Bill Simmons has his first power poll of the season along with his picks this week. If you look at my rankings, you’ll see there are some disagreements. I think having the Patriots at number one is especially bad (although I think they’ll end up with 10 or 11 wins, they’re only my 8th-best team), but someone else has covered that discussion. Instead, I’ll focus on Bill’s contention that there are 13 potential Super Bowl winners. That’s almost half the league, and virtually every playoff team. Going by my power rankings, the Steelers, Giants, and Chargers are a step above the rest of the group. The Chargers might not even make the playoffs, so it’s hard to count them in at this point. These three are followed by another group consisting of Tennessee, Kansas City, Oakland, the Jets, and the Patriots. The spread between these teams in my power ranking is about .3, which means that if the Steelers were at home against the Patriots right now, I would put the Steelers are about 65% to win. Let’s say you’re the Steelers; you’ll have a bye then play someone around the quality of the Pats, then someone a bit better (maybe a 55% game), then in the Super Bowl we’ll say someone of even strength (50% on a neutral field). Those numbers would change depending on other upsets, but let’s say that’s the average for the sake of argument. Then the Steelers have a .65*.55*.5* = .18 -> 18% chance of winning the Super Bowl. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but everyone else will have a smaller probability, since the Steelers are currently the best team, and all eight teams that play wild card weekend will have a much worse chance just because they have to play that extra game. Tennessee would be the interesting team to watch here; if they get in as a wild card but are actually the fourth best team in the league, they could cause some trouble in the bracket even if they have to go on the road. Realistically, however, I think only the Steelers, Giants, and maybe Tennessee have a “good” chance of winning the whole thing.
Enough of that for now; I’ll try to have a playoff post when we get there. Here’s this week’s over/under prediction: