Now that the NFL playoff teams have been set, John Vogel has all of the relevant information ahead of the biggest part of the NFL season.
The NFL playoffs are set! Fourteen NFL teams are officially in contention for an appearance in Inglewood, California, at SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl LVI. It’s been a wild NFL regular season and there are rumors that the Super Bowl will be moved from California potentially to Miami, Florida. This postseason could be as wild as the regular season was.
As the odds have opened in Vegas, the Green Bay Packers, led by the likely NFL most valuable player Aaron Rodgers, are the favorites to win the Super Bowl entering the postseason, coming in at +380 odds (a $100 bet will profit $380). The Kansas City Chiefs have emerged as the AFC favorites to face them, coming in at +500.
|Seed||AFC Team||SB56 Odds||NFC Team||SB56 Odds|
|1||Tennessee Titans||+850||Green Bay Packers||+380|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||+500||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+750|
|3||Buffalo Bills||+750||Dallas Cowboys||+1100|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||+2100||Los Angeles Rams||+950|
|5||Las Vegas Raiders||+7000||Arizona Cardinals||+1700|
|6||New England Patriots||+1700||San Francisco 49ers||+3100|
|7||Pittsburgh Steelers||+7000||Philadelphia Eagles||+5000|
The five most likely Super Bowl LVI match-ups (per Vegas);
- Green Bay Packers vs Kansas City Chiefs
- Green Bay Packers vs Buffalo Bills
- Green Bay Packers vs Tennessee Titans
- Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Tennessee Titans
The AFC teams in the hunt
The AFC has been the overall stronger but tougher conference in the NFL this year. The playoff teams have combined for a 74-44-1 record this season. Here are where we project the teams matching up against each other:
|Titans||Ryan Tannehill (B+)||C-||A||A-||B-||B+||B||C+||B-||A-||86|
|Chiefs||Patrick Mahomes (A)||B||C+||A||A-||B||B-||B-||A-||A||88|
|Bills||Josh Allen (A-)||C||C||B+||B+||A||B-||B||A-||B+||87|
|Bengals||Joe Burrow (A-)||C-||B+||A||C+||B-||B||B||B||B||85|
|Raiders||Derek Carr (B)||B||B-||B||B+||B+||B-||B||B+||C||84|
|Patriots||Mac Jones (B-)||C-||A||C||B||B+||A-||A-||B+||A+||86|
|Steelers||Ben Roethlisburger (B-)||C+||B||B+||B||A||B||B+||B+||A-||87|
The Tennessee Titans are the biggest sleeper team in this group. After missing star running back Derrick Henry for most of the season, the Titans will get him back at the start of the playoffs and have an extra week to let him rest and recover to prepare for this game. They’ve played well this season without him, but clearly are a much better and more physical team when he is playing.
The nucleus to a Super Bowl caliber team has been found in the trenches. The overall best unit up front is the Buffalo Bills, who have allowed just 27 sacks on Josh Allen and have collected 42 with a stout pass rushing unit. We like the potential the Bills have with Josh Allen and the rotating defensive front which has been successful in the playoffs over the last five years.
The NFC teams in the hunt
The NFC has been a much top-heavier conference when compared to the AFC, but have some of the most prolific, overall well built teams in the league. The NFC teams have combined for an 80-39 record this season. Here is where they match-up with each other on our team building formula:
|Packers||Aaron Rodgers (A+)||C+||A-||A-||A||B||B-||B||B+||A-||89|
|Buccaneers||Tom Brady (A)||B-||B||B+||A+||B+||A||B-||B||B+||89|
|Cowboys||Dak Prescott (A-)||C-||A-||A||B+||A-||B+||B-||B-||B+||88|
|Rams||Matthew Stafford (A-)||C||B-||B+||B-||A||B-||B+||B||A||87|
|Cardinals||Kyler Murray (A-)||C-||B-||B+||B||A-||A-||B||B+||B||86|
|49ers||Jimmy Garoppolo (B-)||B-||A-||A-||B+||B+||A||C+||B-||A-||86|
|Eagles||Jalen Hurts (B)||B||B+||B-||B+||B+||C+||B+||B+||B||85|
The Dallas Cowboys are a dangerous sleeper team with a prolific offense this season led by Dak Prescott. With his incredibly deep receiving corps and the strong overall run presence, the Cowboys can score a lot of points and make things difficult against their opponents.
As we discussed in the AFC section, the most success found consistently in the playoffs over the last five years has been in the trenches. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the best in this area, and they have the greatest quarterback of all time leading their team. The Buccaneers will be a dangerous team to play anywhere in this playoff cycle – yet again.
Home field advantage
The eight division winners earn themselves the opportunity to play with home field advantage at some point of the playoffs.
|Team||Stadium||Crowd Frenzy||Record TY||Rating|
|Green Bay Packers||Lambeau Field||Passionate (9)||8-0||10|
|Tennessee Titans||Nissan Stadium||Loyal (7)||7-2||7|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Raymond James Stadium||Loyal (7)||7-1||8|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Arrowhead Stadium||Frenzy (10)||7-2||9|
|Dallas Cowboys||AT&T Stadium||Loyal (7)||5-3||6|
|Buffalo Bills||Highmark Stadium||Passionate (9)||6-3||8|
|Los Angeles Rams||SoFi Stadium||Moderate (6)||5-3||6|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Paul Brown Stadium||Passionate (8)||5-4||7|
The Green Bay Packers legendary Lambeau Field (pictured above) is one of the greatest venues in the league and the credit for that is given to the fans. The Packers faithful rock their home turf and make the atmosphere, already difficult to play in because of the weather and elements, a respectful glow that is difficult to operate in. The Packers are 8-0 at home this season and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Kansas City Chiefs have one of the loudest stadiums in Arrowhead Stadium, and have repeatedly set the world record for the loudest event in world history. It’s a nasty place to play for AFC teams, who will likely have to play through Arrowhead in the wild card and divisional playoff.
How teams have fared on the road this season
We’ve harped on home field advantage and the plays that it can bring to an NFL team in the playoffs. Now, we’re going to talk about the opposite factor – how playoff teams have fared this season on the road.
|Seed||AFC Team||Record||Rating||NFC Team||Record||Rating|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||5-3||5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6-3||7|
|3||Buffalo Bills||5-3||6||Dallas Cowboys||7-2||7|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||5-3||6||Los Angeles Rams||7-2||8|
|5||Las Vegas Raiders||5-3||6||Arizona Cardinals||8-1||9|
|6||New England Patriots||6-2||7||San Francisco 49ers||6-3||6|
|7||Pittsburgh Steelers||3-5||4||Philadelphia Eagles||6-3||6|
The two most impressive teams on the road in the playoffs this season are the Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots. Both teams will perform throughout the playoffs exclusively on the road as wild card teams. Let’s spend a little bit of time and talk about why these teams have seen so much success this season on the road.
Factors for success
The Cardinals have the impressive 8-1 record on the road this season with wins over the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and Dallas Cowboys. They haven’t been push-over teams that they have faced. The key has been that the Cardinals have been able to run the ball well in opposing stadiums and silence the home crowds. Kyler Murray has thrown 15 touchdowns to 3 interceptions while compiling a 109.2 passer rating, taking advantage of the run game opening lanes across the field. They will be a real threat throughout the playoffs this year.
The Patriots won their first six games on the road this season before dropping their last two. They’ve taken down the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Chargers, and Atlanta Falcons. However, for the most part, the teams that New England has taken on the road have been lower tier, non playoff teams.
Wild Card Weekend Projections
The Schedule (Projections)
1/15 4:30 (NBC) – Las Vegas Raiders (24) @ Cincinnati Bengals (27)
1/15 8:30 (CBS) – New England Patriots (23) @ Buffalo Bills (31)
1/16 1:00 (FOX) – Philadelphia Eagles (20) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30)
1/16 4:30 (CBS) – San Francisco 49ers (16) @ Dallas Cowboys (20)
1/16 8:15 (NBC) – Pittsburgh Steelers (13) @ Kansas City Chiefs (34)
1/17 8:15 (ESPN) – Arizona Cardinals (30) @ Los Angeles Rams (24)
Las Vegas Raiders 16 Cincinnati Bengals 23
New England Patriots 17 Buffalo Bills 47
Philadelphia Eagles 15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31
San Francisco 49ers 23 Dallas Cowboys 16
Pittsburgh Steelers 21 Kansas City Chiefs 42
Arizona Cardinals 11 Los Angeles Rams 34
Divisional Round Projections (Added 1/18)
1/22 4:30 (CBS) – Cincinnati Bengals (23) @ Tennessee Titans (26)
1/22 8:15 (FOX) – San Francisco 49ers (20) @ Green Bay Packers (31)
1/23 3:00 (NBC) – Los Angeles Rams (20) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23)
1/23 6:30 (CBS) – Buffalo Bills (24) @ Kansas City Chiefs (27)