Analysis: Who will win Super Bowl LVI?

Analysis: Who will win Super Bowl LVI?

With the NFL post-season beginning in mid-January, we have analysed every previous one since the current format was established back in 2002 to understand what might happen this time around on the road to Super Bowl LVI.

How could the NFL playoffs 2022 unfold?

With the wild card and divisional playoffs forming the bulk of the schedule, we have first looked for any interesting patterns there.

In the AFC, any meeting between an Eastern and Southern team is likely to break for the former, as 14 of the 19 match-ups between these two divisions have done under the current format. Southerners are likely to fare better against Northerners however, with 10 wins from 15 meetings since 2002.

Over in the NFC, teams from the Western division have won eight of their 10 meetings against those from the East and nine of their 13 against Northern franchises. It is therefore not surprising that seven of the NFC’s last 19 representatives at the Super Bowl have been from the West.

The only division which has been more dominant is the Eastern division of the AFC, which has provided eight of its conference’s Super Bowl finalists – including five winners – since the current format began in 2002.

What could happen in Super Bowl LVI?

Recent history suggests that the AFC will claim another Super Bowl title, with the conference having produced five of the seven most recent winners. Under the current format, AFC teams have won four more championships than those from the NFC: 11 to eight.

The favourites for Super Bowl LVI – the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers – currently lead their respective conferences. This is understandable as regular-season form will correlate strongly with performance in the playoffs, but there is plenty of room for an upset.

Only seven of the 19 Super Bowl winners since 2002 were the best team in their conference that season, with four champions not even topping their division. Furthermore only five of those 19 games were between the top team from each conference, with almost half of the finalists (18 out of 38) ranking second or lower.

It is even more tempting to back a wildcard team after the surprising success of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, who became NFL champions despite finishing second in the NFC South. However, the Super Bowl is normally contested by divisional champions, who have accounted for 34 finalists out of a possible 38 under the current format.

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