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Harvard student predicts Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins to make Super Bowl 50

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The new NFL season is fast approaching and while fans are compiling their fantasy drafts and placing bets on who will win divisions and conferences, students at Harvard are going one better.

This year will see the 50th Super Bowl and football's biggest game will come to the newly built Levi's Stadium in San Francisco, California.

Everyone has an opinion about who will make it to the final game of the season and they range from the expected to the extraordinary.


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It seems unlikely that anyone will predict teams like the Oakland Raiders or Chicago Bears to make the big game, but some guesses have thrown up a few surprises.

A student at the most famous university in America has come up with what he believes is a formula for predicting the future.

Harvard student Kurt Ballard has composed a formula he believes shows the likelihood out of 100 for each team to reach the Super Bowl.

He has clearly put in some serious thought in to his theory.

"The method that I came up with uses Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s best measure of trying to tease out individual talent. Then, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, I aggregated each team’s per game approximate value of what I considered to be the ‘core’ makeup of an NFL team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, Top 2 OL, the Top-4 ‘Front Seven’ defensive players, and the Top-2 players from the secondary." - Ballard explaining how he arrived at his Super Bowl contenders

It seems like Ballard has taken into account exactly what needs to be considered to find success in the NFL, but what do his numbers say?

AFC in for a shock?

Ballard's numbers once again put the Seattle Seahawks top of the NFC for a third straight year - an opinion most fans would share.

Seattle were given a 95% chance of making the play-offs with the Green Bay Packers in second with 93%.

The AFC threw up the biggest surprise however as the Miami Dolphins came out on top with a 77% chance of making the play-offs.

Behind them lie the Kansas City Chiefs and the current Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots in third.

So the 'top two from the AFC' next year didn't even make the play-offs in 2014? It certainly does make for interesting reading and would go a long way to proving the unpredictability of the NFL if it came true.

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Miami Dolphins
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