Biggest NFL Playoff Odds Movers: Week 12
With Jacoby Brissett back under center for the Indianapolis Colts, they were able to defeat their division rivals, the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the Houston Texans also falling to the Baltimore Ravens, Indy now sits at the top of the AFC South standings and in prime postseason position. The NFC East also saw a shakeup, as the Philadelphia Eagles dropped a game to the New England Patriots, while the Dallas Cowboys rolled over the Detroit Lions.
These outcomes led to some massive shakeups in playoff odds across the board. With only six weeks left in the regular season, every matchup can swing a team's odds. Let’s see which ones are improving and which ones need to step their game up. Here are the biggest playoff odds movers following Week 11, according to our models.
Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +21%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 36%
Week 12 Playoff Odds: 57%
Brissett's return from injury was triumphant, as he averaged 0.50 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back in a winning effort over the Jaguars. While they got the victory, they also suffered a loss in the form of Marlon Mack, who suffered a fractured hand halfway through the game. Mack's injury isn't thought to be season-ending, but the Colts will certainly be without their best running back for some time.
Marlon Mack’s 13-yard TD: a thing of beauty pic.twitter.com/FjybipIsjF
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) November 18, 2019
T.Y. Hilton's return could certainly help mitigate that loss, but a short week won't help his status. Without two of their best skill players for Thursday night's matchup against the Texans, the Colts could find themselves struggling on offense.
Aside from two division games in the next two weeks, Indianapolis also has matchups with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, and Carolina Panthers. That schedule won't be easy to get through, but this team has certainly overcome its fair share since the start of this season.
Dallas Cowboys (6-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: +15.8%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 54.2%
Week 12 Playoff Odds: 70%
Dak Prescott is getting no respect in the MVP race, as his odds on FanDuel Sportsbook (+1600) make him seem like a longshot in comparison to Lamar Jackson (+140) and Russell Wilson (+150). Meanwhile, he leads all quarterbacks in Passing NEP per drop back, passing yards, and yards per attempt.
Whether you like it or not.. it's time to start talking about Dak Prescott in the MVP discussion. Sunday was his 2nd game this season with 400 yards , 3 TDs 0 INTs. All other QBs in Cowboys team history? have 1
— trey wingo (@wingoz) November 18, 2019
He could be earning a different kind of hardware this season after another 444 passing yards and three scores in Week 11. That performance against the Lions put the Cowboys in the NFC East lead. Outside of a Week 12 matchup with the Patriots, Dallas also has a reasonably easy schedule down the stretch.
The only thing that is holding this team back is its defense, which ranks 22nd in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. If it can improve over that span, and if Prescott keeps up his quietly stellar season, Dallas will coast into a strong NFC seed.
Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Playoff Odds Movement: +9.6%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 14.3%
Week 12 Playoff Odds: 4.7%
The Cleveland Browns have now pieced together two wins in a row against strong playoff teams in the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Baker Mayfield season-long average of -0.03 Passing NEP per drop ranks third-worst among all quarterbacks, but he has hit 0.17 and 0.09 in each of the last two wins.
Mayfield will need to maintain his recent success if the Browns want to keep improving their playoff odds, especially with the loss of Myles Garrett after one of the most baffling on-field incidents in recent NFL memory. One of their only strengths was Garrett's pass-rushing ability, as they rank fifth in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders. His suspension is a huge blow to a defense that already ranks just 17th in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play.
With how well the Baltimore Ravens have been playing recently, Cleveland's best hope is likely a Wild Card berth, given their 4-6 record. That is definitely attainable, as they have the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, and two games against the Cincinnati Bengals over the next six weeks. Perhaps this team has finally turned a corner.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -31.2%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 75.2%
Week 12 Playoff Odds: 44%
The Steelers saw the biggest drop in playoff odds after the Browns frustrated Mason Rudolph all game. His -0.53 Passing NEP per drop back was the second-lowest among starting quarterbacks in Week 11 and his lowest figure on the season. The defense was also uncharacteristically quiet, sacking Mayfield only once and forcing no turnovers. Pittsburgh still ranks third in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, so they should bounce back in the future.
They have some soft matchups, including the Bengals this week, sprinkled in with some rematches with the Browns and Ravens, so they still have a reasonable shot at the postseason. But with the Browns barking at their heels along with other capable AFC teams, a playoff spot is far from a sure thing.
Houston Texans (6-4)
Playoff Odds Movement: -16.5%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 81.4%
Week 12 Playoff Odds: 64.9%
Deshaun Watson certainly hurt his MVP candidacy with a poor outing against the Ravens in Week 11. He had his worst performance of the season, averaging -0.41 Passing NEP per drop back while Lamar Jackson stole the spotlight.
Lamar Jackson is a must-show every single week. 39-yard run.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 17, 2019
Houston was only able to muster one touchdown on a Carlos Hyde run while ceding 41 points. With that loss, Houston is now a half-game behind Indianapolis for the lead of the AFC South. They'll have a chance to steal the lead this week with a home matchup against the Colts, which would likely push them back to the "winners" section next week.
If they want that to be the case, they'll need to fix their pass defense. While they are allowing 0.13 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play -- 20th in the league -- the blame isn't entirely on the secondary. Since they dealt Jadeveon Clowney prior to the season and lost J.J. Watt to injury, they haven't been able to replace their pass rush, with the sixth-lowest sack total in the NFL (21). An elite pass rush is pivotal for a postseason run, and they are doing their offense no favors.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
Playoff Odds Movement: -14.4%
Week 11 Playoff Odds: 49.5%
Week 12 Playoff Odds: 35.1%
The Eagles had a chance at a statement win at home against the Patriots, which would have given them a share of the lead in the NFC East. Instead, their offense flopped against New England's stout defense, putting up only 10 points in the loss.
While their defense held up, ceding only 17 points to Tom Brady, their lack of speed on offense hurt them. Carson Wentz was efficient to his tight end duo, but check-downs only get you so far. The dynamic Miles Sanders wasn't able to contribute, and their fastest receiver, Nelson Agholor, dropped a potential game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Patriots did a bang-up job taking away RB Miles Sanders as a pass-catcher for Philadelphia: HOW/WHY?
▪️How the Eagles try to get Miles Sanders downfield
▪️Where the Patriots saw this on film before
▪️How they defended the Sanders wheel route
Great defensive coaching/execution! pic.twitter.com/uMT8WxSjOb
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) November 19, 2019
Luckily, Philly gets matchups with the Dolphins, Washington Redskins, and two against the New York Giants. They also draw difficult matchups with the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys, albeit at home, so they'll need all the easy wins that they can get.