The game charters at Pro Football Focus had all four ranked in the top five at the position after subjectively grading each offensive play. Mahomes’s status is up in the air after he was ruled out from returning to Sunday’s divisional game under the league’s concussion protocol but coach Andy Reid said his young star quarterback is “doing great” since.
“He got hit in the back of the head,” Reid said. “It kind of knocked the wind out of him more than anything else. So, we took him out. He’s doing great right now, which is a real positive. He passed all the deals that he needed to pass. And we’ll see where it goes from here.”
Based on each team’s true talent level — derived by looking at its actual win rate and its projected win rate based on total points scored and allowed — we can project the coming weekend’s games 1,000 times and see which teams are most likely to reach the Super Bowl. Here are the most likely matchups based on those simulations. Also included are the implied money line and odds for each potential contest.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers (38 percent chance)
Odds after the regular season: 18 percent chance (implied money line: +450, implied odds: 9-2)
Odds after divisional round: 19 percent chance (implied money line: +430, implied odds: 9-2)
This is the one everyone is expecting. Green Bay and Kansas City had the most efficient offenses of 2020, per Football Outsiders, and they are scoring the most and third-most points per drive in the postseason, respectively. The Packers offense is humming along, scoring 3.6 points per drive. If the Packers can sustain that pace it would be the second-best efficiency in the playoffs since 2002, trailing last year’s Super Bowl winning Chiefs (3.7 points per drive in the postseason). Kansas City is scoring 2.8 points per drive during this playoff run.
Buffalo Bills vs. Green Bay Packers (26 percent chance)
Odds after the regular season: 11 percent chance (implied money line: +800, implied odds: 8-1)
Odds after divisional round: 14 percent chance (implied money line: +600, implied odds: 6-1)
Buffalo coach Sean McDermott saw his squad’s efficiency on offense jump from 24th (1.6 points per drive) in 2019 to third (2.8 points per drive) during the regular season thanks to the improvement of quarterback Josh Allen. Allen contributed 46 total touchdowns (37 passing, eight rushing and one receiving), second only to Rodgers, accounting for 77 percent of his team’s touchdown total. Only Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert and Rodgers had a higher share of their team’s scoring output.
That carried over to the postseason. Allen accounts for four of the team’s five offensive touchdowns (three passing and one rushing).
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21 percent chance)
Odds after the regular season: 6 percent chance (implied money line: +1600, implied odds: 16-1)
Odds after divisional round: 7 percent chance (implied money line: +1350, implied odds: 14-1)
Tampa Bay was the second strongest team in the NFL during the regular season, per Football Outsiders Defense-adjusted Value Over Average metric, which measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every play to a league average based on situation and opponent. The game charters at Pro Football Focus, after subjectively grading every snap, also rated the Buccaneers as the second-best overall team. ESPN’s Football Power Index placed them third behind Kansas City and New Orleans. And according to data from TruMedia, Tampa Bay was nine points per game better than expected after accounting for the down, distance and field position of each play on offense and defense. In the win against Washington, the Tampa was eight points better than expected. In the win over the Saints the Bucs were 12 points better than expected.
Buffalo Bills vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (15 percent chance)
Odds after the regular season: 4 percent chance (implied money line: +2750, implied odds: 28-1)
Odds after divisional round: 5 percent chance (implied money line: +1900, implied odds: 19-1)
Around this time last year not many thought these two teams would meet in Super Bowl LV. Tampa Bay was the 11th choice to win the NFC at 30-1 odds and Buffalo was the sixth choice in the AFC at 20-1 odds, yet we could see Brady win his seventh Super Bowl or the Bills win their first in franchise history if this is indeed the matchup for the big game.
The edge would have to go to Buffalo. Its offensive line has allowed 12 pressures over 81 passing downs (15 percent) this postseason whereas Tampa Bay’s offensive line has allowed Brady to be pressured on 19 of 77 drop backs (23 percent). Not only has Allen been pressured less often than Brady, he’s also performing better under those circumstances. Allen has completed 11 of 188 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown when facing pass pressure during this playoff run for a passer rating of 108.6. Brady, on the other hand, has completed 6 of 17 passes for 124 yards and no touchdowns, resulting in a 61.9 passer rating. Allen had the edge during the regular season, too, 78.8 to 54.5 for Brady.