Bucs/Patriots is most likely Super Bowl matchup, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index

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The odds of New England facing Tom Brady in Super Bowl LVI this February have increased to 10 percent, making it the most likely Super Bowl matchup, according to ESPN’s updated FPI (Football Power Index) projections.

Brady’s return to Foxboro earlier this season made for one of the most anticipated games in NFL history, driving monster viewership and record ticket prices. Pitting Brady, the most decorated quarterback to ever play and the current betting favorite for his fourth MVP award, against his former team on the sport’s biggest stage would be an almost impossible convergence of circumstances, the type of Shakespearean plot twist that will have football fans salivating for the next two months.

This year’s Super Bowl, the first held in Los Angeles since 1993, has all the makings of an instant classic with rap legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar already announced as halftime performers along with nine-time Grammy winner Mary J. Blige. But adding the chess match element of Brady vs. Belichick—the football equivalent of Star Wars’ climactic battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the Empire Strikes Back—would take this 56th Super Bowl installment to another level.

Brady’s triumph over the Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowl, completing an unprecedented playoff run with wins over future Hall-of-Famers Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, was seen as the ultimate validation for TB12, concrete proof that the Patriots’ dynasty was his creation alone and that Belichick, for all his genius, was merely a passenger along for the ride. But football’s version of the chicken or the egg debate has grown more complicated in the past year, with Belichick returning New England to prominence in short order, masterfully adapting to the stylings of rookie sensation Mac Jones. Left for dead after limping to a 2-4 start, the top-seeded Pats have suddenly emerged as the team to beat in the AFC, outscoring opponents 225-73 over their current seven-game winning streak.

Per ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Patriots hold a 30.8-percent chance of reaching the Super Bowl with 13.9-percent odds—third-highest behind only Tampa Bay (18.7) and Arizona (18.5)—of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The Bills, despite Monday’s loss in a game waged in blizzard-like conditions, still project well in ESPN’s model with a 20.6-percent chance to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI compared to 13.9 percent for Kansas City and 10.9 for Tennessee. Of course, those numbers could plummet if the Bills lose again Sunday, which is certainly a possibility with Buffalo traveling to Tampa to take on Brady and the defending world champs.