In the NFL, unlike other sports, you don’t really get a prize for winning the most games. In the NHL, having the most points means home ice advantage throughout your stay in the playoffs. In the NBA and MLB, the most wins also mean the home court and field advantage for the duration. In the NFL, you get two home playoff games, but the Super Bowl is almost always at a neutral-site, unless the host city’s team gets in.
Nevertheless, teams want to win as many games as they possibly can. It is important to establish that culture of winning and to avoid any and all bad habits heading into the postseason. The Ravens had that distinction last season with 14 wins in 16 games, but they also got knocked out of the playoffs right away in the Divisional Round, so maybe it was more of a curse than a blessing.
With a lot of time to study and stare at the NFL thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, sportsbooks are getting creative with the odds that they post. In the case of BetOnline Sportsbook, they have posted odds for the fewest wins during the 2020 regular season and also odds for the most wins.
Let’s take a look at the best of the best in the NFL. All 32 teams are listed. We know that there is no way some of these teams are in the running, but we’ll list them and all the other hopefuls with odds as of April 4 at 5 p.m. ET:
Kansas City Chiefs +450
Baltimore Ravens +600
New Orleans Saints +800
San Francisco 49ers +800
Green Bay Packers +1000
Philadelphia Eagles +1000
Dallas Cowboys +1200
Pittsburgh Steelers +1200
Seattle Seahawks +1600
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1600
Buffalo Bills +2000
Minnesota Vikings +2000
New England Patriots +2000
Los Angeles Rams +2500
Tennessee Titans +2500
Chicago Bears +3300
Cleveland Browns +3300
Houston Texans +4000
Indianapolis Colts +4000
Arizona Cardinals +5000
Atlanta Falcons +5000
Denver Broncos +5000
Las Vegas Raiders +6600
Los Angeles Chargers +6600
New York Jets +8000
Detroit Lions +10000
Miami Dolphins +10000
New York Giants +10000
Carolina Panthers +15000
Cincinnati Bengals +15000
Jacksonville Jaguars +15000
Washington Redskins +15000
None of the top teams come as a big surprise. The Ravens had the most wins last season. The Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champs. The Saints rattled off 13 wins last season, though they did fall short of getting a first-round bye in the playoffs and it might have cost them. The 49ers were the NFC’s top seed with an identical 13-3 record to the Saints and the Packers.
The only team in that group that you could make a case against is the Saints. Their division has a doormat in the Panthers, but the Falcons and Buccaneers should both be improved this season. That being said, the Saints endured a Drew Brees injury last season, lost a division game, and still went 13-3.
It wouldn’t be a prerequisite that teams have to go 6-0 in the division, but it would help. The Ravens actually lost one of their division games, but also had a statistically-dominant profile overall with a +249 point differential. Many feel like they are even better at this point than they were at this point last season, which is why they are the favorites here.
Imagine this discussion without mentioning the New England Patriots. Now that the Tom Brady era is over in Foxboro, the Patriots are not being mentioned in high regard at all. They were second in point differential last season at +195 with a really marginal offense. The defense did a lot of the heavy lifting with a ton of takeaways and that unit is still in tact.
Here are my suggestions for picks:
New England Patriots +2500 – Look, do we really think that the Patriots go into the season with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham at quarterback? Absolutely not. You’re getting a really big price on arguably the best defense in the AFC. The Patriots certainly were last season in a lot of categories.
Quarterback isn’t the only issue, as Brady suffered from a lack of weapons last season, but the Patriots are a whole lot better than they are being given credit for. The Bills are the only legitimate challenger in the division and they got fortunate to go 10-6 per some of the advanced metrics last season. The Patriots are likely to get at least five or six wins from their division foes. At that point, we’re looking for Bill Belichick to outcoach the foes outside the division.
Why would that be such a stretch? An upgrade at QB is coming in some way, shape, or form and now that Belichick is running the defense, that group is scary good.
San Francisco 49ers +800 – This is kind of a price play. The 49ers, Chiefs, and Ravens are probably similarly stacked up as far as wins, but the 49ers are +800 and the others are shorter. The Seahawks are going to take a tumble. I mentioned as much in the above link about the teams that could have the fewest wins.
The Rams are in a downward spiral because of salary cap concerns and most of their defense has been ripped to shreds. A lot of people like the Cardinals based on some of last year’s signs and the DeAndre Hopkins trade, but are we ready to buy that defense yet? How about Kyler Murray in Year Two?
The 49ers are likely to go 6-0 within the division. They are markedly better than everybody else. Last year was a big one for the growth and development of Jimmy Garoppolo. The arrow is pointing up for San Francisco and this price seems pretty good all things considered.
Cleveland Browns +3300 – Okay. Crazy. I know. But, hear me out. Find me a better group of skill position guys. Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, David Njoku. The Browns have Myles Garrett back after he was reinstated by Roger Goodell. The Browns have been one of the most active teams in free agency. They have a new coach in Kevin Stefanski that actually seems to know what he is doing.
With their third-place schedule, the Browns get the Raiders at home and the Jets on the road to go along with the AFC South and the NFC East. The schedule really isn’t all that daunting.
Now, they would have to at least split with Baltimore, but, well, they did that last year. As a longer shot look for a team with a ton of talent, this is the one to consider.