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Football Outsiders gives Lions third-best odds to win Super Bowl


NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming you’ve already read the title of this article, I want to give you a moment to catch your breath. If you’re just now waking up from fainting, please grab a drink of water, sit down and maybe get a cool fan blowing in your face.

NFL analytics site Football Outsiders released their Week 3 playoff odds now that we’re two full weeks into the season, and boy, are they a doozy. They give the Detroit Lions a 68.5 percent chance to make the postseason, and a whopping 50.4 percent chance to win the NFC North for the first time in franchise history. But hold onto your butts, because that’s just the tip of this Kool-Aid iceberg.

According to Football Outsider, the Detroit Lions currently have the third best odds in the entire NFL to win Super Bowl LII.

I checked, re-checked, and re-re-checked the site. It’s true. Football Outsiders gives the Lions a 7.2 percent chance to win this year’s Super Bowl. The only teams with better odds are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. Not only that, but the site gives Detroit a whopping 15.7 percent chance of just appearing in their first ever Super Bowl.

But let’s talk a little about Football Outsiders’ methods before we try to fully grasp the weight of this situation. These odds are calculations based on simulating the season 50,000 times. Each winner in every matchup is decided based on probabilities stemming from Football Outsiders’ DAVE ratings.

DAVE is essentially the same as Football Outsiders’ DVOA rating (defense-adjusted Value Over Average), but adjusted for small sample size early in the year. Here’s how they explain it:

This rating is used early in the year, combining early-season DVOA ratings with the preseason DVOA projection. (For first three weeks, it uses non-opponent-adjusted VOA ratings.) The goal is to get the best idea of how good a team will be over the entire season without jumping to conclusions based on one or two good or bad early games.

So based on how the Lions have played thus far, combined with Football Outsiders’ preseason projections, Detroit is now in a place where they are the most likely team to come out of the NFC.

This seems crazy, especially when you consider that no major publication has the Lions in the top 7 of their Week 3 Power Rankings. This seems even crazier when you consider just how far away this team felt a few months ago.

Obviously it’s way too early to know the identities of any team in the NFL. But the Lions could certainly make the folks at Football Outsiders look a lot smarter if they win in Week 3. The 2-0 Atlanta Falcons are given a 5.5 percent chance to win this year’s Super Bowl according to Football Outsiders, but the general public is much more optimistic about their chances. Several media members believe the Falcons are currently the best team in the NFL.

We know odds in Week 3 are pretty meaningless, but when the mathematically calculated odds are on your side—not just a blowhard analyst—it’s hard not to get a little excited.

Hat tip to commenter “critical perspective” for sharing the Football Outsiders playoff odds.

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