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Nate Silver: New England Patriots Near Closest Playoff Lock

The NFL season isn't half over, but according to probability, some teams are in fantastic shape.

Tom Szczerbowski

The Patriots still have to find a way to replace Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley, but the numbers are currently in the Patriots favor. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight fame produces NFL Playoff Odds based upon some cocktail of historical performance, future schedule, and weekly adjustments.

Let's just say it holds the Patriots in high regards.

While the Power Rankings have the Patriots somewhere in the preteens, Silver's ELO ranking has New England ranked 4th- and closer to Denver in 1st place than to Dallas in 6th. The rest of the AFC East ranks in the 20s.

Looking at the division, the Patriots have an 80% chance to claim another title, behind only the Colts 83% chance. The Panthers are the third highest at 62%, meaning at the Patriots have expectations head and shoulders above the rest of the league.

Silver paints a picture of certainty in the AFC with four teams posting a 80+% chance of making the playoffs (Broncos 86%, Colts 86%, Patriots 84%, Chargers 81%), with the two AFC North challengers sitting at nearly two-thirds chance (Bengals 67%, Ravens 66%).

Compare that to the NFC where the Dallas Cowboys (82%) are the only team in the conference with a playoff chance of greater than 65%.

The rankings place the Patriots in a three-way tie behind the Broncos for the best chance to win the Super Bowl. Denver has a 13% chance, while the Patriots, Chargers, and Seahawks are at 9%.

The rankings also predict this upcoming week and have performed with a 65% success rate on the season. It gives the Patriots an 86% probability for victory over the Jets, the highest for the week. Let's hope the Patriots don't disappoint.