Introducing Upshot’s N.F.L. Playoff Simulator (4th Edition)

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We estimate that the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs have the best chances at a playoff berth, at 93 percent, while the 0-5 Giants and Cleveland Browns are already as low as 1 percent. Here are every team’s chances by division:

N.F.L. Playoff Chances, Week 6


The simulator is most useful right now for thinking about the big picture: What games are most important for your team’s playoff chances? For example, the most important game this week, as far as the playoffs are concerned, is the one on Sunday between the 3-2 Detroit Lions and the 2-2 New Orleans Saints. Neither team is a favorite to win its division, so their position in the wild-card race figures to be a key in earning a playoff berth. If the Lions win, their chances move to 56 percent, but if they lose, they drop to 31 percent.

But the simulator is also useful later in the season, for fans of teams that have already clinched a playoff berth. Which outcomes are best for your team to win the division, earn a first-round bye or home-field advantage throughout the playoffs? The simulator allows you to watch those games like an expert without having to actually be one.

A final benefit of publishing our simulator in Week 6 is that it lets fans of every team participate before those teams are mathematically eliminated. There’s no need to name names; you know who you are. Use this tool while you can!

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