Each year at Football Outsiders, we do our first playoff odds simulation for our annual book, the Football Outsiders Almanac. And from the first simulation I ever ran to prepare for writing the book, our favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX was the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were our favorite throughout the summer and through the first couple of weeks of the season.
There was a two-week period when we actually had Cincinnati as the Super Bowl favorite, but the Broncos took the top spot back after the Bengals were crushed by the Patriots in Week 5. Denver held it for seven weeks, peaking by winning the Super Bowl in 30.3 percent of our simulations after Week 8. But the Patriots have been catching up ever since they beat Denver one week later, and now they have passed the Broncos.
Now we have New England as our favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX. In part, it's because the Patriots have the best record in the NFL for the first time all season. It's also because our weighted DVOA metric now has the Patriots with their highest rating of the season and No. 2 in the league, only slightly behind Denver. The Patriots' two losses are now two months in the rearview mirror, and they had their best single-game DVOA of the season in last weekend's 34-9 win over Detroit.
New England's Super Bowl odds were all the way down to 1.5 percent after that "Monday Night Football" nightmare Sept. 29 in Kansas City, but our latest simulation has the Patriots winning the Super Bowl 18.7 percent of the time. The Broncos are now at 17.0 percent, with Green Bay third at 14.5 percent. No other team is over 7.5 percent.
About these numbers: Each week, from now until the end of the regular season, we'll be taking a look at the projected playoff field based on the Football Outsiders playoff odds simulation that plays out the rest of the season 50,000 times. A random draw assigns each team a win or loss for each game. (Like Donovan McNabb, the playoff odds simulation does not believe in ties, except the one that already happened.) The probabilities are based on each team's current weighted DVOA rating as well as home-field advantage. (DVOA is Football Outsiders' proprietary defense-adjusted value over average metric, which looks at a team's performance on every play and adjusts based on situation and opponent, explained further here. Weighted DVOA then takes that rating and adjusts it to lower the strength of games that took place more than a month ago.)
You can find the full playoff odds report, including the odds of each team winning each of the six seeds, on FootballOutsiders.com.
AFC playoff projections
Current record: 9-2 | Weighted DVOA: 29.7 percent
Mean projected wins: 12.0
Total playoff odds: 95.4 percent | Weekly change: plus-4.9 percent