The Predictalator uses current rosters and strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player stats to play, one play at a time, the NFL Playoffs bracket 50,000 times before it's actually played. For this analysis, we are tracking how likely a team is to win the Super Bowl. The rest of the NFL Playoffs are played all the way through individually, with the team that wins each game in that instance advancing. The percentages in the table below represent the team's likelihood of winning the Super Bowl.
With a loss to the previous strongest team in the league, the Denver Broncos, the NFC's best, San Francisco 49ers, have jumped up to become the most likely Super Bowl champion by winning it all in 38.2 percent of 50,000 simulations. Going into last week, the 49ers were 17.5 percent likely to win the Super Bowl. While obviously looking very good in their own right on the field, San Francisco has benefited greatly from upsets elsewhere that has given the team a clearer path than expected. Getting to face Atlanta instead of Seattle (even on the road) helps the 49ers, as does the loss to the similarly well-rounded Denver Broncos, who, with their experience at quarterback and elite pass rush, would have been favored over the 49ers. Despite a slightly weaker conference championship winning percentage than New England , San Francisco edges the Patriots in the most likely Super Bowl -- very important to note since New England would likely be favorites in the sports books in that game -- to become our most likely current champion. With 2:1 current Super Bowl futures odds -- which would require 33.3 percent+ confidence to play -- San Francisco is a valuable Super Bowl futures wager.
After the 49ers, the New England Patriots are the second most likely Super Bowl champion. New England wins 37.7 percent of all simulated Super Bowls. As presently constructed and without any further injuries of note (to any team), New England would be a slight underdog to San Francisco in our projections, yet a full touchdown favorite over Atlanta if the Falcons advance. The Patriots and 49ers combine to win 75.9 percent of all Super Bowls. New England is currently a prohibitive 6:5 favorite to win the Super Bowl in the sports books. This would require 54.5 percent confidence to play - a steep price considering that there are three other teams remaining (two of which were also here at this level last year).
The Patriots are followed by the Atlanta Falcons who have a 12.3 percent chance to win the Super Bowl, yet would not be favored over either AFC team if they get there. That being said, given that NFC teams win 50.5 percent of the remaining Super Bowls, the NFC +3 for the Super Bowl as of right now looks appealing . Atlanta at 6:1 odds (requires 14.3 percent confidence) to win the Super Bowl, is not quite playable.
Baltimore, which has to go on the road and face a very strong team this weekend, is the least likely Super Bowl champion. The Ravens win the Super Bowl 11.9 percent of the time, which is still about one out of every eight simulations. Some books have Baltimore at 15:2 or 8:1 (or greater), which would each be valuable plays on Super Bowl futures odds for the Ravens. And for those still curious about an All-Harbaugh Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, that occurs 20.3 percent of the time. Unfortunately for John and the Ravens, San Francisco over Baltimore is only possible Super Bowl matchup that we project to be won by more than a touchdown. A Harbaugh-led team wins the Super Bowl 50.1 percent of the time.
Last year, at this time, an All-Harbaugh Super Bowl was 16.9 percent likely. Also of note from last season, no team at this time was greater than 33 percent or less than 20 percent likely to win the Super Bowl. Now, we have two teams with a better than 35 percent and two teams with a weaker than 15 percent chance to win the Super Bowl.