Death, taxes and turnover among teams that make the playoffs in the NFL on a year-by-year basis. Those are the only guarantees in life.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen an average of 5.8 teams per year make the playoffs that didn’t qualify for the postseason the previous year. Every year during that time, at least four teams made the jump from non-playoff team to playoff team. In years like 2017-18, we’ve seen that number as high as eight teams. The expanded playoffs implemented two seasons ago haven’t changed the calculation either. Both of the last two years have seen seven teams make the playoffs after missing the season prior.
Sure, there are teams that make the playoffs on a consistent basis. New England has made the playoffs in nine of the past 10 seasons. For Green Bay and Kansas City, it’s been eight of 10 years. However, for the most part, there’s turnover. Since the 2012-13 season, 46.7% of playoff teams missed the season prior. Rosters change, there’s plenty of parity in the league, and let’s be honest, there’s definitely some randomness involved when teams play only 17 games.
Based on history, we can expect at least four, and probably six or seven teams to go from in the playoffs to out of the playoffs and vice versa. Let’s take a look at the betting odds at BetMGM to see which teams are most likely to fall out, and which teams are most likely to take their place.
Playoff teams from last year to miss
Which teams that made the playoffs last season are most likely to miss the playoffs this season according to the oddsmakers?
Pittsburgh Steelers (+300 to make playoffs, 25% chance): The Ben Roethlisberger was in Pittsburgh is over. The team has been turned over to the combination of Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. We know all about Mike Tomlin’s track record and the fact he’s never had a losing season, but the betting odds are telling you it might be a year down in the Steel City.
Las Vegas Raiders (+180 to make playoffs, 35.7% chance): The Raiders made the playoffs last season, hired one of the brightest offensive minds in the game in Josh McDaniels as their head coach and traded for arguably the best wide receiver in football in Davante Adams. Despite all of that, they’re sizable favorites to miss the playoffs this season. The AFC is loaded, and in particular, the AFC West will be a gauntlet.
New England Patriots (+135 to make playoffs, 42.6% chance): While everyone in the AFC loaded up and stockpiled weapons, the Patriots had a quiet offseason. Is Davante Parker enough for Mac Jones to continue to develop? And just how high is Jones’ ceiling? If we’ve learned anything, it’s be careful when betting against Bill Belichick.
Arizona Cardinals (-105 to make playoffs, 51.2% chance): Well, at least the quarterback drama is over with. However, DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for six games and we saw this team struggle down the stretch last season without him. That embarrassing playoff performance against the Rams has people weary of the Cardinals this season.
Tennessee Titans (-115 to make playoffs, 53.5% chance): Speaking of bad playoff performances changing the perception of teams, the Tennessee Titans round out the top five here. Tennessee was the No. 1 seed in the AFC last year, but fell flat on their face against the Bengals in the divisional round. Derrick Henry is another year older, AJ Brown is gone and Ryan Tannehill is hard to trust.
The rest of the teams: Cincinnati (-140, 58.3% chance), Philadelphia (-160, 61.5% chance), Kansas City (-200, 66.7% chance), San Francisco (-225, 69.2% chance), LA Rams (-250, 71.4% chance), Dallas (-300, 75% chance), Green Bay (-450, 81.8% chance), Buffalo (-550, 84.6% chance), Tampa Bay (-600, 85.7% chance)
Non-playoff teams to make the jump
If teams are going to fall out of the playoffs, there’s going to be teams that take their place. Which teams are most likely to make the jump, according to the betting odds?
NOTE: There are no odds available for the Cleveland Browns due to the uncertainty with Deshaun Watson. If he isn’t suspended or gets a light suspension, Cleveland is probably near the top of this list. If he’s suspended for a lengthy amount of time, the Browns have little chance. With that much variance, oddsmakers have kept Cleveland off the board for most of the offseason.
Indianapolis Colts (-190 to make playoffs, 65.5% chance): The Titans are on the previous list, and someone has to win the AFC South and therefore automatically qualify for the playoffs. After adding Matt Ryan, the Colts are now favored to win the division. Even if Tennessee holds on to the division crown, the Colts should be in the mix for a wild card spot.
Baltimore Ravens (-165 to make playoffs, 62.3% chance): The Ravens made the playoffs the three prior seasons before last year, and they were 8-3 last year before injuries to Lamar Jackson and others derailed their season down the stretch. The Ravens should be healthier and they are the betting favorites to win the AFC North.
Los Angeles Chargers (-150 to make playoffs, 60% chance): The Chargers let a chance to make the playoffs last season slip away on the final snap of the NFL regular season. Justin Herbert is elite and another year older. With additions like Khalil Mack and JC Jackson, the defense is much improved. It should be a good year for the Chargers, but let’s remember, it’s the Chargers.
Denver Broncos (-140 to make playoffs, 58.3% chance): Denver acquired Russell Wilson in the offseason to greatly improve their roster and outlook for the upcoming season. The issue is that the AFC is loaded, and the AFC West in particular stands out. There will be a lot of competition in that division and wild-card race. Does Denver get it done?
Minnesota Vikings (-105 to make playoffs, 51.2% chance): Kevin O’Connell is another branch off the Sean McVay coaching tree, and there’s hope that he better utilizes Minnesota’s weapons than Mike Zimmer and company did. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook is one of the best group of weapons in the NFL.
Honorable mentions: Miami (+135, 42.6% chance), New Orleans (+135, 42.6% chance), Washington (+150, 40% chance)