AccuScore: NFL Playoff Shifts Week 3

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By Jonathan Lee

AccuScore Analyst

AccuScore specializes in football predictions and projections by calculating the precise probability teams have of winning each game, their division, and making the playoffs. Using projected lineups, football predictions are created by simulating each game of the season one play at a time, up to 10,000 to 20,000 times. VisitAccuScore for weekly updates for all football and sports expert picks and predictions.


Surprise, surprise – the only undefeated team left in the AFC is Buffalo. The Bills are one of the shocking stories of the early season, and another thrilling comeback (this week vs. New England) had them as one of the big gainers of the week. They are basically a 50-50 bet to make the playoffs now, up 16.3 percentage points from a week ago. The Patriots lost because Tom Brady threw four interceptions (as many as he had in all of 2010), but are still the odds on favorite to win the AFC East at 64 percent. Many of the gains by Buffalo came at the expense of the Jets who lost 26.4 percentage points in playoff probability after losing to Oakland, the biggest drop this week. Miami is the one non-contender in the East with just a 2.3 percent chance at the playoffs.

Oakland was the other big winner this week after a win over the Jets. The Raiders stand 2-1 and more than doubled their playoff odds to 44.9 percent. They are bunched up in a fight for wild card positioning with fellow surprise Buffalo and New York. The Chargers struggled more than expected with Kansas City but still got the win. They are still the favorites in the AFC West at 70.5 percent. The Chiefs are the unlikeliest playoff team after three weeks making the postseason in just 0.3 percent of simulations. Denver is another longshot out of the West with just a 1.1 percent chance at winning the division.

The AFC North might be the most balanced division in the AFC top to bottom. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland are all tied at 2-1 with Cincinnati playing better than expected but with just 1 win. The Ravens continue to gain on the Steelers and are now about 42 percent likely to win the division. Pittsburgh is about 55 percent likely to win the division, but the offensive line is becoming a massive problem that could lead to continued slippage in these and the actual standings. The Bengals actually gained an incremental amount of playoff probability despite losing to the Niners. On the flipside, Cleveland experienced a minor decline in playoff odds despite a win over the Dolphins. This all has to do with the difficulty of the game (opponent, home/road) and both teams’ performance in Week 3.

Indianapolis almost got its first win against the Steelers, but the Colts couldn’t pull it out late and are likely without Peyton Manning for the entire season. The Colts are just 2.2 percent likely to win the AFC South. Houston has taken over as the runaway favorite in the division at 68.3 percent. The loss to the Saints on the road did little to affect the odds for the Texans (-0.1 percent) because they were already underdogs, and still played down to the wire. This contrasts with Tennessee which lost 1.6 percentage points because of a real struggle with bottom-feeding Denver. Jacksonville also continues to slide with just a 6.4 percent chance at the division. The Jags have already turned to rookie Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, and are effectively waving the white flag on the season.