Every seasEvery season, an NFL team or two says “To heck with that!” to NFL predictions and wins a lot more games than most expected. Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks overcame the odds to each finish with nine wins and a spot in the playoffs. The early lines had the teams set at 6½ and 5½ regular-season wins, respectively.
So, this 2023, we look at teams who could be the newest surprise playoff teams.
Don’t Be Too Shocked If These Teams Make the Playoffs
Other than exceeding expectations, what did the Jaguars and Seahawks have in common? They both had head coaches with a strong pedigree. Both Doug Pederson and Pete Carroll won Super Bowls and consistently led their teams to the postseason.
Thus, these four teams are worth betting online because they may share something similar in 2023:
1. New England Patriots (+240)
You can bet online on Bill Belichick to lead his Patriots back to the playoffs at +240. That’s just the product of New England being in the toughest division with two Super Bowl contenders and another rising team. But the Patriots are one of the more improved teams this offseason – even if a certain someone does not return.
The team now has a real playcaller on offense in Bill O’Brien. He may work wonders with quarterback Mac Jones, who could be in for a strong campaign. O’Brien did help coach Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson to some of their best seasons. Why not Jones? If you add Belichick’s top-10 defense, this team could be a lot better than its 7½ regular-season win projection.
Mac Jones is the only QB in New England… for now.pic.twitter.com/E05hWpaTJp
— John Ewing (@johnewing) August 29, 2023
2. Los Angeles Rams (+300)
Talks of the Rams’ demise are greatly exaggerated. The team is not just at long odds to make the playoffs but is also saddled with a 6½ regular-season win total with the ‘under’ being juiced. This team is still coached by Sean McVay, one of the NFL’s greatest offensive minds. And he’ll now have healthier versions of his three stars.
Matthew Stafford could play a lot better following his recovery from an elbow injury while Cooper Kupp, the 2021 Offensive Player of the Year, also returns. Aaron Donald will anchor the defense despite being 32 years old. Even if the rest of the team is young and inexperienced, the Rams are a solid NFL pick as an underdog.
3. Washington Commanders (+300)
Washington has made NFL news for all the wrong reasons. Even with Daniel Snyder, the team’s former toxic owner, out, Washington has a lot of work left to do. Ron Rivera has been saying the wrong things and is one of the likeliest coaches to be fired first. The new offensive coordinator, Eric Bienemy, also got off on the wrong foot with his players.
On top of all of this, Washington plays in the loaded NFC East with a harder schedule than last season. But we’re going out on a limb here. Sam Howell might just surprise at quarterback and the team may just rally behind its coaches. Washington may go beyond winning 6½ games and find a way to sneak into the postseason.
4. Houston Texans (+475)
The Texans might just be the new Jaguars. Jacksonville took advantage of Tennessee’s collapse to win the division with a 9-8 record. Houston might just do that this year.
Demeco Ryans and Bobby Slowik are both disciples of Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. The former is one of the most respected coaches and could foster a winning culture, while the latter could help C.J. Stroud and the offense become prolific.
Our sportsbook lists Houston at 6½ wins. It’s not crazy to believe this team can overcome a slow start and finish strong like Jacksonville and Detroit did last year.