NFL playoffs including four teams from the same division for the first time since 2002 is more of a possibility than you think


We’ve never seen four teams from the same NFL division make the playoffs in the same year since the 2002 realignment, but suddenly there’s a realistic chance that will happen this season.


If the playoffs start today, the entire East Asian region, Miami dolphinsAnd the Buffalo billsAnd the New York Jets And the New England Patriots, will be in. On top of that, another division of the NFC has a surprisingly good chance of doing so, too.

We know, of course, that it’s only the eleventh week and there are still seven weeks left, so anything is possible. But even the idea that this could happen was statistically impossible until the 2020 season when the NFL added a third wild card. Prior to this, there were only two spots, meaning that a maximum of three teams from the same division could make the postseason. But with a seventh team now in the mix each year, it opens up the possibility that that fourth team could slip if they’re good enough and the rest of the conference sucks.

Let’s start with East Asia. Yahoo Sports gave statistical simulations from FiveThirtyEight, Pro Football Focus, and Football Outsiders to determine the likelihood of this happening. And the probability is higher than you think.

in FiveThirtyEight simulatorwhich uses the extension Elo rating system To assign each team’s power rating, all four AFC East teams have made the playoffs 9.7 percent of the time.

in Pro Football Focus simulatorTeams make it 9.2 percent of the time.

Football simulator outsiderswhich uses DAVE (DVOA Adjusted for Early Volatility) by combining early-season DVOA ratings with pre-projection, calculated that teams had a 16.2 percent chance of earning all playoff points.

This would be wild if it happened. But the road is not easy.

The AFC East team should win, and they need help, too

The entire East Asian region is currently in the NFL stadium.  Will it stay this way for the first time since the reorganization in 2002?  (Michael Wagstaff/Yahoo Sports)

The entire East Asian region is currently in the NFL stadium. Will it stay this way for the first time since the reorganization in 2002? (Michael Wagstaff/Yahoo Sports)

The easiest way for all four teams is to split divisional games and win every other game. So, the Jets will need to beat the Patriots in week 11, the Bills will need to beat the Jets and Dolphins in weeks 14 and 15, the Patriots will need to split their series with the Bills in weeks 13 and 18 and then win the Dolphins in week 17, and the Dolphins will need to beat the Jets in week 18.

All four will need help from the rest of the league as well. Firstly, all other current top teams in their divisions – the Kansas City ChiefsAnd the Baltimore Crows And the Tennessee Titans – He will need to win as much as possible and push the rest of the teams down. Meanwhile, all other teams outside of Asia East must lose as much as possible.

In this scenario, the closest of the four teams to securing the playoff seeds would be Week 15, according to FiveThirtyEight’s playoff prediction model. By the end of the season, the Bills would win the division at 13-4, the Dolphins and Jets would finish 12-5 with the Dolphins in second place, and the Patriots would finish at 11-6.

Obviously there is a lot of room for variation. The biggest threats to this are Los Angeles Chargers And the Cincinnati BengalsTwo second-placed teams with good offense can win some games over the last seven games of the season. The Bengals have already beat the Dolphins and Jets and played the Patriots and Bills in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively. Meanwhile, the Chargers still play the Dolphins in Week 14 and still have half of their divisional games.

But as long as those teams – we have technically included Indianapolis Colts Also in this discussion – AFC East teams not being defeated, or at least winning more games than first place teams losing, this runaway event can happen. One of the most pivotal games in this regard may be the Week 16 game between the Colts and Bengals. Both can compete for the playoff spots, but it will depend on which team is better in the playoffs mode. East Asia needs to lose this team.

The NFC East can send its four teams to the playoffs as well

Oddly enough, the NFC East also has an outside opportunity to send all four of its teams to the postseason yet Washington leaders gig Philadelphia Eagles Monday night.

The Leaders are currently out of the playoffs at 5-5, and will likely need a win to secure a playoff berth in a similar fashion to how, say, the Patriots would need to make the playoffs. the Eagles, New York Giants And the Dallas Cowboys All are in the playoffs with records of 8-1, 7-2, and 6-3, respectively.

According to Pro Football Focus, this has a 16.3 percent chance of happening, likely due to how poor the NFC looks after 10 weeks. Football Outsiders has a slightly lower probability at 12.8%.

leaders & # 39;  A win over the Eagles makes for an interesting NFL playoff race.  (Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports)leaders & # 39;  A win over the Eagles makes for an interesting NFL playoff race.  (Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports)

The Leaders’ win over the Eagles makes the NFL playoffs interesting. (Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports)


Could this have happened in the past?

There was a small chance that this would actually happen in the second year of the new match model. The NFC West has sent three teams to the 2021 playoffs – The Los Angeles RamsThe San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals – But the Seattle Seahawks They finished two games behind the Eagles, whose 9-7 record was good enough to give them the seventh seed in the NFC playoffs.

But even if you apply the new match model to previous years, this will never happen between 2002-2019. The closest prospect came in 2014 with the Browns, who finished fourth in the AFC North with a 7-9 record He was undefeated at 9-7 Texas. Rest of the AFC North – Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers – They all made the postseason.

Now if we want to get technical, the department has already fielded four teams before. However, this all happened when there were five teams in each division but only three divisions per conference. The NFC Central accomplished the feat three teams in 1982, 1994, and 1997 when it was Tampa Bay Buccaneers She was in the same division as Green Bay PackersAnd the Detroit LionsAnd the Minnesota Vikings And the Chicago Bears

are still there Much Of the matches to be played in the last seven weeks, so anything can happen. The The bills have already proven deadly After losing to the Jets and Vikings in consecutive weeks, the Jets and Patriots have never been more stable. But it would be really nice to see four teams from the same division take on a playoff cycle and maybe a weekend of extra divisional games.

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