The NFL playoffs begin this weekend. In total, 14 of the 32 NFL teams will line up for the chance to attend and win Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on February 13. The No. 2 seed Kansas City Chiefs open their campaign playoffs against the No. 7 seed Pittsburgh Steelers. Kick-off is set at 7:15 p.m. Arrowhead time.
Here are the competitors for this season. The seeds of the AFC and NFC will be absent this weekend. All other teams will participate in the Super Wild Card weekend matches on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
In the Wild Cards round, the division winners play at home. The highest seed plays the lowest seed, the second highest plays the second lowest … and so on. That means for the AFC in Week 19, the Chiefs will host the Steelers, the Patriots will be on the road against the Bills and the Bengals will be at home against the Raiders.
The same rules apply to the AFC Divisional Round games in Week 20, so the Titans will play at home against the lowest seed remaining. Since only three teams will survive the Wild Cards round, we know the second and third seeds – the Chiefs and Bills – can’t play the Titans until the Week 20 Conference Championship round – and only if the Titans survive the division turn.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s ELO model, there is an 86% chance for the Chiefs to defeat the Steelers. The Bills have a 70% chance of beating the Patriots, while the Bengals would win 74% of the time against the Raiders.
With this information, we can predict which teams the early Titans are most likely to face in the divisional round.
|Opponent of the Titans||Luck|
We can do similar calculations to calculate where the second seeded leaders are most likely to be after the Wild Cards round.
|Opponent of the Chiefs||Luck|
All the same procedures apply in the NFC – where in the Wild Card round, the Buccaneers have an 81% chance of beating the Eagles, the Cowboys have a 69% chance of winning against the 49ers, and the Rams are favored 70 / 30 against the Cardinals. Here are the teams the seeded Packers are expected to face in the Divisional Round.
And here are the teams the second-seeded Buccaneers are most likely to face after the Wild Cards round.
|Adversary of the Buccaneers||Luck|
Of course, all of these percentages would vary if we used a different model to predict the winner of each match. For example: if a different model predicted that the Chiefs would have a 60% chance of beating the Steelers, there would be a 40% chance that they would be excluded from the division round and a 42% chance that they would play the Bills. . etc. But this drill allows you to see the most likely results for the first two seeds of the division round.
Let the playoffs begin!