Week 13 was time for NFL heavyweights to flex.
The Philadelphia Eagles hammered the Tennessee Titans. The San Francisco 49ers dominated the Miami Dolphins even after losing Jimmy Garoppolo for the season. The Cincinnati Bengals made it 3-0 against the Kansas City Chiefs during the Joe Burrow era.
As a result, we now have a better idea how “for real” some of these teams are, but the fringes of the playoff picture remain shrouded in fog.
The Pick Six column leads this week by ranking teams on the playoff periphery by their chances for crashing the postseason party, using the betting model The Athletic’s Austin Mock has developed to produce four percent return on investment against the spread this season.
1. The better teams do not always have the easiest paths to the postseason, which is why some of these projections might look a little curious off the top.
We’ll start by checking AFC and NFC seeding through Dallas’ 54-19 victory against Indianapolis in the Sunday night game.
The AFC and NFC tables below contain current 1-16 seeding, remaining strength-of-schedule ranking (1-32, hardest to easiest) and percentage chance of reaching the playoffs, according to Austin Mock’s model.
From here, we look at which current non-playoff teams have the best shot at reaching the playoffs, regardless of conference affiliation. Nine teams have at least a nine percent chance. I’ve also listed remaining games for each team, to get a sense of schedule strength.
1. Commanders (7-5-1, 44.4 percent)
BYE | NYG | @SF | CLE | DAL
The Giants currently hold the seventh seed over Washington, but Mock’s projections give the Commanders a slight edge in reaching the playoffs. I agree, on the thinking the Giants will fall to Philadelphia in Week 13 while Washington gets its bye, and that the Commanders might win at home against the Giants in Week 15, after resting.
Week 18 is an x-factor in that the Giants play at Philly, which could rest its starters, while the Commanders are home against Dallas, which also might not have anything on the line. Difficult road games outside the division await both teams, with the Giants visiting 10-2 Minnesota and the Commanders visiting 8-4 San Francisco. The 49ers losing Garoppolo becomes another break for Washington.