Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 9
Now at the halfway point in the season, our models have the New England Patriots as a playoff lock, while the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, and Cincinnati Bengals sit at a 0.0 percent chance. Most teams still have plenty of time to turn their seasons around. Let’s see which ones are soaring above expectations, and which ones need to step their game up. Here are the biggest playoff odds movers following Week 8, according to our models.
Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +13.9%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 69.6%
Week 9 Playoff Odds: 83.5%
Stefon Diggs finished with 7 receptions for 143 yards against the Redskins.
It's his 3rd straight game with 140 receiving yards, tied with Randy Moss (2001) for longest streak in Vikings history. pic.twitter.com/cFU3nbtnx2
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 25, 2019
Dalvin Cook is also running like a man possessed. He leads all running backs in Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry (minimum 50 carries) and also ranks fourth in Reception NEP per Target among backs.
The Vikings are also getting it done on defense, as they rank seventh in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. They'll need to continue that efficiency over the next two weeks, as they have two tough matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys. If they can take one of those games, they'll be in a great spot for the postseason.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +13.9%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 32.5%
Week 9 Playoff Odds: 42.2%
After taking a drumming at the hands of the Cowboys in Week 7, the Philadelphia Eagles went into Buffalo and ran all over the Bills. Rookie back Miles Sanders ripped off a 65-yard score and Jordan Howard killed the clock in the second half, racking up 23 carries for 96 yards as their defense limited Josh Allen to -0.08 Passing NEP per drop back.
The odds are still against the Eagles to make the playoffs, as they sit at a 42.2 percent chance in a competitive NFC East. They also didn't make any moves at the trade deadline, meaning their secondary that ranks 21st in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play isn't likely to improve. The same can be said on the offensive side of the ball, but if they can get back a healthy DeSean Jackson, he would bring a dynamic deep element.
DeSean Jackson is practicing for the first time since he strained his abdominal muscle in week 2
I’m told he is 90-95%. I’m told he flew in his trainer for the week to get ready for Sunday. His goal is to return. DJax has worked very hard to get here #Eagles pic.twitter.com/TVXQ1CdqDe
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 30, 2019
The good news is that Philly plays the Chicago Bears, the Dolphins, the Washington Redskins, and the New York Giants (twice) in the second half of the season. This team could hit 10 wins if things break right for them, which would likely lock up a wild card spot.
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +7.2%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 45.3%
Week 9 Playoff Odds: 52.5%
It wasn't pretty in the first half, but the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to defeat the Dolphins at home on the back of James Conner and a stout defensive front. They now rank fifth in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, so their defense will likely be able to keep them close in any game.
They'll have two tough matchups against the Indianapolis Colts and the Los Angeles Rams over the next two weeks, but their schedule gets much softer after that. If they continue to hide Mason Rudolph with a low average depth of target (aDOT) and run their offense through their dynamic backs, the Steelers could sneak in as an AFC wild card team.
Carolina Panthers (4-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: -20.8%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 34.4%
Week 9 Playoff Odds: 13.6%
Turns out Kyle Allen really is just a backup. While his Week 8 performance can be discounted against a San Francisco 49ers defense that ranks first against the pass, he still posted a -0.60 Passing NEP per drop back. That was the worst mark last week, by far, as the next closest quarterback was Baker Mayfield at -0.28.
Wow Nick Bosa. What a freaking play. Julius Peppers did this to me in 2010. Embarrassing. pic.twitter.com/CE27ptyONZ
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) October 28, 2019
If Allen struggles against the Titans, Derrick Henry may just run all over them. The Panthers' defense was horribly gashed by Tevin Coleman and the Niners last week. They now rank 32nd in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. They'll need to fix their issues quick or their playoff odds will continue to tank.
Buffalo Bills (5-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: -18.1%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 78.5%
Week 9 Playoff Odds: 60.4%
The cracks are showing in the Buffalo Bills' defense, as they struggled to control the line of scrimmage against the Eagles. Their defensive line is the main issue, as they rank 30th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 28th in adjusted sack rate on Football Outsiders.
Josh Allen also struggled in the poor weather, as he averaged under 5.0 yards per attempt and had a 34.2 percent Passing Success Rate, which was the third-worst among starting quarterbacks. Fortunately, they have an easy schedule over the next month, as their four opponents have five combined wins. With a solid 5-2 record, they still sit a strong 60.4 percent chance to make the postseason.
Los Angeles Rams (5-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: -5.4%
Week 8 Playoff Odds: 40.7%
Week 9 Playoff Odds: 35.3%
The Los Angeles Rams have a winning record and defeated the Bengals in Week 8, yet their playoff chances still dipped. That's because they play in a division with an undefeated 49ers team, and a Russell Wilson-led Seattle Seahawks squad with better records.
The addition of Jalen Ramsey has helped slightly, as they have improved from 18th to 15th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. But they have now traded both Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, meaning Ramsey is a one-man band in that secondary.
From @NFLTotalAccess: The #Dolphins kinda sorta traded for CB Aqib Talib, who is unlikely to ever play for them (but they'll take the 5th round draft pick) pic.twitter.com/oVQYxzg9zX
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 29, 2019
They have a mixed schedule to close out the season, as they get two soft matchups with the Arizona Cardinals sprinkled between tough games against the 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, and Cowboys. They'll likely be fighting with Seattle for that wild card spot, but things aren't looking great in the NFC West.