2009 NFL Playoff Predictions From WhatIfSports.com image

2009 NFL Playoff Predictions

How deep will each team go in the 2009 NFL Playoffs.
By Eric Schmoldt, WhatIfSports.com
January 7th, 2010

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For our playoff preview, we have simulated the 2009 NFL playoffs 10,001 times. The odds for each team winning each round is presented below. All of our NFL content, including our most recent power rankings and previous weeks' picks and fantasy projections, is located here.

The inputs to the 10,001 simulations of each upcoming game are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position.

2009 NFL Playoffs (Winning Percentages from 10,001 simulations)

TeamWC Win %DIV Win %CC Win %SB Win %
New York Jets68.0%43.8%29.0%15.9%
New Orleans Saints-59.5%27.6%14.6%
Minnesota Vikings-50.3%27.1%14.0%
Dallas Cowboys63.0%36.3%24.4%13.7%
Baltimore Ravens59.1%36.3%18.1%9.7%
San Diego Chargers-43.5%19.0%7.0%
Indianapolis Colts-39.0%17.0%6.6%
Philadelphia Eagles37.0%19.1%9.4%6.2%
Green Bay Packers65.2%26.6%10.0%4.2%
New England Patriots40.9%20.9%8.7%3.8%
Cincinnati Bengals32.0%16.7%8.3%3.7%
Arizona Cardinals34.8%8.2%1.6%0.6%

Does Rex Ryan use WhatIfSports.com?

On Wednesday, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said his team should be favorites to win the Super Bowl.

After running the playoffs 1,001 times, the computers at WhatIfSports.com have obliged.

Many NFL fans believe the Jets backed their way into the playoffs, only making it in thanks to late-season victories over backup players from the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals, who had already sealed their playoff fates.

But now that New York is in, their vaunted defense and impressive numbers on both sides of the ball make them favorites to win the Super Bowl as they advance through the playoffs to win it all 15.88% of the time, more than one percentage point higher than the New Orleans Saints.

For the Jets to pull off what many others consider an improbable run, they'll have to live by the old adage that defense wins championships as New York is second to none on that side of the ball.

The Jets boast, by far, the best passing defense in the league as they give up just 5.4 yards per pass attempt, more than half a yard better than the Buffalo Bills and nearly a yard better than their closest playoff foe, the Indianapolis Colts, in that category. And New York isn't far behind in terms of rushing as it ranked fourth in the league during the regular season, allowing just 3.8 yards per carry, 0.4 ypc behind the Baltimore Ravens.

Thus, in terms of yards allowed per play, the Jets defense winds up on top by far. They gave up just 4.2 yards per play on the season, a full 0.6 yards ahead of the second-place Green Bay Packers and at least a full yard better than two-thirds of the league.

Offensively, New York boasts a number that the computer likes as well. Behind Thomas Jones, the Jets rank fifth overall and third amongst playoff teams at 4.5 yards per carry. But a 17th-ranked offense in terms of passing yards per attempt drops them all the way outside the top 20 in terms of offensive yards per play.

And the obvious wildcard comes with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. A first-year signal-caller is capable of completely muddling up even the strongest of numbers and that was clearly the case as the Jets nearly missed out on the playoffs altogether.

Now that they're there, the numbers would signify that they could be the top contender. The Jets beat the Bengals 68% of the time in this weekend's wildcard matchup, advance to the AFC Championship 43.8% of the time, make the Super Bowl 29% of the time and win it all at a 15.88% rate.


Outside of the Jets, three other teams win the Super Bowl more than 13% of the time in 1,001 simulations and they all come from the NFC.

The second-favorite couldn't be much more opposite from the Jets. The New Orleans Saints, top seed in the conference, hardly had to find a way into the playoffs, even resting quarterback Drew Brees and their starters in the final weekend of the season.

More than that, they're opposite in terms of the numbers as well, as the Saints boast the top offense in the NFL, picking up more than six yards per play. They also have the third-ranked passing offense, gaining 8.3 yards per attempt and is tied for fifth with 4.5 yards per carry on the ground.

And while the Jets have the top-ranked defense, the Saints rank just 21st in yards given up per play.

Still, while their route would be different, New Orleans comes in as the second favorite, getting a bye into the second round, advancing to the NFC Championship game 59.5% of the time, making the Super Bowl at a 27.6% clip and winning it all 14.59% of the time.

The Saints should see nearly equal challenges in the NFC race from the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys and both teams provide more of a balanced approach in terms of numbers on each side of the ball.

The Vikings, behind quarterback Brett Favre, rank 10th in the league at 5.8 yards per play on offense and rank 14th on defense at 5.2 yards per play. Minnesota makes the Super Bowl just over 27% of the time and win it 13.99% of the time.

Dallas, coming off its first successful December in recent memory thanks to the play of quarterback Tony Romo, tied in the regular season with the Saints in offense at 6.3 yards per game. But the Cowboys rank 12th defensively, also giving up 5.2 yards per play. They win the Super Bowl just 0.33% less of the time than the Vikings despite having to advance through the wildcard round.

The rest of the NFC - which wins the Super Bowl more than 53% of the time - faces a tall task.

The Philadelphia Eagles slipped to the sixth seed in the NFC and win it all 6.19% of the time. The Green Bay Packers make the Super Bowl more frequently at 10%, but win it at just a 4.2% clip. And the Arizona Cardinals, who made the league's final showdown a year ago, make it back just 1.6% of the time, the lowest of any playoff team.


Outside the Jets being the prohibitive favorite in the AFC, the picture is much less clearer behind them.

The Baltimore Ravens, the other wildcard team, actually have the second-best chance to win the Super Bowl for the AFC.

They boast the third-best defense in the NFL, giving up just 4.9 yards per play. They also have the fourth-best rushing attack in terms of yards per play, but rank just 14th in overall offense.

Baltimore's biggest hurdle on paper may come right away this weekend as the Ravens draw the Patriots in the wildcard round, but they advance more than 59% of the time, making the Super Bowl 18% of the time and win it at a 9.69% clip.

Then comes the AFC teams with first-round byes - the Colts and San Diego Chargers.

San Diego coasted into the playoffs, but did so on a major winning streak and keeps that rolling all the way through to a world championship 7.09% of the time thanks to the fourth-best offense and 16th best defense in terms of yards per play.

Indianapolis threw away the shot at a 19-0 season in Week 16, resting its starters for much of its last two games and perhaps losing momentum towards the finish line. The Colts have the eighth-best defense and the third best offense in terms of yards per play and advance to the Super Bowl 17% of the time, but win it just 6.59%.

The Wes Welker-less Patriots win it just 3.8% of the time, while the Cincinnati Bengals are the biggest underdogs of the AFC, winning the Super Bowl at just a 3.7% rate.

And it would take much than a plea from Marvin Lewis to get the computer to change its mind.

WhatIfSports.com is a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in fantasy football simulation analysis and football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, we can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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