NFL Playoff Odds: Wild Card Bubble Teams & 5 Biggest Games For Week 16
With more than half of the season in the books, it’s time for fans and bettors to start sweating their teams’ chance of making the playoffs. What do the sportsbook odds on making the NFL playoffs have to say about the current picture?
The Texans, Bills, Bengals, and Colts earned big AFC wins in Week 15 to stay afloat in an ultra-crowded wild card picture. Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Seahawks fought their way back in with a late upset over the Eagles, and the Packers and Falcons endured crushing blows to their playoff hopes, losing as favorites.
Week 16 has some huge playoff-type games on tap. The AFC picture should clear up some as a team, or two may fall most of the way out of contention. There’s even a big cross-conference matchup involving Florida teams. Perhaps most critically, the Bengals and Steelers battle in an AFC North rivalry that has both teams’ seasons potentially on the line.
Let’s look at NFL playoff odds for teams on and around the bubble and highlight a few games that will move the needle this week.
NFL Team Odds To Make The Playoffs
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Current Seeding: Odds To Make NFL Playoffs
|Current Best Price
|AFC Playoff Picture
|4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6)
|5. Cleveland Browns (9-5)
|6. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
|7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
|8. Houston Texans (8-6)
|9. Buffalo Bills (8-6)
|10. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
|11. Denver Broncos (7-7)
|NFC Playoff Picture
|4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7)
|5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)
|6. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)
|7. L.A. Rams (7-7)
|8. Seattle Seahawks (7-7)
|9. New Orleans Saints (7-7)
|10. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)
|11. Green Bay Packers (6-8)
*No-vig odds via BetMGM
Five Week 16 Games That Will Swing NFL Playoff Chances
Saints At Rams
- Saints current seed: 9th
- Rams current seed: 7th
It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Saints put together back-to-back wins to remain alive in the playoff hunt. However, they’re still in a very poor tiebreak position. Out of the five 7-7 teams in the NFC, their 4-5 record in conference is the worst — every other team is at least a game over .500. And they already have losses to the Vikings and Buccaneers. All that is to say, they really need to win this game and probably can only afford one more loss.
The Rams are clicking right now. And multiple things broke right for them in Week 15. Not only did the Packers lose, clearing a team with a tiebreak edge from in front of them, but very sneakily, the Seahawks handed the Eagles an unexpected loss. That greatly increases the chance that the Week 18 game in San Francisco holds no meaning for the 49ers. Since that’s almost a built-in loss for the Rams, having a shot at winning that game would greatly help their outlook, which may be why the market is more bullish than DVOA.
Rams Upcoming Schedule
Bengals At Steelers
- Bengals current seed: 6th
- Steelers current seed: 10th
Improbably, Jake Browning has the Bengals in playoff position. Staying there will not be easy, though. The Bengals have one of the toughest schedules down the stretch, and they’ll need to start with payback for the Steelers’ win in Cincy during Browning’s starting debut. A 3-6 conference record puts them in peril in a tiebreak, though they have crucial wins over the Bills and Colts (but a loss to the Texans). They also need to root for the Browns to continue winning. If Cleveland gets locked into the No. 5 seed, which seems like their most likely landing spot, Week 18 might be a rest week for this injury-riddled team.
It’s probably win or go home for the Steelers at this point. And they have a brutal schedule of Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Seattle left. That hardly seems fair since they’ve had one of the most demanding schedules, but such is life sometimes in the AFC. Since 9-8 is unlikely to do it, they need to sweep those games somehow, or they’ll need help elsewhere. That explains the bearish market price here, along with the fact they are still throwing QB darts at the board, changing to Mason Rudolph this week.
Bengals Upcoming Schedule
Browns At Texans
- Browns current seed: 5th
- Texans current seed: 8th
The Browns have gotten themselves in an excellent position despite playing one of the most challenging schedules in the NFL. Joe Flacco gives the offense enough passing punch to make the team dangerous when paired with this elite defense. The Browns probably don’t have too much to worry about, as even a 1-2 finishing kick would likely see them playing elimination football.
Not only did the Texans gut out a big win with backup QB Case Keenum, but the Jaguars took their third straight L. Suddenly, the Texans look live for the division (), although the current tiebreak still favors the Jaguars due to their sweep of Indy (all three teams are 8-6).
Unfortunately, Houston has a tougher schedule than Jacksonville, which still gets to play the Panthers. Presumably, though, CJ Stroud will return for this game, which will give them a fighting chance. A loss here would put them in peril of not only slipping behind Buffalo by a game but losing the eventual tiebreak. Both teams would go to 5-5 in conference, assuming the Bills win, but they also get a likely free win hosting New England.
Texans Upcoming Schedule
Colts At Falcons
- Colts current seed: 7th
- Falcons current seed: 10th
Shane Steichen continued his wizardry in guiding the Colts to their fifth win in six games while quarterbacked by Gardner Minshew. A strong 6-4 AFC record helps, as does a schedule that still includes the Raiders. Losing tiebreaks to Cincinnati and Cleveland means it might come down to Week 18 hosting Houston. A win there would secure a sweep and probably keep them ahead of Buffalo on tiebreaks, presuming they get through the Raiders. So, the Colts potentially don’t need this game if they win those other two.
The Falcons have more at stake, as they may be unable to afford another loss. With the Bucs and Saints still playing each other, one of those teams is guaranteed to reach eight wins. If either just gets one more win, the Falcons need a 3-0 finish just to tie. Returning to the wild-card picture seems far-fetched, especially with the Vikings holding a head-to-head win over them.
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Falcons Upcoming Schedule
Jaguars At Buccaneers
- Jaguars current seed: 4th
- Buccaneers current seed: 4th
These Florida teams are hanging onto home games in the playoffs, but each couldn’t feel more differently right now. The Jaguars’ three-game slide leaves them in danger of blowing the division just weeks after fighting for the No. 1 seed. Thankfully, they’re still in a solid tiebreaker position due to sweeping the Colts and having a 4-1 divisional record. All they probably need to do is beat the Panthers and then the Titans, and they should be in regardless of this result. However, that Titans game is in Tennessee, and Mike Vrabel will have the team eager to play spoiler after the way last season ended.
The Bucs are in a bit more peril at 7-7, but as the rest of the NFC has stagnated while they keep winning, they’ve given themselves a chance at a wild card even if the Saints win out to go 10-7 and beat them. Tampa has a head-to-head win over the Vikings and a better conference record than the Rams and Seahawks. Taking care of business at home against New Orleans is paramount, as is winning in Carolina. This is their least important remaining game, but any win could be the difference in the NFC playoffs jumble.
Buccaneers Upcoming Schedule
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