It’s no secret what the Detroit Lions need to do to make the postseason this year. With a comfortable two(ish) lead in the division, a 4-1 finish to the year would guarantee their first NFC North title of all time and a their first playoff home game at Ford Field.
But what are the odds of that happening? Obviously, that is a matter of interpretation depending on how you calculate probabilities, but the general consensus is the Lions have a very good chance of playing football beyond Week 17. Here’s a general roundup of those odds.
Football Outsiders: 56.8 percent playoff odds
Football Outsiders has long been hesitant to crown the Lions with any chance at the postseason. Up until their second win over Minnesota, the Lions’ odds never moved above 40 percent.
The reason for their hesitation is simple: their prediction model is based off of their DVOA rankings, which ranks the Lions as just the 25th best team in the league (14th on offense, 31st on defense). [For an explanation on DVOA, click here]
Still, the site is finally starting to turn around the Lions’ chances to win the division. Detroit currently holds a 49.6 percent chance of winning the North according to their model, with the Vikings (27.8 percent) and the Packers (22.6) trailing well behind.
FiveThirtyEight: 71 percent playoff odds
FiveThirtyEight has been much more kind to the Lions throughout this season. Not only do the Lions have great odds to make the postseason, but FiveThirtyEight places them at 63 percent to win their division.
Why are their odds so drastically different than Football Outsiders? Here’s how FiveThirtyEight explains their methodology:
How this works: Our forecast is based on 100,000 simulations of the season and updates after every game. Our model uses Elo ratings (a measure of strength based on head-to-head results and quality of opponent) to calculate teams’ chances of winning their regular-season games and advancing to and through the playoffs.
So FiveThirtyEigth’s methodology isn’t quite as exhaustive as Football Outsiders’, but it still involves a lot of number crunching.
Other playoff odds sources:
- 80.51 percent playoff odds:
The playoff odds for every NFL team, based on 10,000 MAVPY Simulations before Week 13: pic.twitter.com/zsHCU6F2Yf— Ethan Young (@NFLDrafter) December 1, 2016
- 49.4 percent playoff odds per numberFire
- 59.8 percent chance via PredictionMachine.com
- 69 percent chance via PlayoffStatus.com
Obviously there is a lot of variance in all of these prediction models. The Lions’ playoff odds fall anywhere from 49.4 percent 71 percent. However, the models that focus on advanced statistics—which generally see the Lions as a below-average team—tend to land the Lions on the shorter end of the spectrum, while models that simply use strength of schedule and win/loss record give the Lions favorable odds.
Regardless of what model you like the best, it’s pretty clear that the Lions are in good shape right now. At worst, they’re around 50/50 odds to make the postseason for the second time in three years.