NFL Playoff Shifts After Week 5

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The Tennessee Titans were seven point underdogs against Dallas.  By winning a game they were supposed to lose helped them lead the AFC in playoff probability improvement at +20.7 percent.  The Titans were helped by the Texans who not only lost at home, but played so poorly they hurt their projected performance in Week 6 to 17 simulations.   The gains Houston made last week were completely reversed in Week 5.  The Colts and Jaguars both showed slight improvements after wins in which they were favored.  Indianapolis is still the favorite to win its division at just over 50 percent.

The Baltimore Ravens are tied for the best record in the conference and have beaten the other 4-1 AFC team, the New York Jets.  The Ravens solidly beat the Broncos at home, a game Baltimore was supposed to win. Baltimore was helped out by Cincinnati which has lost two games in a row in which it was the clear cut favorite.  The Bengals’ -10.7 percentage point drop is virtually identical to the Ravens +10.5 percent.  The Ravens and idle Steelers are in a virtual tie for the division.

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The New England Patriots were on a bye week, but still managed to drop -12.6 percentage points.  This is due to a combination of factors including the win by the Jets and the trade of Randy Moss.  The Patriots’ chances of winning the AFC East dropped around 8 percentage points after the Moss trade.  The Miami Dolphins actually picked up +9.8 points by being idle this week.  Like the Jets, the Dolphins benefited from the Moss trade and the losses by other wild card competitors like Cincinnati, San Diego, Houston, and Denver.

The San Diego Chargers have dominated in many key offensive and defensive statistics and have outscored their opponents by 34 points. Despite that large point differential they are just 2-3.  AccuScore expects that even if San Diego’s special teams continues to be a weakness teams won’t be scoring 7-10 points against them a game. The Chargers also can’t possibly continue turning the ball over in the red zone at this high a rate.  As undisciplined as the Chargers have played they are still the clear-cut favorite at 59 percent to take the division like they have been in previous seasons.  The Chiefs are looking like a legitimate playoff contender, but despite their 3-1 record they only have a 46.5 percent chance of making the playoffs.  Their chances actually improved slightly after a loss to the Colts because they played well in the loss which boosted their performance in future game simulations.

TENNESSEE TITANS 16.1% 36.8% 20.7% 29.1%
BALTIMORE RAVENS 69.9% 80.4% 10.5% 48.6%
MIAMI DOLPHINS 24.1% 33.8% 9.8% 13.3%
NEW YORK JETS 69.0% 78.4% 9.3% 59.8%
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 54.8% 60.3% 5.6% 50.7%
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 81.1% 85.1% 4.0% 49.0%
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 44.2% 46.5% 2.4% 30.9%
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 10.3% 11.6% 1.3% 7.8%
OAKLAND RAIDERS 0.7% 1.7% 0.9% 1.0%
BUFFALO BILLS 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
CLEVELAND BROWNS 0.3% 0.1% -0.2% 0.0%
DENVER BRONCOS 12.4% 11.7% -0.7% 8.9%
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 81.6% 74.0% -7.6% 59.3%
CINCINNATI BENGALS 21.4% 10.7% -10.7% 2.5%
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 63.4% 50.8% -12.6% 26.9%
HOUSTON TEXANS 50.8% 18.1% -32.7% 12.5%


The Eagles, Giants, and Redskins all got impressive wins and collectively benefitted from another bad Cowboys loss.  Dallas dropped -16.7 percentage points, but still has a decent 33 percent chance of ultimately winning the division.  The Redskins should be commended for their three impressive wins over playoff teams but AccuScore expects them to ultimately fall back in the NFC East with just a 7.5 percent chance of winning the division.

Tampa Bay jumped over 28 percentage points in playoff probability after a shocking comeback in Cincinnati to move its record to 3-1. It goes without saying that a win for the Bucs in Week 6 against the Saints would do wonders for their division chances which are still only 8.6 percent, well behind Atlanta and New Orleans.  The Saints are clearly struggling, and dropped -16.6 percentage points this week.  Statistically, they have performed like an average offensive team and below average defensive team in 2010.  Despite their current struggles, the Saints still have the second highest playoff probability in the NFC.  Atlanta has the highest probability after starting 4-1, and most importantly winning at New Orleans.

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The Vikings lost to the Jets Monday night, but still improved 10.2 percentage points.  That is what happens when rival Green Bay also loses the same week along with a number of key players to injury. Minnesota also got a +8 percentage point bump simply by trading for Randy Moss who is not only expected to score his fair share of touchdowns, but also improve the play of Percy Harvin.  Minnesota is only 1-3, but is technically second in the NFC North. The Vikings’ performance against the Packers and Bears will ultimately determine their playoff success.    The Packers were the big losers in the division dropping nearly 24 percent after a loss in which they were favored.  The loss combined with the injuries severely undercut their chances in Week 6 and possibly Week 7.  Chicago beat Carolina and improved +13.4 percentage points thanks to the win and Green Bay’s loss and murky near future.

The Rams were the big winner last week because their defense looked poised to go from being one of the worst in the league to average or better.  That notion may be out the window after getting blown out by Detroit.  St. Louis’ future offensive performance was also hurt by the injury to leading receiver Mark Clayton.  The Rams dropped -20 percentage points this week.  The Arizona Cardinals may finish the season in the bottom third of the league offensively and defensively based on yardage or points allowed and still win the division.  They are the leader at 3-2, and have a 31.8 percent chance of taking the NFC West.  San Francisco lost again, but actually managed to pick up a few percentage points thanks to the bad loss by St. Louis.  Believe it or not, the 49ers appear to still be in contention for the division at 20.3 percent.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 14.3% 28.4% 14.2% 8.5%
CHICAGO BEARS 41.4% 54.8% 13.4% 31.5%
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 25.9% 38.9% 13.0% 38.0%
ATLANTA FALCONS 72.1% 85.0% 12.8% 68.0%
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 37.7% 47.9% 10.2% 29.9%
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 44.6% 50.5% 5.9% 33.4%
NEW YORK GIANTS 36.7% 42.3% 5.6% 26.0%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 17.3% 20.7% 3.4% 20.3%
WASHINGTON REDSKINS 15.0% 17.8% 2.8% 7.5%
DETROIT LIONS 0.2% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1%
ARIZONA CARDINALS 34.6% 32.4% -2.2% 31.8%
CAROLINA PANTHERS 2.5% 0.3% -2.2% 0.2%
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 78.5% 61.9% -16.6% 23.3%
DALLAS COWBOYS 63.8% 47.1% -16.7% 33.0%
ST. LOUIS RAMS 30.2% 10.2% -20.0% 9.9%
GREEN BAY PACKERS 85.2% 61.6% -23.6% 38.5%