Patriots Super Bowl 52 Path The 'Easiest Ever'

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Published on:
Jan/17/2018

Since 1990, no team with a bye has ever faced two weaker opponents than New England's pair of Tennessee and Jacksonville, so writes Neile Paine of ESPN.com.

Action was balanced with the Patriots as a -9 home favorite coming into Sunday's AFC Conference Championship game with the line having moved up and down between -8.5, where it opened, and -9.5.

Most of the experts believed that the only AFC teams capable of beating New England would be the Chiefs and Steelers.  Both were upset by their opponents, the Titans and Jaguars, respectively.

The logic, as proposed by Paine:

If we multiply together the Patriots’ pregame odds of beating the Titans (85 percent) with that of the Jaguars (81 percent), we could say they had a staggering 69 percent chance of making the Super Bowl before they ever played a game. (This is assuming we’d somehow know that both of their opponents would pull off the upsets they did.) That’s easily the best number for any conference title-game participant since 1990.

Of course, some of that is also because the Patriots are a very good team; they went into the playoffs with the sixth-best Elo of any Pats season since the Brady Era began in 2001. We shouldn’t penalize them for being so darned good that they created some of their own easy path. There’s an easy fix for this, though. We can swap out the Patriots’ Elo ratings for a generic rating of 1646, which represents the average for all conference title-game teams since 1990, and then recalculate the odds of reaching the Super Bowl against the opponents a team faced.

For our generic NFL “final four” team, that requires multiplying together a 77 percent chance against the Titans and a 71 percent chance against the Jaguars, which gives a 55 percent Super Bowl probability. In other words, that number represents the relative ease of any good team making it through the Pats’ specific path to the Super Bowl — and it’s the easiest of any championship-game entrant since 1990.

Just don't tell this to Rob Gronkowsky.

He believes the Jaguars are the best team New England is likely to face this season.

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