There are a time and a place for celebrating futility. You see it when bad teams tank their way to the top pick in the NFL Draft, and you can also experience it by betting on which team will go winless the longest.
It’s horrifying to fathom, but if you’re betting on the right team to be “perfectly bad”, it could actually be a beautiful sight.
It’s ugly, but predicting the last winless team in the NFL in 2020 could actually be profitable.
The top NFL betting sites took down such props, but before the new year starts, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pushed back up online. If that happens, use my insight to make a winning bet.
To do so, let’s look at the teams most likely to be the last to win their first game in 2020.
Gardner Minshew II is at the helm for the Jags in 2020, which is either going to be a lot of fun, or it’ll be an epic disaster.
Statistically speaking, Minshew was actually pretty good as a rookie last year, as he fired in 21 passing touchdowns and went 6-6 as a starter.
The most reputable online sportsbooks don’t buy his “magic”, however, as the Jags are routinely projected to be the worst team in the NFL. I offered my take on the Jaguars’ 2020 win total predictions, too, and things don’t look particularly great for them.
While true, I’m not sold on the Jaguars lasting too deep into the 2020 season as a winless team. After facing the Colts and Titans in the first two weeks, they get the Dolphins, Bengals, and Lions over their first six contests.
Washington Football Team
You know it’s bad when your team doesn’t even have a name.
Washington is very much in limbo as 2020 approaches, as the franchise is bringing in a new head coach, they abandoned their longtime mascot, and pretty much everyone wants to see owner Daniel Snyder sell the franchise.
The team does have a nice story with the healthy return of Alex Smith, of course.
Washington does have a tough task in taking on the rival Eagles in week one, but that’s followed by bouts with the Cardinals, Browns, Giants (twice), Lions, and Bengals in the first half of the year.
The football team up in D.C. should still be bad, but they may not be an easy lock for this prop.
You laugh at the Dolphins now, but they actually progressed quite a bit ever since that horrendous week one beatdown by the hands of the Ravens.
In hindsight, Baltimore ended up being pretty good (14-2), and the Dolphins were still not a great team as they limped to a 5-11 finish. To be fair, though, Miami may end up starting an aging Ryan Fitzpatrick or an injury-prone rookie in Tua Tagovailoa.
After watching Miami start off 2019 at 0-6, they absolutely have to be in play for this wager.
The good news for Dolphins fans, though, is Miami did win five games a year ago, and they’re now much more talented than they were then. And even though they won just five games, they were pretty competitive for much of the others.
Miami is at risk of losing a lot of games again in 2020, and their early schedule isn’t very appealing. Week one sees them face Cam Newton and the Pats, while their only game against a losing team within their first six games comes against the Jaguars.
Facing Jacksonville in week three gives them a shot at staying away from this bet, but if they don’t beat Jacksonville, an 0-6 start (or worse) isn’t out of the question.
The Bengals owned the worst record in the NFL in 2019 and went longer than anyone (0-11) before notching their first victory last season.
Are they at risk of doing something similar for the second season in a row? Conventional wisdom suggests nobody can be that bad two years in a row. It’s also worth noting that the Bengals – as bad as they were – had numerous close games to start 2019.
Heck, in week one alone they lost to the Seahawks by one point. After that, they had five different games during that 0-11 start where they lost by a touchdown or less.
Cincy is also supposed to be better this year. Being the worst team in football has its perks, as it got them team LSU phenom Joe Burrow with the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Can Burrow come in and dominate right away? Nobody knows, but he should be good enough to keep Cincinnati interesting. Then again, it could go horribly.
Interesting or not, Cincy’s early-season schedule isn’t the easiest. Week one is a home date with a decent Chargers team, while a week four showdown with Jacksonville is their only “easy” game in their first nine games.
New York Giants
The G-Men are quite talented on paper. GM Dave Gettleman sure hears it from the media for his archaic team-building style, but he’s quietly pieced together a respectable roster.
It’s unknown where the Giants go from here, of course. They have talent, but it didn’t translate into much winning in 2019, and there’s nothing to guarantee it magically does this season.
New York opens the year in a tough spot against the Steelers in week one, and they’ll be challenged by a pretty tough schedule in the early going.
In their first five games, Big Blue gets the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, Rams, and Cowboys.
Some of those games could be sneaky spots to bet on the Giants, but I’d be shocked if they don’t enter each of those contests as the clear underdog.
New York could very easily enter a week six tilt with Washington at 0-5. Then you’d need to decide who wins that game to perhaps eliminate them from the running for this wager.
There are other teams that could have a rough go of it in 2020, but I’ll stop with the Panthers. When talking about teams that could struggle to the point where they are winless deep into the year, Carolina has to be in that mix.
Carolina actually has some nice offensive talent and has made some solid adjustments. However, they were not good the past two years, and in 2019 they lost their last eight games.
Christian McCaffrey alone makes the Panthers interesting, but Teddy Bridgewater has to again prove he can be a reliable starting quarterback. Matt Rhule also needs to show the NFL that he deserves to call the shots for a franchise.
There is a lot of unknown for this team, and it’s worth wondering how they’ll answer questions early on.
The Panthers do have some winnable games early in 2020, but even games against the Raiders, Cardinals, Chargers, and Falcons could go either way.
If we’re judging them based on who they were last season, Carolina could open the year 0-10. I’m not exactly predicting that, as I have too much respect for their offense, but it isn’t impossible.
Which NFL team Will Be the Last to Win a Game?
You’ll notice that teams like the Lions, Cardinals, and a few others are absent from this list.
That isn’t to say they positively can’t be the owner of the longest losing streak to start the 2020 NFL season. It just means I either think they’re better than that this year, or that they simply won’t suffer that ugly fate.
The teams above all feel like threats, but you should also always consider teams that could be headed for an epic collapse. Even if a couple of teams do regress, however, I think the team destined for the roughest start in 2020 is the Giants.
There are worse teams going into 2020, but it isn’t just about who starts the worst, or who has the least amount of talent. In this case, it has a lot to do with a brutal early-season schedule.
A lot of the teams New York is contending with for this bet have softer schedules to start the year. That, or they actually face early in the season, and could end up canceling each other out.
New York probably won’t start off worse than 0-5, but I think they’re at risk of getting to that point before they notch their first win. If that happens, they’re a solid bet to be the last NFL team to win a game in 2020.
Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.
When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.