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Playoff Opponent Odds: Patriots Most Likely to Face the Bengals

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The New England Patriots players get to heal and relax during the Wild Card weekend of the playoffs, but the coaching staff will be preparing for all possible opponents. The Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, and Kansas City Chiefs are all possible opponents for the Patriots in the divisional round. The Bengals are the most likely opponent.

Using probabilities generated by FiveThirtyEight, we can project the expected outcomes of wild card weekend.

For example, the Bengals have a 58% chance of victory, while the Texans have a mere 39% chance. The probability of both teams winning is 23%, and the divisional round would feature the Broncos and Texans, along with the Patriots and Bengals. We can use this format for the rest of the outcomes.

Winners % DEN NE
CIN&HOU 23% HOU CIN
CIN&KC 35% KC CIN
HOU&PIT 16% PIT HOU
KC&PIT 26% PIT KC

The most likely outcome would be a Bengals and Chiefs victory, which would see the Patriots play host to Cincinnati on January 16th.

The reason the Bengals are the Patriots most likely opponent is that the odds rely on only a Cincinnati victory. So whatever the chances are for a Bengals victory will be the odds they will travel to New England. The odds of the Patriots playing a team like the Texans or Chiefs relies on a Steelers victory, which reduces the odds.

On a positive note, the Steelers and Chiefs are the two most-likely opponents for the Broncos, and both have victories over Denver this season. So maybe Peyton Manning can provide a classic one-and-done so the Patriots don't have to leave the region.