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Defying the Odds: 2023 NFL Hits and Misses

The playoff field is set with some of the usual suspects among the 14 teams eyeing a run to the Super Bowl title. There were also some surprises during the course of the 17-game season.

The playoffs get started on Saturday when the Cleveland Browns meet the Houston Texans at 4:30 p.m. ET. Let’s see a show of hands of how many people had that as a one of the contests in this season’s playoffs. That is followed by the Miami-Kansas City matchup that some who bet online viewed as a possible AFC Championship Game.

Defying the Odds: 2023 NFL Hits and Misses
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs-David Eulitt/Getty Images/AFP

When looking at the NFL futures odds, San Francisco (+225) and Baltimore (+325) are the favorites in the odds of winning the Super Bowl. That was not how it was before the 2023 NFL season got underway.

Let’s take a look at some of the teams and players who were pleasant surprises or bitter disappointments.


Who’s In, Who’s Out

The 49ers were second behind only the Philadelphia Eagles in the odds of winning the NFC title when the season began while Baltimore trailed Kansas City, Buffalo, Cincinnati and the New York Jets in the AFC championship odds.

The Bengals and Jets joined the Chargers and Jaguars as teams in the top seven in the AFC title odds not to qualify for the playoffs. In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings were the teams with the best odds not to make the postseason.

Tampa Bay (+4000) had the longest NFL odds among the NFC teams to reach the playoffs while that honor belonged to the Houston Texans (+10000) among AFC teams.

Texans Defy the Odds

The Houston Texans delivered some Texas-size payouts. While many might have jumped on the +500 odds for Houston to have between 5-7 regular-season wins, those who trusted in Houston enough to roll with the +1200 moneyline for the Texans to win 10 games have to be loving life.


The Los Angeles Rams, not far removed from a Super Bowl run, had the same odds to end the regular season with 10 victories.

On the other side, Carolina had +2200 odds to end the 2023 season with two wins. The New York Jets stumbled to a 7-10 record and that carried +750 odds. Atlanta’s seven-win campaign paid out at +700.

The best odds for NFC South champion Tampa Bay was for the Buccaneers to finish with either six or seven wins during the regular season. A nine-win campaign allowed those who believed in Tampa Bay, even after the retirement of quarterback Tom Brady, to cash out at +850.

Detroit had +750 odds to have 12 regular-season wins.

Here are some team-related props that cashed:

  • Las Vegas Raiders to finish second in the AFC West +600
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers to finish first in the NFC South +800
  • Houston Texans to finish first in the AFC South +850
  • Baltimore to allow the fewest points +900
  • Dallas Cowboys to have the most points +1200
  • San Francisco the last team to suffer their first loss +1400
  • Carolina to have the fewest wins in the regular season +2000


Kudos To the NFL Leaders

Many of the players who led the NFL in their speciality can’t be termed huge surprises with Miami’s Tyreek Hill, San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey and Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt living up to the hype. Then there is Miami running back Raheem Mostert and Dallas kicker Brandon Aubrey, who really came through at long odds.

Here’s a look at some of the future odds to have strong payouts.

  • Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt the have to most sacks +700
  • Miami’s Tyreek Hill to lead the NFL in receiving yards +800
  • Atlanta’s Matt Prater to have the longest field goal +900
  • Dallas QB Dak Prescott to have the most touchdown passes +1400
  • Dallas WR CeeDee Lamb to have the most receptions +2000
  • Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa to have the most passing yards +2000
  • Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans to lead the league in touchdown catches +2000
  • Miami’s Tyreek Hill to lead the league in touchdown catches +2200
  • San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey to have the most rushing yards +2800
  • Miami’s Raheem Mostert to lead the league in rushing touchdowns +3000
  • Dallas K Brandon Aubrey to lead the NFL in field goals +5000.


The Players Who Fell Short

Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals was the front-runner at +400 in the odds of leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns and Cooper Kupp was not far behind at +500. They combined for 12 touchdown catches, one shy of the league-leading total posted by Miami’s Tyreek Hill and Mike Evans of Tampa Bay.

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (+325) and Justin Herbert (+500) of the Los Angeles Chargers led the way in the odds of being the NFL passing yardage leader.

Mahomes finished sixth with Herbert coming in 18th.

Mahomes was priced at +250 to lead the NFL in passing touchdowns and he ended up eighth with 27. Injury-shortened seasons sabotaged some of the other top candidates, including Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Aaron Rodgers of the New York Jets and Herbert.

An injury prevented Cleveland’s Nick Chubb from living up to the +450 odds set by the sportsbook to lead the NFL in rushing yards.

There were 28 receivers who topped 1,000 yards and none of them were named Justin Jefferson (+500 to lead the NFL in receiving yards) or Cooper Kupp (+900 to be the NFL receiving yardage leader.


Questions Of The Day

Which playoff teams are considered the most surprising to be in the postseason?

Houston had the longest odds among AFC teams while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 15th among 16 NFC teams in the odds of winning the NFC title at the beginning of the season.

Which player prop carried the greatest reward during the 2023 NFL regular season?

Miami’s Raheem Mostert to lead the NFL in touchdown runs paid out at +3000 while Dallas kicker Brandon Aubrey was +5000 to lead the lead in field goals.

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