Which teams will square off in Las Vegas’ Super Bowl debut next season?

Through the first eight weeks of this NFL season, the Buffalo Bills sat in a tier of their own in terms of every set of power ratings.

Buffalo had far outplayed every team it faced, including in a 31-10 opening-night victory at the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and a momentous 24-20 win at Kansas City in Week 6. Even the Bills’ lone setback, 21-19 at Miami in Week 3, was a glorious fluke in which they lost despite outgaining the Dolphins by 285 yards.

Buffalo slightly regressed from there but still finished the regular season 13-3 overall, with the three losses coming by a combined eight points. And that was despite some major injury disruption.

Onetime MVP favorite quarterback Josh Allen hurt his elbow in Week 9, and though he played through it and eventually said he was fine, the turnover problems that plagued him when he was younger reappeared. But the bigger issues came defensively, where cluster injuries in the two most important areas—edge rusher and defensive backfield—sunk Buffalo’s efficiency.

With a little better injury luck next season, Buffalo looks poised to reach its first Super Bowl in exactly 30 years.

Many conversations will take place locally over the next year regarding the matchup for Las Vegas’ first Super Bowl, scheduled for February 11, 2024 at Allegiant Stadium—and they all should start with Kansas City and Buffalo.

The Chiefs have earned the right to be the default choice after having now reached the big game in three of the past four seasons, but the Bills have continually looked like their most formidable challenger. It feels like it’s only matter of time until Buffalo breaks through in the AFC.

I’ll call on it to happen next season, which would bring a sigh of relief for Raiders’ fans who couldn’t possibly stomach seeing the archrival Chiefs compete for a championship in their team’s home building.

As far as the Bills’ opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles should encounter fewer hurdles compared to the Chiefs in getting back to a second straight Super Bowl. The NFC is relatively weak, and Philadelphia took advantage by starting this season 13-1 before quarterback Jalen Hurts missed two games with a shoulder injury.

The Eagles do have a lot of impending free agents along the offensive and defensive lines, where they dominated this season, but they should still be able to maintain an above-average standing at the line of scrimmage. The 24-year-old Hurts, meanwhile, should continue to progress in an offense tailor-made for his skill set, and he could arguably wind up as the best quarterback left in the NFC next year.

So remember, you read it here first: Super Bowl 58 will feature a 31-20 Bills’ win over the Eagles in Las Vegas.

That’s my official prediction, but let’s run down five other possibilities to include more potential participants in Las Vegas’ Super Bowl forecast.

The favorite: Chiefs vs. 49ers

The Eagles and Bills are currently the second choices to win next year’s NFC and AFC, respectively, at Caesars/William Hill sportsbooks, so that projection isn’t exactly going out on a limb. But it’s not priced as the most likely pairing, either.

The Chiefs and 49ers, who already met in Super Bowl 55 three years ago with the former prevailing 31-20, are co-favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in 2024 at 6-to-1 apiece. It’s impossible to argue against both teams’ reliability; the Chiefs have made five straight AFC Conference Championship Games while the 49ers have played in three of the last four NFC Conference Championship Games.

This would just be a worst-nightmare situation for Raiders’ fans, with two hated franchises playing one another.

The first reaction: Chargers vs. Cowboys

In deference to the proverbial “never go against your gut,” this matchup must be included. On the day Las Vegas was awarded Super Bowl 58 in December 2021, someone asked me who would be playing, and these are the two teams I picked.

It still doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Dallas is one of the most complete teams in the league but needs more consistency from quarterback Dak Prescott. The Chargers are a lesser version of the Bills in that they were sidetracked by injuries this season but looked impressive in brief glimpses when they were at full strength.

The departure of Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to the Chargers this offseason would be a major storyline in this matchup.

The honorable mention: Bengals vs. Packers

Cincinnati smashed Buffalo 27-10 in this year’s divisional round and has beaten Kansas City in three of the teams’ last four meetings. Any mention of Super Bowl 58 without the Joe Burrow-led Bengals is disrespectful.

Finding a unique NFC opponent for the Bengals is where the challenge presents itself. The Packers could move on from four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers this offseason, but if he’s back, they’ll still threaten to be one of the best teams in the NFC.

Despite narrowly missing the playoffs this season, Green Bay snuck up to No. 9 in Football Outsiders’ weighted DVOA ratings—one of the most predictive sets of publicly available power rankings.

The dream scenario: Raiders vs. Saints

No team reached the Super Bowl in its home stadium in the first 55 years of the game, but it happened back-to-back in 2021 and 2022 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rams, respectively, both ultimately winning.

The Raiders don’t appear to be as close to contention as those teams were, but they do have championship-caliber skill players (wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Josh Jacobs) if only they can find a quarterback and a defense. They wouldn’t be the most improbable Super Bowl team of all-time.

And, if owner Mark Davis could pick a team he’d like to beat for a title, the Saints would have to be near the top of the list, as long as they’re led by former Raiders coach Dennis Allen. There’s speculation that longtime Raiders quarterback Derek Carr could reunite with Allen in New Orleans this offseason, which would make this game even more fascinating.

New Orleans doesn’t look Super Bowl caliber either at the moment, but its underlying metrics were much stronger than its 7-10 record this season.

The more-realistic long shot: Browns vs. Lions

It would feel poetic if the first Super Bowl in Las Vegas featured two teams playing in their first-ever Super Bowl. It’s highly unlikely to happen, but both Cleveland and Detroit should be better than their usual reputation next season.

The Lions were a menace at the end of this season, winning five of their final six games and finishing sixth in the league by weighted DVOA. The Browns didn’t pass the eye test as much, but they still finished 10th in weighted DVOA and have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league.

This game would serve as the ultimate testament to Super Bowl matchups being tough to predict. There’s no denying that nailing the Super Bowl matchup might be a fool’s errand, but trying to do so over the next year anyway will sure be a lot of fun.

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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