Ranking the NFL’s Potential Worst to First Teams
We are less than 48 hours away from the start of the NFL season. Part of the beauty of the league’s success is the parity and the surprising ability to turn things around quickly.
NFL Worst to First History
Over the past 19 seasons, 27 teams have gone from worst to first (out of the 50 teams in NFL history). At least one team has made the leap in 17 of the past 19 years (since 2003). Two teams jumped from last place to division winner in 2021, including the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals.
While the Bengals fell short of winning the Super Bowl a year after finishing in last place, the 2009 New Orleans Saints and 2017 Philadelphia Eagles made the ultimate “worst to first” leap.
NFL Worst to First 2022 Odds
Here’s a look at the division odds from last year’s nine last-place teams (two from the AFC North), listed from most to least likely per the BetMGM Sportsbook’s odds:
1. Baltimore Ravens
AFC North | 2021 Record: 8-9
Odds to Win Division: +145 | Opening Line: +175
At 8-9, you could hardly call the Ravens a typical last-place team. It’s the first time they finished in last place in the John Harbaugh era (since 2008), as they’ve won the division twice (three playoff appearances) in four seasons since they drafted Lamar Jackson.
2. Denver Broncos
AFC West | 2021 Record: 7-10
Odds to Win Division: +260 | Opening Line: +400
Even in the most-competitive division, oddsmakers are giving the Broncos a fighting chance, as their odds are a tick behind the LA Chargers and ahead of the Las Vegas Raiders, a 2021 wild-card team.
3. Cleveland Browns
AFC North | 2021 Record: 8-9
Odds to Win Division: +375 | Opening Line: +320
The Browns are the third choice to win the AFC North, and the rise in their odds is due to the suspension handed out to Deshaun Watson. If they had the quarterback for all 17 games, you wonder if they’d challenge the Ravens for favorite status.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC South | 2021 Record: 3-14
Odds to Win Division: +750 | Opening Line: +550
With Trevor Lawrence entering his second season and Urban Meyer back in a FOX studio, the Jaguars are well ahead of the Houston Texans (+3000). Might there be value in a Jags to finish last, wager?
5. New York Giants
NFC East | 2021 Record: 4-13
Odds to Win Division: +800 | Opening Line: +700
Don’t mistake this for the Giants being labeled the best last-place team from a year ago in the NFC. Their shorter odds reflect what projects to be a wide-open division.
6. Detriot Lions
NFC North | 2021 Record: 3-13-1
Odds to Win Division: +850 | Opening Line: +800
Would you believe that the Lions are the darlings of the betting community? With over 50% of the tickets and over 40 percent of the handle, they top the NFC North in both categories while easily out-pacing every other team on this list.
7. Carolina Panthers
NFC South | 2021 Record: 5-12
Odds to Win Division: +1000 | Opening Line: +375
While adding Baker Mayfield helps their cause, it’s not nearly as impactful as the Tampa Bay Bucs bringing back Tom Brady, which caused every other team in the division to see a rise in their odds.
8. Seattle Seahawks
NFC West | 2021 Record: 7-10
Odds to Win Division: +2000 | Opening Line: +500
With Russell Wilson, the Seahawks had the longest odds in the NFC West; without Russell Wilson, they are the second-biggest longshot to win their division in the NFL. Seattle’s ticket percentage (4.4%) and handle (1.7%) are the lowest in the NFC.
9. New York Jets
AFC East | 2021 Record: 4-13
Odds to Win Division: +2200 | Opening Line: +1400
Considering they’re in the same division as the Super Bowl favorites, this should be no surprise. The fact the Jets haven’t won the AFC East in 20 years probably doesn’t help.