Week 12 Strength of Schedule Power Rankings and Playoff Predictions
Doing something a little different this week. Instead of a full paragraph about each team, I’ll be presenting the power rankings without comment. I’ll then be giving the power rankings’ prediction of the final records for each team, division by division, as well as playoff predictions. New this week, I’ve added the remaining strength of schedule for each team, represented as the point total of the five teams they have yet to play.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (10–1): 46 points. Last week: 2nd, 38 pts. Remaining schedule: -30 pts (22nd).
2. Minnesota Vikings (9–2): 45 points. Last week: t3rd, 36 pts. Remaining schedule: 22 pts (t11th).
3. New England Patriots (9–2): 43 points. Last week: t3rd, 36 pts. Remaining schedule: 19 pts (14th).
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (9–2): 42 points. Last week: 5th, 34 pts. Remaining schedule: -54 pts (26th).
5. New Orleans Saints (8–3): 39 points. Last week: 1st, 40 pts. Remaining schedule: 39 pts (7th).
6. Carolina Panthers (8–3): 34 points. Last week: 6th, 28 pts. Remaining schedule: 90 pts (3rd).
7. Los Angeles Rams (8–3): 28 points. Last week: 8th, 18 pts. Remaining schedule: 0 pts (18th).
8. Atlanta Falcons (7–4): 20 points. Last week: 9th, 15 pts. Remaining schedule: 142 pts (1st).
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (7–4): 15 points. Last week: 7th, 19 pts. Remaining schedule: -85 pts (31st).
10. Tennessee Titans (7–4): 12 points. Last week: 12th, 7 pts. Remaining schedule: -39 pts (23rd).
11. Detroit Lions (6–5): 11 points. Last week: t10th, 13 pts. Remaining schedule: -43 pts (24th).
12. Kansas City Chiefs (6–5): 9 points. Last week: t10th, 13 pts. Remaining schedule: -79 pts (28th).
13. Seattle Seahawks (7–4): 7 points. Last week: t13th, 4 pts. Remaining schedule: 68 pts (5th).
14. Buffalo Bills (6–5): 5 points. Last week: 17th, -2 pts. Remaining schedule: 27 pts (9th).
t15. Baltimore Ravens (6–5): 4 points. Last week: 16th, -1 pt. Remaining schedule: -64 pts (27th).
t15. Washington Redskins (5–6): 4 points. Last week: 15th, 1 pt. Remaining schedule: -104 pts (32nd).
17. Green Bay Packers (5–6): 1 point. Last week: t13th, 4 pts. Remaining schedule: 8 pts (15th)
18. Los Angeles Chargers (5–6): -7 points. Last week: t21st, -11 pts. Remaining schedule: -83 pts (30th).
19. Oakland Raiders (5–6): -9 points. Last week: 24th, -13 pts. Remaining schedule: -8 pts (19th).
20. Dallas Cowboys (5–6): -10 points. Last week: 18th, -3 pts. Remaining schedule: 2 pts (17th).
21. Arizona Cardinals (5–6): -11 points. Last week: t26th, -16 pts. Remaining schedule: 5 pts (16th).
22. Miami Dolphins (4–7): -13 points. Last week: 20th, -10 pts. Remaining schedule: 32 pts (8th).
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4–7): -15 points. Last week: 19th, -9 pts. Remaining schedule: 105 pts (2nd).
24. Chicago Bears (3–8): -16 points. Last week: 23rd, -12 pts. Remaining schedule: -82 pts (29th).
t25. Cincinnati Bengals (5–6): -17 points. Last week: t26th, -16 pts. Remaining schedule: 86 pts (4th).
t25. Houston Texans (4–7): -17 points. Last week: t21st, -11 pts. Remaining schedule: -18 pts (20th).
27. New York Jets (4–7): -20 points. Last week: 25th, -15 pts. Remaining schedule: -20 pts (28th).
28. Denver Broncos (3–8): -30 points. Last week: 28th, -23 pts. Remaining schedule: -53 pts (25th).
29. Indianapolis Colts (3–8): -33 points. Last week: 29th, -27 pts. Remaining schedule: -23 pts (21st).
30. New York Giants (2–9): -46 points. Last week: 30th, -35 pts. Remaining schedule: 20 pts (13th)
31. San Francisco 49ers (1–10): -54 points. Last week: 31st, -47 pts. Remaining schedule: 22 pts (t11th).
32. Cleveland Browns (0–11): -67 points. Last week: 32nd, -55 pts. Remaining schedule: 24 pts (10th).
Here are the power rankings’ prediction of each team’s final record, given division by division with comments about each team. The final record was calculated simply by assuming that the higher-ranked team will win each game, which is of course unlikely, but gives a good approximation of where each team should be expected to finish.
New York: 2–14
The Eagles, as the top-ranked team this week, are naturally favored in all of their remaining games, though it won’t be a cakewalk to the best record in the league, as they still have games against the Rams and Seahawks remaining. The Redskins face the easiest remaining schedule in the league, with no remaining teams ranked higher than 18th. These rankings project them to storm to a 10–6 finish, but even that won’t be enough for a wild card spot in a very strong season for the NFC, as the Lions and Panthers both project to make it to 11–5. The Cowboys, despite being currently tied with the Redskins, are predicted to finish just 6–10, as they have a much harder remaining schedule. Bringing up the rear, the 30th-ranked Giants don’t project to win any of their remaining games, and are predicted to finish with the third pick in next year’s draft. Benching Eli Manning for Geno Smith will surely help to ensure that result.
Note: This article was written before the Redskins were crushed by the Cowboys on Thursday night. It is now nearly impossible for Washington to reach the playoffs, and the Cowboys still aren’t likely to have much of a chance.
Green Bay: 7–9
The Vikings are favored to win all their remaining games, and project to finish 14–2, locking up the second seed. Tough games against the Panthers and Falcons could cause them to finish without a bye, however. The Lions are at least slight favorites in all of their remaining games, and therefore are projected to win out and grab the sixth seed, though even one loss will probably be enough to knock them out of the playoffs. The Packers can’t be totally counted out, as they have a pair of easy games before a possible Aaron Rodgers return, but they will have to win out to have any chance of making the playoffs, and have tough games against Minnesota and Carolina remaining. The Bears have the fourth-easiest remaining schedule, and are actually favored to win three of their remaining games, though all that would do would be to hurt Chicago’s draft pick.
New Orleans: 13–3
Tampa Bay: 4–12
The Saints will be favored in all of their remaining games, according to these power rankings, so are projected here for a 13–3 record. But with two remaining games against the Falcons and one against the Panthers, that seems unlikely. It’s not even that hard to picture them missing the playoffs entirely, though that would take something of a collapse. The Panthers have the third-hardest remaining schedule, but are still projected to win three more games and secure the fifth seed. The Falcons, despite their recent winning run, have easily the toughest remaining schedule in the league, and are projected to stumble across the finish line to an 8–8 record. With four of their five remaining games against top six teams, it certainly will be a difficult stretch. The Buccaneers have the second-toughest remaining schedule, and are projected to lose the rest of their games. At least that would get them a higher draft pick.
Los Angeles: 12–4
San Francisco: 1–15
The Rams significantly improved their resume with a victory over the Saints last week, and now look like a certain playoff team. They project to win four of their remaining five games and finish 12–4, though even that may only be good enough for a fourth seed in a very strong NFC. The Seahawks have the fifth-hardest remaining schedule, with games against the Eagles, Rams, and Jaguars remaining, and are projected to fall to 9–7 and miss the playoffs. The Cardinals have a moderately difficult schedule, outside of a game against the tanking Giants, and are unlikely to win many more games. The 49ers, as the second-worst team in the league, are naturally not favored to win any of their final five games, and are projected to finish with just one win, and the second pick in the 2018 draft.
New England: 14–2
New York: 5–11
The Patriots project to win all their their remaining games and capture home field advantage in the AFC, though they will almost certainly have to win their Week 15 game against the Steelers if they want the number one seed. The Bills play New England twice, though their other three games are relatively easy, so they project to finish 9–7. That would be good for a tie for the sixth seed with the Ravens, who would hold the tiebreaker based on having a better conference record. The Dolphins and Jets both have fairly difficult schedules, and project to win only one more game each, finishing with 5–11 records. That would be a respectable season for New York, based on what they were expected to do before the season, though it would represent a big disappointment for Miami, who made the playoffs last year.
The Steelers have an easy schedule, outside of a Week 15 matchup against the Patriots. Winning the rest of their games, as they’re projected to do here, should be enough for a first-round bye, though their hopes of home field advantage will rest almost entirely on that Week 15 game. The Ravens are favored in three of their remaining games. Winning those would make them 9–7 and earn them the sixth seed, if everything goes according to these projections. The Bengals are currently just one game out of the playoffs, though that probably overstates their chances at a wild card berth. Cincinnati has a very weak resume so far and faces the fourth-hardest remaining schedule. They are predicted to lose all their remaining games and finish 5–11. The Browns, as the worst team in the league, are naturally the underdog in all of their remaining games, and project here to be just the second team in NFL history to finish 0–16.
The Jaguars have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the league, and project here to win out, securing the third seed. The Titans have a slightly harder schedule, including a big game against the Rams. They project here to finish two games behind the Jaguars, ending up with the fifth seed, though if they win the Week 17 matchup between the two teams, they would win the division by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Texans are projected to win a pair of games and finish 6–10, though they are probably worse than these rankings indicated due to the loss of QB Deshaun Watson. The Colts are the underdogs in all of their remaining games, and would get the fourth overall pick in next year’s draft if results go as predicted.
Kansas City: 11–5
Los Angeles: 8–8
The Chiefs have been on a three-game slide, but face no teams ranked in the top half for the rest of the season. They have an easy path to the division title if they can get back to their winning ways. The Chargers are the team most likely to take advantage if the Chiefs keep losing, as they have the third-easiest remaining schedule. If everything goes according to the projections, however, the losses they already have in the bank will be enough to cause them to miss the playoffs. The Raiders also have a decent chance at winning the division if Kansas City slips, though they have a tougher remaining schedule than the Chargers. Meanwhile, the Broncos are projected to continue losing despite a fairly easy schedule.
Wild Card Round:
(3) Saints over (6) Lions
(5) Panthers over (4) Rams
(3) Jaguars over (6) Ravens
(5) Titans over (4) Chiefs
(1) Eagles over (5) Panthers
(2) Vikings over (3) Saints
(1) Patriots over (5) Titans
(2) Steelers over (3) Jaguars
(1) Eagles over (2) Vikings
(1) Patriots over (2) Steelers
Eagles over Patriots