A 5-7 Washington team won out to capture the NFC East in 2015, and last year, the Texans lost three straight to hit 6-6 before clinching the South with a three-game winning streak.
In an attempt to identify the teams that are most likely to make that breakthrough into the playoff picture, let’s run through all of the viable contenders and look at why they might (or might not) be bound for meaningful football past Week 17, ranked from 11-1 in terms of my expectations of how likely they are to make the postseason.
In addition, I’ll identify which current playoff team is most likely to suffer if this outsider team sneaks into the postseason.
This analysis includes each of the teams that the ESPN Football Power Index projects to have at least a 1 percent shot of making the postseason after Week 12.
It doesn’t include the 12 teams that FPI already projects to make the playoffs, so if your favorite team is missing, you shouldn’t be insulted.