The Bengals, by virtue of starting 2-0, have considerably better playoff odds according to advanced analytics from the site 538.com.
The Bengals have taken the national stage by surprise by starting the season 2-0. Not only has the perception changed around this team, but also the odds have significantly improved. Starting the season with two wins generally leads to regular season success, but the Bengals specifically have seen a nice spike in their rest of season odds.
Looking at 538.com, which does projections based on “ELO,” the Bengals have positioned themselves well to make the playoffs. They now sit at a 55% to make the playoffs – something even staunch fans may not have thought would happen this early. In a weak AFC, Cincinnati has the chance to steal a wild card spot even if they don’t win the North.
However, with an early lead in the division, Cincinnati has given themselves a good chance to win the division. 538 gives the Bengals a 36% chance to win the division now, which is way better than it was to start the year. The team was at +850 to win the AFC North to start the season, which is closer to a 10% chance. Although the 2-0 start certainly helps, the Steelers tying with the Browns helps with that too.
The last note that 538 makes that has relevance to this team is their chance to earn a first-round bye. The first round has been the Bengals’ bugaboo over the last decade, so getting past the first round on merit would be a huge win. 538 now gives the Bengals a 17% to secure that first round bye, which is almost a 1 in 5 chance. If the team can rattle off a few more wins the next few weeks, they will be in a good position to earn one of the top two seeds.
The one other thing to note about ELO is it encompasses last year’s performance. The Bengals obviously had a rough season last year, so their ELO is falsely deflated. If they are actually turning this team around, their odds may be even better than stated above. Look for their odds to improve with a win next week over Carolina.