2021 NFL playoff odds: 10 ways the draft and Aaron Rodgers rumors altered simulations

There are still four months to go before the start of the 2021 NFL season, but CBS Sports data scientist Stephen Oh is already hard at work using simulations to figure out which teams have the best shot at winning their divisions, Super Bowl LVI and more. The 2021 draft and the rumors surrounding Aaron Rodgers‘ future in Green Bay are among the factors that have altered teams’ odds.

The Packers‘ outlook has changed, and there are several other teams in the same boat after the past few weeks. Let’s take a look at the 10 teams whose odds have been altered the most in Oh’s simulations.

Bears on the rise

The Bears’ odds of winning the NFC North have jumped from 14.3% to 23.5%. This is due to their selection of Justin Fields in the draft as well as Rodgers’ murky future in the division. The Bears, who made the playoffs with an 8-8 record in 2020, are currently projected to win just 7.5 games and their odds at making the playoffs are at 42.5% — numbers that will rise if the Packers’ future Hall-of-Fame quarterback is out of the division. 

Rodgers rumors give Broncos boost

The team Rodgers has been most linked to is the Broncos, who opted not to select a quarterback during the draft. Denver’s Super Bowl odds have tripled (from 1.6% to 4.8%) largely because of the Rodgers rumors. The Broncos’ win/loss line is currently at 7.5, with a 44% chance at making the playoffs. 

Bucs’ odds of repeating dip

Surprisingly, the Buccaneers‘ Super Bowl odds dipped in Oh’s simulations from 13.5% to 12.3%. This actually makes the defending champs, who returned all their starters, a bad bad to win Super Bowl LVI, since +650 at William Hill Sportsbook implies a 13.3% chance — better than the sims are showing.

Chiefs most likely to win Super Bowl

The Chiefs‘ recent offensive line additions have bumped their Super Bowl odds slightly from 14.5% to 14.9%. Kansas City is also the No. 1 team in Oh’s Power Rankings. They have 76.4% odds to win their sixth consecutive AFC West division title and a 90.4% shot at making the playoffs for a seventh straight year. 

Browns surge after solid draft

Cleveland’s impressive draft (headlined by the selections of cornerback Greg Newsome II and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah) enabled them to move into the top 10 of Oh’s Power Rankings. The Browns‘ odds at winning the Super Bowl rose from 2.8% to 3.5%, and their odds at making the playoffs are currently set at 63.3%. Cleveland still does not represent good betting value, however, as their odds to win the Super Bowl via William Hill Sportsbook (+1800) imply a 5.3% chance.

Sorting things out in Green Bay

As long as Rodgers is a Packer, Green Bay is going to remain a favorite. They’re currently sitting at No. 6 in Oh’s Power Rankings, with a 79.4% chance at making the playoffs and a 7.85% chance at winning Super Bowl LVI. Both of those percentages are the fifth-highest among NFL teams. But will that last? Stay tuned.

Ravens top division after filling needs

The Ravens did enough during the draft to remain the betting favorite to win the division at 51.5%. Baltimore, which addressed two of their biggest needs (receiver and inside linebacker) during the first round, currently have the third-best odds in the AFC of winning Super Bowl LVI at 9.47%. 

Sims still love Seahawks ahead of 49ers

The sims still think Seattle is better than San Francisco. Despite the 49ers trading up to acquire Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick, along with the fact that the Seahawks had just three picks in the draft, Seattle has better Super Bowl odds (3.7% to 2.8%) than their division foe. But because of the fact that they will play a third-place schedule in 2021, the 49ers are projected to win more regular season games than the Seahawks, who will have to play a first-place schedule. 

Rams’ simulated win total sinks a bit

The Rams‘ projected win total has dipped from 10.4 to 9.8 games. This is due to recent improvements by their divisional opponents, as well as from several non-divisional 2021 opponents that includes the Jaguars and Bears. Los Angeles is still expected to make the playoffs, however, as it currently has 64.8% odds. 

Saints offer good betting value 

The Saints‘ Super Bowl odds are currently a good value at 5%. Drew Brees’ retirement, and thus the Saints’ current questions at quarterback, is the main reason why the Saints’ have the eighth-best odds at winning Super Bowl LVI. But despite their quarterback concerns, New Orleans is projected to win 9.5 games with a 65.7% playoff odds. 

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