NFL Playoff Picture: Who’s In if the Postseason Started Today?


Nov 14, 2023

We have to soak in every minute of football action we can. After 18 weeks, the NFL regular season is over, and most teams are left licking their wounds. However, the 14 teams left standing dial things up a notch, competing for glory and the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Here’s what the playoff brackets would look like if the postseason started today.

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Division Leaders (odds to win the division) Wild Card Teams (odds to make the playoffs)
No. 1 – Philadelphia Eagles (-550) First-Round Bye
No. 2 – Detroit Lions (-700) No. 7 – Minnesota Vikings (-230)
No. 3 – San Francisco 49ers (-600) No. 6 – Dallas Cowboys (-1800)
No. 4 – New Orleans Saints (-110) No. 5 – Seattle Seahawks (-340)

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The only thing that’s changed in the NFC playoff picture since the end of last week is the prices. All seven teams remain in the same position, albeit with slightly different pricing. 

The Philadelphia Eagles continue to lead the way, albeit with slightly less favorable odds. The Dallas Cowboys have kept pace with their division rivals, cutting into the -600 price tag the Eagles had at the start of Week 10. After thoroughly demolishing the New York Giants, Dallas has increased its odds of making the postseason, necessitating a decrease in Philadelphia’s division price. The Eagles have to run a gauntlet of challengers over the next month, leaving the door open for a potential Cowboys upset. As it stands, Philly is locked into the first-round bye. 

As good as the Cowboys have looked, they’re currently sandwiched into the second wild-card spot. They sit behind the surprising Seattle Seahawks, who hold the advantage on the strength of a tiebreaker. Whichever team claims the first wild card spot has a substantive advantage heading into the playoffs. That team will inevitably take on the NFC South winner, currently the New Orleans Saints. The other squad is relegated to taking on the third seed, now the San Francisco 49ers. 

Finally, the Minnesota Vikings have resurrected their season on the strength of a trade deadline acquisition. Minnesota appeared destined to miss the playoffs after Kirk Cousins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. In comes Joshua Dobbs, leading the Vikings to two straight wins and improving their odds of making the playoffs from +110 to -230. That puts them on a collision course with the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions. One way or another, someone’s playoff misery will end.

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Division Leaders (odds to win the division) Wild Card Teams (odds to make the playoffs)
No. 1 – Kansas City Chiefs (-1200) First-Round Bye
No. 2 – Baltimore Ravens (+125) No. 7 – Houston Texans (+110)
No. 3 – Jacksonville Jaguars (-220) No. 6 – Cleveland Browns (-385)
No. 4 – Miami Dolphins (-340) No. 5 – Pittsburgh Steelers (+110)

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Without even playing a game, the Kansas City Chiefs’ odds to win the division improved. The Chiefs are comfortably atop the AFC West and conference standings, putting them on the fast track for a free pass into the Divisional Round. Barring a major upset, Patrick Mahomes and company are cruising to their eighth straight division crown. That leaves the other 15 teams to battle it out for the final six postseason berths. And those races are intensifying.

Whoever survives the attrition of the AFC North could emerge as the second seed in the conference. As it stands, the Baltimore Ravens occupy that spot, but their margin for error is razor-thin. The Ravens dropped a last-minute decision at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, closing the gap between the top three teams in the division. On the outside looking in are the Cincinnati Bengals, who also suffered a loss with zeroes on the clock. They were upset by the Houston Texans, who also usurped them in the standings. After Week 10, Baltimore is the second seed, and the Texans are the seventh. 

That leaves the Browns in the second wild-card spot, with a potential first-round matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, the Jags road to the postseason appears less secure following Week 10 action. Jacksonville was trounced at home, scoring just three points against the Niners. Coupled with Houston’s win, the AFC South looks more competitive than it has in years. 

The Miami Dolphins used this week to rest up as they gear up for the final playoff push. Truthfully, they must stay out of their own way as the rest of the AFC East stumbles to the finish line. The Fins are the only team in the division above .500, all but guaranteeing themselves a home playoff game. They would have to get past a Pittsburgh Steelers squad that has been out-gained in every game this season. That’s why the Steelers are one of only two teams with plus-money odds to make the playoffs.

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Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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