NFL Playoff Picture, Bracket & Scenarios: Ravens Get Big Boost in Projection Odds After MNF Win

NFL Playoff Picture, Bracket & Scenarios: Ravens Get Big Boost in Projection Odds After MNF Win article feature image
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Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyus Bowser, Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson saved bettors on Monday night while giving his Baltimore Ravens a significant boost in the NFL playoff picture.

While playoff positions haven’t changed in the AFC following Monday Night Football, Baltimore’s 47-42 comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns raised the Ravens’ playoff probability from 67.9% to 83% according to our model.

The Dolphins currently hold the final spot in the AFC thanks to a tiebreak over the Ravens but have just a 56% chance of making the playoffs, per the model. Miami is a short favorite in Week 15 over the Patriots. The Dolphins will likely be the underdog at the Bills in Week 17, unless Buffalo has nothing to play for and rest players.

Meanwhile, the Ravens set up nicely as a double-digit favorite in Week 15 against the Ravens. Expect a high spread in Week 17 on the road against the Bengals as well.

The loss Monday effectively ended any chance the Browns had at winning the division, but a playoff spot is still secure, dropping slightly from 86.19% to 82%. Cleveland plays both New York teams before ending the season at home against Pittsburgh.

Current AFC Picture
No. 1 Chiefs (12-1)
No. 7 Dolphins (8-5)
No. 2 Steelers (11-2)
No. 6 Colts (9-4)
No. 3 Bills (10-3)
No. 5 Browns (9-4)
No. 4 Titans (9-4)
Bubble: Ravens (8-5), Raiders (7-6), Patriots (6-7)
Current NFC Picture
No. 1 Packers (10-3)
No. 7 Cardinals (7-6)
No. 2 Saints (10-3)
No. 6 Buccaneers (8-5)
No. 3 Rams (9-4)
No. 5 Seahawks (9-4)
No. 4 Football Team (6-7)
Bubble: Vikings (6-7), Bears (6-7), Giants (5-8), Eagles (4-8-1)

See below for final projected standings.

Monday Night Update

Editor’s Note: The following was written before Monday Night Football kicked off. 

The Cleveland Browns host the Baltimore Ravens in a Monday Night Football matchup ripe with playoff implications.

The result won’t immediately impact the standings, though — the Browns will remain in the No. 5 spot in the AFC regardless. A loss would drop them to 9-4, but they hold the tiebreaker win over the 9-4 Colts, who currently occupy the No. 6 spot. And a win to bring the Browns to 10-3 would not be enough to dethrone the flailing but still 11-2 Steelers.

The Ravens’ status on the outside looking in won’t change, either, but a win would go a long way in staying competitive in the AFC wild-card race.

Heading into Monday night’s divisional showdown, our model gives the Ravens a 67.9% chance of making the playoffs and the Browns a 86.19% chance.

Now let’s take a look at the overall playoff picture as of Monday, complete with a look at how our model — which simulates the rest of the season 10,000 times — is projecting the final brackets in both conferences.

NFL Playoff Picture & Scenarios

Below are the standings in both conferences before Monday Night Football.

Current AFC Picture
No. 1 Chiefs (12-1)
No. 7 Dolphins (8-5)
No. 2 Steelers (11-2)
No. 6 Colts (9-4)
No. 3 Bills (10-3)
No. 5 Browns (9-3)
No. 4 Titans (9-4)
Bubble: Ravens (7-5), Raiders (7-6), Patriots (6-7)
Current NFC Picture
No. 1 Packers (10-3)
No. 7 Cardinals (7-6)
No. 2 Saints (10-3)
No. 6 Buccaneers (8-5)
No. 3 Rams (9-4)
No. 5 Seahawks (9-4)
No. 4 Football Team (6-7)
Bubble: Vikings (6-7), Bears (6-7), Giants (5-8), Eagles (4-8-1)

NFL Playoff Bracket Predictions

Below is how we project the end-of-season bracket before Monday Night Football.

Final AFC Projections
No. 1 Chiefs
No. 7 Ravens
No. 2 Steelers
No. 6 Browns
No. 3 Titans
No. 5 Colts
No. 4 Bills
Final NFC Projections
No. 1 Packers
No. 7 Cardinals
No. 2 Saints
No. 6 Buccaneers
No. 3 Rams
No. 5 Seahawks
No. 4 Washington

How did we project these brackets? We used our model to project the top-four seeds of each conference by ranking the most likely division winners by their chances to land the Nos. 1-4 seeds. Then, we identified teams with the next highest playoff odds, and assigned the subsequent standings based on highest average wins.


Sunday Evening Update

Editor’s note: The following was written before Sunday Night Football kicked off.

Two divisions were clinched in Week 14: The Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.

The Steelers could be the next squad to claim their division titles before Week 14 is over if they can pull out the upset win over the Bills on Sunday night and if the Browns fall to the Ravens on Monday night. Though if Pittsburgh fails and Buffalo prevails, Josh Allen and Co. could clinch their berth if Cleveland beats Baltimore.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints botched their chances to tie up the NFC South crown, falling to the Eagles in rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts’ first start.

Now let’s take a look at the playoff picture heading into Sunday Night Football, then our model’s projections for the final AFC and NFC brackets.

NFL Playoff Picture & Scenarios

Current AFC Picture
No. 1 Chiefs (12-1)
No. 7 Dolphins (8-5)
No. 2 Steelers (11-1)
No. 6 Colts (9-4)
No. 3 Bills (9-3)
No. 5 Browns (9-3)
No. 4 Titans (9-4)
Current NFC Picture
No. 1 Packers (10-3)
No. 7 Cardinals (7-6)
No. 2 Saints (10-3)
No. 6 Buccaneers (8-5)
No. 3 Rams (9-4)
No. 5 Seahawks (9-4)
No. 4 Football Team (6-7)

NFL Playoff Bracket Predictions

Below is how we project the end-of-season bracket as of Sunday evening.

Final AFC Projections
No. 1 Chiefs
No. 7 Ravens
No. 2 Steelers
No. 6 Colts
No. 3 Titans
No. 5 Browns
No. 4 Bills
Final NFC Projections
No. 1 Packers
No. 7 Cardinals
No. 2 Saints
No. 6 Buccaneers
No. 3 Rams
No. 5 Seahawks
No. 4 Washington

How did we project these brackets? We used our model to project the top-four seeds of each conference by ranking the most likely division winners by their chances to land the Nos. 1-4 seeds. Then, we identified teams with the next highest playoff odds, and assigned the subsequent standings based on highest average wins.


Sunday Morning Update

Editor’s note: The following was written before Sunday’s games kicked off.

What’s on the line in Week 14?

Four teams could clinch their division. Three could clinch a playoff berth. And both wild-card races could see notable movement.

To help clarify the NFL playoff picture heading into Sunday, we’ve outlined the current standings as well as all the possible scenarios based on the slate’s results. And as a bonus, we used our betting model to simulate the rest of the season 10,000 times to project the final brackets in the AFC and NFC.

NFL Playoff Picture & Scenarios

Current AFC Picture
No. 1 Steelers (11-1)
No. 7 Colts (8-4)
No. 2 Chiefs (11-1)
No. 6 Dolphins (8-4)
No. 3 Bills (9-3)
No. 5 Browns (9-3)
No. 4 Titans (8-4)
Bubble: Raiders (7-5), Ravens (7-5), Patriots (6-7)

The AFC North is starting to look crowded.

Last week, the Cleveland Browns pulled out a 41-35 win over the Tennessee Titans to improve to 9-3 and maintain their position in the conference’s fifth spot. The Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts also won their respective matchups to hold onto the final two wild-card spots and create further separation from those chasing them.

Of the teams on the outside looking in, our model gives the Baltimore Ravens a 65% chance to make playoffs — slightly better than the 64% mark it gives the Colts. A win as 3-point favorites over the Browns would be huge for the Ravens, and is just one of the scenarios that would clinch the division for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers can clinch a playoff spot with an upset win over the Bills — a scenario our NFL PRO Projections sees as more likely than the market. A Steelers win coupled with a Browns loss seals the division. Pittsburgh also gets in this week if Tennessee loses, or Las Vegas or Miami lose or tie.

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Pittsburgh is not the only AFC team with a chance to clinch a division: A win for the Kansas City Chiefs or a Las Vegas loss or tie gives the Chiefs their fifth consecutive AFC West title.

Those are both formalities, which is also the case for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills can clinch this week with a win over the Steelers and losses by the Ravens, Dolphins and Raiders. Our model gives the Bills a 92% chance to make the playoffs. The division is a different story. The Bills have a 71% chance to win the AFC East, but a loss on Sunday fails to capitalize on an expected Dolphins loss to the Chiefs as 7-point dogs.

The closest division race can’t be decided this week, but AFC South leaders are in two different situations: The Titans are favored by more than a touchdown against the lowly Jaguars (check out real-time odds), while the Colts are expected to be in a close game with the Raiders. A Colts loss would be a hit to their 64% chance of making the playoffs, according to our model. The same result gets the Raiders to 8-5 with only one game remaining against a team with a winning record (Dolphins).

Current NFC Picture
No. 1 Saints (10-2)
No. 7 Vikings (6-6)
No. 2 Packers (9-3)
No. 6 Buccaneers (7-5)
No. 3 Rams (8-4)
No. 5 Seahawks (8-4)
No. 4 Giants (5-7)
Bubble: Cardinals (6-6), 49ers (5-7)

The race for the NFC West crown is still hot.

After starting the day in the conference’s No. 2 spot, the Seattle Seahawks fell to fifth following their loss to the New York Giants. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams jumped from fifth to third with a win over the Arizona Cardinals, who now find themselves on the outside looking in.

While it wasn’t pretty, the Minnesota Vikings are now in control of the final wild card spot after edging out the Jaguars in overtime. How long will that control last? Well, the Vikings are 7-point underdogs on the road against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Should that expected result hold, our model’s 86% chance for the Bucs to make the playoffs becomes almost certain and the final spot gets even messier.

nfl-odds-picks-vikings-vs-buccaneers-betting-spread-week-14-2020
Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady

Consider Sunday’s schedule: The Giants (5-7) are short home underdogs against the Cardinals (6-6). The 5-7 Chicago Bears — yes, they’re somewhere still in this picture — are short home dogs against the Texans. The 49ers (5-7) are favored at home against Washington, also 5-7.

All of that means that if the Vikings lose and the Cardinals drop a fourth straight game, we’re looking at 6-7 in the final wild card spot. The Cardinals have the highest odds at 56% according to our model, but the model might break if Daniel Jones and Co. pull off the upset.

The easier stuff to figure out?

The New Orleans Saints can clinch the NFC South with a win over rookie Jalen Hurts and the Eagles — New Orleans is a 7-point favorite. And finally, a Green Bay Packers win and Vikings loss clinches the NFC North for the Packers.

NFL Playoff Bracket Predictions

Below is how we project the end-of-season bracket as of Sunday night.

Final AFC Projections
No. 1 Steelers
No. 7 Ravens
No. 2 Chiefs
No. 6 Dolphins
No. 3 Bills
No. 5 Browns
No. 4 Titans
Final NFC Projections
No. 1 Saints
No. 7 Cardinals
No. 2 Packers
No. 6 Buccaneers
No. 3 Rams
No. 5 Seahawks
No. 4 Giants

How did we forecast these brackets? We used our model to project the top-four seeds of each conference by ranking the most likely division winners by their chances to land the Nos. 1-4 seeds. Then, we identified teams with the next highest playoff odds, and assigned the subsequent standings based on highest average wins.

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