The Case For & Against All 8 Remaining NFL Teams Winning the Super Bowl: Chiefs, Bills, Bucs, Packers, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Bills WR Stefon Diggs, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Packers WR Davante Adams and Bucs QB Tom Brady (left to right)
We’re down to just eight teams now in the 2022 NFL playoffs, and this thing feels wide open. For the first time in years, there’s no prohibitive favorite — not in either conference. There’s a genuinely realistic path for all eight teams left to win the whole thing.
Every team has major strengths, but each one has serious flaws. There’s no juggernaut this season. Every team left can win or lose any given Sunday.
That means there’s serious value on Super Bowl futures, but only if you can figure out which team has the right case and which ones are actually frauds.
So who should you put your money on? I’ll leave that decision to you. But here’s what I can tell you instead. Below is exactly why every team remaining can still win the Super Bowl — and then precisely why they won’t.
Note: Best Super Bowl odds available as of publishing. Use our tool to shop around for the best lines.
Why the Packers Will Win the Super Bowl
The Packers have the best player in football in future MVP Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has done this before and gotten close plenty of other times. Green Bay is coming off a week of rest and getting healthy at the right time. The Packers are getting studs back at three key positions — LT David Bakhtiari, CB Jaire Alexander and EDGE Za’Darius Smith — and have another at WR in Davante Adams. That might be the five most important positions in football.
The Packers have won 13 games in three straight seasons, and they have a Coach of the Year candidate in Matt LaFleur. This team is a juggernaut and has the best home-field advantage in football, and currently sits just two home games away from a Super Bowl berth. The Packers offense ranks top six in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA on every down and top five in every quarter but the first. Rodgers has been miles better than any other quarterback in most advanced metrics. He will lead the way.
Why the Packers Won’t Win the Super Bowl
No MVP has won a Super Bowl this entire century. Too much reliance on one great player just doesn’t work in the modern NFL. The moment Rodgers has even a mediocre game, the Packers will crumble. Green Bay’s defense has not been reliable all season. The run defense ranks bottom five in DVOA, and the overall defense ranks 24th on first downs and 26th on second downs. And don’t forget, the Packers have the worst special teams in the entire league.
As great as Rodgers is, he’s only been to one Super Bowl for a reason. The Packers simply rely too much on his greatness, and the rest of the team around him isn’t good enough. It’s just too hard for one MVP to carry a team to a title in 2022.
Why the Chiefs Will Win the Super Bowl
Patrick Mahomes is the best player in football and saves his best for the playoffs. Mahomes is 7-2 in the postseason. In three playoffs, he’s won the Super Bowl once, lost it once when his offensive line disappeared, and come up one score short of a Super Bowl berth in the other season. As long as you have Mahomes, you have a shot.
Not to mention Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Take Hill away deep and Kelce will burn you all game over the middle; take an extra half step toward Kelce and Cheetah is running past you for a 75-yard score. Kansas City ranks first in the NFL in passing offense DVOA over the last eight weeks. The Chiefs are back.
Andy Reid has coached deep into the playoffs for decades. The Chiefs have elite special teams, like always under Reid. And they just might have a Super Bowl defense now too. Melvin Ingram changed the trajectory of this team, Chris Jones is balling again, and the Chiefs have a Weighted DVOA defensive rank of 13th as they come together the back half of the season.
Why the Chiefs Won’t Win the Super Bowl
This just hasn’t been the same Mahomes. He nearly led the league in interceptions and made critical turnovers in the red zone all season, including in the first playoff game. Those early games tell us about Kansas City too, and the Chiefs ranked just 15th in passing DVOA the first 10 games, while the defense ranked second to last in the entire NFL.
Tyreek Hill hasn’t had a 50-yard play since Week 1, and the explosive plays haven’t been there. The Chiefs have to grind out long drives now and aren’t built to do that, and their running backs are all injured. The defense is still decent at best and awful at its worst. And the Chiefs went 0-3 against the three remaining AFC teams, with worrying signs in all three losses. These just aren’t the same Chiefs of the last few seasons.
Why the Bills Will Win the Super Bowl
Did you see the game Saturday? When Josh Allen is dealing like that, the Bills are invincible. Allen has it all. He can run through and over defenders, and when the opponent starts to creep up to stop him, he can dime it over the top to Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders and Dawson Knox. And don’t look now, but the Bills led the league in rushing DVOA offense over the last eight weeks.
We haven’t even mentioned the defense. The Bills have the best defense in the league by DVOA. The passing defense is particularly deadly — and this is a passing league. The Bills demolished a very good Patriots team twice in the last month. They shut down the Chiefs at Arrowhead in October, and that’s who’s up next.
Buffalo won 12 games this season, all of them by 12 or more points. The Bills had the best point differential in the NFL, and point differential is predictive and shows the true strength of teams. We also know one-score games tend to be unpredictable. Buffalo went 0-5 in one-score games. What if Buffalo went 5-0 in those coin-flippy spots instead? Are the Bills an unlucky 15-1 juggernaut hiding in plain sight?
Why the Bills Won’t Win the Super Bowl
What if that 0-5 record in one-score games actually foretells a flawed team that can’t get the job done when it matters most? Josh Allen still makes those no-no-yes plays and takes unnecessary risks. What happens if a bad Allen play rears its head at the worst time? Is Buffalo really ready to shake off decades of losing? Is this the magic team?
Buffalo’s defense faded down the stretch, particularly its run D, which ranked just 16th over the final eight weeks. Buffalo played with its food a lot. The offense ranked only 16th in the first half of games, constantly letting teams hang around before running up the score late. What if the wrong team hangs around and doesn’t fade late? The Bills went only 2-4 against playoff teams in the regular season. They lost to the Titans and Bucs and lost twice to the Chiefs last year. They probably won’t play at home again either.
Why the Bucs Will Win the Super Bowl
A healthy Bucs roster is the best in football. Tampa Bay rolled to a Super Bowl win last season and brought back all 22 starters. Tom Brady played like an MVP most of the season, and the Bucs offense led the league in DVOA and ranked top five in both passing and rushing despite facing the second-toughest defensive schedule. The greatest to ever do it can throw behind an elite line to one of two future Hall of Fame targets in Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski, check down to Gio Bernard, or audible to a power run attack with Playoff Lenny.
The Bucs coaching staff knows how to pull all the strings on both sides of the ball. Vita Vea remains the league’s best run stuffer, and Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul can really get after the quarterback. This is an aggressive team that knows its strengths and how to get the job done. The Bucs went 5-1 against playoff teams this year. Tampa Bay is battle-tested and ready. The healthy Bucs are the best team in football.
Why the Bucs Won’t Win the Super Bowl
Will the Bucs ever actually be healthy though? That’s the question we’ve been asking all season, and it’s getting harder and harder to be optimistic. Antonio Brown is gone and Chris Godwin is out for the year — that dangerous list of weapons is nowhere near as dangerous without those two. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones remain question marks at running back. Barrett and JPP are banged up along with Lavonte David, and injuries at corner have crippled the team all year. Now Pro Bowl RT Tristan Wirfs and C Ryan Jensen are hurt too.
On paper, the Bucs are the best team in football, but the game isn’t played on paper and we may never actually get to see the best version of the Bucs. Some years just aren’t your season. What if it’s just not Tampa’s season? Tom Brady isn’t the same without his elite blocking. And haven’t we seen ancient QBs wilt in the freezing cold where Brady may have to play next week in Green Bay? GOAT or not, the man is 44. Surely he can’t win Super Bowls forever.
Why the Rams Will Win the Super Bowl
Los Angeles is a city of stars, and no team in football has more stars than the Rams. Cooper Kupp is the best receiver in football and might win Offensive Player of the Year. Odell Beckham Jr. makes some of the most absurd grabs you’ll ever see. Aaron Donald might be the best defensive tackle in history. Jalen Ramsey is an elite corner, and Von Miller remains a fearsome pass rusher. Now Cam Akers looks miraculously healthy and ready to rejuvenate this rushing attack too.
And with Jared Goff finally gone, former No. 1 pick Matt Stafford has the arm and the talent to be that final missing piece Sean McVay’s offense has never had. Stafford’s cannon can hit Kupp or OBJ for a big play at any time, and we know McVay can scheme it up.
The Rams defense might be even better than the offense. It ranks top five in DVOA on the season and second in run defense over the past eight weeks. The Rams rank first in pass rush win rate, per ESPN. They can win any facet of the game. They’re the only team left playing that ranks in the top half of the league in offense, defense and special teams DVOA — and they rank eighth or better in all of them. This is the best all-around team in the NFL.
Why the Rams Won’t Win the Super Bowl
Is Stafford really the missing piece? Or is the piece still missing? Stafford threw eight interceptions over the final four games of the season and could’ve had a few more, and he’s routinely thrown the Rams out of key games late in the season. McVay’s offense cratered down the stretch, just 16th in passing DVOA over the last eight weeks and 14th in Weighted DVOA offensively.
Stafford is 10-41 lifetime against teams over .500 in November or later. He’s 4-33 as an underdog in that spot, and the Rams would likely be underdogs three more times. The Rams went only 2-5 against playoff teams this season. Stafford may have to win two road games to get to the Super Bowl, and if he doesn’t, it’s because the Rams have to beat the 49ers, who have beat them six straight times.
This is a stars-and-scrubs roster. It looks great when it works, but what happens when a few stars get taken out of the game? Is the roster deep enough to win three more? Stafford is playing through a toe injury, and the secondary around Ramsey is a shell of itself with injuries. Stafford had never even won a playoff game until Monday. He’s really gonna win four this year?
Why the Titans Will Win the Super Bowl
The Titans are the 1-seed and just had a week off at the perfect time. Derrick Henry was bulldozing opponents the first two months of the season, and now Tennessee gets a rested Henry back for the most dangerous time of the year. With Henry on the field, the Titans chew up the clock and grind down already exhausted opponents.
The game is different in the playoffs, with the run game emphasized and weather a factor, and Henry is the ultimate playoff weapon. He’s by far the best RB remaining in the playoffs and if the defense collapses to stop him, the Titans can hit a rested A.J. Brown or Julio Jones over the top. With Henry back, this is a team with clear identity, built to expose modern teams’ weaknesses.
The Titans went 4-2 against playoff teams. They demolished the Chiefs and Rams, beat the Bills and also swept the very good Colts squad that didn’t make the cut. Tennessee also went 6-2 in one-score games. This team just knows how to get the job done, and the AFC road to the Super Bowl comes through Nashville. Don’t give me all your advanced metrics; none of those numbers mean anything. This is an entirely different team for the playoffs now that the offensive stars are healthy.
Why the Titans Won’t Win the Super Bowl
Are we sure this version of Derrick Henry is the ultimate playoff weapon? We have no way to know how much Henry can even play, let alone how effective he’ll be. Henry’s entire thing is getting a ton of carries and wearing the opponent down; what if that foot just isn’t healthy enough for him to do that yet? And it’s not like Brown and Jones have been healthy all year either.
The Titans have the worst DVOA of any remaining playoff team. They have the worst offense left too. They don’t rank top 10 on passing or rushing offense, nor passing or rushing defense by DVOA. And they have the worst remaining quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Come on, do you really think Ryan Tannehill is a Super Bowl winner? In this economy?!
All those advanced metrics do tell us something. They tell us this is the worst remaining team in the playoffs with the worst player at its most important position. They tell us Tennessee is fraudulent.
Why the 49ers Will Win the Super Bowl
The Niners are the team no one wants to play right now. They might be a 6-seed, but they’re also sixth in DVOA and rank top seven on both offense and defense. It took awhile for San Francisco to get rolling this season, but the team is flying high now and can beat anyone.
The three most important players on this team are LT Trent Williams, TE George Kittle and WR/RB/everything Deebo Samuel. Those three each missed time early in the season and the 49ers struggled with injuries across the defense. But when those three are healthy and playing full snaps, the 49ers are 8-3 and as good as any team.
The Niners have played 10 games against playoff teams. They’re battle-tested, and they’ve been here before. Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo have gone to the Super Bowl together, and the Niners have a unique ability to stretch the field and dominate with a power run attack that travels well and is built for playoff success. The 49ers are zigging while the rest of the league zags, and they are the exact wrong matchup for most of the teams left.
Why the 49ers Won’t Win the Super Bowl
Are we sure the 49ers are healthy enough? Jimmy Garoppolo is a question mark with thumb and shoulder injuries, and rookie Trey Lance remains mostly untested behind him. Trent Williams just missed Week 18, and now Nick Bosa and Fred Warner are massive injury questions at the heart of the defense for a team that’s already shorthanded in the secondary.
It’s a passing league now, and San Francisco has a leaky pass defense and an unreliable, banged-up quarterback. The rest of the league is zagging precisely because passing is the way to win modern football games, so isn’t it bad that the 49ers will be worse in the passing game in any matchup? Besides, even a healthy Garoppolo is a threat to throw the Niners out of a game at any time. Can he really make it three more games without a season-ending mistake?
Why the Bengals Will Win the Super Bowl
The Bengals are the hot young team, and this is their breakthrough moment. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are ready to own the stage for the next month and put their stamp on the league. Burrow was the best quarterback in football not named Rodgers by most advanced metrics down the stretch, and Chase just had maybe the best year ever by a rookie receiver.
The Burrow-Chase connection is unstoppable right now, and the Bengals can have a big play anytime anywhere with those two. And if you try to take Chase away, you’ve still got to stop Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd. Cincinnati scored 31 or more points seven times since mid-October alone. Burrow and Chase are on the rise. By mid-February, they could be the best at each of their positions in football and finally give Cincinnati a Lombardi Trophy.
Why the Bengals Won’t Win the Super Bowl
The Bengals hadn’t even won a playoff game since 1991 until last week — now they’re going to win four in a row? Things never come easy for young teams. Burrow and Chase are good, but let’s not pretend they’re anywhere near the best at their positions yet. Those two looked good but faced the easiest slate of opposing defenses this season, per Football Outsiders. This offense struggled against good defenses, and that’s all that’s left now.
Cincinnati would have to win twice on the road just to make the Super Bowl, and the Bengals will be underdogs in every remaining game. They ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in overall DVOA, as well as bottom half in both offensive and defensive DVOA. The offense ranked 25th in road games, and the defense ranked 31st on first downs. The Bengals are a cute story that only made it this far by being the best in a bad division, lucking into the Raiders in round one, and escaping thanks to an inadvertent whistle.
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