No Sleep Till Football

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2011 NFL Playoffs After Week 3

The NFL season keeps getting weirder & weirder. Isn’t odd how the word weird doesn’t follow the whole “I before E except after C” rule? Weird should be spelled wierd, but instead it’s weird. That is weird huh?

Here is the info for background if you need it! Let’s get after it. You can take a look at the format here where I did Week 15. I use the Football Outsiders Playoff Odds Report to give you the percentage chance of each team making the playoffs. Football Outsiders also gives us a % change from week to week and we’ll take a look at that too. Obviously since the season just began, the % change will be from preseason projections of playoff chances. Let’s get to it!

AFC Playoff Seedings after Week 3

1. Buffalo Bills 3-0 (Last Week #5; 72.5% chance of making playoffs; +28.8% increase in chances)
2. Houston Texans 2-1 (Last Week #2; 73.5% chance; -11.2% decrease)
3. Oakland Raiders 2-1 (Last Week #3; 49.4% chance; +26.2% increase)
4. Baltimore Ravens 2-1 (Last Week #4; 69.1% chance; +10.9% increase)
5. Tennessee Titans 2-1 (Last Week #9; 45.3% chance; +26.2% increase)
6. New England Patriots 2-1 (Last Week #1; 72.6% chance; -17.4% decrease)
7. Cleveland Browns 2-1 (Last Week #10; 17.0% chance; +1.3% increase)
8. New York Jets 2-1 (Last Week #6; 52.5% chance; -21.4% decrease)
9. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-1 (Last Week #13; 64.4% chance; -1.5% decrease)
10. San Diego Chargers 2-1 (Last Week #11; 57.6% chance; -14.6% increase)
11. Cincinnati Bengals 1-2 (Last Week #8; 14.7% chance; -5.6% decrease)
12. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-2 (Last Week #7; 4.4% chance; -9.5% decrease)
13. Denver Broncos 1-2 (Last Week #12; 4.3% chance; -5.1% decrease)
14. Kansas City Chiefs 0-3 (Last Week #14; 0.6% chance; -1.5% decrease)
15. Miami Dolphins 0-3 (Last Week #15; 1.1% chance; -3.7% decrease)
16. Indianapolis Colts 0-3 (Last Week #16; 1.1% chance; -1.4% decrease)

BIG WINNERS = BUFFALO BILLS, TENNESSEE TITANS & PITTSBURGH STEELERS: The Bills, Steelers & Titans all moved up 5 spots in the AFC seedings. The Bills got especially lucky with the Jets & Texans both losing in the same week they beat New England which leaves the Bills as the only undefeated team in the AFC and only 1 of 3 total undefeated teams in the NFL! The Titans also benefited from Houston losing because it pulled them into a tie with Houston at 2-1. The Steelers also got a much needed conference win against Indianapolis which put them at 1-1 in the AFC which helped their cause quite a bit. The Titans have a great shot at going even higher if they beat Cleveland this week and the Steelers beat Houston. I don’t know if it’ll be enough to give them that #2 overall seed, but it would give them the edge in the South. If Cincinnati pulls off an upset of Buffalo, the AFC could really open up.

BIG LOSERS = JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS & NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: The Jaguars & Patriots both drop 5 spots in the seedings making them the big losers of the week. The Jaguars are really in for a lost season after the 16-10 loss to Carolina. They at least have Indianapolis in the same division and they do usually play Indianapolis very tough even with Peyton Manning in the lineup, but with breaking in Blaine Gabbert, who really knows what will happen with Jacksonville, or whether or not they’ll be in Jacksonville for very much longer. The Patriots drop, but if the season ended today they’d still be in the playoffs so there isn’t much to get upset about. The Patriots defense wasn’t going to allow them to go 16-0 anyway, but that defense is so bad that I think the Patriot faithful have to be more than a little concerned with the Pats ability to win a championship. It’s only one game, but it could serve as a blueprint. The Raiders almost beat Buffalo so the game this week against the Raiders in Oakland will be instructive.

BIGGEST GAINERS IN PLAYOFF % = BUFFALO BILLS: The Bills take a HUGE leap almost towards a playoff guarantee with the win over New England last week! They now have a 72.5% chance of making the playoffs which is equal to that of the Patriots! Only the Texans have a better shot at making the playoffs than does Buffalo at this point & the Texans are playing in the weakest division in the AFC. At what point, however do you become huge Bills believers? I’m not sure yet. I think they still have to hold serve against everyone else in Buffalo and win a couple of key road games. Still, it’s looking more and more likely that the Bills will win 10-11 games & that probably should be good enough to make the playoffs especially if the Jets have a 9-7 season which is seeming more & more likely. The win over New England is HUGE for at the moment it effectively puts the Bills 2 up on the Patriots. That could easily be made up with a win at Foxboro by the Patriots, but until then the Bills are in the driver’s seat.

BIGGEST LOSERS IN PLAYOFF % = NEW YORK JETS: Wow! The Jets really gaffed at Oakland last week in a year where they probably can’t afford to lose games they should win. Maybe Oakland is a lot better than we think, but if New England hammers Oakland this week, then essentially the Jets gift wrapped a game they should have won. The problem there is that the Jets can’t afford it because the schedule they play is not only brutal, but teams like Buffalo, Cleveland, Tennessee & Oakland might make unexpected playoff pushes. If the Jets can’t guarantee themselves 10 wins, they might not have enough in the tank to see their 3rd straight AFC Championship game. It’s not impossible, but now Rex Ryan has to beat good team after good team after good team.

GUARANTEED PLAYOFF TEAMS: None. The Texans, Patriots & Bills are all over 70%, but really the AFC has become wide open. The Texans have a real shot at losing this week playing Pittsburgh and apparently so does New England now with Oakland maybe being decent. If Houston wins & Tennessee loses to Cleveland, then Houston probably wraps up a playoff spot unless they implode. The same goes for Buffalo if New England and the NY Jets lose this weekend. .

COMPLETELY ELIMINATED: None. Nobody is quite eliminated but the Chiefs now have a less than 1% shot at making the postseason while the Dolphins & Colts are on the brink each having only a 1.1% chance of making the playoffs. The Colts & Dolphins will not win this week meaning they’ll go below 1%. The Chiefs I suppose could win a home game over Minnesota, but if the Chiefs fall to 0-4, I think it’s pretty safe to say that this trio of 0-4 squads have absolutely no shot at making the playoffs. At a minimum that means that there will be 2 new playoff teams from last year’s 6. Right now the Chiefs have the best shot at the #1 overall pick at 26.2%. The Colts are at 13.7 while the Dolphins are at 9.2%. The Rams have a 20.7% shot, but they certainly won’t take Andrew Luck.

OVERALL ANALYSIS: Overall the really interesting prospects thus far are Buffalo’s 70% shot at making the playoffs combined with Oakland, Tennessee & New York all being essentially even money to make the playoffs at around 50%. It sounds crazy really but I think we are getting closer & closer to having the Bills being playoff locks especially if they win today getting to 4-0. It would be amazing to see them tank so bad that they would fall out of playoff contention although I suppose it could happen. I think it’s also interesting that the Titans & Raiders. It won’t happen because that would force either the Patriots, Jets & Chargers to miss the playoffs entirely if you assumes the Steelers, Ravens & Bills get in which is almost certain. They were already scrutinized, but at this point the Jets become the most interesting team in the AFC. They have a brutal upcoming schedule & now have to deal with the emergence of the Bills.

NFC Playoff Seedings after Week 2

1. Green Bay Packers 3-0 (Last Week #2; 90.1% chance of making playoffs; +7.7% increase in chances)
2. Dallas Cowboys 2-1 (Last #6; 29.7% chance; +5.9% increase)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-1 (Last Week #10; 28.3% chance; +10.6% increase)
4. San Francisco 49ers 2-1 (Last Week #4; 74.7% chance; +19.5% increase)
5. Detroit Lions 3-0 (Last Week #5; 81.8% chance; +14.9% increase)
6. Washington Redskins 2-1 (Last Week #1; 28.1% chance; -3.2% decrease)
7. New York Giants 2-1 (Last Week #12; 69.4% chance; +31.5% increase)
8. New Orleans Saints 2-1 (Last Week #3; 67.1% chance; +1.3% increase)
9. Seattle Seahawks 1-2 (Last Week #16; 8.7% chance; +2.5% increase)
10. Chicago Bears 1-2 (Last Week #7; 9.4% chance; -19.2% decrease)
11. Arizona Cardinals 1-2 (Last Week #9; 19.7% chance; -15.8% decrease)
12. Philadelphia Eagles 1-2 (Last Week #11; 37.1% chance; -32.8% decrease)
13. Carolina Panthers 1-2 (Last Week #14; 5.7% chance; +2.8% increase)
14. Atlanta Falcons 1-2 (Last Week #8; 38.1% chance; -14.1% decrease)
15. Minnesota Vikings 0-3 (Last Week #13; 9.5% chance; -4.3% decrease)
16. St. Louis Rams 0-3 (Last Week #15; 2.7% chance; -6.8% decrease)

BIGGEST WINNERS = TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS & SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: The Bucs & Hawks were huge winners moving up 7 spots in the seedings with a single victory! Tampa Bay got huge help by beating Atlanta which pushed them to 2-1 and ahead of Atlanta in the South and above New Orleans by virtue of winning a division game that put them at 1-0 within the South and making the de facto division champions given their unblemished division record. Seattle got the same kind of help with a division win over Arizona. It wasn’t enough to push them past San Francisco as the Hawks still were just 1-2, but after Week 2, Seattle was mired as the #16 seed in the NFC. With a win they climbed up quite a bit and jumped over the same record Cardinals. .

BIGGEST LOSERS = ATLANTA FALCONS: Wow. The loss to Tampa Bay dropped the Falcons 6 spots from #8 to #14! If the NFC were really held as a 16-team playoff tournament, Atlanta’s first round opponent would be the #3 seed Buccaneers who they just lost to. This season clearly isn’t working out like it did last year for the Falcons. For a team that went 13-3 a year ago and expected the drafting of Julio Jones would put them over the top, they now are about 2-1 against making the playoffs which is really an amazing development. They are 1-2 right now & still have to play the Saints twice which means they could easily be looking at 4 losses. Not only that but they still have the Packers, Titans, Lions & Texans on the schedule which could mean 8-8. Either way, the road to the postseason in 2011 is going to be gravely more difficult than it was in 2010.

BIGGEST GAINERS IN PLAYOFF % = NEW YORK GIANTS: The Giants aren’t guaranteed to make the the playoffs, but the road win in Philadelphia bumped them to 69+% with a gain of 31.5%! That is a MASSIVE win for the Giants! New York now has the 4th best chance of making the postseason of any NFC team and the best of any team from the East. It’s very early in the season, but this really is an incredible turn around given how New York lost their opening week game to the Redskins who everyone thought would be the worst team in the division. The Skins still might be which will make the loss look worse and worse, but you can’t argue with the G-Men’s ability to rebound!

BIGGEST LOSERS IN PLAYOFF % = PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Wow it’s getting ugly. I think the Eagles have a great shot at losing today meaning they could be 1-3 after 4 games with losses to the Falcons, Giants & 49ers! The loss to New York was GIGANTIC and shave 30+% off of Philly’s chances to make the postseason. They are practically sitting at 2-1 against making the postseason which was unheard of when Philly was assembling their “DREAM TEAM” before the season started. I still can’t imagine a scenario where the East doesn’t get two teams in especially with the way Atlanta has been playing so far this season, but I don’t think Washington & Dallas are awful meaning Philadelphia currently finds themselves with the worst record in the most difficult division in the NFL.

GUARANTEED PLAYOFF TEAMS: None. Green Bay’s win over Chicago put them at 90.1% which is the highest mark in the NFL. Detroit is right behind them at 81.8% which incidentally is the 2nd highest mark in the NFL. No wonder there isn’t much confidence in the Bears making the playoffs! Here is something that’s really interesting though. The 3rd highest mark is held by the 49ers at 74.7%! That’s right! The 49ers have a better chance at making the playoffs than the Patriots, Bills, Jets, Ravens, Steelers, Colts, Texans, Chargers, Eagles, Giants, Bears, Falcons & Saints! Some of that is a byproduct of them playing in a brutally bad division, but give some credit to where it’s due. The 49ers have a solid defense and you simply can’t help but root for Jim Harbaugh as a HC. No team in the NFC has a guaranteed spot, but if the Packers, Lions & 49ers all win this week, they could all be over 90% given the nature of the teams they play.

COMPLETELY ELIMINATED: None. Only the 0-3 Rams are under 3% at 2.7%. No team is under 5% outside of St. Louis with the Panthers win over Jacksonville last week moving them up to a 5.7% shot at playoff glory! The Rams look worse than they probably are. If Danny Amendola comes back and the defense can tighten up a bit, the Rams have a good enough QB in Sam Bradford to eek out a couple of wins and get them to 4-12/5-11 status if everything breaks right. The Rams are in serious need of legitimate WRs with Amendola being a solid option in the slot, but until that happens, they need everything to go right which probably won’t happen all that often.

OVERALL ANALYSIS: What I find interesting here is how low some teams have already fallen. The Bears have losses to the Packers & Saints, two teams that I don’t think you could have given Chicago wins against even before the season started, but with those 2 losses, the Bears chances to make the playoffs have fallen to 9.4%! Amazingly enough the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings have a 9.5% shot at making the playoffs! That’s incredible! I’ve already discussed the Eagles, but losses to the Falcons & Giants? Those aren’t bad losses, but how it’s 2-1 against the Eagles even getting to the playoffs! Atlanta is in the same boat. The Falcons lost to the Bears in Chicago & the Bucs in Tampa Bay & now they are in the same boat as Philly being 2-1 against making the postseason! It would have been easy to envision a scenario in which Philly, Chicago & Atlanta all miss the playoffs, but all 3 at the same time? That would have been a bit more difficult.

PLAYOFF MATCH-UPS AFTER WEEK 3

New England @ Oakland
Tennessee @ Baltimore
Washington @ Tampa Bay
Detroit @ San Francisco
BYES: Buffalo, Houston, Green Bay, Dallas

How odd have the first 3 weeks been? If the season ended today the AFC would have no Jets, Steelers, Colts or Chargers! The NFC would have no Falcons, Eagles, Bears or Giants. These playoff matchups are getting a bit more palatable however. The seedings are a bit off still, but the games don’t seem so off like they did a week or two ago when the Patriots & Bengals were matched up.

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October 2, 2011 - Posted by | NFL Playoffs

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