- The NFL playoffs are taking shape with three weeks left in the 2018 regular season.
- Several teams have clinched playoff spots while others have been eliminated.
- If you can pick who the last teams into the postseason will be, there is money to be made.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, and New Orleans Saints are going to the playoffs. They have clinched berths and are playing for seeding over the season’s final three weeks.
While the Patriots, Texans, Chargers, Bears, and Cowboys are not officially in the bracket, they will be. All of their chances to make it are roughly 96% or greater.
On the flip side the Cardinals, 49ers, Bills, Jaguars, Jets, and Raiders have all been eliminated. Though it isn’t official, Tampa Bay, the Giants, Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are on life support.
As for the team’s on the bubble, Bovada has odds on each one reaching the postseason. Let’s take a look and see where we can find value, starting with the AFC.
AFC Odds to Make the Playoffs
|AFC Teams||Odds to Reach the Playoffs|
How many playoff spots are available?
So long as the Patriots, Texans, and Chargers don’t collapse, there are two berths available. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are fighting for the AFC North title, and whoever doesn’t earn that slot will also be in the running for the one vacant Wild Card spot.
The Steelers own a half-game lead over Baltimore, and they have the same margin over Indianapolis, Miami, and Tennessee. However, Pittsburgh plays the Patriots and Saints the next two weeks, both possible losses.
Meanwhile, the Ravens should beat the Bucs and Browns at home. If Baltimore also beats the Chargers in Week 16, they’ll be in. Even if they only win two of the next three and finish 9-7, they own wins over Tennessee and Denver (which would come into play as tiebreakers), so they still stand a pretty solid shot.
Is there a price worth backing?
Any team that goes 3-0 to end the year will very likely get in, with the exception of Denver. We can divide the contenders into two groups, those who have two difficult games remaining, and those with just one.
Along with the Steelers, the Colts have two pretty tough games: vs. the Cowboys and at the Titans (plus their remaining game, vs. the Giants, isn’t the cakewalk it used to be).
Meanwhile, Miami’s only “hard” game is against Minnesota. That’s followed by vs. the Jaguars and at the Bills.
Tennessee’s schedule is similar to Minnesota’s in strength. Their toughest remaining game is vs. Indianapolis. Their other two are at NYG and vs. Washington.
Denver hosts the Chargers, while also getting a home game with the Browns and visiting the Raiders.
Because the Broncos tripped up against San Francisco last week, and are 6-7, they are on the outside looking in. The Titans hosting Indy in Week 17 is easier than Miami visiting Minnesota this week. At +220, the Titans provide value.
NFC Odds to Make the Playoffs
|NFC Teams||Odds to Reach the Playoffs|
|Green Bay Packers||+1200|
How many playoff spots are available?
The division races in the NFC are all but officially over, and Seattle would need to choke terribly to miss out on the postseason. That means there is just one Wild Card available for this group of underachievers, one of which has already fired its head coach, and another that dumped its offensive coordinator this week.
Who will claim the last NFC playoff spot?
The Vikings control their own destiny, and winning one of their two remaining home games against Miami and Chicago may do the trick. That makes them the deserving favorite, though it was hard to watch Monday’s ugly loss at Seattle and have much confidence in Minnesota. Their resume isn’t very sexy either.
It is impossible to support the Redskins and their quarterback du jour plan. Likewise, the Panthers have lost five straight and face New Orleans twice over the season’s final three weeks.
That leaves Philadelphia, perhaps without Carson Wentz, or Green Bay. How can you bet on a team playing poorly, and with Nick Foles potentially taking over? Even if he did win the Super Bowl last year.
Green Bay may be too far back, but if they beat the Bears this week, a final record of 8-7-1 is fairly likely. The Vikings would win a tiebreaker with Green Bay if Minnesota goes 2-1 down the stretch. It is one of those two teams, and at 12/1, we are comfortable wagering against the Vikings.