The biggest shake-up in the AFC came from the AFC South. Houston not only impressed everyone by beating the Colts, but showed their running game and defense are rapidly catching up with their passing game in terms of league ranking. They jumped 31 percentage points. The Titans were also impressive but their win over Oakland does not have the same impact as beating the projected division leader. The Colts are still expected to ultimately win this division with a 42 percent chance, but the Colts still were amongst the biggest drops (-17.5 percent) this week. The Jaguars won, but only saw a slight +3.7 percentage point increase.
The loud Jets suffered a bad loss, not only because it was to a playoff competitor at home, but they also showed no improvement offensively. If anything, they declined without Thomas Jones. A -35 percentage point drop may seem impossibly large, but with division rivals, Patriots and Dolphins winning, and Wildcard competitors, Texans, Titans, Ravens, and Steelers, all winning it all took its toll on the Jets. The Dolphins jumped nearly 25 percentage points thanks to their win and the Jets’ loss. The Patriots also had a nice jump up +16 percentage points thanks to their impressive offensive display.
The Baltimore Ravens got a big win that improved their playoff chances +6.7 percentage points. They did not improve as much as you might expect because Pittsburgh also won a close game and improved +5.8 points. With both the Ravens and Steelers winning, the Bengals saw their chances plummet -38 points. Like the Jets, the Bengals not only suffered due to a loss, but also due to the wins by division rivals and the emergence of the AFC South Wildcard competitors. Cincinnati also has one of the toughest schedules in the league.
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The Chargers have started slowly yet again, but AccuScore still strongly favors them to ultimately win. They saw their playoff chances drop -7.7 points, but they are still the 77 percent favorite to win the division. Kansas City improved +6.7 points, and while their explosive young players Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas were able to deliver big plays, the offense was overall very weak and could not score a point in the second half. The Raiders stumbled out of the gate and saw their chances already dip nearly -14 points as there are too many strong Wildcard competitors in the AFC. Denver dropped -4.2 points for the same reasons.
WEEK 1 REVIEW
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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
NEW YORK JETS
The Seattle Seahawks got a huge win over San Francisco and saw their playoff chances jump over 25 percentage points. Their defense was one of the worst last year and at least for a week they look much improved. The Cardinals also got a win over St. Louis and while the offense may average 7 to 10 points less without Kurt Warner, their underrated defense can still keep them in competition for the division. The main reason why Seattle and Arizona saw big jumps in playoff probability was the weak performance of San Francisco. Their offense was a total flop and with trouble brewing early in SF their playoff chances were cut in half.
The Dallas Cowboys loss in Washington cost the Cowboys dearly with a -17.6 percentage point drop. While road losses usually are not that costly, when they happen within the division they always take their toll. Surprisingly, the Redskins did not see an improvement after their win. They won the game, but were not particularly impressive offensively and their ability to put up points this year even with Donovan McNabb is questionable. The big winner in the division was the NY Giants who got the win over Carolina and benefited from the Eagles and Cowboys’ losses.
The New Orleans Saints offense may not have exploded in Week 1 but by beating the Vikings and having primary division rival, Atlanta, losing to Pittsburgh, the Saints saw their playoff chances improve +5.5 points. The Falcons offense was ineffective vs the Steelers and while things will improve when they face lesser defenses, they still do not look significantly improved vs last year. Atlanta’s loss cost them -9 percentage points. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved +6.5 points with their win over Cleveland and, more importantly, the struggles of Carolina. Carolina hoped their turnover problems left with Jake Delhomme but with Matt Moore looking awful in Week 1 and only rookie Jimmy Clausen waiting in the wings, turnovers by the QB could do this team in again.
Green Bay and Minnesota will compete for the NFC North all season long and head-to-head match-ups will likely determine the outcome. The Packers are currently 55 percent favorites at home vs Minnesota in Week 7 but Minnesota is 66 percent favorites at home vs Green Bay in Week 11 as Sidney Rice should be back by then. With the slight overall edge going to Minnesota they are still the 50 percent favorite to win the division vs 43 percent for Green Bay. Chicago and Detroit are not expected to make a serious playoff run with just a 6.8 percent combined chance of winning the division.
WEEK 1 REVIEW
NEW YORK GIANTS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
GREEN BAY PACKERS
ST. LOUIS RAMS
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS