Week 16 AFC Playoff Picture By The G-Man’s Numbers

In case you didn’t know, I graduated with a degree in Statistics from Lehigh. So I guess you could call me a numbers guy, but that would be an understatement. I’ve loved mixing Sports and Statistics my entire life. I learned how to keep a scorecard at a Phillies Game when I was four and I haven’t stopped recording since.

If you’ve been reading the Cold Hard Locks, you’ll have noticed the Playoff Conditions I’ve been giving Matty D every week. Well this week, I decided to take it to a new level: probabilities. Today I’m taking on the AFC.


NO TIES! (It makes it easier for all parties involved)

To get an initial probability of winning, I only took the team’s current winning percentage and divided by that number plus their opponent’s current winning percentage (EX: Denver (.786) vs Houston (.143): probability Denver Wins [p(DEN-W)]=(.786/.929)=.8461 or 84.61%). So how the team is currently playing, key matchups, injuries, etc. will not affect the chances.


Six teams are still alive, four can clinch any of the three remaining spots:

Baltimore Ravens (9-5): Playing New England (10-4). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win AND Miami to lose AND SD to lose. Probability to clinch: 6.22%

Cincinnati Bengals (9-5): Playing Minnesota (4-9-1). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win AND a loss by either the Dolphins OR the Ravens. Probability to clinch: 53.21%

Miami Dolphins (8-6): Playing Buffalo (5-9). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win AND a Bengals loss AND a Ravens loss. Probability to clinch: 11.38%

New England Patriots (10-4): Playing Baltimore (8-6). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win OR a Dolphins loss OR a Bengals loss. Probability to clinch: 81.77%

If you counting up the percentages, you may notice they add up to be greater than 100%. That’s because multiple teams can clinch playoff births. In fact, the probability of all three spots being clinched is 4.15%, two spots is 57.76%, one spot is 19.85%, and the probability that no teams clinch this week is 18.24%. If you played this week over and over, on average, about 1.4782 teams would clinch. Before we move on, one observation is that the only way the Dolphins can clinch is if the Patriots win and, as you’ll see below, win the AFC East.


AFC EAST: The Patriots can win the division if: they win OR Miami loses: 72.66% probability of clinching

AFC NORTH: The Bengals can win the division if: they win AND Baltimore loses: 37.06% probability of clinching

AFC WEST: The Broncos can win the division if: they win over Houston AND Kansas City loses to the Colts: 38.07% probability of clinching


Denver Broncos: Same conditions as winning the AFC West: 38.07%

New England Patriots: They can clinch a first-round bye if: they win over Baltimore AND the Bengals lose AND the Colts lose: 10.18% probability of clinching

The Chiefs and Colts can’t clinch a bye this week but their game insures that both Denver and New England can’t clinch together. So at most, only one team can clinch a bye. The probability that neither team clinches is 51.75%.


The Denver Broncos can clinch Home Field with: a win AND a Chiefs loss AND a Patriots loss: 16.92% probability of clinching Home Field Advantage

See you tomorrow for the National Football Conference.


2 thoughts on “Week 16 AFC Playoff Picture By The G-Man’s Numbers

  1. Pingback: NFC Playoff Picture By The G-Man’s Numbers | The THUNDERBLOG

  2. Pingback: Week 16 NFC Playoff Picture By The G-Man’s Numbers | The THUNDERBLOG

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