Super Bowl Chances: Week 14

With week 14 of the NFL kicking off on Thursday with a tight Kansas City Chiefs 21-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders, the playoff landscape immediately changed with Oakland falling out of the West Division lead into the top wild card spot. Before the Sunday games, the current NFL standings are:


AFC Divisional Standings as of 10 December 2016 (Week 14). Courtesy of


NFC Divisional Standings as of 10 December 2016 (Week 14). Courtesy of

We then perform the usual Bradley-Terry and Weighted Poisson regression models to identify some predictive methods for estimating future games, conditional on home field advantage and team match-ups. As a result, we are able to simulate the remainder of the season.

Using these models, we find the following expected final standings. Note: These are averaged over one million MCMC runs.


Predicted final standings for the 2016 NFL season. (PWD = Probability of Winning Division, PWC = Probability of Wild Card, PMP = Probability of Making the Playoffs, PCC = Probability of winning the Conference Championship, PSB = Probability of winning Super Bowl)

Hence, the most likely NFL Playoffs is given by:

  • AFC
    1. New England Patriots (13-3)
    2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
    3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
    4. Houston Texans (8-8)
    5. Oakland Raiders (12-4)
    6. Denver Broncos (10-6)
  • NFC
    1. Dallas Cowboys (14-2)
    2. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
    3. Detroit Lions (10-6)
    4. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
    5. New York Giants (10-6)
    6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)


While these are the most likely teams to make the playoffs, based on record, there are still effectively 24 teams still able to make the playoffs, from the Dallas Cowboys’ 100% (guaranteed in the playoffs) to the San Diego Chargers’ 0.01% chance! Due to this, we also simulated the NFL playoffs. This results in every teams’ chance of winning the Super Bowl:


Every NFL team’s probability of winning the Super Bowl; based on 1,000,000 Markov Chain simulations.

This shows that the Dallas Cowboys have the best chance of winning the Super Bowl, with the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots close behind. If we break down the numbers, we simulated that the AFC has a 49.64% chance of winning the Super Bowl. This means while three of the top four teams winning the Super Bowl are AFC contenders, the NFC has a better overall chance of winning the Super Bowl.

The question is, with roughly 63 games remaining in the season, how much will these probabilities change?


2 thoughts on “Super Bowl Chances: Week 14

    • I’ll write that up tonight (west coast time). It should be very close to 100% as there is only one scenario for the Giants to miss the playoffs and it requires a series of 8-9 games to go exactly as planned (The 8-9 distinction rests on Atlanta game vs. Carolina).

      But let’s say they are all coin toss games (in reality they aren’t and the analysis will use the multiple model procedure); then the Giants have already a base 99.61% chance of making the playoffs. That’s just 1 – (.5)^8. But I’ll MCMC the results tonight and give a more fine-tuned result over 1,000,000 simulations.


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