Starting last season, the NFL playoffs expanded from 12 teams to 14, making things a little less forgiving for the teams in the middle of the pack. Despite that change, there were still a lot of teams who were nowhere near the playoff line at any point in the season. Specifically, we are talking about the 8 teams that finished last in their respective divisions. We have, though, seen teams make a big turnaround a season after a nightmare showing, but will we see any of that this year? Let’s take a look at last season’s bottom feeders and see who might improve so you can plan your bets against the NFL odds.
Which of the worst teams could turn out to be a good NFL bet this season?
The New York Jets finished last season with a 2-14 record and decided to part ways with Sam Darnold. That meant taking Zach Wilson as their QB of the future, but they are going to need a whole lot more than that to move up the standings. A better record this season, but still a long way from the playoffs, I believe.
The Cincinnati Bengals appears to have found their franchise QB in Joe Burrow, but he will be returning from a season-ending knee injury in 2020. The Bengals went 4-11-1 last and are in one of the toughest divisions in football. I would not be ready to throw much money in their direction.
There really is nowhere to go but up for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who finished 1-15 in 2020. Trevor Lawrence will be their starting QB this season, but make no mistake about it, this is still a rebuilding project for Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. Better this year, but still well off the pace.
The Denver Broncos had the best record of all the bottom dwellers last season, going 5-11 in 2020. They have brought in Teddy Bridgewater to lead the offense and should be better this year. This team has a shot at 8 or 9 wins this season, so not a terrible bet.
The NFC East was an absolute nightmare last season, and while it is likely to be better this year, there are still going to be a lot of losses for these 4 teams. The Eagles finished bottom at 4-11-1 and are probably looking at another down season. I don’t have much faith in this group.
The Detroit Lions bid farewell to Matthew Stafford in the offseason, shipping him to LA in exchange for Jared Goff. Most people view this as a downgrade at the most valuable position on the team, which could be problematic for a Lions team that went 5-11 last season. They might actually end up being worse in 2021.
For the Atlanta Falcons, it’s a new coaching staff and a season of trying to replace the production lost with Julio Jones moving to Tennessee. This is a team that is probably looking at a rebuild at this point, so asking for an improvement on their 4-12 record last season seems like a big ask.
Of all the teams that finished bottom of the division last season, it is the San Francisco 49ers that look the most likely to take a big step forward. They still managed 6 wins in 2020 despite being hammered by injuries. They have a shot at going from worst to first in the NFC West.