2023 NFL Playoff Picture: Bengals' playoff hopes would get a massive boost with a Week 9 win over the Bills

2T49KJJ Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

Chiefs, Eagles out in front in the AFC: According to PFF's model, the Kansas City Chiefs have a 31% chance of securing the top seed in the AFC, while the Philadelphia Eagles have a 55% chance of securing the top seed in the NFC.

A huge week for the Bengals: The Cincinnati Bengals have a 70% chance of making the playoffs with a Week 9 win against the Buffalo Bills, but their chances will fall to just 38% with a loss.

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

By the end of Week 9, half of the regular season will have been played, and franchises will start to cast their eyes on the playoffs. So, from now until the end of the regular season, we will look at the current and projected playoff picture.

The current situation ahead of Week 9

Current AFC playoff standings
  1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)
  2. Miami Dolphins (6-2)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2)
  5. Buffalo Bills (5-3)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
  7. Cleveland Browns (4-3)
Current NFC playoff standings
  1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)
  2. Detroit Lions (6-2)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (5-2)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (5-2)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (5-3)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (4-4)

If these standings held up, we would welcome two new AFC teams (Steelers and Browns) as well as two new NFC teams (Lions and Falcons) to the playoffs.

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The projections

Naturally, it’s unlikely the playoff picture will remain constant over the remainder of the season. And that’s why it makes sense to look at the projected playoff picture — the estimated chances PFF gives each team to make the playoffs.

The following charts show the projected playoff chances for each team alongside the playoff leverage, i.e., how the playoff chances would change with a win or loss.

The logos show the current playoff chances. The points to the right of the logos indicate the chances after a win, and the points to the left indicate the chances after a loss.

AFC PLAYOFF CHANCES

NFC PLAYOFF CHANCES

TEAMS WITH THE MOST AT STAKE IN WEEK 9

Team Chances with win Chances with loss Leverage
Cincinnati Bengals 70% 38% 32%
Minnesota Vikings 56% 24% 32%
Buffalo Bills 81% 50% 31%
Atlanta Falcons 60% 30% 30%
New York Jets 65% 35% 30%
Pittsburgh Steelers 51% 23% 28%

Playoff scenarios

Home-field advantage

Teams that hold the No. 1 seed in the conference have a huge advantage going into the playoffs. Here are the most likely teams to do that.

AFC % NFC %
Kansas City Chiefs 31% Philadelphia Eagles 55%
Baltimore Ravens 22% Detroit Lions 15%
Jacksonville Jaguars 15% Dallas Cowboys 13%
Miami Dolphins 13% San Francisco 49ers 8%
Two wild cards for the same division

With the introduction of the seventh playoff seed, we've become accustomed to seeing three playoff teams from the same division. This has happened every year since 2020, when the playoffs were extended.

As of now, the AFC North has the best chance to pull it off, as all four teams of that division are positioned to make a playoff push come December. Here are the chances for each division to send three teams to the playoffs:

AFC NFC
North 37% 4%
East 21% 12%
South 2% 4%
West 1% 9%

Looking ahead to draft season

There are a few teams whose playoff chances are already bleak. But don’t fret — there is always the offseason and, most importantly, the draft.

PFF's customizable mock draft simulator gives you the opportunity to be the GM for any team in the 2024 NFL Draft — click here to start drafting!
The following teams have the biggest chance of picking first overall:
Here are the chances of selecting inside the top five:
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