Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 14
Through 13 weeks of the 2019 NFL season, the Atlanta Falcons are already eliminated from the postseason while the New England Patriots have just one game on the Buffalo Bills for the lead in the AFC East. It's just been that kind of season.
With only the New Orleans Saints officially punching their ticket to the playoffs, the rest of the league is still fighting for their Lombardi dreams. With only four weeks left in the regular season, those dreams can be crushed in an instant. Let’s see which teams are trending up and which ones have dipped the most. Here are the biggest playoff odds movers following Week 13, according to our models.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: +16.2%
Week 13 Playoff Odds: 47%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 63.2%
The Pittsburgh Steelers exacted revenge on the Cleveland Browns in Week 13, taking down their division rival by overcoming a 10-point deficit. Devlin Hodges had a strong showing, averaging 0.27 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, which was seventh-best among quarterbacks. That is particularly impressive against a Browns defense that ranks 10th in schedule-adjusted pass defense.
Mason Rudolph watching Devlin Hodges and James Washington the last two weeks. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/es3AgjCf2u
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) December 1, 2019
The Pittsburgh defense also came to play, as they stymied Nick Chubb on the ground and held Baker Mayfield to under 200 passing yards while sacking him five times. They now rank third in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, meaning this elite defensive production is here to stay.
With the Baltimore Ravens holding a three-game lead on the Steelers for the AFC North, their best bet for postseason play will be a Wild Card. That path won't be easy, as over the next month they have a matchup with a Bills team that is peaking at the right time, as well as a rematch with the Ravens to close out the season. If they can pick up wins in their two road matchups against the Arizona Cardinals and the New York Jets over that span, Pittsburgh will have a strong chance for the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Not bad considering they lost their Hall of Fame-level quarterback in Week 2.
Houston Texans (8-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +13.1%
Week 13 Playoff Odds: 77.3%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 90.4%
The Houston Texans were all business for their Sunday night matchup with the Patriots. Deshaun Watson was surgical against the top-ranked schedule-adjusted defense, averaging 0.56 Passing NEP per drop back. Only Lamar Jackson has posted a higher figure against the Patriots, and they are actually the only two quarterbacks to even top 0.0 Passing NEP per drop back.
That win bumped Houston to a 90.4 percent chance at making the playoffs. Their most difficult games should also be behind them, as their final four games feature the Denver Broncos, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and two matchups with the Tennessee Titans. While Denver should be a layup, Tampa and Tennessee have the offensive firepower to turn any game into a shootout, and the Texans only have one game on the Titans. While Watson is usually the passer to bank on in high-scoring affairs, he'll need to be on his A-game to close out the season.
Buffalo Bills (9-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: +12.3%
Week 13 Playoff Odds: 82.8%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 95.1%
Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills actually have a chance to topple the New England Patriots' dynasty and take the AFC East for the first time since 1995. They are playing at a high level on both sides of the ball, ranking 14th in schedule-adjusted total offense and 13th in total defense.
It might be as simple as "he's improved a ton" and/or "the system/coaching is great", but it's tough to reconcile Josh Allen's college tape/numbers with his current play. He just keeps getting better and better. Super impressive ascent.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) November 29, 2019
Allen has been incredible, dipping below 0.22 Passing NEP per drop back only once since Week 9 with only one turnover in that span. He'll need to keep that same level of play over his next three games, as the Bills draw the Ravens, Steelers, and Patriots. Those teams rank fifth or better in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. In Allen's one game against a top-five pass defense this season -- New England in Week 4 -- he's averaged -0.43 Passing NEP per drop back with three interceptions and four sacks.
He's been playing lights-out in recent weeks, but this gauntlet will be his biggest challenge of the season. If Buffalo's defense helps him out and they pick up two of those three games, they'll have a reasonable chance at winning the AFC East or a Wild Card berth at the very least.
Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: -28.4%
Week 13 Playoff Odds: 35.3%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 6.9%
After a home loss to a division rival, the Indianapolis Colts are nearly drawing dead for the 2019 season. Derrick Henry steamrolled them, rolling up 149 yards and a score on the ground as his team compiled 31 points. That loss put the Colts two games back in the AFC South, which isn't great considering an AFC Wild Card team will likely need 11 wins this year. Their playoff odds reflect that, as they plummeted to a not nice 6.9 percent chance at postseason play, making them our biggest negative playoff odds mover.
They desperately need a spark on offense, as they've put up 17 points in back to back weeks. T.Y. Hilton has a chance at returning, but his Week 13 absence due to a "setback" with his calf injury doesn't bode well for his immediate future. The Colts could at least see Marlon Mack return in Week 14 from his hand injury, but his impact in the passing game is minimal. While he ranks seventh in Rushing NEP per carry among qualified running backs, he'll be facing the Buccaneers and the Saints, who rank first and eighth in schedule-adjusted run defense.
If their offense catches fire and their defense follows suit, the Colts could still sneak into the playoffs. They just need a lot of help around the league.
Cleveland Browns (5-7)
Playoff Odds Movement: -13.6%
Week 13 Playoff Odds: 17%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 3.4%
After rattling off three straight wins, the Browns were set up nicely to sweep their division rival, run the table against some bad teams, and live up to their lofty preseason expectations. Instead, they lost to Devlin Hodges in the second start of his career.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, on their third string QB, just beat the most talented Cleveland Browns roster in a decade. Great organizations overcome obstacles. Lousy organizations, create them.
— Colin Cowherd (@ColinCowherd) December 1, 2019
With seven losses, Cleveland can't win the AFC North, meaning they'll be hoping for a Wild Card with a 9-7 record if they win out. They absolutely have a shot at that, as they have two matchups with the Cincinnati Bengals, one with the Cardinals, and a rematch with the Ravens -- who they defeated 40-25 in Week 4. But with that being the best-case scenario in a competitive AFC, our models give the Browns a 3.4 percent chance at the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -8.6%
Week 13 Playoff Odds: 94.8%
Week 14 Playoff Odds: 86.2%
While quarterback wins are a horrible statistic, Kirk Cousins moved to a 0-8 record on Monday Night Football following the Minnesota Vikings loss to the Seattle Seahawks. That loss put them one game behind the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North lead and caused them to see our third-biggest dip in playoff odds.
Kirk Cousins falls to 0-8 on Monday Night Football.
Extending his streak for most consecutive MNF losses by a QB to start his career. pic.twitter.com/znCEp7BEVk
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) December 3, 2019
While they still sit at an 86.2 percent chance to make the playoffs, the Vikings' will need to finish the season strong to earn a bye or steal the division from their rivals. Luckily, they have a reasonably soft schedule down the stretch, featuring the Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, and Chicago Bears who combine for a 13-22-1 record.
While those should be cake walks, they also have a rematch with the Packers in Week 16 that could decide the division. That game falls on a Monday night, which obviously doesn't bode well for the success of the Vikings, but it is at least at U.S. Bank Stadium. Cousins is averaging 0.44 Passing NEP per drop back there compared to 0.18 on the road.
Despite falling in the losers section this week, there are very few scenarios where Minnesota misses the postseason.