It was a pretty interesting weekend of football. Apparently there was a record for touchdowns scored in a week, a number of games had impressive amounts of snow (with none more impressive than Lions-Eagles), and apparently a couple of playoff races are back to being up for grabs. Or are they? Remember that I laid out some scenarios last week using Luigi’s predictions for the rest of the games. As it turns out, only three games went opposite of Luigi’s predictions: Jacksonville-Houston (irrelevant), Jets-Oakland (both were technically alive, but only technically), and Pittsburgh-Miami (more intriguing!). So perhaps things aren’t as wide-open as you were told. I’ll update my playoff projections using nfl-forecast.com and ESPN’s playoff machine again just to be safe.
First off, let’s do the rankings and season predictions, just so you know how awesome the Broncos are.
Ok, back to the playoffs. If you remember, in the AFC, things are mostly set. I had the Broncos, Colts, Patriots, and Chiefs all at over 99% to make the playoffs. The Bengals were at 96+%. The question for them is where they’ll end up. Using the nfl-forecast program, the outcomes from the weekend, and the updated Luigi predictions, Denver and Indy have moved to 100% and the Bengals are over 98%. The only notable changes in potential positioning is that the Colts are now very likely to be the 4 seed (going from about 50% to about 90%) and the Bengals and Patriots are now both more likely to be the 2 seed.
How about that 6 seed? Using the playoff machine, if every Luigi favorite wins it now goes to the Dolphins instead of Baltimore. The probabilities have moved that way as well, switching from a toss-up between the two (at 37% with other teams adding up to about 25%) to Miami at 58%. The Ravens didn’t drop too much; the Dolphins essentially took the probability away from the other potential teams. With their loss, the Steelers dropped from a 15% chance to under 1% (along with Tennessee and Cleveland), and the only other teams with a shot are the Jets and Chargers both at about 3.5%. So in the AFC, your big winner for the weekend was the Dolphins, thanks to Antonio Brown stepping out of bounds (and maybe some of the other 80 plays run in that game).
In the NFC, Carolina is still over 90% to make the playoffs but cost themselves some ground compared to before their spanking by the Saints. The Saints are also much more likely to be the 2 seed now. While they were expected to lose, the game turning out that way cost the Lions. They went from being over 80% to make the playoffs to 64%. The 49ers not only added about 10% to their likelihood of making the playoffs, now at about 90%, but they also gave themselves a better shot at the 5 seed. But the Eagles probably did themselves the biggest favor. Their win and Dallas’ loss moved them from 53% to make the playoffs to 68% while Dallas dropped from 60% to 37%. Even worse news for Dallas is that thanks to the Detroit loss and Packers win, Aaron Rodgers might still come back for their game next week. Chicago, Arizona, and Green Bay all managed to improve their chances, going from about 10% each to 21%, 12%, and 16% respectively.
People (including myself) have mentioned the importance of the Lions’ having the tiebreaker over Chicago and Green Bay, and that is obviously important. But another benefit for them compared to some of these other teams is that their remaining schedule is basically outside the group whereas the other teams will play each other, and thus keep their playoff chances low until we see what happens. Next week Dallas will play Green Bay, as mentioned, Chicago plays Philly in week 16, and in week 17 Dallas hosts Philly in a likely playoff eliminator and Chicago hosts Green Bay. If Dallas wins out, that by definition means that Philly and Green Bay have to lose a game; if Chicago wins out, the same thing happens. Games that benefit one team are going to hurt another, and so the probabilities remain low. On the other hand, Detroit is going to play Baltimore, the Giants, and Minnesota. They might win or lose those games, but the outcomes aren’t going to dictate the results for other contenders.
On to the model results! In all games Luigi was 8-8 but would have passed on four games and gone 5-7 on the rest. That gives Luigi a total of 96-91-5/76-71-3. Yoshi 1 was 10-6/8-6 for a total of 90-97-5/75-84-5, and Yoshi 2 was 7-9/7-6 for a total of 91-96-5/74-78-3. The consensus picks, where all three models agree, were 2-1 for a 51-47-1 total.
Luigi’s SuperContest picks were again 3-2, a familiar number the past few weeks. That puts my record at 40-28-2 for 41 points. The average score for people still picking is 33.5, and 41 points would have me in a tie for 39th. First place right now has 45 points, and I’m nine spots out of the money, which is really a bunch of people tied at 41.5. So if I can pick up one win on a few people over the course of the next three weeks, my picks will make th money again (had I actually been in the contest, of course). Yoshi 1 would have gone 2-3 for a record of 33-35-2. Yoshi 2 would have also gone 2-3 for a total of 37-32-1.
As is typically the case when there aren’t many/any upsets, all three models had pretty bad weeks on the moneyline. They just don’t think the odds are worthwhile on favorites very often, and even if they are, favorites don’t pay well.
Using his lines, Bill Simmons went 9-7 for his first above-.500 week in a while. Luigi went 7-9, Yoshi 1 went 9-7, and Yoshi 2 went 7-9. That makes the counts Bill 79-94-5, Luigi 90-83-5, Yoshi 1 92-81-5, and Yoshi 2 84-89-5. That’s an 11 game lead with three weeks to go; I’m not going to say it’s a lock (jinx!) but it’s got to be close.