Since the last NFL probability detour, the Wild Card playoff games eliminated some uncertainty, as well as streamlining the process of figuring the next set of probabilities. All four expected teams won last weekend, but three of the four games had probabilities so close that that getting past these games will markedly increase the winners' odds of advancement to the Super Bowl.
Of course, with only eight teams in the running rather than twelve, every team should see an increase in odds. However, some of the favorites' odds actually decrease we will see, due to the elimination of weaker potential opponents.
Here are the percentage picks for the 1st round (divisional) playoffs, followed by the updated odds for reaching and winning the Super Bowl. All probabilities are based on my pair-comparison system that rates each game played by each team and compares them round-robin to the games played by the opponent. Odds are then multiplied through for each playoff game to yield the final projected percentage odds.
1st round games: AFC 1st round games: NFC Team odds to win: 1st round conf. champ Super Bowl
Jacksonville Jaguars 22.8 San Diego Chargers 39.7
Seattle Seahawks 36.4 New York Giants 33.5
New England 77.2% 57.3% 43.1%
Indianapolis 60.3% 21.6% 12.8%
San Diego 39.7% 12.0% 6.3%
Jacksonville 22.8% 9.1% 4.6%
Dallas 66.5% 39.1% 14.6%
Green Bay 63.6% 33.2% 11.4%
Seattle 36.4% 14.8% 4.0%
New York Giants 33.5% 12.9% 3.2%
1st round games: AFCNew England Patriots 77.2 Indianapolis Colts 60.3
1st round games: NFCGreen Bay Packers 63.6 Dallas Cowboys 66.5
Team odds to win: 1st round conf. champ Super Bowl
Interestingly New England's odds of winning their 1st round game went down from 82.5% to 77.2%. This is because there was about a 1/4 chance they'd face Tennessee should the Titans had defeated San Diego. Eliminating this possibility, and the possibility of facing Pittsburgh, leaves the Patriots against the stronger Jacksonville squad. The Colt's first round odds barely changed, as they were guaranteed a roughly similar opponent regardless of Wild Card outcomes. The NFC leaders also did not change much for the 1st round, since their bracket-jumping wild card (Washington) rates better than Tennessee, and therefore did not affect the odds as much.
Conference Championship Game
The Patriots' odds of winning the AFC and going to the Super Bowl drop slightly from 61% to 57.3%. Again, this is the reality of having no upsets in the Wild Card round. They'll face either the Chargers or the Colts should they beat Jacksonsville, and all rate among the top 6 teams in the NFL. The Colts' odds remain almost exactly the same as explained before. San Diego and Jacksonville have increased odds, almost completely the product of having made it past the uncertain wild card round. The Chargers move from 9% to 12% odds of reaching the Super Bowl, while the Jaguars, formerly a 1-in-20 longshot, almost double their chances to 9.1%.
Likewise the lower seeds in the NFC improve their odds, Seattle from 6.4 to 14.8%, and the Giants from 6.6 to 12.9. Head-to-head, according to the power rankings, Seattle only is favored over New York due to playing on their home field; the Giants would be similarly favored (around 55%) at home.
The Super Bowl
New England has already defeated two out of the four NFC teams eligibile for the Super Bowl, and would be favored by my method over each team anywhere from 71% to 83%. Overall their odds of winning the Super Bowl—and thereby finishing 19-0—come out to 43.1%. When I first calculated their odds of achieving this back when they were 9-0, the odds were 47.6%. This was when they were even more dominant, and there were fewer game comparisons. I updated these odds a month later and they were down to 27.6%, due to the Pats' unimpressive showings in several games. Since then, of course, they've gotten four more wins out of the way, and now have only three games left toward the goal.
The Colts' odds are again almost unchanged, but San Diego is interesting. Should they make the Super Bowl, the comparison system favors them against every team except Dallas, to whom they are a very slight underdog. Despite ranking lower in the power rating than Green Bay, they beat them in 53% of the game pairings. Their overall Super Bowl champion odds are 6.3% since they have to get past New England, but if they make it to the big game the Chargers' odds of winning it are 52.8%.
Likewise Jacksonville's odds of winning the Super Bowl—should they make it—are 51%, but their odds of getting there are so slim that their overall odds are but 4.3%. Overall, the odds of an AFC team winning the Super Bowl are a whopping 66.8%.
On the NFC side, Dallas has the best chance of successfully representing the old school league, with a 37.4% chance of victory if they make it. Green Bay is next with a 34% chance of victory. These compare with New England's odds of about 75%, and the Colts' 59% chance. In fact, all of the AFC teams have a better shot at winning the Super Bowl, largely because there's no chance that their opponent will be New England.
New England's overall 43.1% chance is almost three times the next best odds for any team. It's no secret that they're the favorite. If they win this week, they will already be a greater than 50/50 favorite to win the whole thing, even before the AFC championship game, and probably facing the #2 and #3 teams in the league in succession.