Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 8

The Jets and Giants saw their postseason odds drop in Week 8, while the Raiders were the weekend's biggest winners.

Last weekend was not kind to New York sports fans.

The Mets lost the World Series to Kansas City in heartbreaking fashion, and the Jets and Giants were the two of the biggest losers in the NFL in Week 8.

After getting beat by the Raiders on Sunday, the Jets saw their playoff odds fall 15.4 percentage points  according to our projections, the biggest drop of any team.

Earlier in the day, the Giants were edged by the Saints, and their postseason chances dipped by 13.5 percentage points, the next largest decline.

Oakland and Houston fans were considerably happier, as their teams’ playoff odds were boosted by 18.5 and 13.3 percentage points, respectively.

Here are the numbers behind the playoff odds winners and losers this week.


Oakland Raiders (4-3)

Playoff Odds Movement: +18.5%
Week 8 Result: Def. New York Jets, 34-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 5.4%
Playoff Odds After Week 8: 23.9%

Things could not have gone better for the Raiders this week.

Not only did they look impressive in a win over the Jets, which came into the game ranked fourth in our power ratings, but also it was a disastrous week for the other AFC Wild Card contenders.

The Jets lost, as did the Chargers, Steelers, and Dolphins.

If the playoffs ended today, the Raiders would be the 5 seed, relegating the Jets to the 6 seed by virtue of their head-to-head win.

The convincing win over a team that we had rated as the one of league’s best vaulted Oakland from the 28th spot in our rankings to the 14th.

We project them to go 4-5 the rest of the way, so the odds remain against them playing in the middle of January. Still, Oakland has inserted itself in the playoff picture, which is not something we have been able to say in a long time.

Houston Texans (3-5)

Playoff Odds Movement: +13.3%
Week 8 Result: Def. Tennessee, 20-6
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 18.5%
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 31.8%

Houston was the beneficiary of Indianapolis’ loss to Carolina on Monday, as the Texans and Colts now have identical 3-5 records, with Indianapolis remaining ahead due to its win over Houston in Week 5.

For either team to make the playoffs, they will need to win the AFC South.

The Colts have a 45.3% chance to make the playoffs but only a 0.3% chance to get in as a wild card, while a Houston has a 0.4% chance to be a wild card.

One of the teams is much more likely to be one of the worst playoff teams ever, as we project the Colts to finish with 6.3 wins and Houston to win 6.1.

St. Louis Rams (4-3)

Playoff Odds Movement: +8.6%
Week 8 Result: Def. San Francisco, 27-6
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 36.8%
Playoffs Odds After Week 8: 45.4%

St. Louis is technically still on the outside looking in with regards to the postseason, but it’s looking increasingly likely that the Rams are one of the better teams in the NFL, and their playoff odds are starting to reflect that.

The Rams are ninth in our  nERD ratings and would be expected to beat an average team by about 3.8 points on a neutral field. In the NFC, only Arizona, Carolina, and Seattle are better.

The Cardinals, who are 6-2 and have a 76.6% chance of winning the NFC West, will almost certainly relegate the Rams to the wild card race, but it's a battle St. Louis will be in a good position to win.

The 5-2 Vikings currently own the final playoff spot in the conference, but we give the Rams a slightly better chance to be there when the season ends (Minnesota has a 43.8% chance to make the playoffs).

Despite an inferior record, our model considers the Rams to be better than the Vikings and projects them to have a better record for the rest of the season.

nERD rates the Vikings as a slightly below-average team, as they have played the weakest schedule in the NFC, according to Pro-Football-Reference.

The Rams also continue to have better playoff odds than the Seahawks, despite a slightly lower nERD rating, thanks to their half-game lead over Seattle in the standings and a head-to-head win.

Kansas City Chiefs (3-5)

Playoff Odds Movement: +6.0%
Week 8 Result: Def. Detroit, 45-10
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 7.0%
Playoffs Odds After Week 8: 13.0%

Kansas City saw their playoff odds increase after a big win in London, but a postseason berth remains unlikely.

The Chiefs are two games behind the Jets in the loss column for the final AFC playoff spot, and also have three teams (Pittsburgh, Buffalo Miami) between themselves and New York.

Still, as mentioned, it was a rough week for the conference’s wild card contenders, and, like the Raiders, the Chiefs were beneficiaries.

Kansas City also moved to 14th in our nERD rankings, so we can probably file them in the “solid teams that dug themselves in a deep hole with close losses” pile (along with the Seahawks).

Arizona Cardinals (6-2)

Playoff Odds Movement: +5.0%
Week 8 Result: Def. Cleveland, 34-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 86.4%
Playoffs Odds After Week 8: 91.4%

The beat goes on in the desert, as the Cardinals retained the top spot in our nERD ratings, and only the Patriots have higher Super Bowl odds (22.6%, compared to Arizona’s 21.9%).

Arizona has a 76.6% chance to win its division, which is sixth-highest in the league. This would presumably be higher if the Cardinals did not face such stiff intra-divisional competition, as the NFC West is the only team with three top-10 teams in our power ratings (the Seahawks are eighth and the Rams are ninth).


New York Jets (4-3)

Playoff Odds Movement: -15.4%
Week 8 Result: Lost to Oakland, 34-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 83.3%
Playoff Odds After Week 8: 67.9%

Sunday was the type of performance that prompts the familiar line from Gang Green fans: “same old Jets.”

New York was riding high through seven weeks, ranking fourth in our power ratings, with playoff odds north of 80%.

Then Week 8 happened.

An injury to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick surely didn’t help matters against the Raiders, but the bigger culprit was a defense that allowed 7.4 yards per play. It was the 11th-highest yards per play average allowed this season, and was especially surprising coming from a defense that came into the game allowing the second-lowest average gain.

As bad as things were, though, the Jets remain in good shape.

They are still seventh in our power ratings, and only seven teams in the NFL have a better chance of reaching the playoffs.

The severity of Fitzpatrick’s injury could complicate things, as he has ligament damage in his injured left thumb that will eventually require surgery, but he is currently listed as day-to-day and could remain in the lineup if he can tolerate the pain.

New York Giants (4-4)

Playoff Odds Movement: -13.5%
Week 8 Result: Lost to New Orleans, 52-49
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 37.7%
Playoff Odds After Week 8: 24.2%

They say that misery loves company, so that’s one thing New York fans have going for them.

The Giants’ loss in a shootout at the Superdome leaves them with a half-game lead over Philadelphia in the NFC East, and tied with the Eagles in the loss column.

The Eagles already led the Giants in terms of playoff odds heading into the Week 8, and have widened the margin, despite their bye (the Eagles saw the sixth-highest increase in their playoff odds over the weekend).

New York’s chances of winning the NFC East dropped to 22.8%, while Philadelphia’s division odds now stand at 48.5%.

Like the Colts and Texans, both teams will probably need to win the division to make the playoffs, as the Giants and Eagles have wild card odds of 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively.

Tennessee Titans (1-6)

Playoff Odds Movement: -11.4%
Week 8 Result: Lost to Houston, 20-6
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 21.5%
Playoff Odds After Week 8: 10.1%

It seems weird that a 1-5 team had playoff odds above 20% in the first place, but that’s the 2015 AFC South for you.

Still, after losing to Houston, Tennessee does not even appear to be good enough for its dumpster fire division.

That is sad, but here’s something sadder:

With its 9.9% chance to win its division, Tennessee still has higher division title odds than literally half the teams in the league.

The AFC South is bad and it should feel bad.

Atlanta Falcons (6-2)

Playoff Odds Movement: -9.3%
Week 8 Result: Lost to Tampa Bay, 23-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 96.4%
Playoff Odds After Week 8: 87.1%

Despite the week’s fourth-largest drop in playoff odds, it would still take a disaster for Atlanta to miss the playoffs.

The Falcons remain an above-average team, with six wins already in the bag and insanely easy remaining schedule (Atlanta has two games with Carolina remaining, but these are the only games it will play against a team with an above-average nERD rating).

This week’s results did, however, further dent Atlanta’s chances of winning the NFC South, as they fell another game behind Carolina, and trail the Panthers by 1.5 games (two in the loss column).

The Panthers have an 83.1% chance to win the NFC South, while the Falcons’ division title odds dropped to 16.6%, from 34.1%.

The Falcons also dropped from ninth in nERD to 14th, but still have the league’s seventh-highest playoff odds.

Miami Dolphins (3-4)

Playoff Odds Movement: -7.3%
Week 8 Result: Lost to New England, 36-7
Playoff Odds Before Week 8: 19.9%
Playoff Odds After Week 8: 12.6%

Miami was starting to crawl back into playoff picture with wins in Weeks 6 and 7, but a shellacking at the hands of the Patriots dealt a serious blow to the Dolphins’ already flimsy playoff odds.

They are 20th in our nERD rankings, and have a tough remaining schedule that includes road games against the Bills, Eagles, Jets, and Chargers, and a home matchup against the Patriots.

Like Buffalo, Miami is 3-4, putting both teams one game behind the Jets, but the Dolphins have already lost to both teams at home.

“Rookie coach takes over mid-season and leads his team to the playoffs” makes a nice story, but it seems like fantasy right now.