Every season there are teams that drive bettors crazy by underachieving. Last year it was the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, and Green Bay Packers who found themselves failing to live up to expectations. And then, of course, there are teams that aren’t disappointing, they’re just flat out bad. I’m looking at the Raiders, the Jets, and the Giants (the 49ers get a pass because of the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo).
If you managed to bet against all these teams last season you probably found yourself winning a lot. So, who will follow in their footsteps and prove to be the best teams to bet against this season?
After last season people are going to be very high on the Bears. How could you not like a team that was an NFL best 12-5 ATS in 2018? Their defense was incredible, and Mitchell Trubisky made great strides in his second season as the starting quarterback. Yet, for as good as the Bears were last season, they still managed to lose overtime games to the Dolphins and Giants. I’m expecting the Vikings and Packers to look much more like their normal selves this season, which does not bode well for the Bears. Because of their success last year, they should be favored in a lot of games. I’ll be taking the underdog often.
I do not trust this team at all this year. They were able to get into the playoffs last year and Lamar Jackson was a sight to behold, but I expect a huge step back for the Ravens. The Browns are the clear favorites in the AFC North, and I expect the Steelers to be much better this year even without Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Add to that, teams will now have a full season’s worth of tape on Lamar Jackson. Their defense is good, but I expect the Ravens to struggle to score with their opponents this season.
Big winners in this year’s draft, the Dolphins were able to acquire Josh Rosen from the Cardinals. The good news is if it doesn’t work out, the Dolphins will get a great pick in next year’s draft and be able to select another QB. If it does work out then they have their QB of the future anyway. Even if Rosen is incredible, I don’t think it’s going to work out this season. With an inconsistent defense and an offense that simply lacks weapons, I expect the Dolphins to get blown out a lot this season.
With four games left in the season last year, the Broncos were right in the hunt for the playoffs, with a relatively easy remaining schedule. And then they lost their last four dropping to 6-10 on the season and 6-9-1 ATS. This was all with Case Keenum at the helm, and in the offseason they went out and got Joe Flacco, then drafted Drew Lock. To some, these might sound like great offensive moves, but to me it sounds like a QB controversy waiting to happen. If the Broncos start off poorly, then I expect Flacco to be moved to the bench in favor of Lock. Either way, I do not see how the Broncos are better than they were last season.
I worry about Cam Newton and his shoulder. Last season we watched him come out of a game so another QB could throw a Hail Mary on the last play. That’s not a good sign. There’s a chance he could be fine, and when Cam is at his best he’s incredibly exciting and the Panthers are legit contenders. But until I see him at 100%, I don’t trust him. And if I don’t trust Cam, then I certainly do not trust the Panthers. They were 7-9 ATS last season, fifth worst in the NFC.
This is a very hard schedule. They have to take on the Patriots and Rams in addition to the six games against their division opponents. They also have to travel to Seattle, which we should chalk up as a loss, and they have road games against the Bills and Raiders who should be much better than they were last season. The Bengals were actually 9-7 ATs last season despite their 6-10 record. But with this schedule, I don’t think they will have any such luck this season.
New York Giants
Here’s another team that was surprisingly above .500 ATS last season. In the offseason, they went out and revamped their offensive line, which should give Eli time to work some of his magic. But with Odell Beckham Jr. departing for Cleveland, this offense is going to be Saquon Barkley or bust. Even with OBJ last season, the Giants struggled to put up points. Can Eli lead Big Blue on one last improbable run? My gut and my brain both tell me no.