The 2015 NFL season has been remarkably top-heavy, highlighted by a record three teams that have made it to 8-0. Even just halfway through the year, a few teams have virtually guaranteed themselves spots in the postseason. Nonetheless, there's still a lot to be decided.
Each week from now until the end of the regular season, we'll be taking a look at the projected playoff field based on the Football Outsiders' playoff odds simulation that plays out the rest of the season 25,000 times. A random draw assigns each team a win or loss for each game. (Like Donovan McNabb, the playoff odds simulation does not believe in ties.) The probabilities are based on each team's current Weighted DVOA rating as well as home-field advantage. (DVOA is Football Outsiders' proprietary metric, which is explained further here. Weighted DVOA then takes that rating and adjusts it to lower the strength of games that took place more than a month ago.) Note that our odds will be different than playoff odds you might find elsewhere on ESPN.com (or at FiveThirtyEight.com) because each set of team ratings is computed differently.
Right now, we give five teams at least a 95 percent chance of making the playoffs: the three undefeated teams plus Denver and Green Bay. While that's a departure from last year, when we had just one team with such odds in Week 9 (Indianapolis), it's true to form with what we saw in 2012 and 2013 (four teams with odds of more than 95 percent). So the real difference between this year and other years is really the lack of division races.
You can find the full playoff odds report, including the chance of each team winning each of the six seeds, on FootballOutsiders.com.
AFC playoff projections
Current Record: 8-0 | Weighted DVOA: 39.7%
Mean Projected Wins: 13.7
Total Playoff Odds: 99.9% | Weekly Change: 0.0%
The Patriots are the No. 1 team in our ratings, which gives them the edge over Cincinnati as the most likely No. 1 seed, even though five of New England's last eight games are on the road. The Patriots get the top seed in exactly 50 percent of simulations and one of the top two seeds in 83.5 percent of simulations. And when the top team has such strong odds of home-field advantage, it makes that team the Super Bowl favorite. The Patriots make the Super Bowl in 46.2 percent of our simulations and win it in 27.1 percent.