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

Well I didn’t write this on Friday but it’s still up before the games start, so that’s good I guess.

In case you missed the AFC Post: You 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. Now I’m taking on the NFC.


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: Seattle (.857) vs. Arizona (.643): probability Seattle Wins [p(SEA-W)]=(.857/(.857+.643))=.5713 or 57.13%). So how the team is currently playing, key matchups, injuries, etc. will not affect the chances.


Nine teams are still alive, five can clinch any of the five remaining spots:

Carolina Panthers (10-4): Playing New Orleans (10-4). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win OR losses by both Arizona AND San Francisco. Probability to clinch: 58.16%

Chicago Bears (8-6): Playing Philadelphia (8-6). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win AND a Detroit loss AND a Green Bay loss. Probability to clinch: 9.26%

New Orleans Saints (10-4): Playing Carolina (10-4). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win OR an Arizona loss. Probability to clinch: 78.56%

Philadelphia Eagles (8-6): Playing Chicago (8-6). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win AND a loss by the Dallas Cowboys. Probability to clinch: 20.83%

San Francisco 49ers (10-4): Playing Atlanta (4-10). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win OR an Arizona loss. Probability to clinch: 87.75%

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 four spots being clinched is 8.19%, three spots is 40.56%, two spot is 41.25%, and the probability that one spot is clinched this week is 9.28%. Because the Bears and Eagles are playing each other and both need to win, it is impossible for all five spots to be clinched this week. Also because the Panthers and Saints are playing each other and the winner clinches a playoff spot, it is impossible for no teams to clinch a spot. (Again, this is eliminating ties) If you played this week over and over, on average, about 2.491 teams would clinch. The most probable outcome in the NFC this week is if three teams clinch, San Francisco, Carolina, and New Orleans, by: Seattle winning, San Francisco winning, Carolina winning, Philadelphia winning, and Dallas winning which comes out to a probability of 7.14%.


NFC EAST: The Patriots can win the division by the same conditions as above: a win AND the Cowboys losing: 20.83% probability of clinching

NFC NORTH: The Bears can win the division by the same conditions as above: a win AND a Detroit loss AND a Green Bay loss: 9.26% probability of clinching

NFC SOUTH: The Saints can win the division with a win: 50% probability of clinching

NFC WEST: The Seahawks can win the division with: a win OR a San Francisco loss: 69.38% probability of clinching


New Orleans Saints: Same conditions as winning the NFC South: 50% probability of clinching

Seattle Seahawks: Same conditions as winning the NFC West: 69.38% probability of clinching

The probability that at least one of these two teams clinches is 84.69%. The probability that only New Orleans clinches is 15.31% while the probably that only Seattle clinches is 34.69%. And the probability that both teams clinch is 34.69% while the probability neither team clinches a bye is 15.31%.


The Seattle Seahawks can clinch Home Field by the same conditions as clinching a first round bye: a win OR a 49ers loss: 69.38% probability of clinching Home Field Advantage.



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