All of the numbers below come from Chris Cox at NFL-forecast.com. His app uses the win probabilities from the ANS team efficiency model to run a Monte Carlo simulation of the remaining NFL games thousands of times. Based on current records, our estimates of team strength, and knowledge of the NFL's tie breaking procedures we can come up with some pretty interesting predictions of how each team will fare come the end of the season. If you want to use a different model or just fiddle with the numbers by hand, go ahead and download the app yourself.
Chicago at Green Bay, Week 8's biggest game
This game turned out to be even more important than we said it would be last week. Chicago's victory gave them a 23% boost in their playoff chances, and perhaps just as satisfying for Bears fans, dropped Green Bay's odds by 19%. The division title is much less secure now, with both the Lions and Bears within reach of that top spot.
And while that news is bad enough for Mike McCarthy and company, the biggest storyline from the game was undoubtedly Aaron Rodgers' collar bone injury. The rumor mill suggests a return in 4-6 weeks. It is difficult to quantify the kind of impact an injury to a key player will have, but let's do an unscientific estimate. Currently the model gives Green Bay a 64% chance of making the playoff, but is oblivious to Rodgers' absence. If we arbitrarily assume that the Packers' chances of winning drops 15% in each of their next 4 games (PHI, @NYG, MIN, @DET), their odds would fall to 46% and Detroit would become the favorite in the division. Obviously this will be more or less severe depending on whether you think 15% is a reasonable guess for the blow dealt by playing Seneca Wallace in place of Rodgers. His health come the Thanksgiving game against the Lions will have huge playoff implications in the North.
Other big movers
The Eagles' blowout victory over the Raiders coupled with the Cowboys'embarrassing final drive defensive collapse launched Philadelphia to a 47% playoff probability, up from 30% last week. Early in the season big wins will not only boost playoff odds due to the improve record, but also increase the model's estimates of win probabilities in future games due to better standings in the important statistical categories.
San Diego can only hold out hope for a 6th seed at this point after the loss to the Redskins over the weekend. 4 of the Chargers' remaining games are against Kansas City and Denver so it will be difficult to nab that final spot with the Jets, Titans, and Dolphins all in contention. The model now puts their chances at 13%.
The Chiefs made a major move towards claiming the #1 seed in the AFC. The Cincinnati loss was a major help, but surprisingly Denver also fell substantially in team efficiency ratings during a bye week due to opponents' poor performances tarnishing their strength of schedule. The AFC West is now a near toss-up between the two.
High leverage game of the week: DET @ CHI
Once again, Chicago is in a huge game this week. This matchup is especially significant because of the major implications in the division title race, as well as the fact that both are currently on the cusp of the 6th spot should they lose the division. The Lions and Bears both face a swing of greater than 30% playoff probability depending on the outcome.
PHI @ GB and CAR @ SF are close runners-up, with 20+% swings at stake in both.
|AFC Percent Probability Playoff Seeding|
|NFC Percent Probability Playoff Seeding|