NFL Playoff Shifts After Week 6

| by


Houston may have come back to beat Kansas City but their poor pass defense and season ending injury to DeMeco Ryans does not bode well for their playoff chances which dropped slightly (-1.1 percent) despite their win. 

The Colts should get revenge on Houston when they play in Indianapolis and currently Indy is the favorite in the AFC South at 56.5 percent. 

Tennessee has also been impressive in recent weeks and while a Week 7 win vs Philadelphia may not help their playoff chances that much (non-conference game) it will go a long way in our simulation computers to proving the Titans can beat the good teams in the league.

The Steelers and Ravens are looking good.  Pittsburgh got Roethlisberger back and leads the AFC in playoff percentage at 84.1 percent.  The Ravens lost to the Patriots but when you have as tough a schedule as they have had and are 4-2 you are in good position for at least a Wild Card.  The Ravens did drop 10.6 points because they lost to a primary Wild Card competitor, New England.  The Cincinnati Bengals have quickly faded with just a 6.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.  While a win at Atlanta may not boost their chances that much they need to win to rejuvenate their season.

The New England Patriots came back to beat the Ravens and the Jets came back to beat Denver.  These two teams, along with Baltimore and Pittsburgh, are AccuScore’s (and most experts’) top 4 teams in the league.  They all have a better than 69 percent chance of making the playoffs.  The Miami Dolphins have very impressive road wins over Minnesota and Green Bay, but unfortunately for them, home losses to division rivals are far more costly than road wins outside the conference.  The Dolphins’ playoff chances dropped nearly 30 percentage points after the losses to New England and Miami, and only improved 12.6 percent after their wins over Minnesota and Green Bay.

The San Diego Chargers are again the big losers in the AFC (down 25.2 percent).  They should flat out be ashamed of their performance to date.  That said, they are still right in contention to win the division at 42.7 percent.  They opened as 77 percent favorites to win the division so they are down nearly 35 percentage points since the start of the season.  The Kansas City Chiefs were the most improved team in AccuScore’s pre-season forecast based on forecasted wins vs last year’s wins, and have lived up to expectations.  They may have lost to Houston, but they now have the best chance of winning the AFC West by virtue of beating the Chargers in Week 1.  The Chiefs lost in Week 6 but gained +2.1 points thanks to the losses by all the other AFC West teams.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 50.8% 70.4% 19.6% 34.8%
MIAMI DOLPHINS 33.8% 42.3% 8.5% 12.8%
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 60.3% 68.3% 7.9% 56.5%
TENNESSEE TITANS 36.8% 44.4% 7.7% 31.3%
NEW YORK JETS 78.4% 81.4% 3.1% 52.4%
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 46.5% 48.6% 2.1% 44.0%
DENVER BRONCOS 11.7% 13.1% 1.4% 12.5%
BUFFALO BILLS 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
CLEVELAND BROWNS 0.1% 0.0% -0.1% 0.0%
OAKLAND RAIDERS 1.7% 0.9% -0.8% 0.8%
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 85.1% 84.1% -1.0% 58.6%
HOUSTON TEXANS 18.1% 17.0% -1.1% 10.2%
CINCINNATI BENGALS 10.7% 6.9% -3.8% 2.3%
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 11.6% 3.9% -7.7% 2.1%
BALTIMORE RAVENS 80.4% 69.8% -10.6% 39.1%
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 74.0% 48.8% -25.2% 42.7%


It may seem crazy but Dallas still has a decent 31.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.  They are only 0-1 in the division and have yet to play the likely division winner, Philadelphia and New York.  A 3-1 record vs those teams and simply winning games they are favored the rest of the season have Dallas at 10 wins, believe it or not.  However, a home loss to the Giants Monday Night would result in a massive crash in their playoff chances.  New York and are neck-and-neck in the division race with NY given a 39.1 percent chance and Philly a 35.5 percent chance.  The home loss to the Redskins that Philadelphia suffered is putting them second.  Our simulations indicate that Michal Vick is the slightly better option at an average of +2 percentage points per game over Kevin Kolb, but this difference is not enough to question the decision to start Kolb. 

The New Orleans Saints somewhat re-established their pre-season front-runner in the NFC South status with a big win and a big loss by the Falcons.  Both teams are still in excellent shape to make the playoffs at 88 percent for New Orleans and 71 percent for Atlanta, but the Saints are now the favorite to win the division at 56 percent despite their loss to the Falcons.  Tampa Bay is 3-2 but they only have a 12.9 percent of making the playoffs.  They are simulation favorites in just one of their remaining games.

The Minnesota Vikings are only 2-3, but with Chicago looking like a bogus 4-2 team and Green Bay only 3-3 and things not looking up with injuries, the Vikings are actually the favorite to win the NFC North.  If they can reach the second half of the season with a 4-4 record then they are actually in good shape because they are 60 percent or more favorites in 6 of their last 8 games, and favored overall in 7 of 8.  The defense has been good this season and when Sidney Rice is back they have an exceedingly dangerous WR core of Randy Moss, Rice and Percy Harvin.  Green Bay is still in decent position to make the playoffs but they have gone from having an 81 percent chance after Week 3 to a 54 percent chance today.  Injuries and no running game can kill you.  Chicago cannot protect Jay Cutler and Cutler holds on to the ball too long. This is a bad division to be in when you play like that with Jared Allen and Minnesota, the Packers pass rush and even Detroit’s vastly improved defensive line.

The St. Louis Rams saw huge gains (+25 percent) in Week 5 playoff percentage after an impressive home win over the Redskins.  They were crushed last week after a horrific road loss to Detroit (-20 percent).  After another impressive home win vs the Chargers they are up 13.1 percent.  The Seahawks have actually taken a solid lead in the NFC West by winning a game they were ‘supposed’ to lose in Chicago.  If the Seahawks can take care of business vs the Cardinals in Week 7 they could take control of the division.  A loss would leave the division in disarray again.  Currently, the Seahawks are the only NFC West team projected for an 8-8 record.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 61.9% 88.4% 26.5% 55.9%
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 47.9% 70.1% 22.2% 55.0%
NEW YORK GIANTS 42.3% 58.9% 16.6% 39.1%
ST. LOUIS RAMS 10.2% 23.3% 13.1% 20.8%
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 38.9% 48.5% 9.6% 44.9%
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 50.5% 57.2% 6.7% 35.5%
WASHINGTON REDSKINS 17.8% 20.4% 2.6% 6.9%
CAROLINA PANTHERS 0.3% 1.2% 0.9% 0.3%
DETROIT LIONS 0.2% 0.1% -0.2% 0.0%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 20.7% 16.0% -4.7% 15.1%
GREEN BAY PACKERS 61.6% 53.8% -7.8% 31.6%
ARIZONA CARDINALS 32.4% 20.8% -11.6% 19.2%
ATLANTA FALCONS 85.0% 70.6% -14.4% 41.7%
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 28.4% 12.9% -15.6% 2.1%
DALLAS COWBOYS 47.1% 31.4% -15.7% 18.5%
CHICAGO BEARS 54.8% 26.7% -28.1% 13.4%