Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 3
With two weeks of the NFL season in the rearview mirror, the early stage of the playoff landscape is taking shape.
We had some seismic shifts this week due to injuries to two Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. At the same time, we've had some young passers take a massive leap forward to set their teams up for success.
Let's check out which teams are trending up and which teams need to turn their seasons around. Here are the biggest playoff odds winners and losers since Week 1, according to our models.
Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
Playoff Odds Movement: +41.8%
Week 1 Playoff Odds: 47.2%
Week 3 Playoff Odds: 89.0%
After silencing the haters with his arm, Lamar Jackson is looking like an MVP front-runner. The second-year gunslinger is winning in all phases of the game, posting the second-best Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back among starting quarterbacks. He is also leading his position with 8.39 Rushing NEP on his 16 carries.
The Baltimore Ravens are also getting it done on defense, as they rank fourth in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play through two weeks. With so much talent on both sides of the ball, they now look like a near-lock to make the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers (2-0)
Playoff Odds Movement: +33.9%
Week 1 Playoff Odds: 44.0%
Week 3 Playoff Odds: 77.9%
While it hasn’t been pretty, the Green Bay Packers have soared up our playoff odds board. Much of this should be attributed to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and his revamped defense. They currently rank third in total defense, allowing -0.26 Adjusted Defensive NEP per play.
.@packers Defense is quickly becoming one of the @NFL best lead by @JaireAlexander & @darnellsavage_ play in the secondary. All phases are clicking. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/uWMolo0DLP
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 16, 2019
The offense, however, has struggled mightily. Under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, the Aaron Rodgers-led offense has scored just 15.5 points per game. They also rank 21st in Adjusted Passing NEP per play.
Despite the offensive struggles, they still have a strong chance of making the playoffs after a 2-0 start. If Rodgers can start looking like his normal self, the Packers will be a team to watch out for.
San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Playoff Odds Movement: +26.4%
Week 1 Playoff Odds: 23.9%
Week 3 Playoff Odds: 50.3%
Much like the Packers, the San Francisco 49ers are a team struggling on offense but dominating on defense. They have crushed both of their opponents in the trenches, ranking in the top 10 of adjusted sack rate, power success, and stuff runs, according to Football Outsiders. Per our metrics, they are first in passing defense and second in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play.
Jimmy Garoppolo has not looked good, though. The 49ers rank 29th in Adjusted Passing NEP per play. If Jimmy-G can improve and if this defense can maintain its elite level of play, they could sneak into the playoffs. They still need to contend with Seattle and Los Angeles in their division, which is likely why they are a mere coin flip after starting 2-0.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: -37.1%
Week 1 Playoff Odds: 53.0%
Week 3 Playoff Odds: 15.9%
Starting 0-2 is never good for playoff odds, as only 12.2 percent of 0-2 teams have made the playoffs since 2007. What is even worse is losing your Hall of Fame quarterback for the season.
With Ben Roethlisberger down with an elbow injury, it is Mason Rudolph's time in Pittsburgh. He flashed some skill in Week 2, slinging two touchdowns to one interception while nearly defeating the Seattle Seahawks.
While Big Ben has had a prolific career, he did rank fourth-worst in Passing NEP per drop back among passers with at least 40 attempts this season. Rudolph truly can’t be much worse than that, so the Steelers have a shot at turning their season around.
Carolina Panthers (0-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: -27.5%
Week 1 Playoff Odds: 39.4%
Week 3 Playoff Odds: 11.9%
The Carolina Panthers are also facing a question mark at quarterback. Cam Newton aggravated his foot injury from the preseason, and his status is uncertain for the future. The injury had clearly limited his passing in Week 2, as he had no power on his throws and he was horribly inaccurate.
Highest percentage of uncatchable passes through two weeks:
Cam Newton 34.2%
Mitchell Trubisky 27.8
Ryan Fitzpatrick 27.3
Kirk Cousins 27.0
Kyler Murray 22.9
Matthew Stafford 22.9
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 16, 2019
The Panthers only have one division game over the next seven weeks, so if Newton can rehab and return to the field, they could still capture the lead in a struggling NFC South. The undrafted Houston Cougars product, Kyle Allen, would be the starting quarterback if Newton can’t go, but their playoff odds are looking slim regardless.
New Orleans Saints (1-1)
Playoff Odds Movement: -20.7%
Week 1 Playoff Odds: 68.1%
Week 3 Playoff Odds: 47.4%
It was a bad week for quarterback injuries, as Drew Brees is slated for surgery after colliding hands with Aaron Donald in the first quarter of their Week 2 matchup. Brees’ timetable looks to be 6-8 weeks, meaning he could come back after their Week 9 bye to square off with the Atlanta Falcons.
Here is the video of #DrewBrees @Saints injury. Full analysis coming in minutes at https://t.co/QXbyZbJ8bM pic.twitter.com/vhG3todpaN
— David J. Chao (@ProFootballDoc) September 15, 2019
While the New Orleans Saints' playoff odds dropped significantly, the fact that Brees will be able to return cushioned the fall. They also only take on one division opponent before his supposed return. Two of their matchups are also against bottom-eight teams, according to our metrics, in Jacksonville and Arizona.