A week ago, it seemed silly to wonder if the New England Patriots could go 16-0 this season, or if the Miami Dolphins could go 0-16. Then they played each other, and oddsmakers reacted to the beatdown by taking bets on whether a perfect (or imperfect) campaign will come to fruition.
After Sunday's 43-0 win at Miami, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 76-3 through the first two weeks of the season and are showing shades of their 16-0 run from 2007. They're 10-1 to finish undefeated and 1-20 to lose at least one game.
The Dolphins - the only other franchise with a perfect regular-season record in NFL history - are a mere 7-2 to pull off a winless 0-16 record and 2-9 to win at least a single contest. They've been outscored 102-10 in their first two games, accruing the NFL's fewest yards for while allowing the most yards against.
Beautifully, the two sides meet again in New England in Week 17 with immortality on the line. Could that game cap off a 16-0 or 0-16 season? Perhaps both? More pressingly, are such feats worth betting on?
|Patriots to go 16-0||10-1||1-20|
|Dolphins to go 0-16||7-2||2-9|
The 2007 Patriots are the only team to ever go 16-0, running through the NFL like no team ever has - especially in the betting market. From 1989-2018, a road team was favored by more than 15 points on just 11 occasions, and that list is littered with all-time great squads. The '07 Patriots did it three times.
New England was a 19-point road favorite last week and covered easily - the first sign this year's group might have a shot. The 2019 Pats also boast a better defense than that '07 squad and the record-breaking teams of the early 2010s.
The Patriots' schedule is smooth sailing through the first eight weeks, as they exclusively face non-playoff teams from 2018. Then, it gets murky:
Probably not. The Patriots already have the "16-0" honor badge to their name, and it only served as a distraction in their quest for a Super Bowl title the last time around. Even if New England does run the table, there's likely a more profitable way to bet it.
It's impossible to forecast the odds for each of the Pats' next 14 games. But if New England was a 1-5 moneyline favorite in each of its next 14 games, betting $100 on each game and rolling over your winnings would net you $1,283.93, or roughly 13-1 odds. (Hint: The Patriots won't be 1-5 favorites in their next 14 games.)
As unlikely as you are to hit on a "yes" ticket, it's unseemly to bet "no" at 1-20 odds. You're better off rolling your money, betting the spread, or staying away completely.
The 2007 Dolphins nearly became the first team to pull off this dubious feat before ousting the hapless Ravens - the same ones who nearly snapped New England's 16-0 run - with a 64-yard overtime touchdown in Week 15.
A year later, the Lions tanked their way to an 0-16 mark ahead of the Matthew Stafford draft, and Hue Jackson led the Browns to their own 0-16 season in 2017. Three other teams - the 1960 Cowboys (0-11-1), 1976 Buccaneers (0-14), and 1982 Colts (0-8-1) - went winless before the NFL instituted a 16-game schedule.
The Dolphins are the only ones truly in the way of 0-16. If the team builds the offense around Josh Rosen, commits to the run game, and stops shipping away starters for picks, there's likely a win on the horizon. Here are the best spots:
It's tougher to find a win on Miami's schedule than a loss on New England's, so the shorter odds on "yes" make sense on the surface. As with the Patriots, though, betting the moneyline for teams playing against the Dolphins is likely more profitable than buying 16 losses at 7-2 odds.
That said, if the Dolphins keep shipping off roster pieces, it might not be feasible - or even possible - to keep betting the moneyline against them. The smarter play is targeting the Miami moneyline in Weeks 6, 16, and 17, and betting the spread against the Dolphins the rest of the year.
The 2017 Browns went 4-12 against the spread. The 2008 Lions went 6-9-1 ATS. Even the one-win 2007 Dolphins went 5-8-3. It's not as sexy as betting for or against 0-16, but your wallet will thank you later.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.