Simulations Reveal Best Bets to Make, Miss NFL Playoffs


Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill

Oct 03, 2018, 01:03 PM EDT
  • At the quarter point in the NFL season, there are odds for each team to make or miss the playoffs.
  • According to The Action Network simulations, four teams have value to make or miss the playoffs.

At the quarter point of the season, making the playoffs is still possible for every NFL team. The undefeated Kansas City Chiefs are not guaranteed a spot in the postseason just as the winless Arizona Cardinals have not been eliminated.

However, according to oddsmakers, some teams are more likely than others to make the playoffs. The Chiefs are -700 (bet $700 to win $100) to play past Week 17 while the Cardinals’ season seems destined to end in December.

It is easy to pick KC to make the playoffs and Arizona to miss after their respective starts to the season, but is there value placing a wager on their make/miss playoff odds?

To find out, we compared our projections to current betting lines.

For example: Again, Kansas City’s odds of reaching the postseason are -700. For us to feel comfortable wagering on the Chiefs, they would need to make the playoffs 87.5% (which is 700/(100 +700)) of the time.

According to our simulations, the Patrick Mahomes & Co. have a 94.9% chance of being postseason participants, meaning there is value in placing a bet at -700 odds.

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

Minnesota Vikings

  • Current odds: +170, Implied Probability: 37.0%
  • Vikings make the playoffs 56.5% of the time

In the preseason, the Vikings’ odds of making the playoffs were -225. Now Minnesota is plus-money to reach the postseason. The implied probability of Kirk Cousins leading Minnesota to consecutive playoff appearances has dropped from 69.2% to 37.0%. What’s changed?

For starters, the Vikings have stumbled out of the gates. A win over the 49ers in Week 1 was followed by a tie with the Packers and then back-to-back losses, including a shocking upset at the hands of the Bills as 16.5-point favorites.

The good news, the Vikings have been here before. A season ago Minnesota started 2-2 before rattling off eight straight wins. This is still an extremely talented roster and should be closer to -130 to make the playoffs, not +170.

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model helps you find edges when betting moneylines and over/unders for the full game
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