Handicapping Bovada's Prop for the NFL's Worst Team
by Trevor Whenham - 8/25/2014
If you were to tell me that at this point last year you knew that the Houston Texans were going to wind up with the worst record in the NFL then I would be forced to call you a liar. Heck, if after six weeks you thought it was going to be anyone other than Jacksonville then you are probably remembering wrong. That's what makes this prop that several books are offering so interesting - trying to figure out which team will finish last and where the betting value lies. Here's what strikes me as interesting about the prop so far ( odds are from Bovada):
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Jacksonville Jaguars (3/1): I just don't think that this team should be favored here. They played very well - at least relatively - in the second half of the season last year. They have built on that by adding some talent - including a young quarterback who appears to be ahead of schedule. Gus Bradley is a very good coach, and he is moving this team in the right direction - albeit slowly. This team isn't likely to make the playoffs or anything close this year, but there are a lot of relatively positive things going on, and that isn't typically the case for teams with the worst record in football. I don't like this bet at all.
Oakland Raiders (7/2): This, on the other hand, is a far more attractive potential bet. The Raiders just plain have issues. The coach is decent but helpless. The talent is substandard. The quarterback is uninspiring. Ownership is moronic. The stadium is terrible, and the uncertainty about the future isn't going to maximize the atmosphere around the team. The division is far from easy, and things aren't going to go well.
Cleveland Browns (7/1): The Browns also are a reasonably attractive bet at this price as well. They have looked just awful offensively so far in the preseason, and there isn't a lot of reason to be optimistic. The quarterback derby is just a distraction, and neither guy is poised to be a big difference maker. The talent at the skill positions is lacking, and the defense has some concerns as well. Having a new head coach every year doesn't seem like a great approach, and it especially doesn't seem to make much sense when they haven't exactly hit a home run with their latest choice. This is a mess of a franchise, and the Raiders could really struggle.
Minnesota Vikings (7/1): Matt Cassel is a mess. Teddy Bridgewater is promising but probably a bit of a project. The team relies far too heavily on an all-world running back who has blown his knee out once and is 29 - that's getting really old for a running back. If Peterson goes down then things could get really bleak. I'm not as pessimistic here as with the Raiders or Browns, but this just isn't going to be a good team.
Tennessee Titans (10/1): I like Ken Whisenhunt, and I am optimistic about Jake Locker if he can stay healthy, so I am not as down on this team as I am about others. They have a solid offensive line, and the offense should be on the right side of average. The concern is on defense. The unit is going through their third big change in three years, and that much upheaval is sure to catch up to them. They don't have enough talent to shine on that side of the ball this year. They are not going to finish at .500, but they also aren't likely to be nearly as bad as they would need to be to make this price attractive.
Buffalo Bills (14/1): This could be where the value is in the search for a fatter price. The Bills have the makings of a strong defense, and that is a concern on this front. There are countless issues, though. They have been fighting each other in camp, and they have been forced to cut a player after a high-profile DUI. Their QB is not seeming to progress, and that means the offense could be frustratingly bad - again. They have the distraction of an impending sale looming over the franchise as well. They should be better than they are, and they have the talent to win some games. The wheels could fall off this team, though, and as Houston proved last year, that is all it takes.
Dallas Cowboys (16/1): The price isn't quite right, but I am tempted here. The defense is a complete mess. Really ugly. Tony Romo is coming off back surgery and could have issues. Jason Garrett is a lousy coach, and he could very easily find himself out of a job during the season. They probably have too much upside to hit rock bottom, but they are a circus, and that helps. At 26/1 I'd be all over them, but at this price the value might not be in full supply. Still, it would be fun to see Jerry Jones bottom out.
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