Best NFL Playoff Bets: Packers Among 4 Teams Offering Value
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
- Bookmakers have posted odds for 19 NFL teams to make or miss the playoffs.
- By comparing our projections to betting odds, we found four teams offering value.
The Green Bay Packers are 4-6-1 and longshots (+450) to make the playoffs. But with a favorable schedule — tied with the Los Angeles Rams for easiest — there is a path to the postseason.
Aaron Rodgers told reporters exactly what needed to happen following a loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football:
“So we just got to go back home, get some rest, beat Arizona … and then come back and beat Atlanta … then go to Chicago, a place we’ve won a number of times, beat them … go to New York around Christmas, beat them …and then come home against Detroit, beat them. Get a little help.”
It is not smart to bet against Rodgers (96-68-5 against the spread in his career), but how likely are the Packers to make the playoffs? According to The Action Network’s NFL simulations, the Cheeseheads have a 2.7% chance of playing past Week 17.
At +450 odds, the implied probability of Green Bay reaching the playoffs is 18.2% (which is 100/(100+450)). With less than a 3.0% chance of running the table and getting help, there is no value at +450 odds.
In fact, Green Bay may be offering value to miss the playoffs.
Based on the difference in implied probability and projected chance, the analysis below looks at the two best bets to make and miss the playoffs.
Make the Playoffs
- Current odds: -220, Implied Probability: 68.8%
- Vikings make the playoffs 81.0% of the time
Looking at the NFC playoff picture the Saints, Rams and Bears are locks to reach the postseason. Our simulations project the Cowboys to win the NFC East, which leaves two wild-card spots up for cards.
The Vikings are currently the 5-seed followed by the Redskins, Seahawks and Panthers. Washington lost its starting quarterback for the season and Carolina still has to play New Orleans twice.
The most likely wild card teams are the Vikings and Seahawks. With an 81.0% of making the playoffs, Minnesota’s odds should be closer to -425, not -220.
Los Angeles Chargers
- Current odds: -900, Implied Probability: 90.0%
- Chargers make the playoffs 94.4% of the time
The Chargers are just one of four teams with eight or more wins in the AFC and are basically assured a playoff spot. Some bettors might hesitate to lay $900 to win $100 after Melvin Gordon suffered an MCL injury, but LA’s offense has basically been the same with and without him on the field.
From 2015 to 2017, the Chargers averaged 3.7 yards per rush with Gordon on the field and 3.7 yards per rush when he didn’t play. Philip Rivers’ passer rating is 93.3 with Gordon and 91.7 without him.
Miss the Playoffs
Green Bay Packers
- Current odds: -850, Implied Probability: 89.5%
- Packers miss the playoffs 97.3% of the time
Combined, the five remaining opponents on Green Bay’s schedule have gone 21-34 this season. The Packers will face only one team with a winning record the rest of the way (Chicago in Week 15).
Still, the probability of Rodgers & Co winning out is slim. According to our NFL model, there is only a 7.8% chance the Packers win five straight to close the season.
R-E-L-A-X, as Rodgers once said. It feels weird fading one of the best quarterbacks in football but the smart play is betting that Green Bay won’t make the playoffs.
- Current odds: -260, Implied Probability: 72.2%
- Panthers miss the playoffs 79.4% of the time
After a Week 9 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina had a 6-2 record and was 77.5% likely to make the playoffs. The Panthers had three winnable games, favored in two and 3.5-point underdogs to the Steelers, from Week 10-12, but lost all three.
The Panthers’ (6-5) playoff probability has decreased from 77.5% to 20.6%. The team finishes the season with a tough Saints-Falcons-Saints stretch.