Sports commentators with hot takes like to believe there's a clear dichotomy between Super Bowl contenders and pretenders. In reality, it doesn't work that way. Every team in the NFL has its strengths and weaknesses, and there are a number of teams that could win the Super Bowl every year. Some teams have better odds than others, but there isn't a clear demarcation between the teams that can win it all and the teams that can't. Sometimes, as with last year's Chiefs, a team will finish up a strong multiyear run with a title. Sometimes, as with the 2011 Giants or 2012 Ravens, those teams you didn't think were true contenders will come out of nowhere to win it all in February.
Below we're going to look at this year's top dozen Super Bowl contenders and their current chances to win it all, along with the biggest strength for each team and the biggest weakness that might keep that team from winning the title. Note that these Super Bowl chances use a Football Outsiders simulation based on our DVOA metric, which will be a little different from ESPN's simulation based on FPI. Our simulation is based on ratings that combine opponent-adjusted performance so far this season with preseason data to get the best estimate of how well teams will play the rest of the way. We're more conservative about the gap between the best teams and the average teams, so the Super Bowl chances for the top teams will be higher than in ESPN's simulation.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-1): 14.4%
Kansas City currently ranks just sixth in DVOA, but the Chiefs are second in our DAVE ratings that also incorporate preseason data. In addition, a lack of competition in their division (sorry, we're not high on the Las Vegas Raiders despite their head-to-head win) makes Kansas City the only team in the NFL with an over 80% chance of a division title right now, and no team in the AFC has a stronger chance of getting the important first-round bye as the No. 1 seed.
Biggest strength: As always, the passing game. Kansas City is No. 1 in pass offense DVOA and Patrick Mahomes is No. 2 in QBR, narrowly trailing Aaron Rodgers. The most remarkable thing about the Kansas City offense is that Mahomes simply doesn't have bad games. Even his down games are above average; Mahomes has never had a game with QBR below 50. And Mahomes is at his best when the Chiefs really need him to move the chains. This is the third straight year that the Chiefs have ranked No. 1 in pass offense DVOA on third and fourth downs.
Biggest weakness: As always, the run defense. Kansas City is fourth in DVOA against the pass, but the Chiefs come out as 27th against the run. The Chiefs are one of only three defenses that have allowed better efficiency on the ground than through the air. (Miami and Detroit are the other two.)