The almost certainly groups to succeed in Super Bowl 57


With the NFL common season over, the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs (+350), Buffalo Payments (+400), San Francisco 49ers (+500), Philadelphia Eagles (+550) and Cincinnati Bengals (+850) are the highest decisions at DraftKings to win this 12 months’s Super Bowl, although as we noticed final 12 months, favorites don’t at all times make it by way of the postseason gantlet. Inexperienced Bay and Kansas Metropolis had the shortest odds to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of final season’s playoffs, however neither made it to the Super Bowl. The top-seeded Packers didn’t even win a postseason recreation.

There are many litmus exams to separate the Super Bowl contenders from the pretenders, however one of many extra dependable strategies focuses on groups that carry out higher than others in particular conditions. The best strategy to measure that is by way of anticipated factors added (EPA), which calculates what number of factors a crew scores in contrast with a mean crew whereas operating a play underneath the identical circumstances — i.e. the identical down, distance and subject place. The increased the EPA, the extra seemingly that crew is to succeed.

Coming into final season’s playoffs — and going again to 2002, when the NFL expanded to 32 franchises — the crew ranked increased in anticipated factors added per recreation on the finish of the common season gained 61 p.c of playoff video games, with the largest benefit occurring within the divisional spherical (.671). Groups that ranked within the high 10 for each offensive and defensive anticipated factors added through the common season gained 76 p.c of their playoff video games and went 6-2 within the Super Bowl. Those who ranked within the high 5 in both offensive or defensive anticipated factors added gained 74 p.c of their postseason matchups, though they posted solely a 3-5 document within the championship recreation. Those who certified in neither of these classes had been 18-64, reaching the Super Bowl 4 instances and going 0-4.

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There are outlier seasons, nevertheless. Final 12 months, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Payments and Dallas Cowboys every ranked within the high 10 of each offensive and defensive EPA getting into the playoffs, however none of them reached even the convention championship video games. The Bucs, seeded second within the NFC, beat the Philadelphia Eagles within the first spherical earlier than dropping to the Los Angeles Rams within the second spherical. The Payments, No. 3 within the AFC, clobbered the New England Patriots within the first spherical however misplaced to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs within the division spherical. And the Cowboys, the NFC’s No. 3 seed, misplaced at house to the 49ers within the first spherical.

Neither of final 12 months’s Super Bowl members — the Rams and Bengals — ranked within the high 10 of each offensive and defensive EPA getting into the playoffs. Los Angeles was fifth and eleventh, whereas Cincinnati was thirteenth and tenth.

So the metric, whereas priceless, isn’t infallible. Nonetheless, utilizing EPA, listed here are the highest contenders to succeed in this 12 months’s Super Bowl, grouped from most to least seemingly.

The prime candidates (High 10 in offensive and defensive EPA)

NFC No. 1 seed: Philadelphia Eagles

Fourth in offensive EPA, sixth in defensive EPA

Two of the Eagles’ three losses got here with out quarterback Jalen Hurts within the lineup, however he’s again for the playoffs. Defensively, Philadelphia turned the primary crew for the reason that 1989 Vikings to document a minimum of 70 sacks and is the primary crew ever to have 4 gamers with a minimum of 10 sacks.

NFC No. 2 seed: San Francisco 49ers

Fifth in offensive EPA, first in defensive EPA

Rookie Brock Purdy, the final participant chosen within the 2022 draft, turned the primary quarterback since a minimum of 1950 to win the primary 5 begins of his profession. San Francisco’s protection leads the NFL in factors allowed per drive (1.48).

AFC No. 2 seed: Buffalo Payments

Second in offensive EPA, tenth in defensive EPA

The Payments’ offense ranked second behind the Chiefs in factors per drive (2.66), and Buffalo’s protection ranked fourth at 1.68 factors allowed per drive. Buffalo gained seven straight to finish the season, however solely a type of victories was in opposition to a playoff crew (and it was in opposition to the Dolphins, who barely squeaked into the postseason).

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AFC No. 3 seed: Cincinnati Bengals

Sixth in offensive EPA, ninth in defensive EPA

The Bengals began 4-4 however haven’t misplaced since Halloween night time. Cincinnati started the season with an offensive line that had been nearly completely revamped, and quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 30 instances over the season’s first eight video games. The second half of the season was a special story — Burrow was sacked solely 16 instances over the ultimate eight video games — however beginning proper sort out La’el Collins suffered a season-ending harm final month and beginning proper guard Alex Cappa will most likely miss the playoff opener after injuring his ankle on Sunday.

NFC No. 5 seed: Dallas Cowboys

Seventh in offensive EPA, third in defensive EPA

The Cowboys gained six of eight to shut the common season and rank fifth in each factors scored and allowed per drive, however their final 4 wins got here in opposition to two terrible groups (the Colts and Texans) and two groups lacking their beginning quarterbacks (the Eagles and Titans). Nonetheless, Dallas turned the primary crew since Pittsburgh’s Metal Curtain groups of the Nineteen Seventies to steer the NFL in takeaways in back-to-back seasons.

The subsequent tier (High 5 in offensive or defensive EPA)

AFC No. 1 seed: Kansas Metropolis Chiefs

First in offensive EPA, 18th in defensive EPA

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes had 5,614 offensive yards (passing, dashing, receiving) through the common season, breaking Drew Brees’s 2011 document, and his 5,250 passing yards had been the fourth-most in NFL historical past. Kansas Metropolis went 6-2 in opposition to groups that made the playoffs this season, and the 2 losses got here by seven mixed factors.

The next-next tier (High 10 in offensive or defensive EPA)

AFC No. 4 seed: Jacksonville Jaguars

tenth in offensive EPA, thirteenth in defensive EPA

The Jaguars rebounded from a 3-7 begin to make the playoffs, although they wanted Josh Allen’s fourth-quarter fumble return for a landing in opposition to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday to safe the berth. Jacksonville has one of many worst go defenses within the league, rating thirtieth in pass-defense DVOA.

AFC No. 7 seed: Miami Dolphins

Ninth in offensive EPA, twenty third in defensive EPA

Miami’s probabilities most likely hinge on whether or not quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is cleared to play after struggling his second identified concussion of the season on Christmas. The protection is a matter, too: The Dolphins allowed 2.25 factors per drive, the worst of any playoff crew.

NFC No. 4 seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

twenty second in offensive EPA, eighth in defensive EPA

The Bucs confirmed indicators of life down the stretch, beating the Cardinals and Panthers to safe the NFC South title and a house playoff recreation. However the go protection is terrible (opposing quarterbacks have thrown 20 landing passes in opposition to solely 4 interceptions vs. Tampa Bay since Week 6) and the operating recreation is nonexistent (the Bucs rank final within the NFL in dashing EPA per play).

Historical past suggests the percentages are stacked in opposition to these squads.

AFC No. 5 seed: Los Angeles Chargers

14th in offensive EPA, twenty sixth in defensive EPA

AFC No. 6 seed: Baltimore Ravens

nineteenth in offensive EPA, 14th in defensive EPA

NFC No. 3 seed: Minnesota Vikings

thirteenth in offensive EPA, twenty first in defensive EPA

NFC No. 6 seed: New York Giants

eleventh in offensive EPA, twenty eighth in defensive EPA

NFC No. 7 seed: Seattle Seahawks

fifteenth in offensive EPA, twenty fifth in defensive EPA

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