Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 15
A month ago, NFL fans asked themselves, "What is wrong with Green Bay?"
The new question might be, "Just how far can the Packers go?"
Following a Week 11 loss to Washington, Green Bay fell to 4-6 and saw their playoff odds drop to 6.3%. Since then, Aaron Rodgers and company have won four straight games, bringing their postseason odds back up to 65.1%. Their victory over the Bears on Sunday marked a 30.7% increase in postseason probability, making them the week’s biggest movers in the right direction.
The Packers are now also the favorites to win the NFC North, as they have a 53.1% chance of doing so, compared to Detroit's 46.9% division title odds (the Lions also have a 12.0% chance of earning a wild card berth).
Green Bay has also moved to sixth in our nERD power ratings and has the eighth-best Super Bowl odds in the league (2.9%).
Only Denver, which saw their odds decline by 39.5%, experienced a bigger change in playoff odds over the weekend.
Here’s more on the week’s biggest playoff odds movers.
Green Bay Packers (8-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: +30.7%
Week 15 Result: Def. Buffalo, 30-27
Playoff Odds Before Week 15: 34.4%
Playoff Odds After Week 15: 65.1%
It seems likely that Week 17’s game between Green Bay and Detroit will decide the winner of the NFC North.
To be precise, there’s a 93% chance this is the case, if the Vegas moneylines for the teams’ Week 16 games are taken at face value.
There is a scenario where Detroit clinches the division on Sunday, but that would require a Detroit victory on the road at Dallas and a Packers loss at home to the Vikings; neither event is likely on its own, and the chances both happen are less than 7%.
If both teams win, both teams lose, or the Packers win and Lions lose, the regular season finale will indeed decide the division.
According to our nERD ratings, we’d expect the Packers to be between 1.5 and 2-point favorites in the game, since it is in Detroit (on a neutral field, Green Bay would be about a 5-point favorite).
Miami Dolphins (9-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +25.9%
Week 15 Result: Def. New York Jets, 34-13
Playoff Odds Before Week 15: 24.5%
Playoff Odds After Week 15: 50.4%
The Dolphins will be underdogs against the Bills on Sunday and will presumably also not be favored to beat the Patriots (though this could change if the Patriots have the 1 seed in the AFC locked up going into Week 17 and rest starters).
If they can find a way to beat Buffalo, though, they may not even have to beat the Patriots, as a 10-6 Dolphins team would be in excellent shape.
Assuming the Dolphins win this week, even if they lose to the Patriots in Week 17, there are a limited number of scenarios in which they would miss the playoffs, and all of them include Denver winning out. If Miami beats Buffalo and Denver loses one of their two remaining games, the Dolphins are guaranteed to make the playoffs.
If the Broncos instead win both games they have left, they would win a two-way tie with a 10-6 Dolphins team, regardless of whether Miami lost to Buffalo or New England.
There are also more complicated scenarios, involving three-way or four-way ties among 10-6 non-division winners, that all require Denver winning out to be possible. The Miami Herald has these scenarios covered if you want to venture down that rabbit hole, but the short version is that most of them are good for the Dolphins.
Then again, there is also a chance the Dolphins lose out, and in that case, it would only take one Denver win to eliminate them.
New York Giants (10-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +19.3%
Week 15 Result: Def. Detroit, 17-6
Playoff Odds Before Week 15: 80.5%
Playoff Odds After Week 15: 99.8%
New York fans can probably start getting those playoff tickets ready. The Giants will miss the playoffs if all of the following events happen:
-They lose their remaining two games to Philadelphia and Washington
-Tampa Bay beats both New Orleans and Carolina
-Green Bay beats Minnesota and Detroit
-Detroit beats the Cowboys before losing to the Packers
-Atlanta wins at least one of their final two games.
So yeah, they're in pretty good shape.
Denver Broncos (8-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: -39.5%
Week 15 Result: Lost to New England, 16-3
Playoff Odds Before Week 15: 63.9%
Playoff Odds After Week 15: 24.4%
Denver’s reign as NFL champion could be nearing its end, as the Broncos are looking likely to become the sixth team of the millennium to miss the playoffs the season after winning the Super Bowl.
The Broncos trail the Dolphins for the 6 seed in the AFC but also have two more teams ahead of them: Baltimore and Tennessee. The Dolphins and Ravens have better conference records than Denver, as do the Steelers, who could drop into the wild card field with a loss this week to Baltimore.
Washington Redskins (7-6-1)
Playoff Odds Movement: -24.7%
Week 15 Result: Lost to Carolina, 26-15
Playoff Odds Before Week 15: 53.0%
Playoff Odds After Week 15: 28.3%
Washington really blew it.
A win at home versus a mediocre Panthers team would have meant a wide open road to the playoffs. Had the Redskins picked up the victory on Monday night, wins over the hapless Bears and a Giants team that would probably have nothing to play for would have secured a wild card berth.
But they did not, and now their playoff position is tenuous.
Washington can now do no better than the 6 seed, which is currently occupied by Tampa Bay. Green Bay is also ahead of the Redskins, which now almost certainly have to win out and hope for help.
Even if they do win both of their remaining games, there is a chance the NFC South and NFC North runners-up finish 10-6, and either scenario would eliminate Washington.
Minnesota Vikings (7-7)
Playoff Odds Movement: -16.7%
Week 15 Result: Lost to Indianapolis, 34-6
Playoff Odds Before Week 15: 18.8%
Playoff Odds After Week 15: 2.1%
The Vikings were not likely to make the playoffs before Sunday, and after their drubbing at the hands of Indianapolis, they are now in need of a Christmas miracle.
If Minnesota wins out, they would be 9-7, in need of two Tampa Bay losses, at least one loss from Washington, and at least one win from Detroit (to ensure the Vikings are tied with the Packers and not the Lions because Minnesota would own the tiebreaker over Green Bay, but not Detroit, in this hypothetical).
There is also a fun scenario that involves the Vikings losing in their season finale to Chicago but still making the playoffs an 8-8 team. There’s a less than one percent chance of this happening, per The Upshot, but then again, it is 2016, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.