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Almost the Entire NFL Saw Its 2019 Playoff Odds Improve in June; Odds to Miss Postseason Have Better Value

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr practising with the team.
Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders were one of the biggest risers in the latest 2019 NFL playoff odds, but 22 of 32 teams saw their odds to make the postseason get better. Photo by U.S. Air Force's Louis Briscese (public domain).
  • When it comes to the odds to make the 2019-20 NFL playoffs, almost every team in the league has seen its chances improve over the last month
  • This is not uncommon as bettors generally bet on their favorite team(s) to make the postseason
  • But there are only 12 spots up for grabs, and people willing to bet the “No” will have an easier time finding value

The latest iteration of SBD’s 2019 NFL playoff odds tracker shows a quizzical trend: almost every line on the graph is heading in the same direction, specifically, down.

In the context of these graphs, down = better. In other words, almost every team in the league now has shorter odds to make the playoffs than it did in May.

This is not an uncommon trend. The general rule when it comes to futures like this is that the public likes betting on their favorite teams to make the playoffs. That drives prices on the “Yes” shorter, while sending the “No” odds longer.

The table below shows how the odds to make the playoffs have shifted at Bovada from May until June. The teams whose odds improved are in bold.

Updated 2019-20 NFL Playoff Odds

Team Odds to Make NFL Playoffs at Bovada in May Odds to Make Playoffs at Bovada in June
Arizona Cardinals +800 +625
Atlanta Falcons +150 +135
Baltimore Ravens +180 +180
Buffalo Bills +500 +350
Carolina Panthers +240 +215
Chicago Bears -145 -140
Cincinnati Bengals +650 +500
Cleveland Browns -135 -145
Dallas Cowboys +110 -110
Denver Broncos +425 +325
Detroit Lions  +475 +325
Green Bay Packers -105 -120
Houston Texans +150 +135
Indianapolis Colts -230 -230
Jacksonville Jaguars +300 +240
Kansas City Chiefs -450 -450
Los Angeles Chargers -230 -230
Los Angeles Rams -350 -350
Miami Dolphins +900 +750
Minnesota Vikings +105 +100
New England Patriots -900 -900
New Orleans Saints -350 -350
New York Giants +525 +400
New York Jets +300 +300
Oakland Raiders +650 +350
Philadelphia Eagles -210 -210
Pittsburgh Steelers +100 -110
San Francisco 49ers +230 +195
Seattle Seahawks +150 +135
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +500 +400
Tennessee Titans +300 +250
Washington +500 +475

*Bold denotes teams whose playoff odds improved from May to June. 

In total, 22 of 32 teams saw their odds to make the playoffs get shorter.

Another nine stayed the same, meaning a grand total of one team now has longer playoff odds than it did last month. That team is the Chicago Bears, whose playoff probability decreased a whopping  0.9% (from -145 to -140).

The end result is that it’s now extremely hard to find value on the “Yes” side of this prop. Some basic math illustrates why.

The Implied Probability Suggests 13.5 Teams Will Make the Playoffs

Adding up the implied probability of Bovada’s current odds, the total is 1,364%. Since only 12 teams make the playoffs, the implied probability would be 1,200% in a completely fair set of odds.

Basically, the current odds suggest that 13.6 teams will make the playoffs.

While the idea of another 1.6 teams getting into the postseason is highly intriguing — maybe we could add the handful of NFL-caliber players on the Dolphins to the team with the 13th-best record — the main takeaway for bettors is that the “Yes” odds are impossibly optimistic.

The Implied Probability Suggests 20.5 Teams Will Miss the Playoffs

But the optimists’ loss is the pessimists’ gain.

The implied probability of Bovada’s “No” odds add up to 2,008%, meaning they predict that 20.08 teams will miss the playoffs. Since 20 teams will inevitably miss the 12-team playoff field, the “No” odds effectively have zero overround (or no juice, if you want to think about it that way).

The implied probability of Bovada’s “No” odds … predict that 20.08 teams will miss the playoffs.

Zero juice makes it much easier to find value.

The following table lists the “No” odds for all 32 teams, along with the implied probability of those odds.

Updated Odds to Miss 2019-20 NFL Playoffs

Team Odds to Miss NFL Playoffs at Bovada in June Implied Probability
Arizona Cardinals -1100 91.7%
Atlanta Falcons -165 62.3%
Baltimore Ravens -220 68.8%
Buffalo Bills -500 83.3%
Carolina Panthers -275 73.3%
Chicago Bears +110 47.6%
Cincinnati Bengals -800 88.9%
Cleveland Browns +115 46.5%
Dallas Cowboys -120 54.5%
Denver Broncos -450 81.8%
Detroit Lions -450 81.8%
Green Bay Packers -110 52.4%
Houston Texans -165 62.3%
Indianapolis Colts +190 34.5%
Jacksonville Jaguars -300 75%
Kansas City Chiefs +300 23.5%
Los Angeles Chargers +190 34.5%
Los Angeles Rams +275 26.7%
Miami Dolphins -1500 93.8%
Minnesota Vikings -130 56.5%
New England Patriots +550 15.4%
New Orleans Saints +275 26.7%
New York Giants -600 85.7%
New York Jets -400 80%
Oakland Raiders -500 83.3%
Philadelphia Eagles +170 37%
Pittsburgh Steelers -120 54.5%
San Francisco 49ers -250 74.4%
Seattle Seahawks -165 62.3%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -600 85.7%
Tennessee Titans -325 76.5%
Washington -700 87.5%

Which Teams Stand Out as Value Plays?

My colleagues have looked in depth at the playoff odds for the Jaguars, Bengals, and Raiders.

My favorite bets are the “No” on the Raiders (-500) and Broncos (-450). The Raiders are, at best, the third-strongest team in the AFC West, and likely the fourth. Their -177 point-differential was the worst in the entire AFC last year, 63 points behind the second-worst team (Miami).

Their offseason was fine, but not nearly good enough to go from literally the worst team in the AFC to a playoff berth, as good as Antonio Brown is. The roster still has massive holes and they have the third-hardest schedule in the NFL.

If the Raiders aren’t the worst team in the AFC West, then the Broncos are. While they definitely have a better defense than Oakland in terms of personnel, they also have a new head coach (Vic Fangio), a first-time play-caller (Rich Scangarello), and a 34-year-old Joe Flacco under center.

Flacco hasn’t posted a passer rating over 83.5 since 2014. He’s not the man to lead this team to its first playoff berth since 2015.

Maybe Kevin Hogan can!

That was a joke. Fade the Broncos.

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