Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 10
Week 10 could have been named “Survival Weekend.” The three teams that gained the most in terms of playoff odds all have less than a 50% chance of making the postseason, but each squad badly needed the wins to just stay in the race. Meanwhile, the teams on the bubble which lost saw their playoff odds crash towards zero.
The game between Miami and San Diego gave us examples of both. The Chargers and Dolphins both came into the game with four wins, with playoff odds of 12.1% and 31.2% respectively. San Diego came into the game with a better nERD rating and was playing this game at home, helping explain why their playoff odds were higher.
Miami won the game, though, boosting their playoff odds to 32.7%. This gain would presumably be higher, had Denver not won in New Orleans, meaning the Dolphins still trail the Broncos by 1.5 games for the final wild card spot in the AFC. Still, they are in a considerably better position than the Chargers, whose playoff odds now stand at just 8.4%.
Here’s more on the week’s biggest playoff odds movers.
Miami Dolphins (5-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +20.6%
Week 10 Result: Def. San Diego, 31-24
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 12.1%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 32.7%
The Dolphins got a critical win on Sunday, but still have a ton of work to do if they want to extend their season beyond January 1.
As mentioned, the Dolphins are 1.5 games (1 in the loss column) out of the No. 6 seed in the AFC. This hardly seems insurmountable on its own, but the team ahead of them is Denver. The Broncos rank fourth in the league in nERD at 4.9 points above average while the Dolphins are 17th (0.16).
Miami also has three remaining games against teams in the nERD Top 10. They host No. 8 Arizona on December 11th, travel to No. 10 Buffalo for a Christmas Eve showdown, and finish the season at home versus No. 2 New England.
The rest the schedule is manageable -- with games against No. 23 Baltimore, the No. 26 Jets, No. 29 Rams and No. 31 San Francisco -- but Denver’s looks even easier. The Broncos only have one game against a team in the top half of the league, per our rankings, and while it is against the Patriots, it will at least be in Denver.
If the Dolphins do not catch the Broncos, hoping the Raiders or Chiefs fall out of the playoff picture would be their other option. This looks less likely, though, as both teams are two full games games ahead of Miami.
And no, don’t count on Miami pushing for a division title; we give the Patriots a 92.8% chance to win the AFC East, the highest division title odds in the league.
Baltimore Ravens (5-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +14.8%
Week 10 Result: Def. Cleveland, 28-7
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 29.8%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 44.6%
It hardly mattered Baltimore beat the worst team in the NFL and Pittsburgh lost narrowly to Dallas, one of the league’s best. In terms of the AFC North race, this was an important week and a good one for the Ravens. They now have a 43.9% chance to win the division, compared to Pittsburgh’s 34.3% odds (both teams’ wild card odds are around 1%).
By nERD, Pittsburgh is a better team, ranking 22nd (-1.64) while Baltimore is a spot below and rates as 1.97 points below average. The Ravens have the better playoff odds, though, because they are a game ahead of the Steelers in the standings and own the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to their win in Week 9.
Baltimore’s remaining schedule isn’t a cakewalk as the Ravens still must play each of the top three teams in nERD; they travel to No. 1 Dallas this week and No. 2 New England in December, before hosting No. 3 Philadelphia the following week. (though their other four games -- home against Miami and Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh and Cincinnati -- come against teams outside the nERD Top 16).
Pittsburgh’s slate seems easier, featuring two games against winless Cleveland in addition to a Thanksgiving contest at No. 27 Indianapolis and a road game at No. 20 Cincinnati; a road game at Buffalo and a home game against the No. 15 Giants are their most difficult remaining games.
Still, the Ravens’ one-game lead in the division and head-to-head win over Pittsburgh are enough to give them a slight edge going forward.
Washington Redskins (5-3-1)
Playoff Odds Movement: +13.8%
Week 10 Result: Def. Minnesota, 26-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 31.3%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 45.1%
Washington saw its odds spike up by virtue of its head-to-head win over fellow wild card contender Minnesota.
The Redskins currently occupy the No. 6 seed in the NFC, holding a half game lead over the Vikings and Eagles. They also have head-to-head wins over both teams; while the No. 11 Redskins have an inferior nERD rating (Philadelphia is third and Minnesota is seventh), their better record and head-to-head victories put them in a more advantageous position.
With Philadelphia and Arizona (who is now a game back in the hunt for the No. 6 seed) also picking up victories Sunday, this was a game Washington needed. The next few weeks could be equally crucial: Washington hosts Green Bay on Sunday, before three straight road games against Dallas, Arizona, and Philadelphia.
San Diego Chargers (4-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: -22.8%
Week 10 Result: Lost to Miami, 31-24
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 31.2%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 8.4%
As we covered above, Sunday’s loss was probably the nail in the coffin for the Chargers’ snakebitten season. It was the club’s sixth loss by one score, and despite ranking ninth in nERD, they will almost certainly miss the playoffs. On the bright side, if they return to health next season -- namely Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead -- the Chargers could be a real contender.
Green Bay Packers (4-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: -18.8%
Week 10 Result: Lost to Tennessee, 47-25
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 40.0%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 21.2%
Seriously, Green Bay. What the hell?
For the second straight week, the Packers lost to a team from the AFC South, and they were defeated for the fourth time in five weeks.
Using conference record to break ties, Green Bay is now in 12th place in the NFC, and more importantly, they trail both Minnesota and Detroit by a game in the NFC North. The Packers have a head-to-head win over the Lions, but Green Bay lost earlier in the year against the Vikings, who are probably the bigger threat to win the division.
They may not be out of it, but their remaining schedule should make it tough for Aaron Rodgers and company to R-E-L-A-X. Four of their remaining seven games come against teams rated 11th or better, with trips to Washington and Philadelphia coming up in the next two weeks; the Seahawks and Vikings travel to Lambeau in December.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1)
Playoff Odds Movement: -14.7%
Week 10 Result: Lost to the Giants, 21-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 37.8%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 23.1%
The Bengals failed to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s loss and lost more ground to the Ravens. Cincinnati has the best nERD rating in the AFC North (20th), but they are in third place and 1.5 games out of first place.
They will have a clear opportunity to climb into first, with a pair a games against Baltimore and a home game against Pittsburgh still to come (they dropped their first game against the Steelers). Also, while their remaining schedule includes two Top-10 foes (Buffalo and Philadelphia), their other five games are against teams ranked 21st or worse.
It’s a manageable slate, but it's possible the Bengals have already dug themselves into too deep of a hole, and our playoff odds reflect that.