Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 13
The Seattle Seahawks are very likely to make the playoffs.
Had you said this about the two-time reigning NFC champions in August, no one would have batted an eye.
If you made this statement in mid-October, though, you would likely get a very different response.
Seattle has been a highly-rated team in our nERD power rankings for the whole season, but a series of close losses and red zone struggles contributed to a 2-4 start. In late October, when Seattle’s playoff odds were around 20%, I wrote that the Seahawks remained one of the league’s best teams, but the losses it already had in the bank would probably present too deep a hole to climb out of.
At the time, Arizona was running away with the NFC West, while the Panthers were undefeated and the Falcons had a single loss, so it appeared that there was only one playoff spot available for the Seahawks.
Fast forward to today, where Arizona is still in control of the division and the Panthers remain undefeated. Atlanta, though has gone into a tailspin, winning just one game after Week 6.
During this same span, the Seahawks have gone 5-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Cardinals, who top our power ratings.
Seattle’s playoff odds after dominating Minnesota on Sunday now stand at 83.7%, while Atlanta’s have dropped all the way to 9.3%. The other wild card berth seems increasingly likely to go to the team that finishes second in the NFC North, as Green Bay and Minnesota both have playoff odds above 80%.
Here are the rest of this week's big playoff odds movers:
Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +23.5%
Week 13 Result: Def. Minnesota, 38-7
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 60.2%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 83.7%
In my earlier Seahawks article, I wrote that there were a number of areas where we should expect Seattle to be the beneficiary of regression to the mean, namely turnover rates and red zone performance. In a rare display of clairvoyance on my part, Seattle has in fact improved here, and this regression has helped drive their recent success.
Through seven weeks, Seattle had the fourth-lowest interception rate on defense (1.4%) and was one of the most inefficient teams in the red zone on offense. During the first six weeks of the season, Seattle ranked 28th in yards per play and 32nd in first down (or touchdown) rate inside of the 20.
Since then, Seattle has ranked eighth in the league in interception rate (3.1%); in the red zone since Week 7, the Seahawks have ranked fourth in yards play and second in first down rate.
With my hand now sore from patting myself on the back, now would be a good time to note we have Seattle pegged to go about 3-1 the rest of the way; the Seahawks’ next three opponents rank 20th or lower in our power ratings, but their final opponent is the top-rated Cardinals.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
Playoff Odds Movement: +20.0%
Week 13 Result: Def. New England, 35-28
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 12.3%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 32.3%
The Eagles pulled off the upset of the week and thanks to losses by the Giants and Washington, Philadelphia is now in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East.
As big as their win at New England was, the Eagles (18th in our power ratings) still have plenty of work to do. Their remaining schedule includes games against 10th-rated Bills and top-rated Cardinals, before they close the season against Washington (13th) and the Giants (16th).
Due to their easier schedule and higher rating, Washington has a slight edge in division title odds over Philadelphia. The Redskins have a 34.6% chance to come in first place, compared to 32.0% for the Eagles and 27.6% for the Giants.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: 10.9%
Week 13 Result: Def. Atlanta, 23-19
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 18.1%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 29.0%
Tampa Bay officially moved into second place in the NFC South, and is now one game behind Seattle for the final playoff spot in the NFC.
The Bucs’ remaining schedule is manageable, with games against 28th-ranked New Orleans, 20th-ranked St. Louis, and 26th-ranked Chicago, before closing the season at 3rd-ranked Carolina.
We still give the edge to Seattle, though, given the Seahawks have a higher rating (8.3 points above average to rank 5th, compared to Tampa Bay, which is 0.6 points below average and ranks 14th).
We project Tampa Bay to go 2-2 the rest of the way.
Green Bay Packers (8-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +10.9%
Week 13 Result: Def. Detroit, 27-23
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 80.2%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 91.1%
Week 13 offered us the latest lesson in how thin the margin between success and failure can be in the NFL. On Thursday, the Packers were one play away from a second loss to Detroit, which would have also been the team’s fifth loss in six games.
A seemingly unnecessary facemask penalty extended the game, allowing Aaron Rodgers to throw a Hail Mary for the win. Three days later, Minnesota got blasted by the Seahawks, and Green Bay is now back in first the NFC North with a 60.5% chance to win the division.
The Packers have to face the Cardinals and Vikings, who are 15th in our power ratings, but also have games against 22nd-ranked Oakland and 25th-ranked Dallas.
Minnesota, meanwhile, has to face Arizona, the Giants (16th) and the Bears (26th), in addition to 11th-ranked Green Bay, so the Vikings seem to have the more difficult schedule.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +10.2%
Week 13 Result: Def. Oakland, 34-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 69.0%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 79.2%
The Chiefs continue to climb up the nERD ratings and their playoff odds have risen as well. They are now the seventh-highest rated team in the league and have won six straight games.
Kansas City is now in a three-way tie with the Jets and Steelers for the fifth-seed in the AFC, and we give them the edge to grab one of the wild card spots.
Alex Smith and co. have four relatively easy games remaining, against the 27th-ranked Chargers, 24th-ranked Chargers, 30th-ranked Browns, and 22nd-ranked Raiders.
Atlanta Falcons (6-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: -25.1%
Week 13 Result: Lost to Tampa Bay, 23-19
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 34.4%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 9.3%
Atlanta’s playoff odds once stood above 95%. Now, they are below 10%.
The Falcons are still technically in the mix, and are in a tie with Tampa Bay at 6-6, but have a number of factors going against them. In terms of records vs. NFC opponents, the first tiebreaker after head-to-head record for wild card teams, Seattle is 6-4 and Tampa Bay is 5-3, while Atlanta is 4-5.
The schedule also does them no favors, as they have two games left against Carolina, the third-best team in our ratings.
Washington Redskins (5-7)
Playoff Odds Movement: -14.8%
Week 13 Result: Lost to Dallas, 19-16
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 50.3%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 35.5%
Things were really starting to look up for Washington after Week 12.
Philadelphia had lost to Detroit, and the Redskins had gotten a big win over the Giants to move into first place.
With the Giants losing again in Week 13, Washington needed to simply beat Matt Cassel’s team to take firm control over the NFC East.
Instead, the Redskins fell to Dallas, opening things back up for both the Eagles and Giants.
As mentioned, Washington still has the best playoff odds of the group, by a slim margin, due mostly to the fact they are still the highest rated team in terms of nERD.
New York Giants (5-7)
Playoff Odds Movement: -10.9%
Week 13 Result: Lost to the Jets, 23-20
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 39.1%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 28.2%
After blowing another fourth quarter lead, the Giants again find themselves in the “losers” section here.
Of the three teams tied atop the NFC East, the Giants have the worst division title odds, thanks to a schedule that includes Carolina, Minnesota and Philadelphia.
Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -8.8%
Week 13 Result: Lost to Seattle 38-7
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 91.6%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 82.8%
Minnesota remains in very good shape, despite its divisional odds falling thanks to its loss to Seattle and Green Bay’s win over Detroit.
Their odds of winning the NFC North now stand at 39.5%, but if even they place second to the Packers, odds are they earn one of the NFC’s two wild card berths.
The upcoming schedule isn’t a breeze (it features Arizona, the Giants and Packers), but the Vikings have a 5-3 conference record, one-game lead over Seattle, and two-game lead over Tampa Bay and Atlanta.
Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: -7.6%
Week 13 Result: Lost to Pittsburgh, 45-10
Playoff Odds Before Week 13: 66.1%
Playoff Odds After Week 13: 58.5%
The Colts’ mauling at the hands of Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football was not as costly to Indianapolis as it could have been, given Houston’s loss to Buffalo earlier in the day.
Both teams remain atop the AFC South with 6-6 records, with the Colts holding the edge due to a head-to-head win earlier in the season.
The reason, then, that Indianapolis saw its playoff odds drop even with a Houston loss is that its own defeat removed almost any chance the Colts have of being a wild card team.
The Colts came into the week with a 5.4% chance to earn a wild card berth in the event they lost the South. Their wild card odds now stand at 0.5%.
If this wasn’t clear already, it’s either AFC South title or bust for Indianapolis.