NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 15 Playoff Picture: Hopes hang in the balance for Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers

2T5JNWG Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew passes against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

The Colts need a Week 15 win: The Indianapolis Colts have a 66% chance of making the playoffs with a Week 15 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but their chances will fall to just 20% with a loss.

• The Ravens are out in front in a loaded AFC: The Baltimore Ravens have a 61% chance of locking up the No. 1 seed in the AFC, according to PFF's model.

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The current situation ahead of Week 15

Current AFC playoff standings
  1. Baltimore Ravens (10-3)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5)
  4. Miami Dolphins (9-4)
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
  6. Cleveland Browns (7-6)
  7. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
Current NFC playoff standings
  1. San Francisco 49ers (10-3)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (10-3)
  3. Detroit Lions (9-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)
  5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-3)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
  7. Green Bay Packers (6-7)

If these standings held up, we would welcome three new AFC teams (Steelers, Browns and Colts) as well as two new NFC teams (Lions and Packers) 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.




Team Chances with win Chances with loss Leverage
Indianapolis Colts 66% 20% 46%
Pittsburgh Steelers 56% 12% 44%
Green Bay Packers 71% 29% 42%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 73% 34% 39%
Seattle Seahawks 48% 10% 38%
Houston Texans 62% 24% 38%

Playoff scenarios

Playoff matchups

As of now, the following wild-card matchups are most likely to happen:

Vikings or Packers at Lions (36% and 29%, respectively)

Cowboys at Buccaneers, Saints or Falcons (25%, 20% and 20%, respectively)

Browns at Jaguars (20%)

Looking further ahead, these are the most likely matchups to happen at any point in the playoffs:

  • Cowboys-49ers (39%)
  • Eagles-49ers (38%)
  • Chiefs-Ravens (38%)
  • Vikings-Lions  (37%)
  • Cowboys-Eagles (35%)
  • Dolphins-Chiefs (35%)
  • Dolphins-Ravens (33%)
  • Packers-Lions (30%
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.

Baltimore Ravens 61% San Francisco 49ers 56%
Kansas City Chiefs 17% Philadelphia Eagles 30%
Miami Dolphins 16% Dallas Cowboys 12%
Jacksonville Jaguars 4% Detroit Lions 2%
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 chances to pull it off, even though the Cincinnati Bengals’ chances took a major hit with Joe Burrow’s season-ending injury:

North 39% 32%
East 0% 4%
South 10% 0%
West 0% 2%

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.

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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