NFL season prop betting: Fewest wins
In our team-by-team previews published during the July lull, we looked at what's changed for each franchise and where they stand in the most significant betting markets. In some cases, we might be buying, and in others, we'll sell. We've already addressed sneaky candidates for most wins, but sadly, there are plenty of contenders for worst record this season, and as uncomfortable as it is to say, almost every team is just one early-season injury away from total catastrophe.
The Texans are the favorites here. The expectation is more of the same from an organization that's suffered a steep descent in recent years in conjunction with optimism about the Lions and Jaguars who finished with fewer wins than Houston last year.
With a game added to the schedule last year, a fair number for fewest wins is probably three, but both Jacksonville and Detroit found victory in Week 18 last season just to get there. A 2-15 season seems like a disaster, especially since even the lowly Texans are lined at 4.5 wins. However, it can be a matter of circumstances in a collision sport like football, which creates two angles worth exploring in this market.
Chicago Bears (+1000)
The first category would make George Thorogood proud, as we look for someone atop the board to be "Bad To The Bone." The Bears have brought in a defensive-minded head coach to a team that's seen a turnover in veteran talent and its best player, Roquan Smith, request a trade before its first preseason game.
Matt Eberflus might be a good head coach, but we aren't likely to see that translate to results this year. The offense is in the hands of Luke Getsy. If you're not familiar with his oeuvre, he was the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay - a team with a starter who probably didn't need much help. Maybe Getsy can immediately unlock Justin Fields, but the second-year signal-caller won't have much help at the skilled positions or the offensive line.
Green Bay Packers (+25000)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+25000)
Denver Broncos (+15000)
Let's now consider these three long shots.
The designed parity of the NFL makes it so that a team can collapse like a Jenga tower if the wrong piece slides out. It's a karmically uncomfortable thought exercise, but when examining odds 150-1 or longer, we have to go there.
Close your eyes and picture a team with a star quarterback suddenly without that QB. Do you trust the rest of the roster to support the backup for a full season? Do you trust the head coach to piece together a game plan each week to keep the squad competitive enough to get four wins? The teams listed above all get a "no" from me.
These long shots require the quarterback to get hurt early in the season, and it certainly helps if the team banks a few losses in September, buying time for the NFL's injury reaper to come calling. As a result, we're looking for teams that have losable early games, aged quarterbacks with sketchy backups, and head coaches who are unproven without a star quarterback at their disposal.
|QB (age)||BACKUP||HEAD COACH||1ST FOUR GMS|
|Aaron Rodgers (38)||Jordan Love||Matt Lafleur||@MIN/CHI/@TB/NE|
|Tom Brady (45)||Blaine Gabbert||Todd Bowles||@DAL/@NO/GB/KC|
|Russell Wilson (33)||Josh Johnson||Nathaniel Hackett||@SEA/HOU/SF/@LV|
The Packers could lose at least two of those first four games with Rodgers, and if he doesn't make it out of those contests healthy, you're left with Matt Lafleur calling Jordan Love throws to Sammy Watkins, and a defense that doesn't get to spend the game playing from an advantageous position.
Tom Brady's back, but that doesn't guarantee a fairy-tale finish - his scientific domination of nature notwithstanding. The Buccaneers' roster is loaded with veterans, but how much of our perception of what surrounds Brady is colored by Brady's existence, and does that change with Blaine Gabbert running things? Doesn't the roster then look a lot more like Todd Bowles' Jets teams that went 4-12 for three straight years?
As for the Broncos, how different are they than last year's Seahawks with Russell Wilson sidelined? For all the mockery of Geno Smith, there's no way Josh Johnson and a rookie head coach in the AFC West is a better setup for Denver.
A $15 bet on the Bears (+1000) to flunk out of the 2022 season is appetizing, but dividing that same number on these three long shots is how I'd also play our dance with the devil.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.