Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 10
The Texans were double-digit underdogs, T.J. Yates had to take the reigns at quarterback...and Houston still came out as one of the week’s biggest winners.
Houston beat Cincinnati, 10-6, topping the team that came into the week as the third-best team in our power ratings. Brian Hoyer, who is having a surprisingly good season, was injured in the second half, but Yates threw the game-winning touchdown to spur the upset.
The win gives Houston the same 4-5 record as Indianapolis (who had a bye) at the top of the AFC South, though the Colts remain in first by virtue of their win over Houston in Week 5.
Houston’s playoff odds increased from 18.0% to 37.1% with the win, the biggest increase for a team this week. Other big moves according to our algorithms include Washington and Minnesota, while St. Louis and the Jets saw the biggest declines.
Houston Texans (4-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +19.1%
Week 10 Result: Def. Cincinnati, 10-6
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 18.0%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 37.1%
With their win over Cincinnati, the Texans put themselves back in the picture in the AFC South. Indianapolis is still our favorite to win it, but Houston closed the gap between the teams.
The Colts have a 52.1% chance to win the division, compared to a 35.6% chance for Houston (the Texans also have a 1.5% chance to earn a wild card berth, for the record).
The Texans face a roughly-average schedule going forward, as the average ranking of their future opponents is 16.4. Interestingly, though, the Colts (ranked 18th) are the only roughly average team they will face, as the other teams on the schedule are either great or bad.
Houston has games against the Jets (7th), Bills (8th) and Patriots (2nd), but will also play New Orleans (27th), Tennessee (23rd), and Jacksonville (30th).
Washington Redskins (4-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +18.3%
Week 10 Result: Def. New Orleans, 47-14
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 15.6%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 33.9%
Speaking of teams inserting themselves back into the playoff picture…
Washington demolished the Saints thanks in part to a 324-yard, 4-touchdown performance from Kirk Cousins. The Redskins are now in a tie for second in the NFC East and are a half-game behind the Giants for first place.
The Eagles remain the favorites in the division (36.0%), followed by the Giants (33.3%), while Washington has a 30.1% chance to top the east (and a 3.8% chance to win a wild card).
Washington’s remaining schedule includes three top-10 teams -- Carolina (3rd), Buffalo (8th), and Philadelphia (9th) -- but also three games against teams ranked 26th or worse: two games against Dallas (26th) and one against Chicago (28th). They also play the Giants (17th).
Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +16.7%
Week 10 Result: Def. Oakland, 30-14
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 67.9%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 84.6%
There’s a new team on top of the NFC North.
The Vikings, winners of five straight, have supplanted the Packers, losers of three consecutive games, for first place in the NFC North, and we give Minnesota the better chance to stay on top.
Minnesota has a 61.5% chance to win the division, compared to 37.7% odds for the Packers. We see both as likely playoff teams, as the Vikings have nearly a 85% chance to qualify and Green Bays has 78.2% playoff odds. A one-game lead over the Packers and a 3-0 record in the division certainly helps.
Our numbers still don’t love the Vikings as a team, though, as we have them ranked 15th in our power ratings, and only have them as 0.9 points better than average. We also have them playing a harder than average schedule (their future opponents have an average ranking of 13th), and finishing .500 over their next seven games.
Still, with seven wins already in the bank, the Vikings are in excellent shape and are a very good bet to make the postseason.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +14.4%
Week 10 Result: Def. Denver, 29-13
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 14.1%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 28.5%
The Chiefs still face an uphill battle to make the playoffs, but like Washington and Houston, a big win has gotten them back in the race.
Kansas City won their third game in a row Sunday, moving into a tie for second place in the AFC West with Oakland.
The division is out of reach, as the Chiefs remain three games behind Denver, and we only give them a 10.0% chance to win the AFC West.
In terms of the wild card though, the Chiefs are just a game behind Buffalo and the Jets (both are 5-4) for the final AFC playoff spot. In terms of remaining schedule, the Bills are Kansas City’s only opponent that ranks in the top 20 in our power ratings, so the Chiefs will certainly have opportunities to climb further back into the race.
Buffalo Bills (5-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +12.4%
Week 10 Result: Def. New York Jets, 22-17
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 32.6%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 45.0%
Buffalo and the Jets are now tied for the AFC’s final playoff spot, and with their on Thursday night, the Bills have the head-to-head advantage.
So why do our numbers still see the Jets as nearly five percentage points more likely to make the playoffs?
The Bills need to face five more top-12 opponents: New England, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Washington and the Jets. Their future opponents have an average ranking of 12.1.
The Jets face only two opponents in the top half of our ratings, New England and Buffalo.
The win in Week 10 helped the Bills immensely, but the Jets are still in slightly better shape.
St. Louis Rams (4-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -22.8%
Week 10 Result: Lost to Chicago, 37-13
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 30.3%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 7.5%
The Rams were the biggest movers in either direction in Week 10, and after losing at home to one of the worst teams in the NFL, their season may be lost.
Atlanta and Green Bay, the teams currently occupying the wild card spots in the NFC, are both two games ahead of St. Louis, while the Rams also trail Washington and Tampa Bay by virtue of an inferior conference record.
The shellacking at the hands of the Bears also dropped the Rams from 8th in our power ratings to 15th, so things are not looking good in St. Louis.
New York Jets (5-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -21.1%
Week 10 Result: Lost to Buffalo, 22-17
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 70.9%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 49.8%
As mentioned, the Jets are still in slightly better playoff shape than Buffalo, but New York has still fallen rapidly over the last month.
After Week 7, we gave the Jets an 83.3% chance to make the playoffs, but after going 1-2 with losses to fellow contenders Oakland and Buffalo, they are now roughly a coin toss to play in mid-January.
We still have them ranked as the seventh-best team in the NFL, but in a crowded AFC playoff race, they cannot afford many more slipups.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -18.9%
Week 10 Result: Lost to Miami, 20-19
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 58.8%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 39.9%
The Eagles blew a chance to move into first place with a bad loss to a bad team.
The Giants lost to New England, but our projections did not expect them to win, so they’re playoff odds were not adversely affected (they actually rose, moderately, thanks to the Eagles’ loss). Philadelphia’s defeat at home, meanwhile, to the team that that was ranked 23rd in the league, coupled with Washington’s win dealt a massive blow to their odds.
Still, despite trailing the Giants by a half-game game, we have the Eagles as slight favorites to win the division (36.0% division odds compared to 33.3% for the Giants).
On the strength of a defense that ranks fifth in opponent-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP), the Eagles rank ninth in our power ratings, while the Giants are 17th.
By the ratings, we would expect the Eagles to beat the Giants by 3.2 on a neutral field.
Philadelphia also has head-to-head win and a slight edge in strength of schedule.
Both teams have a game against Washington and three games against top-10 opposition.
In their other three weeks, New York has a bye, and games against 15th-rated Minnesota and 24th-rated Miami. Philadelphia, meanwhile, gets to play Tampa Bay (25th) and Detroit (31st), in addition to the Giants.
Indianapolis Colts (4-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -13.1%
Week 10 Result: Bye week
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 66.1%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 53.0%
After struggling to start the season, Indianapolis won a huge game against Denver in Week 8, and it looked like the worst was over.
Their playoff odds have been slipping since, even though they haven’t played another game.
Then, there is Houston’s two-game winning streak, including the upset win over Cincinnati Monday night.
Like I said earlier, though the Colts remain our favorites to win the division by roughly 16 percentage points. Our metrics have the Colts as the better team (the Colts are 18th in nERD and Houston is 19th, but the two teams are separated by over a point).
Indianapolis also has a very easy remaining schedule. Aside from games at Atlanta and Pittsburgh, the Colts’ do not play a team that currently has a winning record, and four of their remaining seven opponents are ranked 23rd or worse.
Houston’s average future opponents have a ranking of 16.4, compared to 19.9 for the Colts.
Green Bay Packers (6-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: -11.5%
Week 10 Result: Lost to Detroit, 18-16
Playoff Odds Before Week 10: 89.7%
Playoff Odds After Week 10: 78.2%
It is time to P-A-N-I-C?
After starting the season with six consecutive wins, the Packers have lost three straight and have dropped to 13th in our power ratings after a home loss to Detroit (which came into the game ranked 31st).
The win, coupled with Minnesota’s victory, led to the drop in Green Bay’s playoff odds.
The Packers have also dropped to 13th in our ratings, though their six wins already in the bank and easy remaining schedule mean the playoffs are still highly probably (even if they don’t win the NFC North).
Green Bay has two games against Minnesota, but also faces Detroit, Chicago, and Dallas, who all rank 26th or worse. The Pack’s future opponents have an average ranking of 19.4.