrian Peterson.

    Despite ranking dead last in the NFL in passing offense, the Vikings have ridden Peterson to a 8-6 record this year.

    With that said, though, although the Vikings are tied for the final playoff spot they still have games with the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers left on the slate. Unless the Packers have nothing to play for in that final game of the season, then it's hard to envision the Vikings staying in the hunt.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 40%

    Projected seed: Eliminated from playoff contention

Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

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    It's been another one of those years for the Dallas Cowboys

    Mix in the usually lofty preseason expectations, a few strong performances and just as many stinkers, and you have the 2012 Dallas Cowboys, although the team got a desperately needed win over the Cincinnati Bengals a week ago and followed that up with an overtime thriller against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15.

    The Cowboys are now looking at a Week 17 tilt with the Redskins in Washington that could decide the NFC East, but the last time we went through that scenario things didn't work out so well for Dallas.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 25%

    Projected seed: Eliminated from playoff contention

New York Giants (8-6)

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    You would think that the defending Super Bowl champions would prefer to do things the easy way, but that's just not how Big Blue works, and that became readily evident with Sunday's pasting at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons.

    That 34-0 shelling wasn't exactly a confidence builder, and at 8-6 the New York Giants are now deadlocked with the surging Washington Redskins in the NFC East. In fact, it's very possible that the Giants could miss the playoffs altogether.

    However, we're talking about a battle-tested squad that scratched and clawed their way to the Lombardi Trophy last year, and that experience will serve them well in 2012.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 50%

    Projected seed: NFC sixth seed

Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)

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    The Cincinnati Bengals are attempting to advance to the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in 30 years, and the team held up the first end of the bargain by downing the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.

    However, that game was as much about how badly the Eagles wanted to lose as it was how the Bengals played. The team will have to play better than that if they're going to avenge a loss earlier this season and win a pivotal Week 16 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Oh, and then there's a Week 17 game with the Baltimore Ravens in a rematch of a Week 1 matchup in which the Bengals were pounded.

    Hey, no one said it was going to be easy.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 50%

    Projected seed: AFC sixth seed

Seattle Seahawks (9-5)

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    The Seattle Seahawks are on a roll after scoring 50 points in two straight games, but next week the true test will come when the San Francisco 49ers come to town in a huge NFC West showdown.

    That game could have had a lot bigger repercussions had the 49ers lost to New England, but even if their postseason destiny lies as a wildcard San Francisco will prove a good barometer of where the Seahawks really are after pounding a couple of cupcakes.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 70%

    Projected seed: NFC fifth seed

Indianapolis Colts (9-5)

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    There's been no more surprising team in the NFL this season than the Indianapolis Colts, who have rebounded from last year's 2-14 disaster and rallied around head coach Chuck Pagano and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to build a commanding lead in the AFC wildcard race.

    That lead took a hit with Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans, but it's still a good bet that the Colts enter the playoffs as a wild card, which is quite the achievement after 2011's debacle.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 80%

    Projected seed: AFC fifth seed

Washington Redskins (8-6)

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    Robert Griffin or no Robert Griffin, this is looking like a playoff team.

    With their backup quarterback in the game facing a must-win situation Kirk Cousins responded with 329 passing yards, Alfred Morris ran for two scores, and the Redskins downed the Cleveland Browns 38-21 in Week 15.

    If the Redskins can keep rolling and win next week that would set up a Week 17 matchup at home against the rival Cowboys in what could be a battle for the NFC's last playoff berth.

    Or, with a schedule that appears favorable compared to the Giants' it could be that that game will be for what was considered unthinkable at the beginning of the season.

    The NFC East title.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 55%

    Projected seed: NFC East champions, fourth seed

Baltimore Ravens (9-5)

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    A few weeks ago the Baltimore Ravens were in the fight for the top seed in the AFC, but injuries have continued to chip away at the defense, the offense has been inconsistent, and after three straight losses the Ravens are slumping at the worst possible time.

    Luckily for them, losses by other teams backed the Ravens into the playoffs.

    With that said, though, the Ravens still hold a one-game lead in their division with two to play. While they may not make much noise once they get there, two chances to win once all but sews up a second straight AFC North crown.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 100%

    Projected seed: AFC North champions, fourth seed

Green Bay Packers (10-4)

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    You know, earlier this year many folks wondered what was "wrong" with the Green Bay Packers, but after a slow start, the Packers have once again laid claim to the NFC North title.

    Sunday's win over the reeling Chicago Bears locked up the division for the Packers, and if the NFC West race tightens up then that could open the door for Green Bay to not only advance but also potentially sneak into the No. 2 seed and lock up a first-round bye.

    Wrong, indeed.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 100%

    Projected seed: NFC North champions, third seed

New England Patriots (10-4)

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    With their 42-14 dismantling of the Houston Texans in Week 14, the New England Patriots sent a message to the rest of the AFC.

    Hey, remember us? The defending conference champions?

    Then the San Francisco 49ers sent one right back by downing the Patriots in Foxboro, dropping the Patriots behind the Denver Broncos in the race for a first-round bye

    The Patriots are still very much a force to be reckoned with in the AFC, but they won't be taking the first week of the playoffs off.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 100%

    Projected seed: AFC East champions, third seed

San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1)

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    There were many people (myself included) that saw a San Francisco 49ers loss against the New England Patriots setting up a huge Week 16 matchup in Seattle against the Seahawks.

    No one told the 49ers this, and while next week's game is still a big one the 49ers will now roll into Seattle riding a wave of momentum after outlasting the Patriots.

    San Francisco wins that game, and the division.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 95%

    Projected seed: NFC West champions, second seed

Denver Broncos (11-3)

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    It's not hard at all to imagine, but after beating the Baltimore Ravens Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was probably rooting against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

    San Francisco's win over the Pats drops New England behind Denver in the "big picture", and the Broncos now have a simple mission.

    Play two more games like they did in torching the Ravens in Week 15 and they can rest for a bit before the postseason starts.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 100%

    Projected seed: AFC West champions, second seed

Houston Texans (12-2)

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    It seems really strange to be nitpicking a team that's only lost twice all season long, but as last week's blowout loss at the hands of the New England Patriots showed, there is room for some concern in Texas.

    The Houston secondary has been very vulnerable over the past month, but in addition to Week 15's clincher over the Indianapolis Colts the Texans got another boost on Sunday night.

    The Texans are now up two games on New England and hold the tie-breaker over Denver for home-field advantage in the AFC.

    The road to New Orleans travels through Houston this season.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 100%

    Projected seed: AFC South champions, first seed

Atlanta Falcons (12-2)

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    Just a day ago I wrote that the Atlanta Falcons in 2012 may be the poster children for why it's not necessarily a good thing to clinch early in the season.

    Granted, it's nice to have a postseason berth sewn up, but as the team showed in losing to the Carolina Panthers last week, having very little to play for can leave a team flat.

    Or, a team can then respond by tearing the defending Super Bowl champions into tiny little pieces, as the Falcons did in demolishing the New York Giants 34-0.

    Then there's that.

    Odds of making the playoffs: 100%

    Projected seed: NFC South champions, first seed