- Here is the original 2003 post honoring the first 11 winners.
- Here is the 2011 update naming the next five.
- Here is the 2014 post honoring the Colts.
- Here is last year's post on the Chiefs.
But before the playoffs start this year, which teams are eligible? And which teams should be considered favorites?
The way I am thinking about this is that there are 36 possible Super Bowl matchups at this point, since there are 6 teams left in each conference. Let's consider the total number of possible Super Bowl matchups that will make each team a "winner."
Under this scenario, Denver is the favorite, given that they are the only team to defeat multiple playoff teams from both conferences. They win the title if the Super Bowl matchup is Green Bay-Cincinnati, Green Bay-Kansas City, Green Bay-New England, Minnesota-Cincinnati, Minnesota-Kansas City or Minnesota-New England.
Three teams have three possibilities: Arizona, Carolina and New England.
Five teams have two possibilities: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Miami and Minnesota.
Three teams have one possibility: Chicago, the Jets and Seattle.
So only four out of the twelve teams in contention didn't make the playoffs: Atlanta, Miami, Chicago and the Jets.
Conversely, only four of the twelve playoff teams aren't in contention: Houston, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Washington. (Washington is the only playoff team not to have defeated any other playoff team.)
While on three previous occasions we have had double winners (1980, 2000, 2008), we have never had triple winners. A Washington-Houston Super Bowl would guarantee a quadruple winner, as both teams lost to Atlanta, Carolina, Miami and New England. A Kansas City-Green Bay Super Bowl would produce a triple winner, with Chicago, Denver and Minnesota sharing the title.
Having either Denver or Arizona in the Super Bowl would mean zero winners, since neither team lost to a team which also beat a playoff team from the other conference. In fact, no team beat top 2 seeds from both conferences, so one of the 3-6 seeds would need to make it through on at least one side to ensure a winner.
Winners are possible with 16 of the 36 potential Super Bowls. After this weekend, the number of possible Super Bowls will drop to 16, so the field will be narrowed considerably. I'll try to update you when that happens.