Were the Odds Ever Really Against Seattle or New England This Season?
Throughout much of the 2014 season, the Patriots and Seahawks were the best teams in their respective conferences. As one seeds in the playoffs, that much is obvious.
But it's easy to forget that both of these teams had early-season struggles. New England lost their opening game to Miami, and then got their you-know-what whooped on national television in Week 4 to start the year 2-2. Seattle saw back to back losses in Week 6 and 7, beginning their year 3-3.
Since New England's disastrous Monday night game in Kansas City, they've lost just one meaningful game. The same goes for Seattle after losing to the Rams in mid-October.
We've documented playoff odds for every team in the NFL this year -- we're a sports analytics site, after all. How bad were both of these team's odds to make the playoffs after their mediocre starts, you ask? Take a look at the graph below (Click the image for a larger view.)
When New England lost that game against Kansas City, their playoff odds dropped to 34.2%. At the time, 16 teams had better chances than that, including division-rival Miami.
Interestingly enough, Seattle's odds weren't lowest after that Week 7 loss to St. Louis, where they sat at 45.6%. It was the loss to, coincidentally, Kansas City that gave Seattle their lowest playoff probability of the season (43.9%). After Week 11, both Arizona and San Francisco had better chances of making the postseason.
Yes, the two best teams -- the one seeds -- are in the Super Bowl this year. But don't forget that it wasn't a cakewalk for either side.