Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 7
This NFL season has been bizarre, as multiple backup quarterbacks are finding success while filling in for their superiors. We've also seen two preseason Super Bowl contenders in the Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams fall to the bottom of the playoff boards.
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 turn their seasons around. Here are the biggest playoff odds movers following Week 6, according to our models.
Houston Texans (4-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +31.4%
Week 6 Playoff Odds: 54.0%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 85.4%
After taking down the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead, the Houston Texans are our biggest odds mover this week. Deshaun Watson has led them to the fourth-ranked total offense by Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. J.J. Watt and the defense are also holding up their end, ranking 11th in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play.
If we’re going to talk about Patrick Mahomes as an MVP candidate — and we are, he’s awesome — it’s time to talk about #Texans QB Deshaun Watson the same way. Huge win taking down KC in Arrowhead.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 13, 2019
Next up for Houston is a road matchup with AFC South rival, the Indianapolis Colts, who are well rested coming off a Week 6 bye. If the Texans can take down the Colts, they'll have a strong lead in the division and will be a virtual lock for the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +15.5%
Week 6 Playoff Odds: 29.8%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 45.3%
Randy Fichtner and the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive staff deserve a ton of credit. Despite losing their Hall of Fame-caliber gunslinger, they have managed to piece together a passing offense that ranks eighth in Adjusted Passing NEP per play. They haven't even had the privilege of their second-string quarterback lately, either, as Devlin Hodges earned the starting nod this past week with Mason Rudolph out and defeated the unwinding Chargers.
Yesterday, we tweeted that we had landed in Los Angeles.
We are starting to question that tweet. pic.twitter.com/BXBZ9Eoag0
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019
Their defense is just as strong, ranking top-10 in both Adjusted Defensive Passing and Rushing NEP per play. The Steelers are still two games below .500 and are contending with the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns in a tough AFC North, but their efficiency on both sides of the ball bodes well for their playoff chances.
Carolina Panthers (4-2)
Playoff Odds Movement: +12.3%
Week 6 Playoff Odds: 26.2%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 38.5%
While Kyle Allen is undefeated as a starter for the Carolina Panthers, he doesn't deserve the bulk of the credit. That should go to the elite defense led by their pass rush that ranks first with 27 sacks this season and sixth in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play.
Many are clamoring for Allen to start even when Cam Newton comes back healthy, but he's led Carolina to the 26th-ranked passing offense per our metrics. They've been able to skate by on the brilliance of Christian McCaffrey, who seems to be a highlight reel every Sunday.
The Panthers are on bye this week before taking on an undefeated San Francisco 49ers team that ranks second overall in our power rankings. That game will be crucial if they want to continue contending with a New Orleans Saints team that's getting back Drew Brees in the next few weeks.
Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
Playoff Odds Movement: -27.7%
Week 6 Playoff Odds: 54.7%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 27.0%
The Los Angeles Rams have dropped three games in a row and have seen our biggest dip in playoff odds this week. Their offense is sputtering as their line grades out as one of the worst in the league after ranking among the best last season.
#Rams starting offensive line pass-blocking ratings per @PFF:
LT Andrew Whitworth 32nd/75 OTs
LG Jamil Demby 76th/77 OGs
C Brian Allen 31st/33 Cs
RG Austin Blythe 72nd/77 OGs
RT Rob Havenstein 74th/75 OTs
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 16, 2019
They should receive a decent boost on defense, as they just completed a blockbuster deal for superstar cornerback, Jalen Ramsey. That move was needed badly, as Aqib Talib was placed on Injured Reserve and Marcus Peters was shipped to Baltimore. Still, Ramsey should provide an instant boost to a defense that ranks 18th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
The problem is that their defense is not the issue. If they don't make moves to reinforce their offensive line, Jared Goff will continue to struggle. They have a chance at turning this around over their next two games, as the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals don't have the strongest pass rushes to say the least.
Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -12.7%
Week 6 Playoff Odds: 20.6%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 7.9%
As previously stated, the Los Angeles Chargers continue to drop out of playoff contention. They have now been featured in the "losers" of this article series in three of the last four weeks. The running game is absolutely tanking with Melvin Gordon as the featured weapon. He has below -0.30 Rushing NEP per carry over the last two weeks and has just 4 successful runs on 20 carries this year.
Their defense is also getting torched in all phases, ranking 26th in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. They have a shot at turning things around this week against a Ryan Tannehill-led Tennessee Titans team, but they've dropped two home games to bad teams in a row. Playing in a tough AFC West division, another loss could push them out of the playoff picture all together.
Tennessee Titans (2-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -12.7%
Week 6 Playoff Odds: 22.6%
Week 7 Playoff Odds: 9.9%
The Tennessee Titans might as well enter "tank mode," as they are turning to Ryan Tannehill in favor of Marcus Mariota. While Mariota deserves plenty of blame for his poor 0.02 Passing NEP per drop back, his offensive line has given up an NFL-leading 29 sacks. It is hard to be efficient when you're scrambling for your life.
Mike Vrabel: I just feel now is the time to go with Ryan Tannehill https://t.co/7UT0lnGRnh
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 16, 2019
While Tennessee has experienced one of the biggest drops on playoff odds, their defense is a silver lining, as they rank third in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. All of their losses have been by two scores or less, and they have yet to allow more than 20 points in any game. If Tannehill can spark the offense, this team could turn things around in a hurry.