In a previous article, I examined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their chances of making the NFL playoffs following their loss in Week 16. In that article I concluded that they had no chance of making the post-season, partly because I consulted a software device that only factors in wins and losses. "When I punch the results from Saturday so far into the New York Times' Upshot probability calculator," I wrote, "the software says that the Bucs have a '0 percent' chance of making the post-season" (December 24th article). It's this software that I deferred to however, the fallacy with the Upshot calculator is that it doesn't factor in ties.

The Bucs need a Redskins/Giants tie

Jeremy Mills of ESPN has done some work on the Bucs and their playoff hopes following their Week 16 loss. Mills claims that there is a 0.0016% chance of the Bucs making the playoffs with a tie game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins factoring in as the least-likely thing to happen in a 9-step sequence.

A 0.0016% chance of the Bucs making the post-season expressed differently is a 62500 to 1 chance. Needless to say Tampa Bay at 50 to 1 to win the NFC title with bet365 is just a wee bit of sucker bet. Odds of 50 to 1 imply a probability of about 2%, but that would be for TB to win the NFC playoffs, not just make them. If you go with the odds 62500 to 1 and add on three playoff wins, assuming that each win is a 50/50 thing (which it won't be) then the true odds of TB winning the conference are more like 500,000 to 1.

In short, the 50 to 1 odds are in the sportsbooks' favor by a factor of 10,000.

True odds much longer?

Importantly that factor of 10,000 is based on TB making the playoffs and winning three road games against increasing difficult competition, games that I set as coin tosses for purpose of argument. But if we assume that those games aren't actually coin tosses but against progressively stronger favorites in each game then the odds of TB winning the NFC might be put out at something like 3,000,000 to 1.

You'd be far better off taking Donald Trump to win the WWE's Royal Rumble at 500 to 1 with Paddy Power than taking the Bucs at 50 to 1 to win the NFC.

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