2019 NFL Projection: Best and Worst Case Scenarios





A long-time sports handicapper who lives in Las Vegas told me that he loves to calculate "best-case scenarios" and "worst-case scenarios" for teams in the preceding season when deciding which over-under win totals he wants to bet. He looks at how many close games each team won and lost the previous season, then adjusts their best- and worst-case records accordingly. For example, if an 11-5 team won five games by four points or fewer (or in overtime), their worst-case record would be 6-10, given that the team easily could have lost those games. Conversely, if a 4-12 team lost six games by four points or fewer (or in overtime), their best-case record could have been 10-6.

This chart will measure the best- and worst-case records for each team, pertaining to wins and losses by four points or fewer, or in overtime. This can help us make determinations on which teams are overrated and underrated, allowing for more successful over-under win total wagers.

If you're skeptical, four of the greatest disparities from 2017 to 2018 were the Bears (5-11 to 8-8), Cardinals (8-8 to 4-12), the Steelers (13-3 to 8-8) and the Chargers (9-7 to 13-3). All four hit their respective over/unders.

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Best/Worst-Case Records: NFC East

Team
Real Record
Best Case
Worst Case
Cowboys
10-6
12-4
5-11
Eagles
9-7
12-4
6-10
Giants
5-11
9-7
3-13
Redskins
7-9
8-8
5-11


The Cowboys were very lucky last year, as they had five very close victories. Some regression is expected, which can't be a surprise because they're very poorly coached and perennially overrated. The Giants, conversely, had a 9-7 best-case record, but I wouldn't put too much stock into that because they lost Odell Beckham and Landon Collins.






Best/Worst-Case Records: NFC North

Team
Real Record
Best Case
Worst Case
Bears
12-4
15-1
11-5
Lions
6-10
9-7
4-12
Packers
6-9-1
10-6
3-13
Vikings
8-7-1
9-7
7-9


If you're expecting the Bears to regress as a result of a fluky 2018 outcome, think again. They actually lost quite a few close games, so their 12-4 was almost a 15-1. The Packers, meanwhile, are all over the place. They both won and lost a number of close games, but I suspect they'll improve in 2019 if Aaron Rodgers has better luck staying healthy.



Best/Worst-Case Records: NFC South

Team
Real Record
Best Case
Worst Case
Buccaneers
5-11
9-7
4-12
Falcons
7-9
10-6
5-11
Panthers
7-9
10-6
5-11
Saints
13-3
14-2
8-8


The Buccaneers are a good bet to perform above expectations. They lost four close games last year. With a far better head coach, they could make the jump to 8-8 or 9-7. Conversely, the Saints stick out as a team that could suffer some major regression. They won five close contests, so that 13-3 easily could have been 8-8.






Best/Worst-Case Records: NFC West

Team
Real Record
Best Case
Worst Case
49ers
4-12
8-8
2-14
Cardinals
3-13
7-9
1-15
Rams
13-3
13-3
10-6
Seahawks
10-6
13-3
6-10


The Seahawks had seven close games last year, which is a crazy number. What sticks out here, however, is that San Francisco and Arizona could have been 8-8 and 7-9 last year, respectively, despite abysmal quarterbacking. Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyler Murray should be able to get those wins, so the 49ers and Cardinals make for nice wagers.





Best/Worst-Case Records: AFC East

Team
Real Record
Best Case
Worst Case
Bills
6-10
8-8
3-13
Dolphins
7-9
8-8
4-12
Jets
4-12
7-9
3-13
Patriots
11-5
12-4
11-5


There's not much to see here. I like the Jets this year, but they had just three close losses. However, with Sam Darnold bound to make a big leap, and the roster being improved, New York should be able to challenge for a playoff spot.



Best/Worst-Case Records: AFC North

Team
Real Record
Best Case
Worst Case
Bengals
6-10
8-8
4-12
Browns
7-8-1
12-4
3-13
Ravens
10-6
13-3
8-8
Steelers
9-6-1
13-3
6-10


It's rather remarkable that the Browns would've finished 12-4 last year had they won all of their close games. They lost the tight contests because of poor coaching and inexperience at quarterback. That will change in 2019. Meanwhile, the Steelers are a great bet to bounce back, as they could have gone 13-3 in 2018.



Best/Worst-Case Records: AFC South

Team
Real Record
Best Case
Worst Case
Colts
10-6
12-4
6-10
Jaguars
5-11
9-7
5-11
Texans
11-5
14-2
6-10
Titans
9-7
11-5
5-11


The Colts could have been 6-10 last year, but won four close games. They improved their roster, however, so I don't expect regression. Conversely, the Texans prevailed in five close contests and did not upgrade the team, so expect Houston to decline in 2019. Interestingly, the Jaguars could've been 9-7 last year despite Blake Bortles' incompetence. Tennessee, meanwhile, could have been 5-11 last year, but eked out four close victories.



Best/Worst-Case Records: AFC West

Team
Real Record
Best Case
Worst Case
Broncos
6-10
10-6
3-13
Chargers
12-4
13-3
8-8
Chiefs
12-4
15-1
10-6
Raiders
4-12
5-11
1-15


Denver could be due to bounce back, though that would require Joe Flacco to stay healthy. The Chargers, meanwhile, enjoyed some unprecedented great luck last year, as losing all of their close games would've put them at 8-8.


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