NFL PLAYOFF SHIFTS WEEK 10
By Jonathan Lee
AccuScore has an expert football betting system based on 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 predictions.
The Chargers have been the favorite in the AFC West all season. That is no longer the case after Week 10, as the Raiders take over the projected top spot in the AccuScore playoff projections. Oakland is 58.8 percent likely to win the division jumping an incredible 42.2 percentage points in playoff probability in just one week. The Raiders won head-to-head on Thursday and now hold a one-game lead over the Chargers, Chiefs, and Broncos. San Diego saw its playoff odds literally cut in half after the loss, losing 35.7 percent points in the projections. The Chargers are still the second favorite to win the division, however, even after losing four straight games. Denver has won three out of four with quarterback Tim Tebow to get back into the division race. It will take at least another win for the computers to take the Broncos seriously, as they are winning the division just 4.7 percent of the time. The Chiefs have lost two straight and win the West 4.0 percent of the time.
Without a doubt, the AFC South is the division that will be most decided by injury this season. The Colts have floundered all year without Peyton Manning and have still not won a game. After the 17-3 loss to the Jags, the Colts are 11.7 percent to go 0-16. The Texans have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Colts’ struggles, but now have lost quarterback Matt Schaub for the season. Still, Houston has won four games in a row and is still the overwhelmingly choice for the division. The Texans are projected to win the division 88.6 percent of the time, a drop of less than 4 percent from a week ago. Their biggest competitor is the Titans who doubled their playoff probability this week. Part of the Titans’ gain is due to Schaub’s injury, and part is due to a blowout win over Carolina. Jacksonville beat Indy for its third win of the year but still remains an extreme longshots for the postseason.
New England reestablished control of the AFC East with a 21-point road win over rival New York. The Patriots are back to being the most likely playoff team and division winner in the conference, gaining 9.2 percentage points in probability this week. The Jets, meanwhile, are still in a real dogfight for a Wild Card berth, and make the playoffs 30.9 percent of the time in simulations, a drop of 9.3 percent from last week. Buffalo is also in trouble for the postseason. The Bills make the playoffs in 20.9 percent of simulations, a drop of 6.5 percent. Miami has won twice in a row, but the brutal start to the season still leaves the Dolphins with no chance for the playoffs.
The AFC North has proven to be the best division in football this year and one of the most difficult to predict. The Steelers beat the Bengals on the road to stake claim to role of favorites. Pittsburgh wins the division 48.6 percent of the time while making the playoffs 91.5 percent of the time. Cincinnati is one of the big surprises of the year, and still played well despite losing. The Bengals are currently projected to win one of the Wild Card spots making the playoffs 68.4 percent of the time. Baltimore is tied with Cincy at 6-3, but has shown maddening inconsistency week to week. The Ravens only had to beat lowly Seattle to stay firmly in control of the division, but the Ravens, again, lost on the road. They are still 77.4 percent likely to make the postseason but fell out of first place in the North. The Browns are the only team out of the race with just a 0.2 percent chance of a miracle playoff berth.
NFCThe projected order in the NFC East has changed nearly every week this season, and this week is no different. The Giants still lead the division in the standings by a game, but Dallas has overtaken them in the AccuScore projections. The Cowboys blew out the Bills and New York lost to San Francisco in Week 10, causing a shift in favorites. Dallas is now projected to win the division 59.7 percent of the time and gained 25.4 percent points in playoff probability this week. The Giants are still projected for a Wild Card, making the playoffs 62.3 percent of the time, but they are winning the division 37.4 percent of the time. Philadelphia and Washington have lost seven games in a row combined. Both are unlikely to reach the postseason, but the Eagles have a better chance of a miracle turnaround because of the talent on the roster. Philly lost 11.6 percentage points in playoff probability, and is just 4.9 percent likely to turn things around after 10 weeks.
The best division in the NFC is clearly the North with Green Bay 9-0 and Detroit and Chicago at 6-3. The Packers are the first team to reach 100 percent playoff probability this year in the NFL, and Green Bay is now up to 13.2 percent to go 16-0. The Bears though are the real story this week having won four in a row and catching Detroit in the projected standings. Chicago jumped up 17.4 percentage points this week after a head-to-head win over the Lions, and now, Detroit makes the postseason 59.6 percent of the time. Detroit lost 17 percentage points in playoff probability, the most in the NFC. The Lions make the playoffs now in 42.9 percent of simulations. Minnesota is nearly mathematically eliminated at 2-7.
The Falcons could not get a few inches in overtime against the Saints, a failure that could cost them a division title. The Saints got the win on the road to take a two game lead in the actual standings and a big-time lead in the projections. New Orleans now make the playoffs 93.5 percent of the time, 79.7 percent of the time as NFC South champs. The Falcons win the division just 18.8 percent of the time in simulations, reaching the playoffs 49.3 percent of the time. Tampa Bay has lost three in a row to fall nearly all the way out of contention. The Bucs have just an 8.1 percent chance at the playoffs. Carolina is nearly eliminated at 2-7 on the year.
San Francisco will more than likely be the first team in the NFL to officially clinch a playoff spot with a NFC West title. The Niners, though, actually dropped 0.1 percentage points in probability this week simply because Seattle, Arizona, and St. Louis actually won games. Still, San Francisco is 99.7 percent likely to win the division.