How Important is the No. 1 Seed to the Tennessee Titans' Super Bowl Hopes?

Ryan Tannehill leads the #1 seed Tennessee Titans against the Cincinnati Bengals this Saturday
Ryan Tannehill leads the #1 seed Tennessee Titans against the Cincinnati Bengals this Saturday / Bob Levey/GettyImages

The Tennessee Titans have earned the #1 seed in the AFC and welcome back star running back Derrick Henry as they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, June 22 at 4:30 ET. Tennessee is a -3.5 point favorite on the spread (-110) and a -185 moneyline favorite ($18.5 to win $10) at WynnBET Sportsbook to advance.

Being the #1 seed and securing home field advantage in the playoffs alongside a bye week carries clear advantages for the Titans, but how often do #1 seeds advance?

Since 1990, when the NFL expanded the playoff format to 12 teams, #1 seeds have faired well. Of the 62 teams to make the Super Bowl in that time frame, 32 were #1 seeds. Only 16 times has a #1 seed failed to win a playoff game (25.8%).

Based on that data, history suggests the Titans have a 74.2% chance of beating the Bengals. Compared to their implied odds on the moneyline (-185) of 64.9%, oddsmakers may have underrated Tennessee. Or will Saturday buck the trend of #1 seed success?

This has been an unusual NFL season, to say the least. The Titans underlying metrics suggest they're not a typical #1 seed, with a bottom-10 pass defense and an uninspiring pass offense. They stumbled without Derrick Henry but held onto the #1 seed thanks to these same Cincinnati Bengals, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs to maintain Tennessee's lead in the conference.

The Bengals, meanwhile, surged down the stretch thanks to stellar play from quarterback Joe Burrow and record-setting dominance from wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase. With weapons all over the field, the Bengals present a difficult matchup for the Titans.

Tennessee may win, but with a worse passing offense and passing defense than their opponent, I do not believe they have the same odds as history may suggest. I'll trust the better quarterback in Burrow to keep the game close, and make the Bengals +3.5 (-110) my best bet.

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