There are now eight teams remaining this NFL season, but very few questions have been answered. There were no upsets in Wildcard Weekend according to the simulation (Pittsburgh was 47% which I wouldn’t label an upset) which makes for a very interesting Divisional Weekend. The Super Bowl favorite Panthers would have much rather seen Blair Walsh make that late field goal than to face the Seahawks. The AFC favorite Patriots would much rather be preparing for Cincinnati or Houston than the red hot Kansas City Chiefs.
Let’s first start in the AFC. In Foxboro, the Patriots received a much needed week off and host the Chiefs on Saturday. The simulation gives the Patriots a 60.6% chance to give the Chiefs their first loss since Week 6. This is lower than the current betting market as Pinnacle (-222/+199) gives the Patriots an implied percentage of 67.8%.
The other game in the AFC is where the simulation strongly disagrees with the current betting market. The simulation has Steelers vs Broncos as a virtual coin flip with Denver at 50.5% to advance to the AFC Championship. The Broncos are currently 6-point favorites at Pinnacle with no current moneyline given. One big difference is that the simulation has not accounted for two key injuries for Pittsburgh. Both Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown still have some question marks surrounding them although it looks better for Big Ben at this moment.
Even if Antonio Brown is ruled out for the game, he wouldn’t be worth six points to the betting line so it still doesn’t explain the difference. Perhaps it is the change of quarterback from Brock Osweiler back to Peyton Manning. Many bettors may think that making the change to Peyton improves the Broncos chances to win. While this may have sounded crazy at the beginning of the season, the simulation doesn’t see much of a difference between the two quarterbacks. For now, we’ll leave the simulation unadjusted until we know which players will sit on Sunday.
With those two probabilities, here are the chances of seeing the following AFC Championship Games:
|Patriots at Broncos||30.57%|
|Steelers at Patriots||30.02%|
|Chiefs at Broncos||19.89%|
|Steelers at Chiefs||19.53%|
And here are each AFC team’s odds to get to the Super Bowl:
The Broncos are the 1-seed in the AFC but the simulation still has the Patriots and Chiefs as better teams and would make BOTH teams favorites in a potential AFC Championship game, despite the game being played in Denver.
In the NFC, we have the three best teams in the NFL remaining along with the Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals are currently 7-point favorites over Green Bay and the simulation has them advancing 76.8% of the time. A lot of people were exclaiming that the “Packers are back” after their 35-18 win last weekend, but the simulation doesn’t give that much credit for beating the Redskins. While winning a road playoff game is deemed impressive, it’s less so when your opponent only needed to go 8-8 to win their division.
The other game in the NFC projects to be much closer. Pinnacle currently has the Panthers as 2.5-point favorites and the implied moneyline percentages (+129 / -142) suggest that Carolina advances 57.5% of the time. The simulation suggests it will be just a little tougher for the Seahawks as it has Carolina advancing 61.7% of the time.
With that in mind, here are the chances of seeing the following NFC Championship Games:
|Cardinals at Panthers||47.34%|
|Seahawks at Cardinals||29.43%|
|Packers at Panthers||14.32%|
|Seahawks at Packers||8.9%|
And here are each NFC team’s odds to get to the Super Bowl:
I realize a lot of people are going to scoff at the Packers odds here but the simulation has Green Bay as the worst team remaining in the playoffs. Pair that with the fact that they have to go against the best team in the playoffs this week followed by either the 2nd best or 3rd best team next week, and you can see why the numbers aren’t fans of the Packers. (Sorry Olivia Munn.)
Combining the AFC and NFC projections, we get the odds for each possible Super Bowl matchup:
|Patriots vs Panthers||14.64%|
|Patriots vs Cardinals||13.37%|
|Chiefs vs Panthers||9.05%|
|Broncos vs Panthers||8.85%|
|Chiefs vs Cardinals||8.26%|
|Broncos vs Cardinals||8.08%|
|Steelers vs Panthers||7.18%|
|Steelers vs Cardinals||6.55%|
|Patriots vs Seahawks||6.51%|
|Chiefs vs Seahawks||4.02%|
|Broncos vs Seahawks||3.93%|
|Steelers vs Seahawks||3.19%|
|Patriots vs Packers||2.34%|
|Chiefs vs Packers||1.45%|
|Broncos vs Packers||1.42%|
|Steelers vs Packers||1.15%|
And finally, the odds for each team to win the Super Bowl: