Skins Playoff Odds Made Simple

We’ve been posting somewhat convoluted Redskins playoffs scenarios for weeks because we’re into slow-building disappointment, but now it’s pretty simple: Beat Dallas at home, win the NFC East. Here’s what the odds look like:

Football Outsiders: 85 percent (77 percent for the division; seven percent for a wild card)
Playoff Status: 70 percent (64 percent for the division; six percent for a WC)

The Skins are favored (-3) but that provides little solace. What would ease the pressure, though, is if Washington were guaranteed a wild-card spot by the time Kai Forbath sends Sunday night’s opening kickoff well short of end zone.

What that takes is both a loss by the Bears and a loss by the Vikings. Chicago (-3) is at Detroit and Minnesota (+3) hosts Green Bay. The chances of both happening are not good (see above), but I do not think they’re as low as six-seven percent, either.

Detroit is done and may roll over, or they may be fired up by the prospect of taking a rival into the offseason with them. Of course, they’ve lost seven in a row, and Jay Cutler is 6-1 vs. the Lions.

The Packers are clearly better than the Vikings, and they’re playing for a first-round bye. Of course, the game is in Minnesota and the Vikings are playing for their playoff lives.

Vegas applies the same spread to all three games, so it’s not unreasonable to apply the same 64-77 percent chance of Redskins victory to Bears-Lions and Vikings-Packers. Here’s what that’s tells us: There’s actually more like a 21 percent chance of both Chicago and Minnesota losing.

That’s fuzzy math, I know, and all a wild card does is send Washington to San Francisco (or possibly Seattle) rather than hosting, say, the Bears or Vikings. So, yeah, simple: Beat Dallas.

8 thoughts on “Skins Playoff Odds Made Simple”

  1. According to the globe, all aquatic life in all of the world’s oceans hates Dallas.
    Sunday at 2 I will be so amped I’m gonna need a horse tranquilizer to make it to 8:30. I hate you flex game…

  2. Let P(ChiL,MinL) be the probability that Chicago and Minnesota lose next week. Assume this event is independent of the Skins-Cowboys outcome (i.e. the Skins’ play is not predicated on whether or not they’ve clinched a playoff spot by kickoff time.)

    Let P(WasW) be the probability that the Skins beat (or tie) the Cowboys and P(WasL) be the probability that the Skins lose to the Cowboys. Obviously, P(WasW) + P(WasL) = 1.

    Call the probability that the Skins win the division P(WasDiv) and the probability that they win the wild card P(WasWC).

    Because the Skins only win the division if they beat (or tie) Dallas, P(WasDiv) = P(WasW). And because they only way the Skins get the wild card is if they lose to Dallas and Chicago and Minnesota both lose, then P(WasWC) = P(WasL)*P(ChiL,MinL)

    Since P(WasL) = 1-P(WasW) = 1-P(WasDiv), then
    P(WasWC) = (1-P(WasDiv))*P(ChiL,MinL)

    And so,
    P(ChiL,MinL) = P(WasWC)/(1-P(WasDiv))

    Using this formula, we see that Football Outsiders puts the odds of both Chicago and Minnesota losing (and the Skins playoff fate being decided before kickoff) at 30.4% (=.07/(1-.77)).

    Playoff Status, however, puts the odds of this occurring at 16.7% (= .06/(1-.64)).

    The moral of the story is beat Dallas.

  3. I am an Eagles fan who hates the Redskins as much as Redskins fans hate the Cowboys. I hate the Redskins and Steelers with a PASSION. Stupid Indians and Towel wavers.

  4. Hey White a diehard Skins Fan in PA. I was at the Sunday game in Philly in awesome seats. Believe me when i tell you that was PURE JOY having your team lose to the Skins. i hate Eagles probably more than Dallas only because all the fans are nasty idiots, and i have had to live among that muck my whole life. HTTR

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