Numbers Never Lie returns! For those new to the program, 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.
This series went so well last year, it had to make a comeback. Check out the AFC Numbers if you haven’t already. Here are the probabilities for Week 16 in 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: Green Bay (.714) vs Cincinnati (.143): probability Denver Wins [p(GB-W)]=(.714/.857)=.833 or 83.3%). So how the team is currently playing, key matchups, injuries, etc. will not affect the chances.
Eight teams are still alive, five can clinch any of the five remaining spots:
Dallas Cowboys (10-4): Playing Indianapolis (10-4). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win AND an Eagles loss OR a win AND a Lions loss AND a Packers loss. Probability to clinch: 29.2%
Detroit Lions (10-4): Playing at Chicago (5-9). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win OR an Eagles loss. Probability to clinch: 75%
Green Bay Packers (10-4): Playing at Tampa Bay (2-12). To clinch a birth, they’ll need two of the following three: a win, a Cowboys loss, and/or an Eagles loss. Probability to clinch: 58.1%
New Orleans Saints (6-8): Playing Atlanta (5-9). To clinch a birth (and the NFC South), they’ll need: a win AND a Panthers loss. Probability to clinch: 30.6%
Seattle Seahawks (10-4): Playing at Arizona (11-3). To clinch a birth, they’ll need: a win AND losses by one of the following three teams: the Lions, the Packers, or the Eagles OR a Cowboys win AND an Eagles loss. Probability to clinch: 36.8%
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 five spots being clinched is 1.7%, four spots is 8.83%, three spots is 20.69%, two spots is 36.08%, one spot is 26.57%, and the probability that no teams clinch this week is 6.13%. If you played this week over and over, on average about 2.05 teams would clinch.
NFC North: The Detroit Lions can clinch the NFC North if they win AND the Packers lose: 11.1% probability of clinching
NFC South: The New Orleans Saints can clinch the NFC South if they win AND the Panthers lose: 30.6% probability of clinching
NFC East: The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East if they win AND the Eagles lose: 12.5% probability of clinching
NFC West: The Arizona Cardinals can clinch the NFC West, a first-round bye, and home field advantage if they defeat the Seattle Seahawks. 52.4% probability of clinching