Championship Play-Off Predictions: Who Will Make It Into The Top Six?

There are some vital midweek games in the second tier...
12:00, 18 Apr 2023

It’s crunch time in the Championship. With just four games to go for the majority of play-off chasing teams it is now or never if they are going to make a move into the top six. But with Burnley and Sheffield United set to finish in the top two, and Luton Town and Middlesbrough comfortable in third and fourth - it is now a battle for just two spots. And the hopefuls are running out of time to make an impact. We’ve assessed the run-ins of each team, with the help of some key statistics to make our final predictions. 


Position: 5th

Points: 65

Remaining fixtures: Birmingham (H), Wigan (A), Blackpool (A), Blackburn (H)

Millwall’s 2-0 win over Preston North End this weekend was massive. With those three points thanks to goals from Zian Flemming and Tom Bradshaw, they put two points in between themselves and the chasing pack and they have a favourable run of fixtures. 

Gary Rowett’s men face a Birmingham side that have practically confirmed their safety for another season, before two away trips to Wigan (already relegated) and Blackpool - who could also have had their relegation confirmed by that point. A home game against play-off contenders Blackburn on the final day could be huge, but they will want to have secured their top six spot long before then. 

Interestingly however, Millwall only picked up five points from the reverse fixtures, and given they are facing two banana skins away from home, play-offs are far from certain. Statistical website FiveThirtyEight gives them an 81% chance of making it however, so the ball is in their court. 

The Sportsman’s prediction: Nine points from four matches

Final position: 5th on 74 points


Blackburn Rovers

Position: 6th

Points: 63

Remaining fixtures: Coventry (H), Preston (A), Burnley (H), Luton (H), Millwall (A). 

Blackburn are the current holders of the precious sixth spot and have a game in hand on most of their rivals, yet their position in the top six is far from secure. They haven’t won in their last four, and their final five games come against teams currently in the top eight. No other side faces a tougher run in.

However, on the flip side, if they can beat the likes of Coventry and Preston, they can harm their rivals for a top six place. With four six-pointers to come, as well as a local derby against champions elect Burnley, Rovers are not done yet. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 25% chance of retaining their top six status. We’ve got them down to snatch the final play-off spot with a last day win over Millwall, who are bound to rest players with fifth place already secured. 

The Sportsman’s prediction: Seven points from five matches

Final position: 6th on 70 points

Coventry City

Position: 7th

Points: 62

Remaining fixtures: Blackburn (A), Reading (H), Birmingham (H), Middlesbrough (A)

Coventry have recovered from a woeful start to the season to get themselves into play-off contention. Now they face a colossal match up against Blackburn on Wednesday, before two winnable home matches against struggling sides. With Viktor Gyokeres they possess the best forward in the league, and he’ll need to produce in front of goal in big moments to carry them into the top six. 

FiveThirtyEight currently gives them a 30% chance of finishing 6th. But we’ve got them picking up a point at Blackburn, winning the following two games narrowly, and just missing out on the play-offs in agonising fashion on the final day, after a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough. So close, yet so far. 

The Sportsman’s prediction: Seven points from four matches

Final position: 9th on 69 points

Preston North End

Position: 8th

Points: 62

Remaining fixtures: Swansea (A), Blackburn (H), Sheffield United (A), Sunderland (H)

A tricky end to the season for PNE, but it isn’t totally out of the question that they make it. Before the defeat to Millwall they were the only in-form team amongst the chasing pack, and how they respond to that loss will determine their fate. 

Ryan Lowe has done a brilliant job to take them from mid-table obscurity into contention, but it looks like the tough fixture list will be too much for them to handle, and they will drop to tenth, just three points off that magical 70 point mark. 

The Sportsman’s prediction: Five points from four matches

Final position: 10th on 67 points


Position: 9th

Points: 61

Remaining fixtures: Huddersfield (H), West Brom (A), Watford (H), Preston (A)

Sunderland have also dragged themselves back into contention. They’ve now won two on the bounce and are unbeaten in their last five, including a credible away draw at Burnley. Now they face Neil Warnock’s revived Huddersfield, before three games against fellow top six chasers. 

If they can win both games at the Stadium of Light, which we are predicting them to do, they will be in with a shout. The statistical model gives them a 15% chance of a top six finish in comparison to PNE’s 10%. However, we are only backing them to draw their two away games, leaving them on 69 points and in 8th. However, one goal could swing their entire season. This is going to be so close. 

The Sportsman’s prediction: Eight points from four matches

Final position: 8th on 69 points

The Sportsman's predicted table
The Sportsman's predicted table

Norwich City

Position: 10th

Points: 61

Remaining fixtures: QPR (A), Swansea (H), West Brom (A), Blackpool (H)

Norwich City have fallen out of form over the past few weeks, summed up with that 5-1 hammering at the hands of Middlesbrough last time out. However, they have the perfect fixture to get them back on track as they face a miserable QPR side at Loftus Road. Win that, and the play-off hunt is back on, while they also have a favourable last day fixture at home to Blackpool. 

We are backing them to go unbeaten for the rest of the season, but it won’t be enough as two wins and two draws leave them just a point short of the play-offs. If Blackburn don’t deliver the goods however, they are in prime position to take advantage. 

The Sportsman’s prediction: Eight points from four matches

Final position: 7th on 69 points

West Bromwich Albion 

Position: 11th

Points: 60

Remaining fixtures: Blackpool (A), Sunderland (H), Sheffield United (A), Norwich (H), Swansea (A)

Another team with the benefit of a bonus fixture. West Brom haven’t quite got going under Carlos Corberan with one win in their last five, but that did come last time out away at Stoke. If they can back up that win with another at Blackpool they could build up some momentum heading into a tough four fixtures.

Sheffield United should be promoted by the time they face them at Bramall Lane, but we’ve still got WBA slipped down to 12th - picking up just five points from their final five games. 

The Sportsman’s prediction: Five points from five matches

Final position: 12th on 65 points


Position: 12th

Points: 59

Remaining fixtures: Cardiff (H), Hull (A), Sunderland (A), Stoke (H)

The mood isn’t good around Vicarage Road but Watford still have a very slim chance of making it into the top six - around 3% according to FiveThirtyEight. They have two winnable home games to come, but a trip to Sunderland looks tricky and they need to win all four to realistically have a top six chance. It isn’t going to happen. 

The Sportsman’s prediction: Seven points from four matches

Final position: 11th on 66 points

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