There are any number of ways to calculate the chances of an NFL team winning on a given day, but they ultimately boil down to statistical projections based on a specific model. To be sure, the inputs of those models have immense influence on the output, but it is still worth a look at the odds as the Green Bay Packers go into Week 17 with the NFC North title on the line.
Thankfully, the Packers’ routes to the playoffs are simple - either they beat the Detroit Lions at Ford Field and enter the playoffs as NFC North champs (likely as the 4th seed) or they watch Washington lose to the New York Giants and earn at a minimum a 6th seed as the NFC’s final Wild-Card team.
Here are three systems of calculating each team’s chances of winning both games.
According to FO’s weighted DVOA formula, the Packers have nearly a two-to-one chance of winning on Sunday night. Green Bay carries a Weighted DVOA of +13.8%, while Detroit’s is -16.1%. That combined with the home-field effect in favor of the Lions equates to the Packers having a 62.3% chance to win Sunday’s game and, therefore, the NFC North.
Overall, FO puts the Packers’ chances of making the playoffs at 77.8%, with a 15.6% chance of losing on Sunday night but still earning the Wild Card by virtue of a Washington loss. The odds of Washington losing to the Giants are approximately 41% based on DVOA.
538 is less optimistic about the Packers’ chances of winning on Sunday. In fact, based on their ELO rating, which is not as heavily weighted for recent performance, 538 has the game as a virtual coin flip - Detroit’s chances of winning are 51%, while the Packers sit at 49%.
On the other hand, ELO calculates an identical result for the Washington-Giants game, with the Giants winning 41% of the time. All told, that equates to a 70% chance of making the playoffs for the Packers.
The final significant source of odds on the game is Las Vegas’ sports books, which of course track betting trends rather than statistical analyses. Vegas tracks closer to Football Outsiders’ numbers, though that may be in part because the Packers tend to be a favorite team for bettors.
The point spread for Sunday’s game is currently 3.5 points in favor of the Packers, while the money line at the Las Vegas Westgate has the Packers at -190 to the Lions’ +170. Converted to a percentage, that tracks at a 65.5% advantage in the Packers’ favor.
Meanwhile, the Washington-New York game is overwhelmingly skewed in favor of Washington. They are 7.5-point favorites over the Giants, and their money line is a whopping -360, which equates to about a 78.3% chance of winning.
Combining these odds results in a 73% chance that the Packers advance to the playoffs, either with a win or a Washington loss.