There has been a lot of chatter about this season’s NFL playoff picture, especially on the AFC side, where an 8-8 or 9-7 record might be good enough to get a team into the postseason. But while the NFC has more of the top teams, if the playoffs began today, we would have most of the best teams, with just one obvious outlier, the Tennessee Titans.
In the NFL, luck can play a bigger factor in determining playoff teams due to the smaller sample size of regular-season games. Because of that, point differential (the difference between points scored and points allowed) can often be a better indicator of which are the best teams. In an ideal world, the 12 teams with the best point differential would make the playoffs.
If the season ended today, the 2017 playoffs would include the top seven in differential and 11 of the top 14. The one major exception would be the Titans, who so far have a -31 point differential, 22nd in the NFL and 74 points worse than the Seattle Seahawks, who are ranked eighth in point differential and would not be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Here are the 12 teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today:
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