Football Outsiders has run virtual instances of the NFL playoffs 50,000 times. After compiling all of the data from these scenarios, it looks like the Denver Broncos have the best shot at winning the Super Bowl, winning the virtual championship 26.2% of the time. Not surprisingly, New England comes in second at 24.3%.
Football Outsiders uses DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) to calculate these scenarios. While the explanation of how it works is long and complicated, here’s a brief description of how it is calculated:
It takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation. DVOA measures not just yardage, but yardage towards a first down: Five yards on third-and-4 are worth more than five yards on first-and-10 and much more than five yards on third-and-12. Red zone plays are worth more than other plays. Performance is also adjusted for the quality of the opponent. DVOA is a percentage, so a team with a DVOA of 10.0% is 10 percent better than the average team, and a quarterback with a DVOA of -20.0% is 20 percent worse than the average quarterback. Because DVOA measures scoring, defenses are better when they are negative.
Got all that? Good.
Here’s how the playoff teams fared in the simulation, taking into consideration the odds of making the conference championship, winning the conference championship, and then the Super Bowl itself:
They even went so far as to calculate the odds of media-friendly matchups, some of which are pretty funny. Pete Carroll Reunion Special, anyone?
Super Bowl XXIV rematch (DEN-SF)
Randy Moss Reunion Special (NE-SF)
Super Bowl XXXIII rematch (DEN-ATL)
Pete Carroll Reunion Special (NE-SEA)
Super Bowl XXXII rematch (DEN-GB)
Super Bowl XXXI rematch (NE-GB)
Shanahan’s Revenge (DEN-WAS)
Bill Walsh Memorial Bowl (CIN-SF)
Harbaugh Bowl (BAL-SF)
2008 Draft Showdown (BAL-ATL)
Matt Schaub’s Revenge (HOU-ATL)
Beltway Bowl (BAL-WAS)
2012 Draft Showdown (IND-WAS)
Personally, I am all for the Broncos winning the Super Bowl.
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