There are fewer tight races than usual, but we're still going to have some excellent battles for playoff spots. Here's an updated look at each division, predicting winners using simulations.
Seven weeks down usually means the NFL division races have really started to take shape. This year is a little different, because the league is so absurdly top-heavy in 2015.
We've got a record five teams at 6-0, but only six other teams have winning records. That's led to fewer tight division races than usual. However, we're still going to have some excellent battles for playoff positions over the next 10 weeks, plus a battle for the AFC South title that should never be described as "excellent."
Playoff odds listed below are determined with the 25,000 simulations we do each week for the Football Outsiders playoff odds report. You can find the full playoff odds report on FootballOutsiders.com, and a full explanation of the simulation at the end of this article.
The Patriots: What else is new? The New York Jets have been surprisingly strong this year, and Football Outsiders' latest DVOA ratings have them as the fifth-best team in the NFL. They have an above-average offense to go with their outstanding defense. Unfortunately, they're sitting two games behind the defending Super Bowl champions, who have also been the No. 1 team in the league so far this season. The Patriots currently win the division in 87 percent of simulations.
If the Jets do want to take the AFC East title, they'll need to keep up with the Patriots for the next two months and then beat them at MetLife Stadium in Week 16. It's the only regular-season game where our numbers don't favor the Patriots; the Jets win in 50.4 percent of the simulations. In those sims, with the Patriots no longer holding the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Jets end up winning the division 21.5 percent of the time. But in the sims where the Patriots win their rematch with the Jets, the Jets win the division only 1.4 percent of the time. (Either way, the Dolphins and Bills are roughly 100-to-1 long shots to surge to the top.)