Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 12

The Panthers' downward spiral in the playoff race continued Sunday, and their loss was the Seahawks' gain.

The Carolina Panthers have had three straight weeks with a major decline in playoff odds.

After Weeks 10 and 11, I wrote that they were still in pretty good shape, given that they were starting from such a high place.

I will not be saying that again this week.

The Panthers fell at home to Seattle in Week 12’s most pivotal game as far as the postseason is concerned, and saw their playoff odds fall to just 21.9%. Their 26.2% drop was the biggest movement in postseason probability in either direction over the weekend.

The team that had the biggest increase was Seattle itself, as, like Carolina, the Seahawks came into the week with a roughly 50% of making the playoffs; their chances now stand above 75%.


Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

Playoff Odds Movement: +25.1%
Week 12 Result: Def. Carolina, 30-27
Odds Before Week 12: 50.0%
Odds After Week 12: 75.1%

The Seahawks saw the biggest gain in playoff odds for the second week in a row, having gone from a 30.6% chance of making the playoffs after Week 10 to a 75.1% chance of doing so now.

They would actually still miss the playoffs if the season ended today, as Washington is also 6-5 but has a better conference record (6-3 to 5-3). However, the Redskins are trending in the wrong direction, having lost on Thanksgiving after losing their starting quarterback for the year the previous Sunday.

The Panthers are the other 6-5 team in the conference, but Seattle now has a head-to-head win over them.

Seattle’s remaining schedule does include games against the Vikings and Chiefs, but their other games are a home-and-home with San Francisco and a home game against Arizona.

The combination of these factors certainly seems to put the Seahawks on the inside track for the conference’s final wild card spot.

Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

Playoff Odds Movement: +18.8%
Week 12 Result: Def. Washington, 31-23
Odds Before Week 12: 31.5%
Odds After Week 12: 50.3%

The Cowboys' win over Washington jumped them into first place in the NFC, as the two teams split the season series, but Dallas has a superior division record (3-1 versus 2-1).

Dallas also rates higher in our power rankings (at -0.8 points below average while Washington is -2.3), and Washington must deal with the loss of Alex Smith. Still, the Cowboys are not home free just yet, as Philadelphia won on Sunday to pull within a game of Dallas and Washington.

Their three remaining games will be challenging, as they host top-rated New Orleans this Sunday before hosting the No. 19 Eagles the following week for a game with huge implications. They follow that up with a trip to Indianapolis to take on the surging Colts, who are No. 13 in our rankings.

The schedule lets up somewhat after that, as they close the season at home against the No. 20 Buccaneers and on the road against the No. 25 Giants.

Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1)

Playoff Odds Movement: +16.8%
Week 12 Result: Def. Green Bay, 24-17
Odds Before Week 12: 53.5%
Odds After Week 12: 70.3%

The Vikings gave their playoff odds a massive shot in the arm and all but eliminated the rival Green Bay Packers with their win on Sunday night.

A division title repeat does not appear to be in the cards (the Bears are 1.5 games ahead with a head-to-head win), but Minnesota is in the driver's seat for a wild card berth. They now have a half-game lead over the field's other 6-5 teams and our power rankings see them as a better team than Washington and No. 16 Carolina; Minnesota is ranked 10th.

The Vikings do have some tough road games coming up (at No. 7 Patriots and at No. 11 Seahawks), but follow them up with a home game against the No. 30 Dolphins and a road tilt against the No. 27 Lions. They close the season against a Chicago team that could very well be locked into the No. 3 seed in the conference and have little to play for in Week 17.


Carolina Panthers (6-5)

Playoff Odds Movement: -26.2%
Week 12 Result: Lost to Seattle, 30-27
Odds Before Week 12: 48.1%
Odds After Week 12: 21.9%

The Panthers have gone from being in a truly fine position to being the dog whose house is on fire in a relatively short span of time.

Their odds were over 75% heading into Week 10 when they were 6-2 and only seven teams had a better chance of reaching the postseason. They are now tied with the Eagles for the 16th-best playoff odds.

Carolina is looking like a cautionary tell about how fleeting turnover success can be, as through the first nine weeks of the season, they had the fourth-highest turnover margin in the NFL (plus-8). During their three-game losing streak, they are minus-4, tied for the third-worst turnover differential.

The Panthers are hardly out of it completely, but they have their work cut out for them, as they now have head-to-head losses to both teams directly ahead of them in the wild card standings (they also lost to Washington in Week 6).

Washington Redskins (6-5)

Playoff Odds Movement: -21.9%
Week 12 Result: Lost to Dallas, 31-23
Odds Before Week 12: 69.4%
Odds After Week 12: 47.5%

Washington fell to its top competition for the NFC East, and not only lost ground in the standings but lost the chance to bolster its tiebreaker chances. The squad could have earned a season sweep of the Cowboys and improved to 3-0 in the division.

Instead, Washington now actually fell to second place, as the Cowboys are now the team with the better divisional record.

Things got even worse for them on Sunday, as Philadelphia won to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Green Bay Packers (4-6-1)

Playoff Odds Movement: -16.2%
Week 12 Result: Lost to Minnesota, 24-17
Odds Before Week 12: 26.5%
Odds After Week 12: 10.3%

Baring an improbable December, it will be another postseason without the Packers.

They are 1.5 games out of the final wild card spot in the NFC and would have a tough time winning tiebreakers -- Green Bay is 2-5-1 in the conference, has head-to-head losses to Washington and Seattle and lost the season series to the Vikings.

That is a lot of ground to make up and it certainly seems like it is too much, even for Aaron Rodgers.