By beating Oakland, Houston improved its playoff chances by over 20 percentage points, but their victory was not the driving force behind this improvement.
The losses by Indianapolis (now 0-2 in the AFC South) and the home loss by Tennessee which cost those teams a combined -25.4 percentage points was the reason why Houston jumped. The Texans are now in a virtual tie with Indianapolis for the forecasted division win thanks to their Week 1 win over Indianapolis. Jacksonville beat Indianapolis but it only helped them improve +3.8 percentage points. This is a significant percent increase from 6.5 percent but not a significant overall bump.
The Miami Dolphins could not have had worst results the past 2 weeks. Losing 2 in a row is bad, losing 2 in a row at home is worse, losing 2 in a row at home to your division rivals is the worst possible scenario. The Dolphins dropped 10.6 percentage points while New England jumped +12.9 percent and the Jets +10.8 after their easy win. The Jets have the edge in the AFC East by virtue of beating New England in their Week 2 match-up. Currently the Jets are averaging 0.3 more wins per simulation than New England so the winner of this division is likely to be the team that wins their Week 13 re-match.
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The Baltimore Ravens got an enormous win at Pittsburgh. The win over a division rival on the road helped, but the way they won with the clutch Joe Flacco driven drive bodes well for their ability to beat other quality teams. On a percentage basis they only improved +5.8 percent, but their 69.9 percent chance of making the playoffs is second best in the AFC. Pittsburgh may have lost but they still are favored in the AFC North because the return of Ben Roethlisberger is worth around a touchdown more a game in average margin of victory and with a 3-1 start the Steelers are projected for a division leading 11 win season. The Bengals took a big hit losing to the underrated Cleveland Browns. With the Baltimore victory and wins by key Wild Card competitors the Bengals dropped a conference worst -23.1 percent.
The chances of the Kansas City Chiefs being the only unbeaten team after 4 weeks was 82 in 10,000 according to AccuScore simulations. They may be undefeated but they actually dropped -5.9 percentage points because the Chargers and Broncos both won. San Diego's two losses came from self-inflicted wounds and if they stay focused, reduce costly fumbles and improve their special teams return coverage they should take the AFC West (68 percent). The Denver Broncos are a pass first (and pass second) team and their comeback over a potential Wild Card competitor, Tennessee helped them more than triple their playoff chances, although they are still put at a low 12.4 percent.
WEEK 4 REVIEW
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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
NEW YORK JETS
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The St. Louis Rams are only 2-2 but in the NFC West they are looking like a legit contender to take the division. They had a 1.7 percent chance of making the playoffs to start the season but they are up to 30.2 percent now. Sam Bradford is clearly good enough to lead his team to 20+ points per game and the defense has gone from 31st in points allowed a year ago to 4th this year. Amazingly, the Arizona Cardinals are still given the best chance of winning the division at 33.1 percent. They actually improved their playoff chances this week because the 49ers and Seattle lost. More importantly, the Cardinals beat St. Louis on the road and have them at home – this advantage is the reason why Arizona has the better odds to win the division. Seattle was supposed to have improved offensively, but after scoring 3 vs St. Louis you have to question their legitimacy. The 49ers may be 0-4 but they are just 0-1 in the division and still have a respectable 16 percent chance of winning the division which is an amazing stat given they are 0-4.
The NY Giants not only got a big win over Chicago, the defense was spectacular (boosted by the Bears horrific inability to handle their 4 man pass rush). The combination of the Giants’ win, the Eagles home loss and the injury to Michael Vick all helped New York jump +15.3 points. The Washington Redskins also improved +10.5 percent, but there are still plenty of questions about their offense and AccuScore only gives Washington a 5.5 percent chance of winning the division despite having 2 wins over the two “top” teams in the NFC East. Philadelphia needs Michael Vick to be able to come back quickly. They dropped a whopping -26 points by losing to Washington at home. The only way this loss could have been more costly is if it came at the hands of Dallas, the current division favorite despite being just 1-2.
The Chicago Bears looked horrible this week and while they are still 3-1, their playoff chances dropped over 17 percentage points and they are given only a 15.8 percent chance of winning the division despite being one up on Green Bay. The loss itself (on the road to New York) was not that bad. It was the way they lost that negatively impacted their performance in Week 5 to 17 simulations that is costing them. Minnesota was idle this week but they actually improved +4.1 percent thanks to the Bears loss. Minnesota needs to upset the Jets next week if they want to re-enter the conversation of true contenders. The Packers clung to victory over the Lions and the lack of a running game is hurting them offensively. They are heavy favorites to win the division at 68.2 percent, but they need running backs who can average more than 60 combined yards rushing if they want to be able to protect leads late in the game by running the ball (and the clock) out.
The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints were two of the heaviest Week 4 favorites and they both barely won. The wins, as ugly as they may have been, still count and they are both have over a 70 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Saints did drop over 7 percentage points because their inability to force turnovers defensively and their inability to execute in the Red Zone offensively has lowered their expected win rate in Week 5 to Week 17 simulations.
WEEK 4 REVIEW
ST. LOUIS RAMS
NEW YORK GIANTS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
GREEN BAY PACKERS
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS