The Miami’s continued road success combined with the Jets and Steelers losses helped the Dolphins improve their playoff chances by 15 percentage points. The Patriots are now the 67 percent favorites to win the AFC East after the Jets lost at home. The Jets loss alone did not lead to their -23 percentage point decline; it was the poor offensive play with interceptions, low completion percentage and dropped passes that negatively impacted future game simulations. That said, New York is still a likely playoff team, but it may need to beat the Patriots on the road for a shot at the division crown.
The Colts were the other big winner in the AFC. Not only did they score plenty of points without two of their three leading receivers and their starting running back, but they got a win over a division rival and ensured at least a split with Houston. The Colts also benefited from the Titans’ loss. Houston and Tennessee combined for a -18 percentage point drop with 11.6 going to the Colts benefit and the remainder to the Jaguars after their big win over the Cowboys. Based on current standings there is plenty of parity in the AFC South, but no other team has the consistency of the Colts and that is why Indy is the 62 percent favorite to win the division.
The Chargers are still a few games behind the Chiefs, but they picked up nearly 10 percentage points this week despite a win by KC. Kansas City is still the favorite to win the AFC West at 54 percent, but its advantage over San Diego is not as great as you would typically see when a team has a two and a half game lead. The Raiders have proved that they definitely should not be ignored. They are better off sticking with Jason Campbell at quarterback however. With Campbell under center Oakland has a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs, but that is cut in half with Bruce Gradkowski.
The Ravens did not play this week but still had a great week. They saw their main division rivals lose (Steelers, Bengals) and a key Wild Card competitor (the Jets) go down as well. They now have the same record at 5-2 and a tie-breaker at this point in the season. In a slight statistical anomaly, the Steelers have the higher playoff percentage at 85 percent compared to the Ravens at 80 percent, but Baltimore has the edge to win the division because it already beat the Steelers once in Pittsburgh. The Bengals were hopeful to start the season, but now have just a 0.4 percent chance at the postseason after starting 2-5 in the ultra-competitive AFC.
WEEK 8 REVIEW
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
NEW YORK JETS
St. Louis’ defense ranks sixth in points allowed, and with the losses by Seattle and Arizona the Rams are now the favorite in the NFC West at 40 percent to win the division. Currently, the Rams are averaging 0.1 more wins per season simulation than the Seahawks. Their Week 17 match-up in Seattle will likely determine the winner of the division. The 49ers did look better with Troy Smith at quarterback, and they picked up +8 percentage points this week. They still have a respectable 21 percent chance of making the playoffs even after their 2-6 start.
Tampa Bay just keeps on rolling. With their +17.6 percentage point increase this week, the Bucs have a 40.5 percent chance of making the playoffs despite having just an 8.6 percent chance of winning their division. The Saints beat the Steelers thanks to a great defensive effort combined with a clutch offensive performance. Can one game turn around a season? In this case yes as the Saints have vaulted to the top of the AFC South with a 50.1 percent chance of winning the division despite being a half a game behind Atlanta and Tampa Bay and having already lost to Atlanta at home. Besides their two match-ups with the Panthers, every other remaining opponent for Atlanta is at least .500 or better. The tough schedule is a big disadvantage for the Falcons.
Green Bay got a huge win over the Jets on the road. With another Vikings loss, the Packers saw a nice +11.6 percentage bump this week. The Lions scored a nice win this week, but they are still just 2-5 and a long shot to get into the playoff picture this year. The Vikings are also 2-5 and despite cutting Randy Moss they still have a decent 31 percent chance of making the playoffs because they should be solid favorites in all but two of their remaining games. That should result in an 8-8 finish for Minnesota. This year 8-8 could make the playoffs.
The NFC East is still projected to go the Giants at 65 percent. The Redskins chances dropped nearly 19 points after a loss to the Lions and the negative aftermath of Donovan McNabb getting pulled for being out of shape. The Cowboys are now down to a pathetic 0.2 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Eagles and Giants were idle.
WEEK 8 REVIEW
ST. LOUIS RAMS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
GREEN BAY PACKERS
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
NEW YORK GIANTS