Ranking playoff chances for the NFL's struggling contenders

Bruschi, Edwards like Cowboys over Niners (0:39)

Tedy Bruschi and Herm Edwards side with the Cowboys because of the 49ers' weak defense. (0:39)

In the parity-packed NFL season of 2017, it seems like pretty much anybody should be able to go on a playoff run. But that's not really the case. Already, certain teams have put themselves into better playoff position, not only by playing better football but by opening up a lead in the standings.

Meanwhile, a number of teams with strong 2017 expectations are struggling. Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and the New York Giants are all 3-3 or worse despite making the playoffs a year ago. (So are the Houston Texans, but it's the AFC South, so they are in first place.) Arizona and Tampa Bay have also had disappointing starts to the season despite being popular preseason playoff picks.

Which of these teams has the best chance to turn things around and make it to the postseason? We've taken a look at these six teams below, ranked in order by their odds of making the playoffs according to the latest Football Outsiders playoff odds simulation. That simulation and much of the analysis below is based on our DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) ratings, which measure success on each play based on down-and-distance and then compare that to a league-average baseline adjusted for situation and opponent. The current DVOA ratings are found here, and for an explanation on how we project playoff chances, click here.