NFL FUTURES: What are the Odds of a Perfect or Imperfect NFL Season in 2014?
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | August 15, 2014
If a team wins 62.5% of its games in MLB, the NBA or NHL it is one of the best clubs in the league and a championship favorite. Failure is built into their long schedules; it’s a battle of attrition.
The NFL regular season is composed of 16 games, so they all matter. A team winning 62.5% of its games (10 of 16) might not even make the playoffs. Last season’s Arizona Cardinals didn’t. So clearly the NFL is the only major U.S. league with a chance for a perfect or imperfect season. Might we see one this year?
Only the 2007 New England Patriots managed to finish a 16-game season undefeated. They set the NFL single-season scoring record with 589 points, (since broken). Tom Brady threw for a record 50 touchdowns, and Randy Moss broke the record for most touchdown catches with 23.
That club was a juggernaut. It was favored in three games by at least 20 points. In fact, the Patriots were double-digit favorites in 11 of their 16 regular-season games, including the final seven. Yet as good as they were, four of their victories came by four points or fewer. New England could have easily finished 12-4. Sometimes you have to be both lucky and good.
Five teams have finished one loss from a perfect regular season, including two of the best teams in NFL history: the 1984 Joe Montana/Jerry San Francisco 49ers and 1985 “Super Bowl Shuffle” Chicago Bears, who each won the Super Bowl in a rout. The 2011 Green Bay Packers had
the most recent 15-1 season one year after winning the Super Bowl. That 2011 club lost its first playoff game in a home upset to the Giants, who would go on to win the NFL title as a wild card. In fact, the past three 15-1 teams have all failed to make the Super Bowl. The 2004 Steelers and 1998 Vikings each lost at home in the conference championship game.
A team going 16-0 this regular season is a yes-only +3300 prop at Bovada. A club going 19-0 and winning the Super Bowl as those 2007 Patriots nearly did is priced at +12500. Some bettors roll the dice on these props every year. Denver’s 11.5 wins total is the highest of any team for the upcoming season. The second-highest is Seattle at 11. The chances of either team going undefeated are slim because they play each other and the San Francisco 49ers.
On the flip side, a team going 0-16 is also priced at +3300. That only happened in 2008 with the Detroit Lions under Coach Rod Marinelli. However, even that wretched club could have gone 3-13. It lost by two in Minnesota on a last-second field goal, by four in Chicago on a Bears’ touchdown pass with 5:44 remaining, and by four at home against the Vikings in another late finish.
While only five teams have finished one win less of 16-0, there have been nine clubs with just one loss from 0-16. The 2009 Rams were the last 1-15 team. They only managed to beat the Lions, who would “improve” to 2-14 the year after NFL infamy.