We had seen it at least once an NFL season, a last-place team from the previous season going worst-to-first the next. In 2021, the Cincinnati Bengals topped the AFC North after a finishing at the bottom in 2020. This season, the NFL odds predict a changing of the guard in that same division. With seven other divisions, which cellar dwellers can flip the script and ascend to the penthouse?
Worst To First: Unlikeliest-to-Likeliest Division Champs
8. New York Jets (currently +2500)
The unlikeliest last-place team to win their division. While the Jets have improved and a dark horse to make the playoffs, they’re in the same division as the Super Bowl favorites: the Buffalo Bills. Jets will need at least 11-12 wins to have a shot at dethroning Buffalo who, at -250, are the odds-on choice to win AFC East for the third season in a row.
7. Seattle Seahawks (+1600)
The Seahawks went from first-to-worst in 2021, partly due to injuries. Seattle’s worse now, as its longtime quarterback, Russell Wilson, is off to Denver. Expect coach Pete Carroll’s crew to remain competitive amidst their unflattering online gambling odds, they are clearly a notch below the Rams, 49ers, and Cardinals.
6. Carolina Panthers (+1000)
As far as sly NFL predictions go, we like the Panthers best at this line. They’re such longshots because of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, oddswise the biggest favorites to recapture their division at -275. We’re not buying it, as the Buccaneers’ offensive line gets hurt while the Panthers have improved the most, especially at quarterback.
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5. Detroit Lions (+900)
Detroit is a popular team in more ways than one. However, as far as betting sports is concerned, they’re still distant from Green Bay (-175) and Minnesota (+225). Coach Dan Campbell’s squad may have a decent shot at the playoffs. Winning a dozen games and the NFC North would be one of the biggest stunners of the season.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (+750)
Priced at +750, the Jaguars have shorter odds than four teams before them simply because the AFC South is a mess, again. The Colts (-135) and Titans (+165) will likely battle it out, but neither team is without issues. The Jags have a new regime with Doug Pederson as coach, while quarterback Trevor Lawrence should be much better in his sophomore season. Jacksonville’s still likely a year away, however.
3. New York Giants (+750)
Similar to the Jaguars, the Giants have “short” odds because the NFC East is not strong. Dallas and Philly are co-favored at +145 to win the division, but the gap between that paif and the Giants is not as sizable as say, the Bills and Jets. Big Blue has what appears to be an easy schedule outside the division. Picking off Dallas and Philadelphia could go a long way for them.
2. Denver Broncos (+250)
The Broncos are all-in on the Russell Wilson era. Analysts were proclaiming for years this squad was one elite quarterback away from making another run to a title. Now, the Broncos have it. Is another version of Peyton Manning in the mountains? At these odds, the Broncos have a good chance to come out of the deadly AFC West.
1. Baltimore Ravens (+140)
Baltimore was on its way to capturing the AFC North for the third time in the Lamar Jackson tenure when he was injured. Jackson was one of a historic number of incapacitated Ravens last season. It then behooves prognosticators to believe Baltimore has the best shot at winning the division, the provided team is healthy.
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