Week 10 in the NFL was filled with upsets. Home teams somehow went just 3-11 this week, including home losses by six of the top 10 teams in last week's Football Outsiders ratings.
All those upsets really stirred up the lower echelon of the playoff race, where there are tight races in the NFC East, NFC North, and AFC South. But the top teams still have their division titles almost guaranteed. And since the top two teams in each conference are also the top four teams in our ratings, those first-round byes look fairly locked in at this point.
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 from playoff odds you might find elsewhere on ESPN.com (or at FiveThirtyEight.com) because each set of team ratings is computed differently.
You can find the full playoff odds report, including the odds of each team winning each of the six seeds, on FootballOutsiders.com.
AFC playoff projections
1. New England Patriots
Current record: 9-0 | Weighted DVOA: 33.5%
Mean projected wins: 13.8
Total playoff odds: 99.9% | Weekly change: +0.0%
We already had the Patriots as the favorites to win the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but losses from both Cincinnati and Denver improved their chances significantly. Last week, the Patriots took the No. 1 seed in half of all simulations. This week, that's up to 71.2 percent. But the Patriots also took a hit in our ratings from their very close game against the Giants, so our odds of New England winning back to back Super Bowls actually dropped from 27.1 percent to 26.0 percent.
We now list the Patriots with an 8.1 percent chance of a 16-0 regular season, with the Carolina Panthers at 6.9 percent. Both teams finish 16-0 in 0.5 percent of simulations, roughly 200:1 odds.