The NFL playoffs are unique from other sports as each game is a one-game contest. There is no best of five series or best of seven where you have time to feel out your opponents and make adjustments game to game. In the NFL, if you win you move on and if you lose you are done as each week is a new game and everything that happened in the regular season doesn’t matter anymore.
With the changes that the NFL made in 2020, 14 teams qualify for the playoffs with seven teams from each conference. Each of the four division winners per conference gets a home-field advantage for the Wild Card round with the No. 1 seed getting a bye to the second round. From there, the home-field advantage goes to the highest seed in the game. With the new 18-week regular season in 2021, each team that made the playoffs has a winning record. That all is scrapped now and it comes down to whichever team can win their next three or four games depending on if they have a bye week or not.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at why each of the 14 teams could win Super Bowl 56. The teams are ranked based on their DraftKings Sportsbook Super Bowl odds following the close of Week 18.
Green Bay Packers: +350
The Packers have the benefit of the first-round bye so that they could get healthier and recoup from the NFL’s first-ever 18-week regular season. The other benefit of the No. 1 seed is that they also draw the lowest seed remaining which is the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round. No matchup is a given in the postseason, but it is the best seeding matchup they could’ve hoped for. If their offense can get going early from the week off, they can build momentum toward the AFC Championship and beyond.
Kansas City Chiefs: +380
The Chiefs got started slowly in the Wild Card game and they were scoreless against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the first quarter. Then Patrick Mahomes decided to throw five touchdowns in about 12 minutes of game time. It showed just how dangerous their offense can be when Travis Kelce followed up a 48-yard receiving touchdown with a passing touchdown of his own. If they are able to continue this momentum, they will be champions again.
Buffalo Bills: +500
It may not have been as flashy as Mahomes’ outing in the Wild Card round, but Josh Allen put on an absolute clinic against the New England Patriots vaunted defense. He faces the Chiefs in the second round and they already have a win over Kansas City this season and if they can repeat they have a spot in the AFC Championship game. This offense has missed a steady run game and Devin Singletary is stepping up with four total touchdowns over the Bills’ last two games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +550
The answer here is still Tom Brady. His veteran presence and the weapons assembled around him all point to the Buccaneers going far. They easily handled the Philadelphia Eagles in round one, and the extra week may see Playoff Leonard Fournette return to the depth chart. If their defense can hold up, they can piece together enough offense to see them hoist the Lombardi next month.
Los Angeles Rams: +750
The Rams impressed in dominating the Cardinals to open the playoffs. They have to go on the road now to face the Bucs, but they crushed the Bucs at home with only a late touchdown making the score appear closer than it was. The Packers are the conference favorite and the Bucs have home field in this one, but the Rams have invested with a win-now mentality and all the pieces are coming together at the right time. The return of Cam Akers offers icing on the cake and this LA squad has as good a chance of getting to the Super Bowl as anybody.
Tennessee Titans: +850
The Titans earned the first-round bye in the AFC and it has allowed star running back Derrick Henry to return to the team from injury. Henry should be the most well-rested person on the field as far as game action is concerned. With the presence of Henry in the backfield, the Titans offense should be able to resume its normal functioning and this should open up both AJ Brown and Julio Jones. If the defense can slow down opposing receivers and their offense’s own pass-catchers can become unlocked? This team is dangerous.
San Francisco 49ers: +1000
The “why not us?” team from the NFC, the 49ers are finding ways to win. Owners of the lone upset from Wild Card weekend, the 49ers are having fun and are looking good doing it. The offense continues to evolve with Deebo Samuel and the team won their first round game without really involving their star tight end George Kittle. For a team that wasn’t expecting to necessarily be here, that makes them dangerous with that “nothing to lose” attitude.
Cincinnati Bengals: +1500
The city of Cincinnati has won a playoff game and the 31-year drought has ended. But why stop there? This team has the city on its side as they gave game balls to various establishments around town after the win. With the cool kid Joe Burrow under center, this offense can run with any defense that is remaining in the playoffs. If their defense can keep up? Their playoff wins this season won’t stop at one.
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