The Green Bay Packers sit at 2-1, a respectable record through three games but one that is a game and a half back of the 4-0 Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North. The Packers are still a good bet to make the playoffs this season, but just how good a bet are they?
Fivethirtyeight.com has a pair of resources that help to put numbers on the likelihood of the Packers making the playoffs in 2016. First is the graphic below, which shows the historical likelihood of teams making the playoffs with specific records based on information gathered from Pro Football Reference.
The Packers, sitting at 2-1, have a 53% chance of advancing to the postseason based on all 2-1 teams between 1990 and 2013. With a win over the New York Giants on Sunday night, those odds would improve to 63%, but a loss would drop their chances by nearly a third, all the way down to 36%.
538 also has some more detailed projections based on the current year’s standings, statistics, and performances, however. In these projections, the Packers are currently a 67% bet to make the playoffs, which includes 26% odds of overcoming the Vikings to win the NFC North and a one-in-five shot at a first-round bye.
The good news is that these same projections give the Packers a 76% chance of defeating the Giants at home on Sunday night, which is the third-highest odds of winning of any team in week five. Only the Panthers (80% to beat Tampa Bay) and Broncos (77% to beat Atlanta) have a better likelihood of winning this week.
In an average simulated season under these projections, the Packers ended up with a record of 10.3 wins against 5.7 losses - that’s the fifth-best record in the NFL and third-best in the NFC. However, that would only give the Packers the fifth seed in the playoffs, thanks to the Vikings being projected as the division winners.