Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports


Super Bowl LV Chances: ESPN FPI slightly favors Saints over 49ers in NFC

May 26, 2020 at 8:22 AM--


The San Francisco 49ers are the highest-ranked NFC team and the third-best overall team in ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) rankings for the 2020 season. So why do the New Orleans Saints have slightly better odds to reach Super Bowl LV? It all has to do with the schedule.

"Though FPI thinks the 49ers are the third-best team and the best NFC franchise," writes ESPN's Seth Walder, "the New Orleans Saints (fourth in FPI rating) are actually the third-most-likely team to win the Super Bowl at 13%, with San Francisco coming in at 12%. Why? New Orleans faces a slightly easier schedule than the 49ers and is a tad more likely to win the NFC South (59%) than the Niners are to win the NFC West (53%). The Saints are our narrow NFC favorites in what could be quarterback Drew Brees' last ride."

ESPN Stats & Information


The NFL will have a new playoff format following the upcoming season. In addition to allowing in one more team per conference, only one team per conference will earn a coveted playoff bye week. The Saints earning that top spot would mean San Francisco would have to win three games to reach the Super Bowl even if it earns the conference's No. 2 playoff seed.

Last year, the 49ers earned home-field advantage in the NFC, winning each of their two home playoff games before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

Speaking of the defending Super Bowl champions, the Chiefs have the best chance to reach the big game, according to ESPN's FPI.

"Buoyed by what FPI considers to be easily the best offense in football," writes Walder, "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."

ESPN FPI further projects the 49ers' win total at 10.2 games, which ties with the Saints for the third-most, and their chance to reach the playoffs at 81 percent (fourth-best in the NFL), which is slightly behind New Orleans' chances of 83 percent.

Around the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks are projected to earn 8.9 wins with a 58 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. ESPN's FPI sees 8.3 victories and a 45 percent playoff chance for the Los Angeles Rams. The Arizona Cardinals are projected to earn 7.3 wins and own a 25 percent chance to reach the postseason.

Click here to read ESPN's entire 2020 NFL season projections utilizing FPI.





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