At the time of writing, we’re a few weeks into the NFL season. As with every season, we’ve already seen quite a few surprises. The Kansas City Chiefs are 1-1 and can easily be 0-2.
The formerly 80/1 longshot Las Vegas Raiders are 2-0. Ditto for the supposedly weak Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, and Arizona Cardinals. The Seattle Seahawks lost to a team whose division rival crushed them in Week 1, and the Minnesota Vikings sit at 0-2 after losing in the worst ways possible.
And odds are, you probably bet on one of these teams in the futures realm. So, should you throw in the towel and call it a lost season now that your Chiefs nearly dropped two games in a row? Or that your Vikings won’t dig themselves out of this hole?
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Don’t fret. Here are a few reasons why.
1 – It’s Futures Betting for a Reason
The beauty of NFL futures betting is just that— it’s NFL futures betting, and I cannot stress that enough. So, who cares if your team does not look playoff-worthy after two weeks. Hey, if your Super Bowl bet is 0-4 or in the Chiefs’ case, 2-2, and it’s not looking good, then you can panic.
But because your team is not as hot early as they could or even should be is no reason to fret. In fact, it could be a good thing. Teams can peak early, and teams can also collapse. Other teams won’t mesh for one reason or another until well after a month into the season.
Don’t worry about two- or even three-game losing streaks. “Let’s see what happens in October,” is a popular sentiment around the league. And it’s one you need to take to heart. When you engage in futures betting, September is nothing more than a few preseason games that you shouldn’t base your bets on.
Wait it out until late in October, which is when the going gets good. Other times, especially if your Super Bowl bet is hovering around .500, it’s wise to keep your cool until November or even December.
Let’s look at a few examples from NFL’s past where things looked hopeless for two NFL teams, only for them to end the season by hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
2 – Popular Examples From the Past
If betting on football was as commonplace back in the day, 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers would have been a popular Super Bowl bet, given their 15-1 finish in 2004 and trip to the AFC Championship with rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
However, the Steelers slumped at mid-season, tanking from 7-2 to 7-5. They were only making the playoffs that year if they finished 4-0, and when they did, they snuck in as the sixth seed. You know what happened: They became the first sixth-seeded team to win the Super Bowl.
And another team snuck into the playoffs as a fifth seed just last season. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are a perfect example that you should not give up, with his squad starting off at 7-5, and finishing second in the NFC South.
They even lost 38-3 to the New Orleans Saints. Hmmm, didn’t the Saints recently beat another popular Super Bowl bet 38-3 one week before the writing of today’s post? If you placed a bet on the Green Bay Packers, the above example should give you comfort.
Sports betting is more common these days, and the use of betting apps is growing right along with it!
3 – Dark Horses Can Collapse
There are always dark horse teams out there that shock everyone, including themselves. And you probably know of a few of them. In 2020, the Browns were a popular dark horse, given their sheer talent and subsequent 11-5 record. Even if they remained a long shot.
Other times, teams who started the year off with 50-plus to 1 to win the Super Bowl, represent their conference in the Super Bowl or even win their division look like someone you should have considered a few months before.
If it wasn’t for quarterback Kyler Murray getting banged up, perhaps the Cardinals would have won a few faithful NFL futures bettors money, but they didn’t.
The New Orleans Saints were a not-so-dark horse Super Bowl bet in 2020 because about everyone in the NFL Universe knew it was probably Drew Brees’ last hurrah.
And it was. Many had the Saints pegged to face the Kansas City Chiefs. However, others bet on the Buccaneers (see above section). We know what happened. After sweeping the Bucs in the regular season, including a 38-3 win, the Saints collapsed in the playoffs and Brees retired following the season.
A popular team way back in the day was the 2003 Minnesota Vikings. Again, sports betting was nowhere near the thing it is today, but it’s a great example for this section. As you know, the Vikings finished the season 6-10 in 2002, and no one gave them much of a chance heading into 2003.
They stunned the league by winning their first six games, only to fall back to Earth over the next four weeks. Sitting at 6-4, the Vikings won every other game, putting them at 9-6 and into a Week 17 duel with the lowly Arizona Cardinals – a team that, at the beginning of the season, were predicted by some to finish 0-16.
What’s even funnier is that the Cardinals would have locked up the first overall pick that they admittedly would have used on Larry Fitzgerald (despite Eli Manning’s presence) had they lost. But a controversial call sealed the Vikings’ fate, and they ended up missing the playoffs.
Know who won the Super Bowl in 2003? A man named Brady and his Patriots, who only suffered a 31-0 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills and his predecessor, Drew Bledsoe. The Patriots also sat at 2-2 after a narrow loss to Washington and they never lost again after that.
Once again, there was no need to panic because the Patriots happened to have one bad game to open the season.
4 – Everyone Has a Bad Game
Good team, bad team, terrible team, elite team. Teams have bad games. Good teams lose to marginal teams, bad teams upset elite teams, and of course, injuries will take a toll on a team.
For example, most thought the Pittsburgh Steelers would handle the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2 of the 2021 Season. But a plethora of injuries on the defensive side of the ball stuffed the Steelers and their offense could not compensate, losing in a 26-17 effort.
Against Dallas in Week 2, Justin Herbert, who took the league by storm in 2020, played what may have been the worst game of his career outside the 45-0 debacle in 2020 against the New England Patriots. The Chargers are still a great team and a solid Super Bowl bet; they just could not handle the Cowboys.
5 – Stranger Things Have Happened
The Washington Football Team is another team that bettors liked if they wanted to add some risk to their Super Bowl bet. They were even more popular of a bet to win the NFC East, given their second-ranked defense in 2020, plus their addition of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to an offense that boasted lethal weapons.
In Week 1, Fitzpatrick was injured in what was already a mediocre outing. Enter Taylor Heinicke, who one season before the writing of today’s post, was taking online math classes at Old Dominion, thinking his NFL career was over.
Of course, Washington ended up losing, but they prevailed in Week 2, and Heinicke, a former undrafted free agent from a small school, looked like the next Tony Romo at times. So, again, just because a key starter goes down and a team has to start a no-name backup also doesn’t mean they’re a wasted futures bet.
Remember the 1999 St. Louis Rams? When Kurt Warner took over for a team that would have had longer than long odds to win the Super Bowl?
Strange things happen. And sometimes an injury to a key player that would initially make you think the season is over and you’re going to end up taking a loss could transform into something else.
Our Final Thoughts
Remember, you’ve engaged in NFL futures betting, not week-to-week betting. That alone should remind you not to throw in the towel. Popular futures bets will slump at times and can easily end up hoisting the Lombardi, like the 2005 Steelers and 2020 Buccaneers.
Those dark horses that make your friends look like NFL futures betting geniuses often collapse. It happens at least once a year. Every good team will have a bad game or even a couple of bad games. But again, it means nothing.
And sometimes, a strange event can lead to a profit. As with the example above, if Washington was your team to win the NFC East, all hope is not yet lost.