NFL Betting: Wild Card, Division, and Conference Championship Probabilities Entering Week 18
This is it. Week 18. The last hurrah for NFL teams in the 2021 regular season.
While there are a few foregone conclusions (14 teams are eliminated from playoff contention, and the Green Bay Packers are locked into the 1 seed in the NFC), a lot is left to be determined.
Here are some standout bits of information from thousands of simulations by our algorithm here at numberFire. And of course, here's what they mean for betting markets over at NFL odds.
NFC Wild Card
Here are each team's NFC wild card odds, via NFL odds.
|San Francisco 49ers||-145|
|New Orleans Saints||+115|
|Los Angeles Rams||+270|
Despite just four options, there are some betting value options here. They also come in the form of the teams with plus-money odds.
The New Orleans Saints (+115 to clinch a wild card seed) finished with the 5 through 7 seed at a 53.8% clip in the simulations despite betting odds that imply odds of 46.5%.
The Los Angeles Rams (+270) are also a tick more likely (28.1%) to finish with a wild card seed than their odds suggest (27.0%). A wild card for the Rams could happen with a loss to the San Francisco 49ers -- who need a win of their own to make the playoffs -- plus a win from the Arizona Cardinals over the Seattle Seahawks.
AFC Wild Card
Here are each team's AFC wild card odds, via NFL odds.
|New England Patriots||-2200|
|Los Angeles Chargers||-160|
|Las Vegas Raiders||-105|
To put this on front street: none of the bets here are particularly great values, but the New England Patriots' (-2200) simulation odds (98.8%) to qualify for a wild card seed outperform the implied moneyline odds (95.7%), giving us some expected value on this number, and at such a high probability, it's a pretty nice bet if you've got the bankroll.
The Indianapolis Colts (-1250) are also 91.9% likely to clinch a wild card seed, via the simulations. That leaves little room for the rest of the pack.
A note on the longshot recommendation with the Baltimore Ravens (+2000). Those +2000 odds suggest a 4.8% probability, and the Ravens are rating out as 2.0% likely to clinch a wild card spot.
NFC Conference Championship
Here are each team's NFC conference championship odds, via NFL odds.
|Green Bay Packers||+170|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+400|
|Los Angeles Rams||+450|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1900|
|New Orleans Saints||+5500|
The Packers will have a baked-in advantage, as they've clinched the 1 seed, but that's not how our model sees it once the games finally get played out.
Green Bay ranks sixth in the league in our power ratings but just fourth in the NFC. Their nERD (7.85 -- meaning we'd expect them to beat an average team by 7.85 at a neutral site) trails the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' (9.85), the Cardinals' (8.76), and the Dallas Cowboys' (8.52).
Given that, and given that the FanDuel Sportsbook odds are so heavily skewed in their favor, they're not a good value. That also means there's value to go around elsewhere.
That lands on the Buccaneers (24.8% likely to win the conference championship, outperforming their implied odds of 20.0%) and the Cardinals (12.8% likely to win the NFC, besting their implied odds of 10.5%).
AFC Conference Championship
Here are each team's AFC conference championship odds, via NFL odds.
|Kansas City Chiefs||+210|
|New England Patriots||+750|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+1800|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+4200|
Similar to the Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs (+210) are getting a lot of love here but are just eighth in our power ratings (6.52), trailing the Buffalo Bills (11.02) and New England Patriots (8.50) in the AFC by a pretty big margin.
That puts a lot of value on the Bills (34.7% likely to win the AFC, dominating their implied odds of 22.2%) and a bit on the Patriots (14.2% likely compared to 11.8% odds).
NFC West Division Odds
Here's a quick look at the NFC West over at NFL odds.
|Los Angeles Rams||-380|
I won't get too deep into the weeds here, but as we saw previously with the wild card odds, our model is higher on the Cardinals versus the Rams than the sportsbook odds are.
Our algorithm gives the Cardinals a 28.1% chance to win the NFC West. Their +290 odds equate to just 25.6%. It's a bit of a longshot still, yes, but there's expected value on this number.