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RSL's playoff chances rocketing upward after big wins

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Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake's playoff chances have rocketed up to a stunning 15 percent — up from a 1 percent chance only weeks ago.

Obviously, statistics aren't perfect for measuring playoff probability. But with the playoffs in the rear-view mirror and approaching quickly (larger than they appear, undoubtedly — like that dinosaur scene in that one Jurassic somethingorother movie), the last five matches of the season take on a bigger-than-ever mentality we haven't seen at this club in a long time.

And maybe that's a good thing. We've coasted into the playoffs before (often from a very strong Supporters Shield contending position) and it hasn't done us too much good. We've only won the playoffs once — 2009 — and 2013 was close.

A win on Sunday against San Jose could, at maximum, increase our playoff probability by a staggering 24 percent points, according to Sports Club Stats.

This run-in will be nerve-racking, it'll be unpleasant, and it will almost certainly lead to us getting our hopes inflated artificially. But that's actually the fun of the whole thing, isn't it?

If Real Salt Lake can continue to see more big plays out of big players — and this is about everyone getting regular minutes, not just Burrito Martinez, Devon Sandoval, Joao Plata, Javier Morales, Jamison Olave, Nick Rimando — you get the picture, everyone — this is intensely do-able.

And to think: Three weeks ago, it was all more or less a lost cause. With the teams we play in the last matches, it won't be easy. RSL faces San Jose, Colorado, Portland, FC Dallas, and Seattle. While Dallas and Seattle are both basically already in the playoffs, the other three matches will be as big as they come.

So — like they say, buckle up. It's going to be a wild ride — or something like that, I guess.