Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 11
After a wild Week 10, the top of the NFC playoff picture is wide open. As Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks took down the last unbeaten team in the San Francisco 49ers, the New Orleans Saints stumbled against the Atlanta Falcons. The AFC was also thrown for a loop, as the Indianapolis Colts lost to the tanking Miami Dolphins, and the Buffalo Bills were overpowered by a previously inept Cleveland Browns team.
These outcomes led to some massive shakeups in playoff odds across the board. With only seven weeks left in the regular season, every matchup can swing a team's odds. Let’s see which ones are improving, and which ones need to step their game up. Here are the biggest playoff odds movers following Week 10, according to our models.
Seattle Seahawks (8-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +23.5%
Week 10 Playoff Odds: 68.8%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 92.3%
The 49ers were down George Kittle, Kwon Alexander, and Matt Breida, so we should discount their first loss of the season. Still, the Seahawks managed to cut into their lead in the NFC standings despite an ugly game from Russell Wilson. The MVP candidate averaged a brutal -0.44 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, which was tied for the third-worst among quarterbacks in Week 10.
Luckily, Wilson's defense came to play, as they sacked Jimmy Garoppolo five times and forced him to turn the ball over three times. A win over a division rival is always sweet heading into a bye week.
Wow. Game of the Year so far.
Win Probability Chart for 2019 Week 10: @Seahawks at @49ers with data courtesy @nflscrapR #NFL #SEAvsSF pic.twitter.com/szpqZyv8Ho
— Lee Sharpe (@LeeSharpeNFL) November 12, 2019
In Week 12, Seattle will need to keep the momentum going. They have four tough matchups against the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, and Carolina Panthers in a row. Plus, they'll have a rematch with the 49ers in Week 17, which could very well decide the division. Seattle is a near-lock for the postseason after their victory Monday night, but they'll have their work cut out for them down the stretch.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +19.7%
Week 10 Playoff Odds: 55.5%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 75.2%
The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to shock teams with their efficiency on both sides of the ball. While many wrote them off after losing Ben Roethlisberger, they doubled down and traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick while everyone thought they should rebuild. The investment has already paid off, as he has five interceptions in seven games with his new team.
The Steelers are also 5-2 in that span, with both of those losses being decided by less than a touchdown. Their most recent win put them in a strong position to secure a Wild Card berth, if not more. They have a matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals sandwiched between two games against the Browns over the next three weeks, all of which they should win.
Their toughest matchups will be against the Bills in Week 15 and a rematch with the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17. With Buffalo fighting them for a Wild Card spot and Baltimore sitting atop the AFC North, those games will likely decide Pittsburgh's postseason fate.
Minnesota Vikings (7-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: +16.2%
Week 10 Playoff Odds: 74.8%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 91%
The Minnesota Vikings continue to dominate teams on both sides of the ball, as they now rank sixth and seventh in Adjusted NEP per play and Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, respectively. They also completely shut down the highest paid running back in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott, in primetime on Sunday night. He averaged -0.3 Rushing NEP per play, picking up just 47 yards on his 20 carries.
This was probably an overemotional, overreaction late last night. I just couldn't help myself. pic.twitter.com/u8i8c88pZd
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) November 11, 2019
The real story is the turnaround of Kirk Cousins. After criticizing his own play in the beginning of the season, he now averages 0.33 Passing NEP per drop back. That's the third-highest figure among quarterbacks behind only Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott.
The Vikings will still need to catch up to the Green Bay Packers, who they lost to in Week 2, if they want to take down the division. They have a mixed schedule to close out the season, with tough matchups against Seattle and Green Bay, but our metrics have them at a 91 percent chance to make the postseason after taking down the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10.
Buffalo Bills (6-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: -25.2%
Week 10 Playoff Odds: 77.5%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 52.3%
Now three weeks in a row, the Bills are one of our biggest playoff odds movers. While they landed among the "winners" following Week 9, they are on the other end of the spectrum this week after losing to the Browns. Cleveland exploited their biggest weakness, which is their 29th-ranked defense in terms of Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 195 total yards on 24 carries and 9 receptions.
With Kareem Hunt on the active roster, the @Browns used "Pony Personnel" (2 HB) featuring Hunt & Nick Chubb on the field together for 28 of 65 plays (43%).@NickChubb21 gained 113 of his 116 rush yards on 11 carries with Hunt also on the field.#BUFvsCLE | #Browns pic.twitter.com/dTk7qf7ydd
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 10, 2019
This will continue to be problematic for the Bills, as they rank 24th in Adjusted Passing NEP per play. If they continue to struggle against the run and can't pass their way in a shootout, they won't win many games that they don't jump out to a lead in.
They draw the Dolphins and the Denver Broncos over the next two weeks, but then face a gauntlet of playoff teams to close out the season. If the good version of Josh Allen shows up -- the one that scrambles wildly and makes plays outside of structure -- then they could pull off some wins and sneak into the playoff picture.
Indianapolis Colts (5-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -18.8%
Week 10 Playoff Odds: 54.8%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 36%
In hindsight, it's probably not that shocking that Brian Hoyer and the Colts only put up 12 points in a losing effort to the Dolphins, but man was that an ugly performance. Hoyer had a Passing Success Rate of just 37.5 percent, while Marlon Mack was successful on just 31.58 percent of his rushes. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kalen Ballage actually had worse Success Rates, but the Colts simply couldn't string together enough plays to pull out the victory.
Getting Jacoby Brissett back will obviously be huge, as Hoyer can't even defeat a tanking Dolphins franchise. The Colts will have four division games in their next seven, as well as three games against strong NFC South teams. With Wild Card spots being a hot commodity in the AFC, their best chance at the playoffs is going to be stealing the division from the Houston Texans.
Los Angeles Rams (5-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -18.6%
Week 10 Playoff Odds: 30.9%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 12.3%
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, wunderkind Sean McVay has lost his luster with a 5-4 record thus far, as his offense ranks 22nd in Adjusted NEP per play. The real issue is Jared Goff, who ranks fourth-worst in Passing NEP per drop back among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.
Goff has routinely struggled outside of structure throughout his career and currently ranks 31st with a 24.1 percent pressured completion percentage, according to PlayerProfiler. Yet, Les Snead opted to part ways with most of the offensive line that was so dominant over the last few seasons in favor of high-priced assets at skill positions and on defense.
Wonderful. The Rams offensive line just keeps getting worse.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) November 12, 2019
Five of the Rams' next seven games are against opponents that rank in the top half of the league in sacks, so their offensive struggles will likely continue. Playing in a division with the 49ers and Seahawks, their postseason hopes are pretty much toast unless they turn things around soon.