With the English football season heading into its second half, the relegation battle at the Premier level is taking shape.
Recent articles by Andrew McNair and Felix Tang provided a good look at the teams fighting to stay up.
But which teams from the Championship are likely to replace those relegated from the Premier League?
As you might have guessed, I fired up the ChanceBot.com simulation engine to take a look. (Actually, I'm launching First Division simulations on my site this weekend, and this is an early look at the data.)
As most readers know, there are two paths to promotion from the Championship. The top two spots on the table are promoted directly to the Premier League, while positions three through six qualify for a playoff to determine the third team promoted.
Qualification for the direct route is strongly solidified by West Bromwich, who have an 80.88 percent chance of finishing at the top of the table and a 97.77 percent chance of finishing in either of the top two spots.
Overall, West Bromwich look very good. The simulator shows an average point total of 87.68, which is a full 12 points beyond the third highest projected total for the year. Short of a collapse, West Bromwich will be moving up.
The only other team with a significant chance of catching the Baggies is Bristol City. The Robins have a 14.56 percent chance at taking the top slot and a 75.85 percent chance of finishing first or second.
Bristol City are projected to finish the year with 81 points. So despite their current one-point lead over Watford, they should be well positioned by season's end.
Behind the top two, Charlton and Stoke each maintain an outside chance of making the second spot, and the pair should be considered the most likely to secure positions in the four-team playoff.
The simulations show Charlton winning the playoff 24.05 percent of the time. Coupled with their 16.78 percent chance of making the No. 2 slot, Charlton's overall promotion odds are a fairly healthy 40.83 percent.
Stoke does not look quite so good. Despite qualifying for the playoff over 62 percent of the time (in the simulations), they won barely 10 percent of them—losing out mainly to Charlton.
Other teams looking good to make the playoff are Watford, Ipswich, Cardiff and Plymouth. With six teams fighting for four spots, the chase for the last spot should go very deep into the season.
Overall the promotion odds look like this (as percentages):
* West Bromwich 97.77
* Bristol City 75.85
* Charlton 40.83
* Stoke 21.01
* Crystal Palace 15.87
* Ipswich 15.65
* Watford 11.96
* Cardiff 8.74
* Plymouth 4.72
* Burnley 2.59
* Hull 2.57
The big question over the next few weeks will be whether Bristol City can lock themselves away in the top two and leave the other contenders to fight it out in the playoff.
Mark Myers is the founder and primary developer at ChanceBot.com, a sports simulation and analysis website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org