Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 8
At this point in the season, health is a luxury for most NFL teams. The Dallas Cowboys are a prime example of that, as they were upset against the New York Jets just one week ago without their starting tackles. With a healthy line, the Cowboys torched the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7, giving themselves a massive boost. As talented players continue to enter and exit lineups, we're likely to see more swings like this on a week-to-week basis.
Teams still have plenty of time to turn their seasons around. Let’s see which ones are soaring above expectations, and which ones need to step their game up. Here are the biggest playoff odds movers following Week 7, according to our models.
Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: +33.6%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 32.6%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 66.2%
Dak Prescott was held under 300 passing yards and was scoreless through the air in his Week 6 bout with the Jets. Amari Cooper left early in that game, and he was already without Tyron Smith and La'el Collins on his offensive line. Many predicted the tide to turn in the NFC East in Week 7 with the Eagles coming to town, but with a healthy line, Prescott squashed that dream.
Make it FOUR straight wins for the @dallascowboys over the Eagles: pic.twitter.com/O7JPLzTJFx
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 21, 2019
With their 37-10 win over Philly, Dallas now has a clear lead in the division. With the Washington Redskins tanking and the New York Giants also dropping in Week 7, the Cowboys have the best record in the NFC East with the highest playoff odds heading into their Week 8 bye.
While their offense ranks 1st in Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, their defense sits at 25th in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. They'll need to make some adjustments in their off week to prepare for a slew of difficult opponents in the second half of their schedule.
Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +29.8%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 37.3%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 67.1%
When Andrew Luck retired, our models gave the Indianapolis Colts a 26.3 percent chance at making the playoffs in Week 1, which was 20th in the NFL. After taking down both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in back-to-back games, they hold the ninth-best playoff odds at 67.1 percent. Frank Reich is making his claim for NFL Coach of the Year, as his team now leads the division with a 4-2 record entering Week 8.
Vance McDonald esque Stiff-Arm by Darius Leonardpic.twitter.com/JFKIIJGJhP
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 20, 2019
A big difference maker was the return of Darius Leonard, who overcame his concussion symptoms and played for the first time since Week 2. He recorded 10 tackles and picked off Deshaun Watson as well. The Colts have a relatively soft schedule over the next month, so they could solidify their playoff chances if they continue their recent success.
Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +22.3%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 56.3%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 78.6%
The Baltimore Ravens have soared back to the top of the playoff odds leaders with a road win against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in a rainy Week 7 game. Wilson had his worst game of the season, as the Ravens' trade for Marcus Peters has seemingly paid off immediately. Peters recorded a pick-six as Wilson posted a -0.24 Passing NEP per drop back, his lowest of 2019.
Lamar Jackson topped 100 yards with a score on the ground in his second straight game. He continues to lead the charge for a Baltimore run game that ranks first in Rushing NEP per play. The Ravens are on bye this week before taking on the New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and Buffalo Bills in five of their next six games. That gauntlet will be a challenge for this squad that continues to struggle on the defensive end.
Houston Texans (4-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: -28.0%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 85.4%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 57.4%
After landing in the "Winners" section of last week's playoff odds movers, the Houston Texans are the biggest losers this week. Deshaun Watson had more interceptions than touchdowns for the second straight week and took three sacks in the loss against the Colts. Things should get better, as the Texans don't face a team inside the top-10 in adjusted sack rate for five weeks, according to Football Outsiders.
Houston still ranks inside the top-16 in each of our efficiency metrics on both sides of the ball, so they're clearly a talented team. They just need to make keeping Watson upright a top priority.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -27.3%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 59.8%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 32.5%
The Philadelphia Eagles have plenty of problems on both sides of the ball. For starters, the offense is clearly not as dynamic without DeSean Jackson. In Week 1, Carson Wentz posted a season-high 0.52 Passing NEP per drop back, which was the sixth-highest among passers with at least 15 attempts. Now, the Eagles rank 29th in Adjusted Passing NEP per play. ProFootballDoc.com reports that Jackson could still be a long way from returning, meaning Philly might not even have him for the remainder of the season.
Carson Wentz career with Torrey Smith/ DeSean Jackson (his only speed threats of his career)
16 game average:
41 TD/ 8 INT
This is what having 1 single speed threat does to a top 5 QB.
— Wingman™️ (@WingmansTweets) October 15, 2019
On the defensive side, Philly boasts the fifth-ranked run defense, but are getting shredded through the air, ranking 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. They made an offer for Jalen Ramsey, but the Rams clearly outbid them. Chris Harris could be an excellent backup plan, and the Denver Broncos are obviously comfortable with trading assets after shipping Emmanuel Sanders to San Francisco.
As the trade deadline looms, the Eagles need to make a move for another dynamic deep threat and a solid cornerback. If they don't land those assets, their playoff odds could continue to nosedive.
Chicago Bears (3-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: -18.6%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 26.1%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 7.5%
For two straight weeks the Chicago Bears allowed a running back to top 100 rushing yards on them. This time, a New Orleans Saints offense without Alvin Kamara ran wild against their front. Akiem Hicks was clearly missed as Latavius Murray racked up 119 yards and 2 scores on the ground.
Mitchell Trubisky also looked lost, as he needed 54 attempts and some garbage time to put up 251 yards and 2 passing touchdowns. The Chicago offense looks lifelass and now ranks 30th in Adjusted NEP per play. Their playoff odds are minuscule in a competitive NFC North, making their 2018 success look like a fluke.