The Weekly Assist: Playoff Odds After Week 13
As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast...
... If you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it. Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
It's rare this late in the season for so many teams to still be in playoff contention. With most of the games already played on the Week 13 schedule, only four teams have been mathematically eliminated from contention, those being the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
With a loss to the Patriots, the Los Angeles Chargers have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. https://t.co/8wtFVyM5bh— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) 1607301694.0
The New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs have officially clinched spots in the the post season. Pittsburgh and Green Bay are just waiting to see their names added to the list of teams that have clinched, which should happen in the next week or two. But the large majority of teams are playing for their postseason lives, and the three games left on the Week 13 schedule all have major playoff implications surrounding them.
NFL playoff picture: Saints and Chiefs clinch, and Vikings move into the NFC's No. 7 spot https://t.co/59jRijlZYZ https://t.co/wfDRgfiTOE— ESPN Los Angeles (@ESPN Los Angeles) 1607315583.0
On Monday night the Steelers will play the Washington Football Team and the Bills take on the 49ers. Every team in the NFC East has a sub .500 record, including the division leading Giants (5-7); that means that any win can thrust you to the top of the division. Washington is currently just behind them in second place, so a win tonight would go a long way in that division.
*me trying to figure out how the 49ers will win the NFC West* https://t.co/fU0pXeWMnK— Akash Anavarathan (@Akash Anavarathan) 1607297735.0
The 49ers also need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The NFC West has continued to be one of the most competitive divisions in football all season and with both Seattle and Arizona taking losses this week, a win would be even more important to San Francisco to make up some ground.
For the Bills, on the other hand, a loss would be disastrous, as they would then be tied with Miami at 8-4 while the Patriots seemed to have figured it out as they've won two straight and are now sitting at 6-6.
On Tuesday night the Cowboys will face the faltering Ravens, who are at least expected to get QB Lamar Jackson back for this one. On the surface it seems like an easy win for Baltimore, but their recent run of play, even with Jackson in at quarterback, has been lackluster at best.
Ravens' QB Lamar Jackson is expected to come off Reserve/COVID19 list and start Tuesday vs. the Dallas Cowboys, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@Adam Schefter) 1607263799.0
The Ravens are riding a three game losing streak and have allowed Cleveland to assert a three game lead ahead of them for second place in the AFC North and are in the top AFC Wildcard spot. If Baltimore has any chance of getting back to the playoffs, they will need the Lamar Jackson we saw last season during his MVP campaign. If we get more of the 2020 Lamar, Baltimore will need to start thinking about a new OC to replace Greg Roman, or a new QB to replace "Big Truss".
"BIG TRUSS!" —@markingram21 One year ago, Mark Ingram was turned up for his MVP @Lj_era8 🤣 https://t.co/3asitzrAhD— NFL on ESPN (@NFL on ESPN) 1605628581.0
Let's break down the AFC and NFC to see how the playoff picture is developing in Week 13.
The Steelers, Chiefs, Bills, and Titans lead their divisions. Buffalo is in a tight race in the East, as Miami is right on their heels and have a chance to draw even with Buffalo if San Francisco is able to upset them Monday night. Kansas City and Pittsburgh have significant breathing room and are more concerned about their playoff seeding since both will have spots in the postseason (barring a historic collapse from the Steelers). Tennessee is also in a close division race with Indianapolis, both 8-4 with the Titans holding the tiebreaker. But, luckily for them, they don't have a third team that can chase them down like Buffalo and Miami does.
Bill Belichick and Cam Newton have figured out a very boring and very effective way to win football games in today's NFL. The bad news for the former juggernaut is that over their last four games, three of them are against the Los Angeles Rams, the Miami Dolphins, and the Buffalo Bills. The other is against the Jets in the last week of the season.
Cam “character issues/won’t fit the Patriots way” Newton changing the culture in NE 👀👀 https://t.co/wmNFbvYFXA— PJWalkerQB1 (@PJWalkerQB1) 1607301434.0
Speaking of the Jets, the Las Vegas Raiders were the beneficiaries of the Jets' incompetence that we've seen this entire season. Derek Carr and Henry Ruggs III connected on a deep pass for a game-winning touchdown with five seconds remaining on the clock. Running an all-out blitz, the Jets left cornerback, Lamar Jackson (the other one), on an island with an Olympic level sprinter and it turned out the way you'd expect it to.
"We were down to the wire, and we knew that we needed a play." @__RUGGS and @derekcarrqb combined for the play of… https://t.co/2HDW9UKYS3— Las Vegas Raiders (@Las Vegas Raiders) 1607302801.0
The Saints are the only NFC team that holds the claim to have clinched a playoff berth already. The Packers shouldn't be too far behind. Green Bay are now 8-3 after this week's win over the Eagles, and their nearest competition in the division is Minnesota who is 6-6. Chicago and Detroit haven't yet been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention – but c'mon, let's be real; they're done.
Moving on to the Saints' division, it's a pretty similar situation. They're already in, and there's only one other team in the division that can make a playoff push, and that's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa's season has had its share of ups and downs, but they're certainly a team that is able to turn it on and look like a Super Bowl contender at times.
The #Saints are headed to the playoffs!!! ⚜️ https://t.co/DAu3I1jo9o— New Orleans Saints (@New Orleans Saints) 1607289411.0
The Bucs will be vying for a Wild Card spot and should have a strong chance to land one coming off their Week 13 bye. Carolina and Atlanta both currently have a 1% chance of reaching the postseason both sitting at 4-8.
The East, as we've discussed at length throughout the season, is a mess. Because of the current structure of deciding NFL playoff spots, there are currently four teams in Week 13 of the NFL season that are below .500 that have a real chance at reaching the playoffs. They're ALL in the NFC East.
I want to make sure to drive home the point of how much I hate the NFC East and the NFL for allowing this to happen. That means that one of these teams will make it in over someone like the Vikings, Seattle, or the Rams, depending on who falls out of the final Wild Card spot.
Live look at the NFC East https://t.co/7ZQPbX7gH0— Annie Agar (@Annie Agar) 1607300906.0
The only other thing worth mentioning about the East is that Jalen Hurts came in to replace Carson Wentz in the Packers game and did well enough to start a QB controversy in Philadelphia. Coach Doug Pederson is definitely on the hot seat, and his fate may already be sealed.
Starting Hurts the rest of the way doesn't seem like a bad idea considering we've had 12 weeks to see if Carson Wentz can lead this team to a division crown. Considering how low-hanging that fruit is, and how poorly Wentz has done with his chance, Hurts could save the season and Pederson's job.
.@JalenHurts has his first NFL touchdown! #PHIvsGB | #FlyEaglesFly 📺: CBS https://t.co/TuRPDyFU0k— Philadelphia Eagles (@Philadelphia Eagles) 1607298753.0
Saving the best for last, the NFC West has been the opposite of the East. It's been a pleasure to watch all of the teams in the league's best division fight for positioning all season, from the quarterback play of Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray to the impressive coaching we've seen displayed from Kyle Shanahan dealing with a myriad of injuries in San Francisco. And finally, Sean McVay reworking the Rams into a much different team than who we saw in the Super Bowl two years ago.
Sean McVay on taking the lead in the NFC West: “I mean, that means absolutely nothing because there are four games left.”— Jourdan Rodrigue (@Jourdan Rodrigue) 1607301123.0
The Rams and Seahawks are both 8-4, with the Rams holding the tiebreaker. Both are in the driver's seat toward reaching the playoffs, but the Cardinals and 49ers are far from out of it. The Cardinals fell to 6-6 after losing to the aforementioned Rams this week; but for San Fran, they could reach 6-6 with a win against Buffalo tonight in primetime. Neither are close to being out contention with four games left on the schedule, but at least one of them will be left on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs this year.