Which NFL Team Is Best Bet For Fewest Wins In 2020?

Photo: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

There are two titles you can win in the National Football League: one is the best, and one is the worst. Everything else in the middle is just shades of gray.

When you watch football from a draft perspective, sometimes it’s easy to get those objects flipped. Followers of the brand will remember how excited we got for the Week 16 clash between Washington and New York that was to decide the owner of the Chase Young pick, or the long run-up to the fateful Tua (then Burrow) Bowl between Cincinnati and Miami in that same week, which was spoiled by the Dolphins sneakily winning of a few games earlier in the year.

That No. 1 overall pick will perhaps be prized more this year than in average drafts, as the winner controls the quarterback market in a class exploding with top-tier talent: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State QB Justin Fields, and North Dakota State QB Trey Lance. As such, we should expect that race to include a few teams —and, in a truncated offseason without time for rookie onboarding or new system installation, we can expect even more teams to have a shot at that inglorious first overall selection.

At various sportsbooks, you can take a gamble on the team with the most regular season losses —namely, the worst team in the league, who will possess the first overall pick before trades affect the market. The odds for the significant teams are listed below. 

  • Jacksonville Jaguars (+250)
  • Washington Football Team (+550)
  • Carolina Panthers (+700)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (+700)
  • New York Jets (+1200)
  • Miami Dolphins (+1200)
  • New York Giants (+1400)
  • Las Vegas Raiders (+1800)
  • Arizona Cardinals (+2500)
  • Houston Texans (+2500)

Last season, the Bengals brought home the top overall pick with 14 regular season losses—that’s just two wins. The magic number seems to be two wins; in the last 10 years, only the 2015 Tennessee Titans and 2018 Arizona Cardinals had more than two wins (three apiece) when they brought home the top slot in the upcoming NFL draft.

As such, we’re looking for, at most, two wins. We’ll start eliminating teams from there: Arizona and Houston’s rosters are both too good for fewer than three wins. Miami, winner of five of their last nine games in 2019 and owner of a schedule that sees the Jets twice, the Jaguars, the Raiders, and the Bengals seems like a solid out as well. Of course, the Jets also get the Raiders and the Dolphins twice, but miss the Bengals in favor of the Browns, and the Jaguars in favor of the Colts, on account of their third-place finish in the division last year. So they’ll hang around for now.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars (+250)
  • Washington Football Team (+550)
  • Carolina Panthers (+700)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (+700)
  • New York Jets (+1200)
  • New York Giants (+1400)
  • Las Vegas Raiders (+1800)

Continuing on the theme of divisional overlap, the Washington Football Team and New York Giants both see one another twice —however, with their third-place finish last year, the Giants see the Buccaneers and the Bears, while Washington sees the Panthers (helpful!) and the Lions (not as helpful!). We’ll keep both around for now. 

We can, however, eliminate the newly-instituted Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders are given the fourth-hardest schedule projection in the league by Sharp Football Stats, and if you believe enough in the Chargers (I do), it’s tough to imagine them going better than 2-4 in the division. Fortunately, the Raiders do get the AFC East, which brings two winnable games against the Jets and Dolphins, as well as a season-opener against the extremely young Panthers. The Raiders went 7-9 last season, and the roster definitely got better. I’m comfortable removing them here.

Speaking of better rosters, how much better is Cincinnati’s team than it was last season? Yes, A.J. Green is back with Tee Higgins in tow, and Jonah Williams should beef up a disappointing offensive line, but if some of your biggest additions were an injured veteran wide receiver and an injured rookie offensive tackle, then you didn’t do the offseason right. Of course, they weren’t the biggest addition, as the Bengals added their franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow. How much better will he be than the departing Andy Dalton was in 2019? With hardly any prep, it’s tough to move the scales. Bengals stay on the list.

Our final teams remaining are the Panthers and the Jaguars, with the third-best and best odds, respectively. Both are going to stay. The Panthers are putting out a roster with record-setting youth in a season without preparation; the Jaguars are putting out a roster that was bad last year and was even further gutted this past offseason, and play two of the worst divisions when you’re hunting a free win in the AFC North and NFC North.

Our list of candidates fills out as such:

  • Jacksonville Jaguars (+250)
  • Washington Football Team (+550)
  • Carolina Panthers (+700)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (+700)
  • New York Jets (+1200)
  • New York Giants (+1400)

Our longest odds that still quality are the Jets and the Giants —is either worth your gamble? The Giants seem worthy of the bet, even with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones showing some spunk in his first season. The offensive line was already bad before veteran left tackle Nate Solder opted out for the 2020 season; the defense spent big money on Leonard Williams and Blake Martinez this offseason, while cornerback DeAndre Baker seems unlikely to be available in 2020. Meanwhile, Joe Judge is a first-year head coach coming from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, which has borne such fruit as Matt Patricia, Brian Flores, and Romeo Crennel. While there’s reason for excitement with Flores, not one of those coaches crested six wins in their first season at the helm.

With a shaky roster, unproven head coach, and a 2-10 record over their last 12 games in 2019, the Giants are the best bet for bringing home that illustrious 2-14 season and securing the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Written By:

Benjamin Solak

Director of Special Projects

Director of Special Projects and Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast. The 3-Wide Raven.

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