Seahawks, Niners out of playoffs

Neither Jim Harbaugh nor Pete Carroll is going to be happy about our latest playoff projection. Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

Some fans like to judge teams solely based on head-to-head matchups. The New England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos, so they must be the better team, right?

Of course, it's not hard to quickly show how the complex NFL season makes this kind of judgment seriously flawed. The Patriots got squashed by the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Chiefs lost to Denver. So the Broncos are clearly better than the Chiefs, who are better than the Patriots, who are better than the Broncos. Got that?

This kind of confusing head-to-head algebra is why we at Football Outsiders rate teams with an advanced metric that looks at every single play during the season, rather than simply looking at who specifically beat whom. But this tangled web of head-to-head matchups also leads to a really complicated series of playoff odds because of which AFC teams have beaten other teams. In two different divisions, the team with the highest average projected win total in our simulation is not the team in that division with the highest total playoff odds.

About these numbers: 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 50,000 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, except the one that already happened.) The probabilities are based on each team's current weighted DVOA rating as well as home-field advantage. (DVOA is Football Outsiders' proprietary defense-adjusted value over average metric which looks at a team's performance on every play and adjusts based on situation and opponent, 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.)

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: 8-2 | Weighted DVOA: 20.6%
Mean projected wins: 11.5
Total playoff odds: 90.5% | Weekly change: +11.2%