The State of the NFL Playoff Race After Two-Thirds of the Season

Mike Johnston
November 28, 2023, 4:52 PM

The 2023 NFL regular season is officially two-thirds complete and with six weeks left until the playoffs begin — and some teams only having five games remaining — the jockeying for position in the standings is intensifying on a weekly basis.

As you’ll see below, the list of realistic Super Bowl contenders is down to single digits with a handful of others aiming to go on a miracle run once the post-season begins.

The Buffalo Bills are the most intriguing, and perhaps surprising, team on the playoff bubble considering they were among the top Super Bowl favourites before Week 1.

Buffalo has lost three of the past four games, including a heartbreaker to the Eagles on Sunday in which it was up two scores entering the fourth quarter only to lose in overtime and fall back down to .500.

The Bills stay on the road and face the Chiefs in Week 13, then head home for a Week 14 showdown with the Cowboys before their schedule eases up slightly over the final three weeks, with games at the Chargers, home against the Patriots and at the Dolphins in Week 18.

In addition to their upcoming schedule doing them no favours, the Bills have a handful of teams they need to leapfrog and several of them are playing better than Buffalo has been lately.


PIT to make playoffs -240 | PIT to miss playoffs +195
HOU to make playoffs -105 | HOU to miss playoffs -120
IND to make playoffs +110 | IND to miss playoffs -140
DEN to make playoffs +130 | DEN to miss playoffs -160
BUF to make playoffs +360 | BUF to miss playoffs -500
LAC to make playoffs +725 | LAC to miss playoffs -1200
(No odds listed for CLE)

With teams like the Bengals and Browns recently losing their starting QBs for the rest of the season, it has paved the way for the Steelers to finish at or above .500 for a 20th consecutive season and get back into the playoffs after missing them last year.

The Broncos looked like a disaster early in the season. Denver allowed 70 points to the Dolphins in Week 3 and started 1-5 before turning things around. The team has won five straight, with the defence allowing only 82 points against on their streak.

Houston had the second-longest Super Bowl odds (+17500) at the beginning of the season, +500 playoff odds and a low win total of 6.5. Suffice it to say they’ve already exceeded even the loftiest of expectations.

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MIN to make playoffs -125| MIN to miss playoffs +100
ATL to make playoffs -120 | ATL to miss playoffs -105
NO to make playoffs -105 | NO to miss playoffs -120
GB to make playoffs +110 | GB to miss playoffs -140
SEA to make playoffs +120 | SEA to miss playoffs -150
LAR to make playoffs +270 | LAR to miss playoffs -360
TB to make playoffs +300 | TB to miss playoffs -390

Jordan Love and the Packers are surging at the right time and hold tiebreakers over the Saints and Rams, while the Seahawks are trending in the wrong direction as losers of three of the past four with back-to-back-to-back games against the Cowboys, 49ers and Eagles to look forward to starting this Thursday.

Josh Dobbs and the Vikings are still projected to squeak into a wild-card spot despite losing an ugly game to the Bears on Monday.

One of the Falcons, Saints or Bucs will end up winning the NFC South and hosting a playoff game, yet all three are below .500 heading into Week 13. Gross.

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San Francisco 49ers +425 (odds after Week 6: +425)
Philadelphia Eagles +425 (odds after Week 6: +700)
Kansas City Chiefs +475 (odds after Week 6: +500)
Baltimore Ravens +600 (odds after Week 6: +1400)
Dallas Cowboys +800 (odds after Week 6: +1000)
Miami Dolphins +1000 (odds after Week 6: +900)
Detroit Lions +1400 (odds after Week 6: +1600)
Jacksonville Jaguars +1600 (odds after Week 6: +2200)

Within this elite eight, the five teams that are the biggest threats to hoist the Lombardi Trophy are the only teams with odds shorter than 10/1.

The top two NFC clubs face each other this week when the 49ers visit the Eagles, so expect the updated odds next week to reflect the results with the winner, barring any key injuries that may occur, likely to become the chalk.

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Miami, Detroit and Jacksonville would be disappointed if their seasons ended without winning at least one playoff game, but anything beyond advancing past the divisional round would be considered a successful season.

Philadelphia, San Francisco, Kansas City, Baltimore and Dallas are the true Super Bowl-or-bust squads.

The Dolphins losing Jaelan Phillips to a torn Achilles in their Week 12 win over the Jets is a significant blow to the Miami defence down the stretch and into the post-season. Meanwhile, the Jaguars and Lions can at times be confounding yet both teams have explosive offences led by No. 1 overall picks and both have multiple game-changers on the defensive side.


Buffalo Bills +3000 (odds after Week 6: +900)
Cleveland Browns +5000 (odds after Week 6: +2500)
Houston Texans +5000 (odds after Week 6: +10000)
Seattle Seahawks +5000 (odds after Week 6: +4000)
Pittsburgh Steelers +5500 (odds after Week 6: +6600)
Denver Broncos +6000 (odds after Week 6: +25000)
Atlanta Falcons +8000 (odds after Week 6: +8000)
New Orleans Saints +8000 (odds after Week 6: +5000)
Minnesota Vikings +8500 (odds after Week 6: +6600)
Indianapolis Colts +12500 (odds after Week 6: +15000)
Green Bay Packers +12500 (odds after Week 6: +8000)
Los Angeles Rams +12500 (odds after Week 6: +8000)

Although they face an uphill battle just to get into the playoffs, bettors and sportsbooks are still not completely writing the Bills off, with the odds indicating Buffalo could be a team capable of going far in the post-season if it can squeeze back into the AFC’s top seven spots.

The 12 teams not listed all have odds of 200/1 or longer.


Jalen Hurts +140 (odds after Week 6: +750)
Patrick Mahomes +350 (odds after Week 6: +400)
Lamar Jackson +500 (odds after Week 6: +1600)
Tua Tagovailoa +800 (odds after Week 6: +350)
Dak Prescott +800 (odds after Week 6: +2800)
Brock Purdy +1400 (odds after Week 6: +900)
C.J. Stroud +1800 (odds after Week 6: +11000)
Christian McCaffrey +2000 (odds after Week 6: +1800)
Trevor Lawrence +2500 (odds after Week 6: +2000)
Josh Allen +2800 (odds after Week 6: +700)

Jalen Hurts has generated slight separation from the rest of the pack, thanks to his five-touchdown (three passing, two rushing) outing Sunday against the Bills that was capped off by a game-winning TD run in overtime. It was the star QB’s 11th career game with multiple rushing touchdowns, which broke a record previously held by Cam Newton, who had 10 such games in his NFL career. Hurts has 15 consecutive regular-season wins over teams with a winning record and at the end of the day is a clutch performer under the bright lights.

If Mahomes or Jackson, two previous winners of the MVP, can lead either Kansas City or Baltimore to an AFC title, and Hurts continues turning the ball over and the Eagles lose a couple down the stretch, then it’s conceivable Hurts could lose momentum and end up as MVP runner-up for a second consecutive year.

Stroud’s odds were longer than 100/1 just six weeks ago, but the odds-on favourite to win offensive rookie of the year has played like a clear-cut top-10 MVP candidate and the odds reflect it.

(Betting odds via Bet365 as of Tuesday and subject to change.)

2023-11-28 21:52:00
#Bills #playoff #hopes #dim #heroics #MVP #favourite #Hurts


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