2023 NFL Playoff Picture: Things are heating up in the crowded AFC North

2T0R8AM Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. 8th Oct, 2023. October 8th, 2023 Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) on the line of scrimmage during Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, PA. Jake Mysliwczyk/AMG Media (Credit Image: © Jake Mysliwczyk/BMR via ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE! Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Live News

• Chiefs out in front in the AFC: The Kansas City Chiefs have a 57% chance of securing the top seed in the AFC, according to PFF's model.

• A massive week for the Vikings: The Minnesota Vikings have a 64% chance of making the playoffs with a Week 8 win against the Green Bay Packers, but their chances will fall to just 32% with a loss.

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

By the end of Week 8, almost 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 8

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

If these standings held up, we would welcome two new AFC teams (Steelers and Browns) and 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 8

Team Chances with win Chances with loss Leverage
Minnesota Vikings 64% 32% 32%
Pittsburgh Steelers 71% 42% 29%
Los Angeles Rams 49% 20% 29%
Miami Dolphins 78% 50% 28%
Green Bay Packers 38% 12% 26%
Dallas Cowboys 86% 60% 26%

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 57% Philadelphia Eagles 47%
Baltimore Ravens 14% San Francisco 49ers 22%
Miami Dolphins 7% Detroit Lions 11%
Jacksonville Jaguars 6% Dallas Cowboys 11%

 

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 43% 7%
East 16% 13%
South 4% 3%
West 1% 11%

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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