Betting on the NFL’s bottom dwellers at your favorite sportsbooks may seem like a bad idea, but the Cincinnati Bengals are proof that is not always the case. By going from 4-11-1 in 2020 to 10-7 in 2021, the Bengals became the 28th team since the 2003 season to go from worst to first in their respective division—and the fourth to make it to the Super Bowl.
Since sportsbooks have posted odds to win their respective division for all 32 teams, there is no time like the present to examine the teams that may go from worst to first during the 2022 NFL season.
Odds On Last Place Teams Winning Their Division
This table contains betting odds for teams that finished last in their division in 2021 to win their division next season. The odds at DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook, and BetMGM were current as of Friday afternoon.
|Odds Of Wining Division During 2022 NFL Season||DraftKings||Caesars||BetMGM|
|New York Jets (AFC East)||+2200||+3000||+1400|
|Baltimore Ravens (AFC North)||+175||+175||+175|
|Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South)||+750||+900||+550|
|Denver Broncos (AFC West)||+500||+430||+400|
|New York Giants (NFC East)||+750||+1000||+700|
|Detroit Lions (NFC North)||+1000||+1000||+800|
|Carolina Panthers (NFC South)||+400||+425||+375|
|Seattle Seahawks (NFC West)||+550||+600||+500|
History Favors NFC East But Consider This AFC Team
If you put much stock into trends then you may want to give the New York Giants a hard look (yes, the Giants—really). No division has seen more teams go from worst to first than the NFC East. It’s happened eight times since 2003 and six since 2012.
If it is going to happen, quite a few things need to go New York’s way. Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka will need to figure out how to get Daniel Jones to live up to his potential, the offensive line needs to be better, Saquon Barkley needs to stay healthy for the whole season, and the defense needs to take a step forward.
If Washington and Philadelphia can remain mediocre and Dallas can implode like it often does when expectations are high, that would help, too.
Baltimore is the obvious choice, of course. Injuries decimated the backfield during the preseason last year and caused the Ravens to put too much on QB Lamar Jackson’s shoulders. But the defense was a more significant issue. While it was the No. 1 unit against the run, the Ravens D was also dead last against the pass. It is hard to win games in today’s NFL if you can’t at least slow down your opponent’s passing game.
The Ravens could get a helping hand from the Bengals; it is not unusual for the team that lost the Super Bowl to struggle the following season. With the Steelers rebuilding and the Browns struggling to figure out who they are, the opportunity is undoubtedly there for the Ravens. Whether they can take advantage of it remains to be seen, though.
If you are looking for longer odds than Baltimore’s +175, give the Atlanta Falcons a look. Matt Ryan is still one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, and he has a solid group of skill position guys—but he’s missing a running back. They need to fill some holes on defense but give Matty Ice a stud running back, and the offense will score 28+ points a game.
It will not happen for the Jets in the AFC East (unless Josh Allen, Mac Jones, and Tua Tagovialoa all go down in Week One with a season-ending injury). But it is even harder to see the Jaguars making a move in the AFC South or the Lions in the NFC North. Denver might be worth betting on if the Broncos acquire Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Otherwise, our advice is to stay away.
Seattle could certainly make things interesting in the NFC West. But it will not be easy to make such a move in the NFL’s toughest division.