Seeing the Futures: Forget MAKING the Playoffs. Bet on Teams to MISS the Postseason

Cameron Smith

As bettors slowly but surely turn toward NFL futures, the odds on teams to make the playoffs continue to tumble. There's a structural problem with that: 25There are only 12 playoff slots.

So, how does one take advantage of the relative largesse of NFL fans? By going against the grain and betting on teams to miss the playoffs rather than make them.

As noted by SportsBettingDime, the aggregate implied probably of the league's current playoff odds would see 14 teams make the postseason. Obviously that isn't going to happen, and is a result of the odds shifting as more money has come in for particular teams. Of the 32 teams in the league, 22 had their playoff odds shorten from when they were first released in May. Incredibly, the largest jump forward was made by the Raiders, who still find themselves at +325 to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, teams like the Cardinals, Bills, Bengals, Lions, Dolphins and Steelers all saw their odds shorten by +150 or more.

Excepting the Steelers, whose odds went from +100 to -110 (they lose Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell and fans still bet them into favorites? Steelers Nation, everybody!), here are the final 2018 Quality Stat Power Rankings for each of those other teams that made significant leaps forward in the odds:

Cardinals
Bills
Bengals
Lions
Dolphins
31
22
24
26
28

All of those teams finished in the final third of the rankings. Only one escaped the bottom 25 percent. None of these teams should making the playoffs in 2019.

Of course, that hardly means that none of them will. But it does highlight the potential for scalable wins by betting on all those teams to miss the playoffs.

Here are those odds:

Cardinals
Bills
Bengals
Lions
Dolphins
-1100
-500
-800
-450
-1500

That's an outlay of $4,350 to win $500. And that's assuming all these bets are made independently, and not as part of a parlay that would rack up higher returns. Still, when the struggles are as mighty as the ones facing those teams — maybe the Bengals are an outside playoff contender, per our analysis — placing an aggregate bet of $4,000+ doesn't seem quite so risky.

Are these bets to make? That depends on one's risk tolerance. What's certain is that this $500 certainly seems much more likely to hit than any bet contingent on the Cardinals making the postseason.