Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 6
Cue the old Jim Mora soundbite -- it’s time to talk about the playoffs.
Playoff odds, to be exact.
After beginning the season 2-0, the Steelers’ playoff odds had been in the 70% range up until a big home loss to Jacksonville in Week 5, which knocked them down to 56.0%. By taking care of business against the Chiefs, Pittsburgh’s playoff odds have climbed all the way to 84.0%.
At the other end of the spectrum, Baltimore was the week’s biggest loser after dropping a game at home to Chicago. The combination of the Steelers’ win and the Ravens’ loss nearly halved their playoff odds, bringing them down to 27.6%.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +28.4%
Week 6 Result: Def. Kansas City, 19-13
Playoff Odds Before Week 6: 56.0%
Playoff Odds After Week 6: 84.0%
The Steelers sit atop the AFC North with a one-game edge over Baltimore, but this lead may be more comfortable than it appears. Pittsburgh also has a head-to-head win over Baltimore and looks to be considerably better team. The Steelers have a +16 point differential, while the Ravens have been outscored by 10 points.
This difference is displayed in our most recent power rankings, which tabs the Steelers as the 4th-best team in football, while the Ravens check in at 23rd.
In terms of upcoming schedule, Pittsburgh has to face three top-10 teams, while Baltimore has four such teams upcoming (both will play the Packers and Texans, while Pittsburgh also has the Patriots; the Ravens have games against the Steelers and Vikings in their future).
Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +27.1%
Week 6 Result: Def. Green Bay, 23-10
Playoff Odds Before Week 6: 38.5%
Playoff Odds After Week 6: 65.6%
The Vikings took care of business against their division rivals, and even if we don’t account for Aaron Rodgers’ injury -- which means the Vikings likely have an even better chance of making the playoffs -- things are looking good for them.
Minnesota is now in first place in the NFC North by virtue of their head-to-head win over the Packers, and our power rankings agree that they're the top-ranked team within the division -- the Vikings slot in at 8th, ahead of the Packers (10th) and 3-3 Lions (18th).
New Orleans Saints (3-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +20.9%
Week 6 Result: Def. Detroit, 52-38
Playoff Odds Before Week 6: 35.0%
Playoff Odds After Week 6: 55.9%
Week 6 was certainly a good one for New Orleans.
The Saints won big against Detroit, while the other three teams in the NFC South all lost. They also climbed seven spots in our power rankings to sixth overall thanks to the combination of their usual efficient offense and a defense that has surprisingly not been terrible. New Orleans is 18th in Net Expected Points (NEP) allowed per play at 0.02, which is on pace to be the team’s third-best output of the last 10 years. This would be a huge improvement over last season, where they ranked 30th with a mark of 0.16.
The defense is currently feasting on turnovers rather than stopping opponents from moving the ball (5th in turnovers per drive, 28th in yards per play), so this improvement may not actually be sustainable.
In any case, their schedule looks to be considerably more manageable than Atlanta’s -- the Saints have three games remaining top-12 opponents, compared to six for the Falcons.
Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: -25.1%
Week 6 Results: Lost to Chicago, 27-24
Playoff Odds Before Week 6: 52.7%
Playoff Odds After Week 6: 27.6%
The Ravens weren't the only squad to watch their odds take a hit in front of the home crowd, though, as we can see below.
Atlanta Falcons (3-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: -25.0%
Week 6 Results: Lost to Miami, 20-17
Playoff Odds Before Week 6: 61.4%
Playoff Odds After Week 6: 36.4%
Both Baltimore and Atlanta failed to take care of business at home against a weak opponent. It shouldn't be surprising that their playoff odds dropped accordingly.
As mentioned earlier, the Ravens may only be a game out of first place, but they have a number of factors working against them, such as Pittsburgh’s head-to-head win and the fact that the Steelers look like a much better team.
Baltimore has looked good in wins, but none of them have really come against a quality team; they have beaten Cincinnati, Cleveland and a Derek Carr-less Oakland team. They have also looked very bad in losses, getting smacked around by Jacksonville, losing by 17 to the Steelers, and managing just 4.2 yards per play against Chicago.
The Falcons are a better team than the Ravens, but even the reigning NFC Champions are currently just 15th in our power rankings. The Falcons have been held back by their defense, which ranks 25th in the league, per our metrics. They are now also looking up at two teams in the NFC South standings.
Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: -21.8%
Week 6 Results: Lost to Minnesota, 23-10
Playoff Odds Before Week 6: 82.5%
Playoff Odds After Week 6: 60.7%
With Aaron Rodgers’ status up in the air, it's possible that Green Bay’s real playoff odds are lower than what the numbers suggest.
Nothing seems definite just yet, but the future Hall of Famer is in danger of missing the rest of this season after suffering a collarbone injury. The loss of the game itself did a lot of damage to Green Bay’s playoff chances, as they handed their main competition in the division a head-to-head win.
If they still had Rodgers, though, the Packers would have still been in solid shape to make the postseason, but as things stand, their future is very much in question.