Predicting the NFL playoff photo - ESPN's soccer vigor Index initiatives Weeks 17-18, division races, wild-card hunts, greater - ESPN

There are just 32 closing video games in the 2021 NFL season, and handiest six playoff spots are clinched. Amazingly, 24 groups' postseason hopes are still mathematically alive. And even with all of two weeks left, there are endless variations of how the rest of the general season may play out and how the playoff container may form up. but nowadays, we're predicting what's going to ensue with only 1 situation: chalk.

We used simulations from ESPN's football power Index (FPI) to examine the without doubt playoff container and seedings. through our numbers, there's a 7% chance here prediction nails each group and each seed within the NFC, and a 5% chance of doing the same in the AFC. The likelihood of both conferences aligning exactly as follows is just 0.5%. That could seem low for a most reliable-wager prediction, however it's how a whole lot uncertainty is still. These have been the closing standings that our FPI simulations produced essentially the most. And we'll explain how we obtained there, comprehensive with projected online game ratings for Weeks 17 and 18.

So let's wreck down the ultimate two weeks of the 2021 season and the ensuing playoff container if the surely scenario via ESPN's FPI performs out. Who clinched a spot within the 14-team box, who locked up a division title or No. 1 seed, and who changed into overlooked of the postseason altogether? Plus, we take a quick appear forward to the playoffs and what we might are expecting there. Let's dig in.

leap to:scores: Week 17 | Week 18Final standings: AFC | NFC

Projected Week 17 ratings

LAR-BAL: Rams 27, Ravens 7ATL-BUF: bills 38, Falcons 14NYG-CHI: Bears 34, Giants 27KC-CIN: Chiefs 10, Bengals 6LV-IND: Colts 26, Raiders 10JAX-NE: Patriots 31, Jaguars 13TB-NYJ: Buccaneers 34, Jets 14MIA-TEN: Titans 27, Dolphins 10PHI-WSH: Eagles forty one, Washington 21DEN-LAC: Chargers sixteen, Broncos 8HOU-SF: 49ers 34, Texans 7ARI-DAL: Cardinals 17, Cowboys 16CAR-NO: Saints 23, Panthers 17DET-SEA: Lions 18, Seahawks 17MIN-GB: Packers 27, Vikings 26CLE-PIT: Steelers 30, Browns 27

The story of Week 17: Most contenders combating for playoff spots took care of business. The Chargers earned a vital sixteen-8 victory over division foe Denver. Jonathan Taylor led a Carson Wentz-much less Colts squad to 26-10 win over the Raiders. Trey Lance and the 49ers obliterated the Texans. And the Saints -- now with quarterback Taysom Hill back -- managed to scratch out a 23-17 win over the Panthers. The Packers held serve for the No. 1 seed with a one-aspect victory over the Vikings, while one in all their chief challengers, Dallas, lost by the same margin to Arizona.

now not each playoff hopeful won, however. Cleveland's season, which begun with such high hopes, formally ended with a 30-27 loss to the Steelers. As did Washington's campaign, in a blowout loss to the Eagles.

Illustration by ESPN Projected Week 18 ratings

NO-ATL: Saints 30, Falcons 22PIT-BAL: Ravens 33, Steelers 20NYJ-BUF: bills 37, Jets 21CIN-CLE: Bengals 27, Browns 21GB-DET: Lions 24, Packers 21TEN-HOU: Titans 31, Texans 28IND-JAX: Colts 33, Jaguars 13CAR-TB: Buccaneers 36, Panthers 26NE-MIA: Dolphins 10, Patriots 3CHI-MIN: Bears 17, Vikings 14WSH-NYG: Washington 54, Giants 31DAL-PHI: Eagles 28, Cowboys 30KC-DEN: Chiefs 34, Broncos 7LAC-LV: Raiders 20, Chargers 19SF-LAR: 49ers forty two, Rams 7SEA-ARI: Seahawks 34, Cardinals 27

In Week 18, some underdogs spoiled a party for their division opponents. Most chiefly, the Seahawks -- on the end of a lost season and a week after losing to the Lions -- toppled the Cardinals to smash Arizona's shot at a latest-week comeback for the NFC West title. The Patriots struggled in Miami, as they fell in a sleepy 10-three video game to the Dolphins -- although their wild-card bid had already been locked up the prior week. And the Packers played Jordan Love at QB with the No. 1 seed secured and misplaced to the Lions.

Projecting how the AFC performs out

1. Kansas city Chiefs (13-4)2. Tennessee Titans (12-5)three. Buffalo bills (11-6)four. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)5. Indianapolis Colts (eleven-6)6. New England Patriots (10-7)7. los angeles Chargers (9-8)---eight. Las Vegas Raiders (9-8)9. Miami Dolphins (9-eight)10. Baltimore Ravens (9-eight)11. Pittsburgh Steelers (eight-eight-1)12. Cleveland Browns (7-10)13. Denver Broncos (7-10)14. long island Jets (four-13)15. Houston Texans (4-13)sixteen. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-15)



Marcus Spears says Mac Jones and the Patriots won't get out of the first round of the playoffs.

Kansas metropolis clinches the correct seed: The Chiefs managed their fate to the No. 1 seed, and that they took care of business. k.C. first pulled out a bizarrely protective 10-6 win over the Bengals earlier than blowing out the Broncos in Week 18. The Titans held the tiebreaker over the Chiefs, and that they did their part to preserve the pressure on, beating the Dolphins and Texans. but because the Chiefs received twice and entire 13-four, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid earned the accurate seed, giving them the coveted wild-card circular bye. The Chiefs have not needed to play a wild-card game on the grounds that 2017 regardless of final missing the playoffs in 2014.

The expenses aspect out the Pats for the AFC East: Buffalo changed into already a heavy favourite after beating the Patriots in Week 16, nevertheless it sewed the deal up anyway with the aid of closing out the season with two wins whereas the Patriots stumbled in Week 18 against the Dolphins. Our projection offers the bills seventy five combined aspects over the final two weeks, that means the offense may enter the playoffs humming. And as luck would have it, this situation offers us a third assembly between the expenses and Patriots in the wild-card round.

The Bengals win a tight AFC North race: The Bengals rolled off a massive Week sixteen win -- Joe Burrow hung 525 yards and 4 touchdowns on the Ravens -- into a offensive letdown in Week 17. Cincinnati managed simply six features in a loss to the Chiefs. however Baltimore additionally losing helped mitigate the sting. The division title changed into still up for grabs in Week 18, however the Bengals have been capable of defeat the Browns 27-21 to snag it. Cincinnati ultimate received the AFC North in 2015 -- and it hasn't won a playoff video game considering the fact that 1990.

The Titans hold off the Colts in the AFC South: The Colts gained their remaining two games right here, nonetheless it did not come to be mattering in this case. The Titans -- currently a online game up within the standings -- went on to also win out in opposition t their effortless last schedule.

  • 22hJeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano

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    Tiebreakers provide the No. 7 seed to the Chargers: The Colts and Patriots are digital locks to reach the postseason, and that they each do in this prediction. however that seventh seed? it truly is where issues get wonderful. And in this case, it be the Chargers that seize it, winning a four-manner tie at 9-eight with the Raiders, Dolphins and Ravens. finally, the strength-of-victory tiebreaker seals the berth for los angeles. The painful half for the Raiders, Dolphins and Ravens is that all of them overlooked the playoffs at 9-8 after going 1-1 in their remaining two games. Had any of them gained both of their ultimate two video games, they might have earned a berth.

    The Jaguars grab the good draft prefer: that you would be able to say this about Jacksonville: This crew loses appropriate. For the 2d straight yr, the Jaguars earned the No. 1 choose in the draft. or not it's an inauspicious honor, although one that may yet land Jacksonville a celebrity pass-rusher or a bevy of picks in a alternate down. The Jaguars' 31-13 and 33-13 losses to the Patriots and Colts, respectively, wrapped up a miserable 12 months that landed them the top preference.

    Projecting how the NFC performs out

    1. green Bay Packers (13-4)2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-four)three. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)4. los angeles Rams (12-5)5. Arizona Cardinals (11-6)6. San Francisco 49ers (10-7)7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)---eight. New Orleans Saints (9-eight)9. Washington soccer team (7-10)10. Minnesota Vikings (7-10)eleven. Chicago Bears (7-10)12. Atlanta Falcons (7-10)13. Seattle Seahawks (6-10)14. Carolina Panthers (5-12)15. Detroit Lions (four-12-1)16. manhattan Giants (four-13)

    eco-friendly Bay secures the No. 1 seed early: The Packers actually wrapped this up in Week 17 right here, defeating the Vikings by using a single factor while the Cowboys misplaced to the Cardinals by means of the same margin. even if the Packers went on to lose to the Lions in Week 18 -- let's work beneath the assumption they rested starters -- and finished with the identical record as the Buccaneers, eco-friendly Bay had the improved conference listing and accordingly earned the bye. The NFC playoffs roll via Lambeau container for a 2d straight 12 months.

    here's how the postseason bracket looks in the intervening time and what situations lie ahead.&#8226 Playoff image and clinching eventualities »&#8226 ESPN's interactive NFL Playoff laptop »&#8226 Standings » | football vigor Index »

    The Rams take the NFC West: This one stayed exciting except the very conclusion, as a result of each the Rams and Cardinals gained in Week 17. The Rams have been then blown out via the 49ers in Week 18, which opened the door for Arizona if it might just beat Seattle -- but it surely couldn't. The Cardinals misplaced, too, handing the division to la. The outcomes installation an NFC West rematch between the Rams and 49ers in the wild-card circular, too.

    The Eagles beat out the Saints for the final spot: The Cardinals are in, so it's simply a question of the ultimate two spots. And in this case, ESPN's FPI predicts the 49ers and Eagles will earn them. San Francisco did so convincingly, blowing out the Texans and Rams. The Eagles in reality dropped their Week 18 contest in opposition t the Cowboys however held on over the Saints -- who won twice -- due to a head-to-head tiebreaker with New Orleans after beating the Saints forty-29 prior this yr. The Saints fell brief despite doing all they may over the ultimate two weeks, and Vikings fumbled their slim possibility by means of losing twice.

    What to are expecting in the playoffs?

    Projected wild-card round matchups(7) Chargers at (2) Titans(6) Patriots at (3) expenses(5) Colts at (4) Bengals(7) Eagles at (2) Buccaneers(6) 49ers at (3) Cowboys(5) Cardinals at (four) Rams

    super Bowl aspirations: Chiefs-Packers would definitely be the surely super Bowl matchup, with these two teams incomes the byes. however who might ruin the birthday party? ESPN's FPI really believes the bills and Buccaneers are the optimal teams of their respective conferences.

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