Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 12

Detroit beat Minnesota on Thanksgiving and saw its playoff odds surge, while the loss sent the Vikings' postseason chances in the other direction.

The Detroit Lions’ season of living dangerously continued on Thanksgiving.

Detroit has trailed in the fourth quarter of every game this season, becoming the eighth team to do so since 2008, per ESPN Stats & Info. The previous seven teams combined to go 4-73 in their first 11 games; the Lions are 7-4 and are in first place in the NFC North.

They now have a one-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the division, and we give them a 49.4% chance to make the playoffs, a 21.3% increase from last week. Minnesota, whose own odds fells by 28.6%, still has a 51.9% chance to make the postseason, but the Lions now have higher division title odds (42.7% for Detroit, compared to 39.1% for the Vikings).

Speaking of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers kept their season alive with a win on Monday Night Football, boosting their playoff odds by 14.6%. The Pack joined the Lions and Kansas City Chiefs (who had an 18.5% increase) as the week’s three biggest winners.

Here’s more on the week’s biggest playoff odds movers.


Detroit Lions (7-4)

Playoff Odds Movement: +21.3%

Week 11 Result: Def. Minnesota, 16-13

Playoff Odds Before Week 11: 28.1%

Playoff Odds After Week 11: 49.4%

The Lions lead the Vikings by one game and have swept the season series against Minnesota -- so why are Detroit’s division title odds’ not more than 3.6% greater than Minnesota’s?

The answer is that the Vikings appear to be a considerably better team than the Lions, making the race closer than it would be if the two teams were more evenly matched. Detroit, despite its impressive record, has only outscored its opponents by a total of nine points this year. This unimpressive margin of victory has come against the NFL’s second-easiest schedule, per Pro Football Reference (only the Tennessee Titans have faced a weaker slate).

The Vikings have a plus-27 point differential, which translates to an average margin of victory of 2.5 points (12th in the NFL) against the league’s 22nd-most difficult schedule. As a result, Minnesota is seventh in the league in our nERD power ratings (3.59 points above average), while Detroit is 23rd (-1.83).

Also, as mentioned last week, Minnesota has an easier remaining schedule.

Detroit already has seven wins in the bank and got a huge win last week, but the Lions still have plenty of work to do.

Kansas City Chiefs (8-3)

Playoff Odds Movement: +18.5%

Week 11 Result: Def. Denver, 30-27

Playoff Odds Before Week 11: 56.8%

Playoff Odds After Week 11: 75.3%

By picking up a zany win on Sunday Night Football, the Chiefs' playoff odds are on very solid ground.

The Oakland Raiders, who defeated the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, remain the favorite to win the AFC West (with 57.1% division odds, compared to 27.8% for the Chiefs), but Kansas City now has a leg up on its top wildcard competitors, the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs have a one-game lead over both the Dolphins and Broncos, and KC will have a chance to go for the season sweep against the Broncos when the two clubs meet again in Kansas City on Christmas. Even if the Chiefs lose, though, there is a good chance they would have the tiebreaker over Denver in the event both teams finish with identical records, given Kansas City’s 3-0 record in the AFC West and 6-2 record against the AFC; Denver is 1-3 against the division and 4-3 against the conference.

The Chiefs also have a better intra-conference record than the Dolphins, who are 5-3 versus the AFC.

Green Bay Packers (5-6)

Playoff Odds Movement: +14.6%

Week 11 Result: Def. Philadelphia, 27-13

Playoff Odds Before Week 11: 6.3%

Playoff Odds After Week 11: 20.9%

Maybe the Packers aren’t done yet. I know, I don’t understand this team either.

In any case, Green Bay still has plenty of work to do, given that it trails Washington by 1.5 games for the NFC’s final wild card spot and there are three other teams ahead of the Packers in the conference playoff standings.

The Packers still have the Vikings and Seattle Seahawks (No. 8 in neRD) left on the schedule, but their other three remaining opponents all rank 23rd or worse.


Minnesota Vikings (6-5)

Playoff Odds Movement: -28.6%

Week 11 Result: Lost to Detroit, 16-13

Playoff Odds Before Week 11: 80.5%

Playoff Odds After Week 11: 51.9%

The Vikings lost perhaps the highest-leverage game of the holiday weekend, so it is little surprise their playoff odds suffered the most. Hope remains for the Vikings, given their aforementioned superiority over Detroit and forgiving remaining schedule. The wild card door is still open, as well.

That said, they will presumably need a bit more from their offense, including Sam Bradford, who has averaged 5.4 net yards per dropback since the team’s Week 6 bye.

Denver Broncos (7-4)

Playoff Odds Movement: -18.7%

Week 11 Result: Lost to Kansas City, 30-27

Playoff Odds Before Week 11: 81.0%

Playoff Odds After Week 11: 62.3%

Denver lost as a home favorite to a fellow division and wild-card competitor, while the other two teams in its division also won. Miami, as well as the AFC’s other nominal wild card contenders -- the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee -- picked up wins in Week 11, as well.

As you might expect given these results, the Broncos’ playoff odds took a dive, and if the season ended today, they would actually miss the playoffs.

Thanksgiving weekend misfortune aside, they are still actually in solid shape. The reigning Super Bowl champions still look like one of the best teams in the league, owning the fourth-best nERD rating in the NFL and second-best mark in the AFC.

Their remaining schedule also looks manageable, with home games against the top-rated New England Patriots and No. 14 Oakland serving as their only games left against teams with above-average nERD ratings.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

Playoff Odds Movement: -18.6%

Week 11 Result: Lost to Green Bay Packers, 27-13

Playoff Odds Before Week 11: 25.3%

Playoff Odds After Week 11: 6.7%

The Philadelphia Eagles look all but done.

Philadelphia is 1.5 games out of the final wild card spot, but they have four teams sandwiched between themselves and Washington. So even if the Eagles do go on a late surge, they would need a bunch of teams to play sub-.500 football in their remaining games for it to matter.