The San Francisco 49ers won’t be playing this coming January, but the playoff picture is still interesting to plenty of us. And a chance to root against long-time rivals adds a little something to the mix!
Week 11 is upon us, and the first clinching scenario of 2018 has arrived. The Los Angeles Rams can clinch the NFC West if they beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football, and the Seattle Seahawks lose to the Green Bay Packers tonight on Thursday Night Football. It would be a fitting way to bookend the 49ers bye week.
The Seahawks and Packers are not playing an elimination game at this point, but a loss would be a tough blow to either team’s playoff chances. The Seahawks won’t be winning the NFC West this year, so the wild card is their best chance. They are currently a little under two games back of the Minnesota Vikings (the bye messes up the math), and a little under a game back of the Packers. If they lose to the Packers, they drop further back and also lose the head-to-head tiebreaker.
For Green Bay, this is a particularly huge week. They are a game back of Minnesota for the second wild card berth, and a little under two games back of the Chicago Bears for the NFC North lead. The Vikings and Bears square off on Sunday Night Football, with the division lead up for grabs. The Packers have a win over the Bears and a tie with the Vikings. They travel to Minnesota next week, and travel to Chicago in Week 15.
Earlier this week, Football Outsiders posted a look at some futures bets of note still available to gamblers. For those that don’t know, a futures bet involves betting on a future event (sort of obvious, I suppose). FO compared current betting odds with their DVOA simulation odds to find potential inefficiencies in the market.
Their long shot look was the Seahawks to win the NFC Championship Game. The Seahawks are currently 150/1 to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They would likely have to win three straight road playoff games to get to the Super Bowl, but crazy things do happen. FO likes the long-shot odds in part because of their record in one-possession games. The Seahawks are 4-5, but are 1-4 in games decided by seven points or less. They have done that while facing what DVOA lists as one of the ten most difficult schedules thus far. They rank eighth in DVOA and their playoff chances could improve with some big tiebreaker opportunities. They face Green Bay at home tonight, Carolina on the road next week, and Minnesota at home in Week 14. Those are three of the four teams currently ahead of them in the wild card chase.
The Rams or Saints are the two heavy favorites to claim the NFC title, but Seattle should not be underestimated. They are long-shots, but they are an intriguing long-shot.