Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 13
Sunday was a day of firsts for the 2016 Detroit Lions.
Detroit did not trail at any point in the fourth quarter, ended up winning by multiple scores, and saw its playoff odds increase above 50%. Prior to the 28-13 win over the New Orleans Saints, none of these things had happened this year.
According to our playoff odds, the Lions now have a 78.8% chance of making the playoffs, including a 71.7% chance to win their first division title since 1993 (when the Lions topped the NFC Central, which isn’t even a thing anymore).
This marked the second consecutive week the Lions were the league’s biggest playoff odds gainer, while the Vikings were the "biggest loser."
Here’s more on the week’s biggest playoff odds movers.
Detroit Lions (8-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +29.4%
Week 13 Result: Def. New Orleans, 28-13
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 49.4%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 78.8%
The NFC North has been completely flipped on its head thanks to Detroit’s recent surge and the Vikings' slump, as illustrated by this chart:
The Lions host Chicago Bears in Week 14, but the schedule gets a little harder after that. Their final three games consecutive road matchups against the New York Giants and Cowboys before coming back home to close out the regular season against the Green Bay Packers.
It won't be easy, but there are some positives on their side, like having a two-game cushion in the division and already sweeping the season series from Minnesota.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +28.6%
Week 13 Result: Def. San Diego, 28-21
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 18.7%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 47.3%
Speaking of teams that are surging…
The Buccaneers have won four straight, and aside from a win against the Bears, the streak has featured wins against quality teams.
If the season ended today, the Buccaneers would make the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the NFC thanks to a half-game lead over the Washington Redskins, along with a one-game edge over both Minnesota and Green Bay.
While the Atlanta Falcons hold onto a tiebreaker since they have a 3-1 division record, Tampa Bay is keeping pace with Atlanta at the top of the NFC South.
That said, we still give Atlanta a 79.9% chance to win the division, compared to Tampa Bay’s 15.9% odds because of the differing quality of these two teams; Atlanta has a +55 point differential and ranks fifth in our nERD power ratings, while Tampa Bay is minus-8 and 19th.
Still, with seven wins in the bank, the Buccaneers are very much in the playoff mix, a far cry from Week 9 when a loss dropped their playoff odds to 1.7%.
Denver Broncos (8-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +16.8%
Week 13 Result: Def. Jacksonville, 20-10
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 62.3%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 79.1%
Their victory, coupled with a loss from the Miami Dolphins, moved Denver back into the sixth spot of the AFC playoff picture. The remaining schedule for Denver isn't going to make things any easier, though, as they'll first face the Tennessee Titans on the road, followed by matchups against the New England Patriots, Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.
Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: -23.5%
Week 13 Result: Lost to Dallas, 17-15
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 51.9%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 28.4%
As you might have noticed in the above chart, Minnesota’s playoff odds stood at 98.0% after Week 6.
It may seem crazy to see them that high at one point, but teams starting 5-0 have made the playoffs 90% of the time since 1995, according to Benjamin Morris of FiveThirtyEight.
To avoid becoming an outlier, the Vikings will probably need to go at least 3-1 in their final four games, which is not out of the realm of possibility. They'll first travel to Jacksonville for before hosting the Indianapolis Colts, visiting Green Bay, and closing out the season at home against Chicago.
It’s not a hopeless situation, though you’d be forgiven for getting that impression given the team’s play since mid-October.
Miami Dolphins (7-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -23.0%
Week 13 Result: Lost to Baltimore, 38-6
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 35.8%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 12.8%
The sound you heard on Sunday? It was the Dolphins crashing back down to earth.
It should be noted that Miami’s winning streak wasn't exactly the most impressive run in NFL history. After beating a Pittsburgh team led by a limping Ben Roethlisberger, Miami beat the Buffalo Bills by three, the New York Jets by four, the Chargers by seven (aided by four San Diego turnovers), the Los Angeles Rams by four, and the San Francisco 49ers by seven.
It wasn’t a murderer's row of opponents...and then Sunday happened.
Assuming the Dolphins beat both Buffalo and the Jets on the road -- which is far from a given -- they will probably still need to beat either the Arizona Cardinals or New England. If they finish with a 9-7 record, they'll need Denver to go 1-3 the rest of the way. That doesn’t even factor Pittsburgh into the equation, either.
Washington Redskins (6-5-1)
Playoff Odds Movement: -18.6%
Week 13 Result: Lost to Arizona, 31-23
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 62.8%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 44.2%
Washington is the victim of Tampa Bay’s hot streak, and while the Redskins might be the better team, they have their work cut out for them in NFC playoff hunt.
Washington will face the fading Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers over the next two weeks before playing the Bears and Giants. The Buccaneers close the year with two games against the Saints, a road game in Dallas, and a home game against Carolina.
The Redskins seem to have an edge here, but will need to outpace the Bucs by at least one game during this span. If they produce the same record down the stretch, Washington is eliminated, explaining why their playoff odds are not higher.