Who Are the Top Five Super Bowl Contenders? (10/19/16)
Each day, the remainder of the NFL season is simulated 50,000 times to produce an updated forecast of probable outcomes. Below are the top five Super Bowl contenders heading into Week 7 of the NFL season.
5. Cowboys 5-1 (7.8% probability)
Next to the Vikings and Falcons (who just missed out on this list), the Cowboys are the biggest surprise of the NFL season thus far. After another Tony Romo injury, Dak Prescott has stepped in and performed as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. Not to mention, Ezekiel Elliott, another rookie, is leading the NFL in rushing behind the best offensive line in the league. The Cowboys offense ranks second in rushing efficiency and third in passing efficiency. Make no mistake, this defense isn't great despite only allowing 17.8 points per game thus far. They rank 21st and 16th in passing and rushing efficiency, respectively. However, the efficient and time-consuming play of the Cowboys' offense has kept their defense off the field and shrinks the time in the game for the opposing offense.
4. Broncos 4-2 (12.3% probability)
The Broncos are trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions and have a good shot in doing so. Their defense was the story last year as they got replacement level quarterback play for most of the year. The defense is still extremely good and relatively unchanged, ranking first in passing efficiency and fourth in rushing efficiency. This year, they've gotten better quarterback play out of Trevor Siemian. Seemingly targeting Emmanuel Sanders or Demaryius Thomas on every pass, Siemian has been good enough to propel the Broncos back towards the top of the NFL.
3. Seahawks 4-1 (12.4% probability)
The Seahawks strengths are no secret these days. They will play dominant defense nearly every week that is supported by their elite defensive backs. In support, the Seattle front seven has also been pressuring the quarterback to a high degree. They've sacked opposing quarterbacks in 8.7% of drop backs, third best in the NFL. They are seemingly a top five defense in every stat category including third in our overall defensive rankings. If Russell Wilson avoids the big mistake, as he usually does, they may find their way back to the Super Bowl.
2. Vikings 5-0 (13.2% probability)
The Vikings' season couldn't have started worse. They lost their franchise quarterback and running back for extended time, and the team itself was already a question mark coming into the season. They've since run out the second best defense in the NFL, allowing just 12.6 points per game, and revived Sam Bradford's career. Bradford, the former first overall pick, has completed 70.4% of his passes and ranks 10th in passing efficiency this year. If he stays efficient, Bradford may find himself making a Super Bowl appearance this year.
1. Patriots 5-1 (19.4% probability)
There's no surprise here at the top spot. The Patriots jumped out to a 3-1 start without Tom Brady and set the tone to the start of their season. Since returning, Brady has thrown for 406 and 376 yards, six total touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Brady-drama has headlined but Belichick's defense has been a huge contributor, allowing just 15 points per game. It is important to note that the Patriots have more than a six percent advantage in Super Bowl win expectancy over the Vikings, the closest contender.