The Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs have both gotten off to amazing starts. Everyone anticipated the Rams would be this good. The Chiefs? Not so much.
Here they are, though, dominating through the first five weeks of the 2018 NFL season and making everyone else look bad.
A lot of teams are doing that well enough on their own, though. It took the Arizona Cardinals until just this past week to finally get a win, while several would-be Super Bowl threats are off to slow starts.
Green Bay (2-2-1), Pittsburgh (2-2-1), and Minnesota (2-2-1) all have a tie to their name and have looked inconsistent thus far this season.
Of course, those teams aren’t dead in the water just yet. They’ve had some solid games, and they remain quite talented.
They’re also not true “losing” teams. There are 15 of those, and a handful of them could still make a run at the playoffs. Here are my favorite four.
The Seahawks are a little better than anyone has given them credit for. They started off at 0-2, but their defense has come around, and they’re starting to run the ball pretty effectively.
As Doug Baldwin gets healthier, Russell Wilson should have a pretty balanced offense on his hands.
We saw the Seahawks give the undefeated Rams a real run for their money in week five, and this is still a team you don’t want to face in Seattle.
They’re just 2-3, and they won’t be winning the NFC West, but the NFC really isn’t as stacked as experts thought it’d be before the season started.
A 10-6 mark could get them into the playoffs as a wild card, especially with the NFC East looking like garbage and the NFC North looking so pedestrian behind the Bears.
Is it wise to bet on the Seahawks to win it all (+8000 at SportsBetting.ag)? No, but they’ve been there before, and they may have the balance and quarterback play to be a very dangerous wild-card team if they get in.
The Falcons are admittedly one more loss from their season possibly being over. And we’re going into week six. That’s damaging, I know, but I can’t get over how talented this team still is.
Devonta Freeman hasn’t been healthy, and Julio Jones hasn’t even scored a touchdown, yet Matt Ryan has led one of the more dynamic offenses in football.
Atlanta didn’t really show up last week in Pittsburgh, and their defense has left them hanging, but they’re too stacked to be 1-4.
Truth be told, outside of that Steelers loss, the Falcons have been in every game this year and could just as easily be 4-1.
Atlanta is a very unlikely title threat as they stand, but they have the ability to get hot and go on a run. That’s why the top NFL betting sites (+6600 at SportsBetting.ag) can’t quit them just yet when it comes to their Super Bowl odds.
I also don’t hate the Texans, who have dug deep and scored two big overtime wins in back-to-back weeks.
Call them lucky – call them what you want – but the Texans have a pretty dangerous offense and a defense that is more than capable of maturing into an elite unit.
I’d say the latter is more necessary for them to make some serious noise, but at 2-3 in a fairly wide-open AFC South (Jaguars lead with a 3-2 record), the Texans very much are in control of their own fate going forward.
Many pegged Houston as a sneaky Super Bowl 53 sleeper to start the year, and a slow start has dropped their title odds to just +4000.
That’s still not the best price for a 2-3 team that resides in the same conference as the Chiefs, Jaguars, and Patriots, but I do think Houston has a shot at turning this thing around.
Getting hot can solve a lot of problems. With two straight wins and matchups with the Bills, Jaguars, Dolphins, and Broncos on the horizon, the Texans could make a huge jump in the standings if they can stay dialed in and keep getting victories.
Just keep in mind that an 0-3 team has gone on to even make the playoffs just five times since 1980.
Lastly, I refuse to give up on the Philadelphia Eagles.
They aren’t off to an ideal start at 2-3, but let’s give them a break. Not only was Carson Wentz out (knee) for the first two weeks of the year, but he’s still just getting acclimated on the fly again.
Philly dropped two winnable games recently against the Titans and Vikings, but Wentz still heads a pretty potent offense.
If the rumors about trading for LeSean McCoy or Le’Veon Bell actually amount to something, the Eagles could get even better on offense in a hurry.
I’m a bit surprised Philly’s defense has been so shaky. Jalen Mills was a major asset for them during their title run a year ago, but he’s struggled mightily in 2018. If he can correct his issues and quit sabotaging a talented unit, the Eagles could still field one of the most balanced rosters in the league.
The beauty here is that the NFC East is just trash. The Redskins tentatively hold the top spot at 2-2, but the Eagles are one win away from getting back where they belong.
It’s up to Philly to actually translate their talent into wins, but if they can repeat as division champs and make the playoffs, I doubt this is a team anyone will want to run into come postseason play.
That all makes the Eagles a compelling bet (+2500) as things stand.
This isn’t just about winning a Super Bowl, and if you want to stretch your neck and take a look at the other 11 teams with a losing record, feel free.
However, slow starts happen to the best of teams, and they can absolutely be overcome.
Usually, it takes the right combination of health, matchups, and scheduling to make it happen, but I think if things break just right, all four of these teams are valid threats to rise up and contend for a playoff spot at the very least.
At this point, the Falcons are the least likely to make it happen of this particular group, and Philly is easily the most likely.
Overall, keep in mind that good teams start slowly and go on hot runs all the time. The Minnesota Vikings were 2-3 before finishing 11-5 and getting to the NFC title game last year. The New England Patriots lost their season opener in 2017 and went on to compete in the Super Bowl.
The point is that it can be profitable sometimes to ignore the noise surrounding the teams that look to be the best right now. While they may end up being the correct bets, it’s also possible some slow-starters could be amazing pivots in NFL betting circles.
Whether you decide to toss some money on these four teams or target the chalk (Patriots, Saints, Rams, and Chiefs), I wish you luck.
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