Predicted 2023 NFL Playoff Picture: Dolphins at Chiefs Wild Card, Here are the 14 Teams Expected to Make Postseason

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As we head into the final week of the 2023 NFL season, there are still 20 teams in playoff contention, which makes this one of the most competitive years in NFL history. 

Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, this is tied for the second-most teams that have been in contention with one week left on the schedule. The only time we saw a higher number came in 1982 when there were 22 teams still alive. However, that came during a strike season where 16 teams made the playoffs, so this year has set the non-strike record for the most teams still in contention heading into the final week. 

With so many teams still in it, you might be wondering who’s actually going to make the playoffs this year and that’s what we’re going to answer right now in this week’s playoff projection. The projections here are based on data from number-cruncher Stephen Oh of SportsLine.com. Oh plugged some numbers into his SportsLine computer this week and simulated the rest of the 2023 NFL season, and using those numbers, we’re going to let you know the playoff chances for all 32 teams, plus the projected 14-team playoff field. 

With that in mind, let’s get to this week’s playoff projections (For more from Stephen Oh and his SportsLine “Inside the Lines” team, you can tune into his YouTube channel daily at 1 p.m. ET by clicking here). 

AFC playoff projection

1. (AFC North Champion)

Ravens

The Ravens (13-3) have clinched the top seed in the AFC and the only question now is whether they’re going to rest their starters on Saturday against the Steelers. Remaining schedule: Steelers
2. (AFC East Champion)

Bills

To win the AFC East, all the Bills (10-6) have to do is beat the Dolphins on Sunday night and the computer thinks that’s going to happen. According to our projection, the Bills have a 55.9% chance of taking home the division title while Miami’s chances are sitting at 44.1%. Remaining schedule: at Dolphins.
3. (AFC West Champion)

Chiefs

The Chiefs (10-6) have clinched the AFC West, but they can’t improve their seed this week, which means they’re officially locked into the third spot. This is one of just four seeds in the entire NFL that’s already been clinched heading into Week 18. Remaining schedule: at Chargers
4. (AFC South Champion)

Jaguars

To clinch the AFC South, all the Jaguars have to do is beat the Titans in Week 18 and the computer thinks that’s going to happen. However, if they do end up losing, the title will go to the winner of the Colts-Texans game. Remaining schedule: at Titans
5. Wild Card 1

Browns

The Browns (11-5) have clinched the fifth-seed, which means they have nothing to play for on Sunday. With the fifth-seed locked up, that means the Browns will be hitting the road during the wild-card round to face the winner of the AFC South. Remaining schedule: at Bengals
6. Wild Card 2

Dolphins

The Dolphins (11-5) were in control of the AFC East for most of the season, but they lost that control after going 2-2 over their past four games. To win the division, they’ll have to beat Buffalo on Sunday. The good news for the Dolphins is that they’ve already clinched a playoff berth, which means they’ll be headed to the postseason even if they lose. Remaining schedule: Bills
7. Wild Card 3

Colts

The Colts (9-7) and Texans (9-7) will be playing each other on Saturday night with the winner guaranteed to make the playoffs. The computer is giving a small edge to the Colts, who will be playing at home. The Steelers are also in the hunt for a playoff spot, but for them to get in, they’d need to beat the Ravens and have that combined with a loss by either the Bills or Jaguars. The computer does not think that’s going to happen. Remaining schedule: Texans

Here’s a list of the playoff chances for all the other AFC teams (their percentage chances of getting into the playoffs is listed next to them in parentheses): Texans (51.3%), Steelers (35.1%), Bengals (ELIMINATED), Raiders (ELIMINATED), Broncos (ELIMINATED), Chargers (Eliminated), Titans ((ELIMINATED) Jets (ELIMINATED), Patriots (ELIMINATED) 

NFC playoff projection

1. (NFC West Champion)

49ers

Not only have the 49ers (12-4) clinched the top seed in the NFC, but the computer also has them as the favorite to win the Super Bowl, which will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+. According to our projection, the 49ers have a 29.36% chance of winning it all, which is slightly ahead of the Ravens, who are sitting at 28.21%. No other team in the NFL is even above 9%. Remaining schedule: Rams  
2. (NFC East Champion)

Cowboys

To clinch the NFC East title, all the Cowboys (11-5) have to do is beat the Commanders and the computer thinks that’s going to happen. That would set up the Cowboys to host their third wild-card game in five years. Remaining schedule: at Commanders
3. (NFC North Champion)

Lions

The Lions (11-5) controversial loss in Week 17 was a big one, because it means they have almost no chance at moving up from the third-seed. The only way Detroit can get the two-seed is if the Cowboys and Eagles both lose in Week 18 and the computer doesn’t see that happening. Remaining schedule: Vikings
4. (NFC South Champion)

Buccaneers

To clinch the NFC South, all the Buccaneers (8-8) have to do is beat the Panthers in Week 18 and the computer thinks that’s going to happen. However, if they do end up losing, the title will go to the winner of the Falcons-Saints game. Remaining schedule: at Panthers
5. Wild Card 1

Eagles

The Eagles choked away their chances at winning the division title with a loss to the Cardinals in Week 16. Now, the only way they can win the division is if they beat the Giants this week and the Cowboys lose to the Commanders. The computer does not think the Cowboys will be losing to the Commanders. Remaining schedule: at Giants
6. Wild Card 2

Rams

The Rams (9-7) have already clinched a playoff spot, which means the only question is whether they’ll end up as the sixth- or seventh-seed. Right now, the computer thinks L.A. will get the sixth-seed, which would set them up for a wild-card round matchup with the Lions. Matthew Stafford returning to Detroit? The computer clearly loves drama. Remaining schedule: 49ers
7. Wild Card 3

Packers

Thanks to a loss by the Seahawks in Week 17, the Packers (8-8) are now the only wild-card contender in the NFC facing a “win-and-in” situation this week. If the Packers beat the Bears, then they’ll clinch a playoff spot and the computer thinks that’s going to happen. Remaining schedule: Bears

Here’s a list of the playoff chances for all the other NFC teams (their percentage chances of getting into the playoffs is listed next to them in parentheses): Saints (35.3%), Seahawks (24.1%), Falcons (9%), Vikings (1.4%), Bears (ELIMINATED), Giants (ELIMINATED), Commanders (ELIMINATED), Cardinals (ELIMINATED), Panthers (ELIMINATED)

Wild-card round projection

AFC

(7) Colts at (2) Bills
(6) Dolphins at (3) Chiefs
(5) Browns at (4) Jaguars

Bye: Ravens

NFC 

(7) Packers at (2) Cowboys
(6) Rams at (3) Lions
(5) Eagles at (4) Buccaneers

Bye: 49ers

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