NFL Playoff Shifts After Week 7

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The Baltimore Ravens struggled to beat the Bills but still saw a solid +7.6 percent improvement in playoff probability. The Ravens benefited by losses by the Bengals and Chargers – two Wild Card competitors.  The Steelers lead the entire NFL in playoff probability at nearly 89 percent, and despite their loss at home to Baltimore the Steelers still have the edge in the AFC North 57 to 43 percent.  The Bengals only have a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs after another disheartening loss.  The Browns have to be pleased with their solid play in recent weeks, but they still have no shot at the playoffs.

The big loser in the AFC was the Miami Dolphins.  They not only got the very short end of the stick at home vs Pittsburgh, but with none of the teams ahead of them in playoff probability losing, it resulted in a nearly 20 percentage point drop.  The Patriots and Jets are in a very tight battle for the division with the Jets getting the slightest advantage by virtue of beating New England back in Week 2.  The Bills should have beaten Baltimore but the moral victory is small consolation and their 0 percent playoff probability does not help much either.

The Tennessee Titans not only got a quality win over the Eagles, they saw their playoff chances improve +12 points and they are quickly closing the gap on the Colts.  The Colts were idle but lost 5.1 playoff percentage points partly due to the wins by other AFC playoff contenders and partly due to the injuries they have suffered.  The Houston Texans are 4-2, but they have struggled the past few weeks and AccuScore is expecting the Texans to head straight for another 8-8 season once they have to go back on the road.

The Kansas City Chiefs impressively beat Jacksonville while the Chargers once again fumbled their way to a deficit that they could not quite come back from.  The Chiefs are now solid 63 percent favorites in the AFC West.  The Chargers playoff chances have dropped double digits for a second straight week and now they are a long shot to make the playoffs despite being #1 in the league in passing and Top 3 in both pas and rush defense.  The Oakland Raiders demolished Denver but they cannot expect an aberrant performance like this again.  The Raiders and Broncos both have under a 5 percent chance of making the playoffs.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 48.6% 65.6% 17.0% 62.9%
TENNESSEE TITANS 44.4% 56.8% 12.3% 40.8%
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 70.4% 81.2% 10.7% 46.4%
BALTIMORE RAVENS 69.8% 77.3% 7.6% 42.8%
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 84.1% 88.5% 4.4% 56.6%
OAKLAND RAIDERS 0.9% 3.1% 2.2% 2.9%
HOUSTON TEXANS 17.0% 18.3% 1.2% 11.0%
BUFFALO BILLS 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
CLEVELAND BROWNS 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
NEW YORK JETS 81.4% 80.7% -0.8% 48.4%
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 3.9% 1.7% -2.2% 1.1%
CINCINNATI BENGALS 6.9% 2.4% -4.5% 0.6%
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 68.3% 63.2% -5.1% 47.2%
DENVER BRONCOS 13.1% 3.9% -9.2% 3.8%
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 48.8% 35.0% -13.8% 30.5%
MIAMI DOLPHINS 42.3% 22.5% -19.8% 5.3%



The Dallas Cowboys’ playoff chances plummeted from 31 to virtually 2 percent.  Ten percentage points was due to another loss (to the Giants) and the other 20 is due to the possible season ending injury to Tony Romo.  The Giants are well-positioned to take the division with a dynamic offense and quality defense.  The Giants have a 64 percent chance of winning the NFC East.  The Eagles are still sitting in a good position for a Wild Card at a 56 percent chance of making the playoffs.   Washington has played well enough to see their playoff chances improve to nearly 29 percent this week.

The Minnesota Vikings saw their playoff chances drop double digits after losing to Green Bay.  Brett Favre could miss several games due to injury and even though he has not played well this year AccuScore simulations indicate that the Vikings are +8 percentage points better, on average, with Favre than with Tarvaris Jackson.  Green Bay saw a huge +16 percentage point improvement after beating the Vikings and getting another horrible loss by the Bears.  Chicago dropped nearly 10 percentage points after losing at home thanks to poor decisions by the Coaching staff and QB Jay Cutler.

Atlanta is second to the NY Giants in playoff probability in the NFC after beating the Bengals.  The Falcons’ playoff chances improved more than expected because the Saints suffered a horrible home loss.  The Saints dropped 12.5 points, but even with all their struggles have the third highest playoff percentage in the NFC.  The Saints are benefiting from the mediocrity in the NFC.  Tampa Bay is second in the division but AccuScore is not yet a believer in the Bucs.  They improved +10 points but they still only have a 23 percent chance of making the playoffs.

The Seattle Seahawks may run away with the NFC West title by merely going 8-8 or 9-7 which could give them a 2 to 3 game lead at the end of the season.  The Seahawks improved +13 percentage points by beating a division rival at home.  It also helped that the rest of the division all lost again.  The Rams lost to Tampa Bay but only saw a modest –3.6 point drop because even with the loss they still played very well for most of the game defensively which bodes well for the rest of the season.  The 49ers have no business having as high a playoff probability as they have (12.9 percent) being 1-6, but in this division and conference you are apparently never really out of playoff contention.

NEW YORK GIANTS 58.9% 84.3% 25.4% 64.4%
GREEN BAY PACKERS 53.8% 69.8% 16.1% 50.9%
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 48.5% 61.9% 13.4% 60.0%
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 12.9% 22.9% 10.0% 5.6%
ATLANTA FALCONS 70.6% 79.4% 8.8% 59.2%
WASHINGTON REDSKINS 20.4% 28.9% 8.5% 8.5%
CAROLINA PANTHERS 1.2% 3.6% 2.4% 1.1%
DETROIT LIONS 0.1% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1%
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 57.2% 55.5% -1.6% 26.7%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 16.0% 12.9% -3.0% 12.4%
ST. LOUIS RAMS 23.3% 19.7% -3.6% 18.3%
CHICAGO BEARS 26.7% 17.2% -9.5% 10.4%
ARIZONA CARDINALS 20.8% 10.2% -10.6% 9.3%
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 88.4% 75.9% -12.5% 34.1%
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 70.1% 55.6% -14.5% 38.6%
DALLAS COWBOYS 31.4% 2.1% -29.3% 0.4%