clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Week 4 Playoff Odds and Draft Outlook

With another week in the books let's look at how the AFC North playoff race is shaping up.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Through week three, the AFC North has lived up to its reputation as one of the better divisions in football, with three teams claiming a legitimate chance at the playoffs. Using Football Outsiders season projections, I'm going to take a look at just how legitimate those chances are, and peek even further into the future to see who should start scouting draft prospects. There were some big changes at the top this week, so let's get to it.

Baltimore Ravens

Playoff Odds: 74.8% (+9.5)

Mean Wins: 10.4

Top 3 Pick: 0%

The Ravens stacked up another win, bringing their record to 3-0. Some people probably believe that their record doesn't reflect the quality of their team, but once you stack up a few wins that becomes less important. NFL seasons are short, and teams can out-perform their talent level over such short time periods. The Ravens could go 6-7 the rest of the way and still have a good shot at making the playoffs. They get their first real test when Oakland comes to town this week, and I think that game could give a better indication of where we should expect Baltimore to finish the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Playoff Odds: 56.8% (-21.4)

Mean Wins: 9.4

Top 3 Pick: 0.8%

The Steelers got stomped by the apparent juggernaut that is the Philadelphia Eagles, and their playoff odds came crashing down to Earth. After that flop of a game, they are now underperforming their preseason projections, and if that continues their odds will continue to slip. Still, they have a better than 50/50 shot at making the postseason, so it's not like their fans should freak out yet. They have a tough game coming up against the Chiefs, and win or lose we could be looking back at this game as the turning point in their season. Let's all join hands and pray to the football gods that justice is done and they never win another game.

Cincinnati Bengals

Playoff Odds: 29.1% (-13.1)

Mean Wins: 8.1

Top 3 Pick: 3.4%

This does not include their win over the Dolphins, so don't read too much into these numbers. Things weren't looking so hot for the Bengals, but even after a slow start they were still projected to win eight games. After the dominant performance they put together on Thursday night, expect their playoff odds and projected win total to jump, possibly leap-frogging the Steelers depending on how that game shakes out on Sunday. You can expect a lot of instability in these projections for a few more weeks, as we're still learning a lot about each team with every game.

Cleveland Browns

Playoff Odds: 0.9% (-0.9)

Mean Wins: 4.1

Top 3 Pick: 57.2%

One of these teams is not like the others. The Browns lost a heartbreaker last week, but it didn't actually affect the outlook of the season all that much. They continue to underperform the already bleak preseason team efficiency projection, and it is not doing wonders for their playoff odds. On the other hand, they are far and away the favorite for the top overall pick, with a 29.4% chance of pick first in April. The next closes team, Chicago, has a 13.7% chance. Keep in mind that these projections are incredibly volatile and only include some specific injuries. For instance, the projections don't know Brian Hoyer is starting instead of Jay Cutler, so the race for the first pick may be tighter than it looks. Either way, Browns fans should probably start paying close attention on Saturdays.