Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 15
Week 14 was one for the ages. NFL fans saw plenty of upsets, from the Chicago Bears over the Dallas Cowboys to the Kansas City Chiefs over the New England Patriots, and were also gifted the best game of the year with the San Francisco 49ers defeating the New Orleans Saints in shootout fashion.
Most of these games had direct playoff implications, and things are coming down the wire across the NFL. Let’s see which teams are trending up and which ones have dipped the most. Here are the biggest playoff odds movers following Week 14, according to our models.
Tennessee Titans (8-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +19%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 34.5%
Week 15 Playoff Odds: 53.5%
Perhaps Ryan Tannehill should starting getting some MVP love. Through the first six weeks of the season, the Tennessee Titans had a 9.9 percent chance to make the playoffs with a 2-4 record averaging 16.3 points per game. Since taking over as the starter, the Titans are 6-1 and have put up 31.4 points per game. Their most recent 42-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders also vaulted their playoff odds to over 50 percent, making them our biggest playoff odds mover of the week.
While Derrick Henry has been running like a mad man, Tannehill's arm is the real reason for the turnaround. Among quarterbacks with at least 150 drop backs, he ranks seventh in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, second in Passing Success Rate, and is even adding 0.54 Rushing NEP per carry -- the same as Lamar Jackson.
Quarterback Completion Percentage Over Expectation (CPOE) and EPA/play through Week 14.
Welcome to the Lamar Jackson + Ryan Tannehill era pic.twitter.com/0ZVeMMnjD8
— new-age analytical (@benbbaldwin) December 10, 2019
With the Houston Texans falling in Week 14 to the Denver Broncos, Tennessee now has a share of the AFC South lead. They can take the lead with a home win over the Texans this week, but will likely have to beat the Saints and win a rematch with their division rival in Week 17 if they want to secure the division. But with Tannehill playing lights out, my money would be on them.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
Playoff Odds Movement: +17.1%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 25.8%
Week 15 Playoff Odds: 42.9%
The Philadelphia Eagles just keep hanging around. Coming off a three-game losing streak that featured a loss to the Miami Dolphins, Philly needed overtime to come back on an Eli Manning-led New York Giants team. Luckily for them, the Cowboys just strung together three losses of their own, putting the Eagles just half a game behind them for the NFC South.
Carson Wentz has put up two solid starts, throwing for multiple touchdowns and over 300 yards in back-to-back weeks. But he somehow escaped Week 14 with a worse receiver situation, as Alshon Jeffery suffered what seems to be a season-ending foot injury. As far as healthy receivers go, that leaves J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward as the only options on the roster.
The Eagles are down to two receivers
Greg Ward has 7 career receptions
JJ Arcega-Whiteside has 6 career receptions
— adam ferrone (@_rone) December 10, 2019
While Dallas and Philadelphia have a rematch in Week 16, Philly has a slightly easier path to the postseason, as they get matchups with the Washington Redskins and Giants, while Dallas gets the Los Angeles Rams and the Redskins. With how underwhelming of a season the Eagles have put together, it's crazy to think they have a reasonable shot at winning their division.
Los Angeles Rams (8-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +12.4%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 16.6%
Week 15 Playoff Odds: 29%
After getting trounced by the Baltimore Ravens three weeks ago, the Rams have made a concerted effort to establish the run, giving Todd Gurley 47 touches over the past two weeks. While they had practiced load management to keep him fresh for the playoffs, it seems that plan is off the table after they finally realized they were in danger of missing the postseason.
While feeding Gurley seems like the recipe for success on the surface, their rushing offense still ranks just 25th when adjusted for schedule. The real reason for their recent dominance is their defense's return to the elite tier. After limiting the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks to 19 combined points, Los Angeles ranks fourth in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. It seems as though pairing the best shadow cornerback in the NFL with the best pass rusher in the NFL is a good combination.
While their two-game hot streak is encouraging for their playoff chances, playing in a division with two double-digit-win teams is not. The Rams' best bet is going to be winning out and securing a wild card.
Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
Playoff Odds Movement: -17.2%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 74.3%
Week 15 Playoff Odds: 57.1%
Mitchell Trubisky has posted three games above 0.14 Passing NEP per drop back. Those games were against the Redskins in Week 3, the Detroit Lions in Week 13, and the Cowboys in Week 14. Remember when everyone thought the Cowboys were one of the few elite defenses in the league? Now they're making Trubisky look like an MVP candidate.
Dallas has immense talent on both sides of the ball, and their offense is operating at peak performance, ranking second in Adjusted NEP per play behind only the Ravens. They are also in a division where their opponents combine for an 11-28 record -- yet they only have a half-game lead over the 6-7 Eagles. Something has to change.
Cowboys fans, when they find out Jason Garrett hasn’t been fired yet pic.twitter.com/oUC4E5Nx9I
— FantasyDraft (@FantasyDraft) December 6, 2019
What's worse is that they have yet to beat a team over .500, making their Week 15 matchup with the 8-5 Rams a tough one. While this win would be massive for morale -- and Jason Garrett's job -- they can still secure the division with wins in both Week 16 and 17.
Houston Texans (8-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -16.4%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 90.4%
Week 15 Playoff Odds: 74%
The swings in the NFL can be incredible. Just a week after dominating the Patriots, the Texans laid an egg at home against Drew Lock and the Broncos. After posting 0.56 Passing NEP per drop back against New England's top-ranked schedule-adjust pass defense, Deshaun Watson averaged -0.20 Passing NEP per drop back playing from behind after a 31-3 halftime deficit.
Coming into the week, Houston had a 90.4 percent chance at the playoffs. Their loss opened the door for the Titans, who are now tied for the lead in the division. This led to the second-biggest drop in playoff odds, as they now sit at a 74.0 percent chance to make the playoffs.
This division won't be tied for long, as Houston and Tennessee face each other twice over the next three weeks. Whoever secures the victory this week will likely find themselves back in the "winners" section of this article in Week 16.
Minnesota Vikings (9-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -11.1%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 86.2%
Week 15 Playoff Odds: 75.1%
The Minnesota Vikings found a way to defeat a division rival and still wind up seeing the third-largest drop in playoff odds. While there are plenty of factors that went into their drop, it is largely tied to the Green Bay Packers and the Rams winning, as LA is now just one game behind the Vikings for the second wild card spot in the NFC.
Minnesota also has a tough schedule down the stretch, as they have to travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers before returning home to play two division rivals in the Packers and the Bears to close out the season. They still have a shot at winning the division, but our models have the Packers as a 4-to-1 favorite to win the NFC North given their respective schedules. If the Vikings can win two of their next three, they'll lock up a playoff spot.