Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 12
January 15, 1994 was the last time an NFL team based in Los Angeles played a postseason game. Jeff Hostetler and the then-Los Angeles Raiders were outgunned by Jim Kelly’s Bills in a 29-24 loss in Buffalo.
Jared Goff, one of the two current starting quarterbacks in Los Angeles, would not be born for another 10 months.
The Raiders and Rams failed to make the playoffs the following season and left the city soon thereafter, but the Rams’ returned last year and the Chargers relocated to the city for the 2017 season. Thanks in part to the results over the weekend, a playoff return may not be far behind.
The Rams (8-3), who beat New Orleans 26-20 at home on Sunday, saw their playoff odds increase by 18.5%, the biggest gain of Week 12. Their chances of making the postseason now stand at 91.1%, while their division title odds are at 72.5%.
It was also a good Thanksgiving weekend for the Chargers (5-6), whose playoff probability increased by 14.6% to 46.1%. As their odds indicate, the Chargers still have a ton of work to do and would actually miss the playoffs in the season ended today.
Still, they look to be the best team in the fight for the AFC’s final wild card spot, while the AFC West is also back in play thanks to the Chiefs’ recent slump.
Los Angeles Rams (8-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: +18.5%
Week 12 Result: Def. New Orleans, 26-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 12: 72.6%
Playoff Odds After Week 12: 91.1%
The Rams’ rise here owes less to favorable results elsewhere than the mere fact that they picked up a win in a game that was more or less a tossup.
The Saints came into the game with a nERD score of 10.2, compared with a 7.7 rating for the Rams, so after accounting for home field advantage, we would have expected the margin to be razor-thin (nERD measures how many points a team would be expected to win by against an average opponent on a neutral field. For more information, visit our glossary.)
The win was a big one, as it maintained their one-game lead over the Seahawks, who won in Arizona. The Seahawks won the head-to-head matchup earlier in the season, so the rematch in Seattle will be critical.
Regardless of how the division race goes down, the Rams have made it a near certainty they will see the postseason.
Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: +14.6%
Week 12 Result: Def. Dallas, 28-6
Playoff Odds Before Week 12: 31.5%
Playoff Odds After Week 12: 46.1%
Four weeks into the season, the Chargers were 0-4 and the Chiefs were 4-0.
Now Los Angeles is just one game behind Kansas City in the standings and has a 35.2% chance to win the AFC West, as compared to the Chiefs’ 60.4% odds. While the Chargers are surging and the Chiefs are in the midst of a disastrous run, Los Angeles still has a ton of work to do.
Aside from owning a one-game edge, Kansas City won the first game between the two teams and will host the rematch on December 16. That game is actually the only game left on the Chiefs’ schedule with an above-average nERD score, while they also get to face three bottom-ten teams, those being the Jets (24), the Raiders (28) and the Dolphins (30). Their other game is against Denver, who sits at 18.
Buffalo Bills (6-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +14.2%
Week 12 Result: Def. Kansas City, 16-10
Playoff Odds Before Week 12: 21.6%
Playoff Odds After Week 12: 35.8%
Just when it looked like the Bills were toast after a three-game losing streak, they put together a road win that kept them in play for a wild card berth.
Their other competitors for the AFC’s final wild card berth -- Baltimore, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and Oakland -- all won, and since the 27th-ranked Bills have a lower nERD rating than three of these teams, they could ill afford to lose ground in the standings.
Detroit Lions (6-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -22.4%
Week 12 Result: Lost to Minnesota, 30-23
Playoff Odds Before Week 12: 43.7%
Playoff Odds After Week 12: 21.3%
Detroit’s home loss on Thanksgiving nearly halved its playoff odds, thanks both to the loss itself and wins by Atlanta and Seattle that made the pair 7-4.
The defeat also removed almost any hope of an NFC North title for the Lions. Their divisional odds now stand at just 1.3% and Minnesota leads them by three games.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -20.7%
Week 12 Result: Lost to Buffalo, 16-10
Playoff Odds Before Week 12: 91.1%
Playoff Odds After Week 12: 70.4%
As mentioned in the Chargers section above, Kansas City still has the inside track to a division title despite their recent poor play.
They will need to take advantage to avoid becoming a historical outlier. As Pete Grathoff writes in the Kansas City Star, only five teams have started 5-0 and proceeded to miss the playoffs in the current postseason format.
Houston Texans (4-7)
Playoff Odds Movement: -12.4%
Week 12 Result: Lost to Baltimore, 23-16
Playoff Odds Before Week 12: 17.7%
Playoff Odds After Week 12: 5.3%
The Texans’ playoff hopes were dangling by a thread heading into their Monday night matchup in Baltimore. After their 23-16 loss, this thread was, for all intents and purposes, cut.
Had Houston improved to 5-6, they would have remained in the jumbled hunt for the six-seed in the AFC. As things stand, they are two games behind Baltimore with a head-to-head loss and also have six teams themselves and the Ravens.