The Predictalator and PredictionMachine.com uses current rosters and strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player stats to play, one play at a time, the remaining NFL Playoffs bracket 50,000 times before it's actually played. For this analysis, we are tracking how likely a team is to make it to any level of the NFL Playoffs. The rest of the playoffs are played all the way through individually, with the team that wins each game in that instance advancing.
With a bye week in the Wild Card round and no real surprises (all of our favorites won last week) to-date in the playoffs, the Denver Broncos are our favorites to win the Super Bowl, making the Super Bowl 50.2 percent of the time and bringing home the title 28.2 percent of the time. This suggests that Denver is a 56 percent favorite on average over its NFC opponent in the Super Bowl, which translates to just fewer than three points. Denver is followed by the AFC's second seed in the New England Patriots, which has the third best chance to win the Super Bowl overall (14.4 percent). The Patriots would be underdogs (by just 1.8 points) to San Francisco and favorites over every other team from the NFC in a potential Super Bowl. Denver or New England represents the AFC in the Super Bowl 77.5 percent of the time. Despite defeating Cincinnati at home last weekend, the Houston Texans are a distant third in the AFC race. Houston makes the Super Bowl 14.8 percent of the time and wins it 7.4 percent (which puts the Texans at exactly 50/50 in the Super Bowl against the potential NFC opponent). The Baltimore Ravens played a memorable home game in an ultimately lopsided contest with Indianapolis last week. What was Ray Lewis' last home game, will likely also be his final game. Baltimore only makes the Super Bowl 7.7 percent of the time and wins it 3.6 percent of the time. The Ravens have the lowest remaining chance to win it all and are the only team not to be favored in at least one potential Super Bowl matchup. The Broncos win the Super Bowl more than the bottom four remaining teams -- Baltimore, Houston, Atlanta and Green Bay -- combined. In general, the AFC is 53.6 percent likely to win the Super Bowl, but only the Broncos and Patriots would be favored to win over the average expected NFC Super Bowl participant.
The San Francisco 49ers evaluate as the most likely NFC Super Bowl participant and winner, but the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers both closed the gap considerably after winning in Wild Card week. The 49ers are 35.4 percent likely to make the Super Bowl and 17.5 percent likely to win it. Seattle is one the best teams in the league right now (they would be second behind Denver in updated NFL Power Rankings of the remaining playoff teams). Though they would have to go on the road for their next two wins (including a 1 pm ET/10 am PT game in Atlanta this Sunday), the Seahawks are 28.3 percent likely to make the Super Bowl and 14.2 percent likely to win it. That makes Seattle the only NFC team that wins more than 50 percent of its potential Super Bowls. Green Bay, which is undoubtedly rooting for Seattle to win at Atlanta this weekend so the Packers can get the NFC Championship game at home (if they win at San Francisco on Saturday), is 20.5 percent likely to make the Super Bowl and 9.2 percent likely to win it. Both the Packers and Seahawks saw increases in over 4 percent in their chances to win the Super Bowl from what we anticipated going into last week. Despite having home field advantage through the NFC Championship game, the Atlanta Falcons are the least likely NFC team to make it to the Super Bowl and only Baltimore is less likely of all the remaining teams to win the title. This week's biggest game appears to be the Packers @ 49ers. Even with the strength of Seattle, the Green Bay/San Francisco winner would be the definitive favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and may even become the top team overall in Super Bowl winning chances (especially if Seattle and/or Denver lose). In total, with three teams remaining that have never won a Super Bowl championship -- Houston, Seattle and Atlanta -- there is a 27.1 percent chance that a team wins its first ever title.
Interesting Super Bowl matchups and their relative likelihood include:
Most Likely -- Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers occurs 17.8 percent; Top Seeds -- Denver Broncos vs. Atlanta Falcons occurs 7.9 percent
All-Harbaugh - Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers occurs 2.7 percent
Biggest Projected Margin (9.0 points) -- Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers is also the All-Harbaugh matchup
Former MVP Quarterbacks -- Denver Broncos or New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers occurs 15.9 percent
No Franchise Rings -- Houston Texans vs. Atlanta Falcons or Seattle Seahawks occurs 6.5 percent; Least Likely -- Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens occurs 609 of 50,000 times.
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