NFL Betting: Which Team Will Win Last in 2017?

by Kevin Roberts
on August 18, 2017

A year ago the Cleveland Browns were in serious danger of matching some pretty gross history. Heading into week 16, the Browns were 0-14 and starting a winless season in the face.

Cleveland wasn’t going to be all by their own with the “accomplishment”, of course. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14 back in 1976 and the Detroit Lions were 0-16 in 2008. Still, regardless of order or company, hitting that mark wasn’t something the 2016 Browns wanted to be known for.

Against all odds, Cleveland sidestepped the record by beating the Chargers. That gave us a remarkable 15-week wait for the worst team in the league to finally get a win, though.

Considering how many awful teams the NFL has going into 2017, it’s fair to wonder just how long some teams will be waiting for that first win this year, as well.

Waiting Game

If you’re a fan of the teams that take forever to win their first game, it’s a long and grueling NFL season. If you’re not, it’s pretty hilarious to watch.

Even better than following along while certain teams struggle through a difficult year, you can make money based on their trials and tribulations.

That’s right, some of the top NFL betting sites are allowing us to wager money on which teams will take the longest to get their first win of the 2017 NFL season. Here are the latest odds, per Topbet.eu:

  • Chicago Bears +325
  • Cleveland Browns +400
  • San Francisco 49ers +550
  • New York Jets +625
  • Los Angeles Rams +700
  • Buffalo Bills +1000
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +1500
  • Los Angeles Chargers +1500
  • Cincinnati Bengals +3000
  • Detroit Lions +3000
  • New York Giants +4000
  • Miami Dolphins +5000
  • Philadelphia Eagles +5000
  • New Orleans Saints +5000
  • Minnesota Vikings +6000
  • Arizona Cardinals +6000
  • Denver Broncos +6000
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6500
  • Houston Texans +7500
  • Indianapolis Colts +7500
  • Kansas City Chiefs +8000
  • Washington Redskins +8000
  • Baltimore Ravens +10000
  • Green Bay Packers +10000
  • Dallas Cowboys +12000
  • Atlanta Falcons +15000
  • Tennessee Titans +15000
  • Carolina Panthers +15000
  • Oakland Raiders +20000
  • Seattle Seahawks +20000
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +20000
  • New England Patriots +30000

The least likely and most likely options probably stand out, as we can get a pretty good idea with a quick glance at the odds. The defending Super Bowl champs probably aren’t going to take the longest to get their first win of the year, while the teams with the worst odds are some of the worst in the league.

That doesn’t mean we can’t toss a few flier bets around or that the perceived “worst teams” are locks here, but it does paint a fairly logical picture.

Realistically, the teams to target here are the Jets, Bears, Browns, 49ers and Rams. None of these teams were any good a year ago and none will be all that much better in 2017.

There are a few sleepers to consider beyond the obvious options, of course. The Jaguars, Chargers and Lions are somewhat in play, although all three probably have too much talent to actually last deep into the year without a win.

Best Bets

All roads lead back to that core group, with the Browns, Jets, 49ers, Bears and Rams looking like our best bets to last deep into the 2017 NFL season without a win.

Here’s a case for each team:

Cleveland Browns

We have to start with the Browns, who have a tough task on their hands right away in week one, as they take on the mighty Steelers.

Things shouldn’t get off to an amazing start for Cleveland, who added some nice talent and in Deshone Kizer, but this team went 14 straight weeks without a win to open last season and obviously have a long ways to go before they can be trusted.

Looking at Cleveland’s 2017 schedule, they don’t have an obvious path to a win early on. Their first game that does look like one that they can handle is a home date with the Jets.

That’s pretty interesting, as these teams could both easily be winless when they face off in week five and whoever doesn’t win could vie for our money in this wager.

If Cleveland somehow fails to secure a home win over the Jets, they’re looking at week 10 or 11 being their next best bet to end their drought. Those weeks bring forth matchups against the Lions and Jaguars, but even those aren’t locks.

On paper, the Browns are looking at another rough season in 2017 and probably need to take down the Jets in week five to avoid another long drought.

New York Jets

We might as well pivot to the Jets, who could very much be in the same boat as the Browns. Obviously one of these teams won’t have a chance due to their week 5 showdown, but you could argue New York is behind the 8 ball here with that game being in Cleveland.

I doubt the Jets gain much momentum heading into that game, as New York is at Buffalo in week one and then battles the Raiders (also on the road) and then the Dolphins and Jaguars.

New York could actually steal a win or two somewhere in there, while they could also top the Browns in week five. After that, though, their schedule toughens up, as they take on the mostly playoff teams for the rest of the year.

New York’s lone bright spot after their stop in Cleveland is a date with the Bolts in – you guessed it – week 16. Could the Chargers lose to a 0-14 team for the second straight year? Who knows, but that’d certainly be very Chargers of them.

San Francisco 49ers

The Niners are going to be a tough team to gauge going into 2017. They have a completely new regime with rookie GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan taking over and they completely redid their roster.

Brian Hoyer is that annoying level of decent that makes the 49ers fairly competitive in random weeks, while Shanahan’s offensive success in the league makes you wonder if he can quickly turn a bad Niners team around.

San Francisco was so bad in 2016 that Blaine Gabbert was their quarterback for far too long and they won just two games all year – both against a terrible Rams team. They somehow destroyed L.A. in week one before losing their next 13 games.

That putrid streak shows us this team knows how to lose, so if they fall to the Panthers in week one (and they will), it’s fair to point to them as a solid bet here.

The one thing keeping me off the Niners is the Rams. San Francisco owned them last year and while their schedule as a whole looks tough, they get to face them twice – not to mention pretty early in week three.

As bad as the Niners might be, we need to consider their pedestrian talent could be more competitive than we’d like to think and facing the awful Rams could get them out of the running for this bet almost immediately.

Los Angeles Rams

Speaking of the Rams, they remain all kinds of awful. L.A. did make some good moves this offseason. They brought in a new head coach and they traded for Sammy Watkins, which hypothetically gives their offense a chance.

The Rams also still have a potential stud running back in Todd Gurley and a pretty stacked defense. The key issue is still the fact that Jared Goff isn’t any good. Maybe the former Cal product lights it up and shocks us all, but even if that happens, it might take some time to see it come to light.

L.A. doesn’t have it easy early on in 2017, as they’ll face the Colts in week one and the schedule only gets nastier from there. They have the same perk as the 49ers, though, as they get to take on San Francisco early in the season and also get a date with the Jaguars in week six.

Due to the talent on defense and in their running game, the Rams may not be as good of bets for this wager as we want them to be. That being said, if the Rams can’t avoid another Niner’s sweep and their road trip in Jacksonville doesn’t go well, it’s entirely plausible to see them go 0-16 when you look at their schedule.

Chicago Bears

Chicago is saved for last as they have an interesting situation and Topbet.eu marks them as the team with the best odds in terms of losing the longest in 2017.

The Bears were 3-13 last year and that was with Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer operating under center for half the year. Now the team is rolling into the fray with Mike Glennon.

Nobody wants to hear that, but it’s true and as long as Glennon is leading this offense, we can expect it to struggle. Chicago has some talent on offense and is supposed to be better defensively, but I can’t see a Glennon-led team doing anything of merit or really even consistently competing.

Chicago gets it about as bad as anyone in week one, when they host the stacked Falcons. That has to be a loss, and from there the Bears take on the Buccaneers, Packers, Vikings, Ravens, Panthers and Saints until their bye week mercifully arrives in week 9.

Right after that break, Chicago takes on the Packers and truly, their first realistic shot at a win comes the very next week at home against the Lions. If the 2016 version of Detroit shows up, though, that’s probably another loss and Chicago’s next chance to win comes in week 14 against the 49ers or week 16 against the Browns.

Chicago has a lot working against them, but they also have two perks: they do have several outs on their schedule and a switch to rookie passer Mitchell Trubisky at some point could make them fairly viable.

Last Team to Win

You could make a case for any of these teams, but the difference between a lot of these options and the Jets is a lack of actual optimism. New York shed a ton of veteran talent to give way to a full rebuilding process and they have very little to show for it.

The Jets just have a journeyman quarterback and a bunch of spare parts. At least the Rams, Bears and Browns have some light at the end of the tunnel via Goff, Trubisky and Kizer. The 49ers even at least have enough veterans to give it a go each week.

Josh McCown is the only thing standing between the Jets and a 0-16 season right now, as New York fans want no part of what Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg bring to the table. McCown can offer up serviceable play and competitiveness, but he’ll get hurt eventually and I doubt even his best play leads to wins.

New York will almost surely start 2017 off at 0-4 and I don’t even have much confidence they can make good on a trip to Cleveland in week 5. If that’s true, the Jets are going to face a long string of losses, barring a random upset that honestly wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Luckily New York also offers us some fun betting value at +625, too. Somehow they have just the 4th best odds here, yet they would be our favorite pick, regardless.

Pick: New York Jets (+625)

Will Anyone Go Winless?

While it’s interesting to look at which teams specifically could go the longest without a win this year, that brings up another bet; will anyone go winless?

Most NFL betting sites offer this wager, but we get updated odds over at BetOnline:

  • Yes +1000
  • No -1800

There is no value in rolling with the “no” side, but as you can see, sportsbooks are leaning on logic. We have seen a lot of close calls in NFL history, but only twice have we seen teams bad enough to go an entire year without winning a game.

In fact, we’ve only see it happen in the 16-game era once – with the aforementioned 2008 Lions. Detroit wasn’t good going into that year, but they had Calvin Johnson and needed a lot of injuries and bad luck to get that far without a victory.

The reality is it’s really hard for competitive, talented pro football teams to go 16 games without at least lucking into a win at some point.

The other question is if there are even teams bad enough to create new history in this disastrous category. I actually think we have several that could vie for it and we’ve gone over the five that make the most sense.

Because of the outs we have here and given how close Cleveland was to being the second 0-16 team ever, this does look like one of the best NFL prop bets we can take a chance on. I don’t mind a flier bet on it, but ultimately I don’t really see it happening.

Pick: No (-1800)
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