PredictionMachine.com strives to be the most accurate and trusted source for predicting sports outcomes. The state-of-the-art, unbiased Predictalator ("the Prediction Machine") was built by Paul Bessire, a statistician and veteran sports writer, who offers his in-depth analysis and unique takes through his blog posts and game predictions.
In sports, matchups dictate outcomes. Instead of data mining to attempt to find historical trends that may lend some insight into future games - a common, yet misleading approach for many other predictive models - PredictionMachine.com's accuracy stems from the Predictalator, which plays an upcoming game 50,000 times before it's actually played.
In what likely is not a surprise, the Green Bay Packers are our favorites to win the Super Bowl, bringing home the title 23.7% of the time. Green Bay, the top seed in the NFL is followed by the NFC's third seed in the New Orleans Saints, which has a better chance to win the Super Bowl (9.6%) than the second-seeded San Francisco 49ers (8.7%), who make the Super Bowl more often (because they have one less game to win at this point), yet would be a significant underdog in the Super Bowl to the three most likely AFC Super Bowl participants.
After the top three NFC Seeds, the New York Giants, who have come on strong in our numbers against good competition late in the season, at 5.8% to win the Super Bowl, Atlanta Falcons (2.4%) and Detroit Lions, who would likely face, by far, the toughest path of any team to win the Super Bowl and have just a 1.2% chance of doing so. The Packers win the Super Bowl more than Denver, Detroit, Cincinnati, the New York Giants, Atlanta and Houston combined. In general, the NFC is 51.3% likely to win the Super Bowl, but only the Packers and Saints would be favored to win over the average expected AFC Super Bowl participant.
The best AFC team with respect to its likelihood to win the Super Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens, wins it all 16.0% of the time. The Ravens are very closely followed by the New England Patriots at 14.6%, signifying the strong advantage that the four teams with first round byes and at least one home game have at this point. That being said, as of right now, if the Pittsburgh Steelers win their Wild Card round game over the Denver Broncos, the Steelers would have the better chance to win the conference and the Super Bowl than either the Ravens or Patriots.
In fact, according to our numbers, the Steelers and Saints are the two of the three best teams (with the Packers) in the playoffs, so the projections could look very different if those teams can avoid upsets this week. It should be noted as well that Pittsburgh is the only AFC team currently favored over the average NFC playoff team. Last year, Green Bay, was in an eerily similar position to this year's Steelers, in that they may become our Super Bowl favorites after winning a Wild Card game on the road (not to mention the quarterback injured late in the year, sparsely utilized running back getting a start in the playoffs and more difficult schedule than the top three seeds in the conference). As it stands now, Pittsburgh, New England and Baltimore represent the AFC in the Super Bowl 85.6% of the time.
Interesting Super Bowl matchups and their relative likelihoods include: Repeat Rematch - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers occurs 9.2%, Most Likely - Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers occurs 13.3%, All-Harbaugh - Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers occurs 6.6%, Least Likely - Denver Broncos vs. Detroit Lions occurs 13 of 50,000 times. Also, while Denver is listed as winning the Super Bowl 0.4%, the Broncos actually take home the title exactly 200times out of 50,000, but would not be greater than 30% likely to win over any NFC team.