On Tuesday, ESPN released the first run of its Football Power Index simulations for the 2020 season. The FPI could not predict when training camp would start or if fans will be allowed in the stadiums when the season gets underway — but it is picking the Kansas City Chiefs to repeat as Super Bowl champions, giving the team a 21% chance to win Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay.
According to 20,000 iterations of the season using the FPI, the Baltimore Ravens have the second-best chance to win the championship at 17%, followed by the New Orleans Saints at 13% and the San Francisco 49ers at 12%. The Dallas Cowboys round out the top five with a 5% chance.
Buoyed by what FPI considers to be easily the best offense in football, the Chiefs are more than a touchdown better than an average NFL team and more than a point better than the second-best team in the league, the Baltimore Ravens. That strong rating fueled the Chiefs to a 21% chance to win the Super Bowl, which makes them the second-largest preseason favorite since we began projections in 2015, behind only the 2017 New England Patriots (32%). The Chiefs were our preseason favorite last season too, with a 15% chance to win it all.
None of that is a shock. After quarterback Patrick Mahomes put in another strong season and led the Chiefs to the Lombardi trophy last season, Kansas City’s offense is as sure a bet to be elite as you can have in the NFL. Because offense is more predictable from year to year relative to defense, the model has confidence that the Chiefs will be one of the best teams — if not the best team — in the league this season.
The Chiefs are projected to have 11.2 wins — and a 94% chance to make the playoffs. FPI simulations predict the Los Angeles Chargers will have 7.7 wins (a 35% chance for the playoffs), the Denver Broncos to notch 7.4 wins (32%) and the Las Vegas Raiders to have 6.9 (24%). So while the AFC West crown isn’t awarded by a computer, a fifth consecutive division championship looks doable.
Interestingly, the Chiefs will play five of the FPI top 10 teams — the Ravens and Saints, along with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills — and are still projected to win it all.