- As the NFL season reaches the stretch drive, jockeying for playoff spots has begun.
- While current records are important, upcoming schedules are also significant.
- There are a few possible money-making options on the board.
NFL teams have five remaining games. A few squads (LA Rams, New Orleans, Kansas City) have risen to the top, and another small group (Jags, Jets, Raiders, Giants, Cardinals, 49ers) are building for next year, but the vast middle is alive and needs wins down the stretch to secure a bid to the postseason.
Let’s look at the odds to make the postseason, starting with the AFC.
AFC Odds to Make the NFL Playoffs
|Team||Odds to Reach the Playoffs|
|Kansas City Chiefs||1/900|
|New England Patriots||1/900|
|Los Angeles Chargers||1/9|
|New York Jets||200/1|
Who Earns the Final Playoff Bid?
Four division-winners and the Chargers are going to the postseason, but who will get the final spot? Among a large group right around .500, Indianapolis is playing the best having won five straight, while Baltimore owns the best point differential.
Denver has back-to-back wins over the Chargers and Pittsburgh and will be a favorite each of the next four weeks before finishing the campaign at home against LAC. There is ample value with the Broncos, and the other contenders aren’t world beaters.
Are the Division Winners Set?
It is crazy to think that with a third of the season still to come it feels like we know who will take each division. The Chiefs are just one game clear of the Chargers, but KC won the first meeting and hosts the second matchup. It’s a safer lead than it looks at first glance.
The Patriots are long gone in the AFC East.
In the North, Pittsburgh has a 1.5-game lead over Baltimore, while Houston is two clear of the Colts in the South. While it would be convenient to say that the Texans or Steelers could be caught, neither play significantly more difficult schedules than their main rivals. Unless there is a major injury, the top four are likely in place to stay.
NFC Odds to Make the NFL Playoffs
|Team||Odds to Reach the Playoffs|
|Los Angeles Rams||1/900|
|New Orleans Saints||1/900|
|Green Bay Packers||37/3|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||69/1|
|San Francisco 49ers||250/1|
|New York Giants||250/1|
The Saints and Rams are 10-1 and it is going to be a challenge for anyone else to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. That said, you can’t pull an upset if you aren’t in the bracket, and the NFC is fairly deep with intriguing options.
Who Will Win the NFC East?
The race to win the NFC South and West are over, while the Bears hold a significant lead in the North. Though the Giants probably need to go unbeaten the rest of the way to earn a playoff bid out of the East, the Redskins (6-5), Cowboys (6-5), and Eagles (5-6) are all very much alive. Whatever team you prefer, the odds are reasonable. Dallas is 3-1 against the division thus far and gets to host Philly while traveling to New York the rest of the way.
The analytics community prefers the Eagles, however, and they still have two games left against the Colt McCoy led Redskins.
What About a Price?
Minnesota is a pretty good bet to make the playoffs seeing as how they can still win the NFC North and they are in position now to earn a Wild Card berth. They aren’t an awful bet at 7/13, but there might be one better option.
If you take four division winners plus the Vikings that leaves only one other spot. The prime candidates are Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina, Seattle, and maybe Green Bay. The Packers probably need to run the table, and the odds of two of the mediocre East teams rising up seem small. Seattle won in Charlotte on Sunday, and while the Panthers still have to play New Orleans twice, the Seahawks get two games against the 49ers down the stretch. Seattle also owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Cowboys and Packers thanks to wins earlier in the season.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are the best value on the NFC board.