Super Bowl Chances (1/3/18)

By Ryan Fowler

If you've been tracking our weekly NFL Power Rankings this season, it should come as little surprise that after simulating the NFL Playoffs 50,000 times, the Patriots (22.4%) and Steelers (14.8%) are the NFL engine's top AFC favorites to win Super Bowl 52.

However, if the final four weeks of the season were any indication of future production or lack thereof, the Eagles are going to have a hell of a time topping the Vikings. Contrary to any assumptions, Minnesota's 18.1% Super Bowl Championship odds versus Philadelphia's 13.8% have as much to do with recent Eagles' defensive regression as it does Nick Foles behind center due to Carson Wentz's season-ending injury.

The short version as to "why the Vikings currently possess an advantage" comes down to YAPP or yards allowed per play over the past month. A quick glance at the Eagles' season-to-date defensive metrics and you see:
  • First in rush defense (79.2 RYPG)
  • Fourth in scoring defense (18.4 PAPG)
  • Fourth in total defense (306.5 YAPG)
  • Ninth in yards allowed per play (5.0 YAPP)
However, over the past four games, the Eagles defense has allowed 112.5 rush and 238 pass yards per game along with seven passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Their YAPP during this stretch soared to 5.6 yards allowed per play. That average on the season would rank outside the Top 25. It's a red flag.

Now, compare that late-season defensive regression to what Minnesota has accomplished. The Vikings season-to-date YAPP is 4.6. Over the past four games, they've allowed 4.1 and over the past three, 3.6. With all the wear and tear of a 16-game regular season, Minnesota's December defense improved. It's also worth noting that no opposing quarterback passed for more than 178 yards in any of those four contests.

Would Carson Wentz be up to that challenge? Probably. Would Nick Foles? Well, he finished with a QB rating south of 60.0 against the Raiders 26th-ranked pass defense two weeks ago.

Only two of the eight teams competing in Wild Card weekend matchups boast better than an 8% chance of raising the Lombardi Trophy. The Saints, at 8.1%, and Jaguars, at 9.7% are projected to be long-shot Super Bowl contenders.

New Orleans finished the regular season first in yards per play, 6.3, while Jacksonville edged Minnesota for best YAPP at 4.6.
The Rams, Chiefs, Falcons, Panthers, Titans, and Bills all have 4%-or-worse odds of winning this year's Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Win Chances - NFL Playoffs Played 50,000 times: