Several NFL teams have never won a Super Bowl championship. The most famous of these may be the Buffalo Bills, which went to four consecutive Super Bowls (XXV to XXVIII), led by quarterback Jim Kelly, but lost each time. At the other end of the spectrum were the NFL’s dynasties. The New England Patriots went to nine Super Bowls between 2002 and 2019 and won six of them under coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. Brady went to the most recent Super Bowl and won with a wildcard team, something completely unexpected.
The road to the Super Bowl is long and tough. This year there will be 17 regular-season games, followed by wildcard games, division games, the conference championships and the Super Bowl. Along the way, teams lose key players to injuries and, this year, COVID-19 infections.
The business of handicapping which team will win starts well before each season begins. As the season goes on, complete formulas predict which teams have the best chance, based largely on their win-loss records each week.
To determine the team most likely to win the Super Bowl, 24/7 Tempo considered how each NFL team is likely to finish the 2021 season, based on a review each week of FiveThirtyEight’s 2021 NFL Predictions, which are based on 50,000 simulated games and are updated after every game. The predictions are as of January 3, 2022, and teams are ranked by their Elo rating, which measures quality based on results and the quality of opponents. Teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention were not included. Supplemental data came from Pro Football Reference.
In the AFC, five of the seven playoff teams already have been confirmed: the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. The Titans would clinch the top seed and a first-round bye with a win over the lowly Houston Texans in the final week.
The Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers, both 9-7, can clinch a playoff spot with a week 18 win. If one or both lose, the Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens could still get in. The Raiders and Chargers will square off in week 18 in a de facto playoff game, as the winner would clinch a postseason spot.
Six of the seven NFC playoff spots have been filled, with the Green Bay Packers clinching the top seed and a bye with a dominant 37-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles will all make the postseason.
At this point, the team most likely to win is the Green Bay Packers. Here are the details:
- Current record: 13-3
- Chance to make playoffs: Clinched
- Chance to win the Super Bowl: 27%
- 2020 record: 13-3