Betting that None of the California NFL Teams Make Playoffs Again is a Sucker Bet

Raiders, Chargers, and Rams

Betting that None of the California NFL Teams Make Playoffs Again is a Sucker Bet


Betting that None of the California NFL Teams Make Playoffs Again is a Sucker Bet

With the Rams returning to Los Angeles, California again has four NFL teams. None of those franchises made the playoffs, or had a winning record, a year ago. Same story for 2014, where San Diego finished with the best record of the group at 9-7, but out of the playoffs.

So maybe these odds, as noted by Sam Farmer, look enticing, given the recent history and outlook of the teams:

Farmer confirmed that those came from this site. Using the individual odds of making the playoffs at the site (and adjusting for big), I came up with the following percentages to make the postseason:

San Francisco 49ers: 8.7%

San Diego Chargers: 14.5%

Los Angeles Rams: 16.3%

Oakland Raiders: 38.4%

None of them are favorites to reach the postseason. Three of them could be considered long shots, and yes, I provided a reason why Oakland may not take a leap forward as much as expected. It’s easy to see why it would be difficult to stomach banking on a California team reaching the playoffs. Of course, when I run the chances of none of them making it, assuming those percentages above, I get only 40% that none of them make it.

Or, to put it another way, even by this site’s own numbers, there’s a 60% chance that at least one of the California teams makes the postseason.

That also assumes independence, that if San Francisco is truly terrible, it doesn’t help the Rams, or vice versa. Since these four teams play in two divisions, they are a collapse by someone in front of them from swinging their chances. Not likely, but recent history is littered with such cases.

That site may also be more bearish on some of the team odds. When I compared to the odds in this Sporting News piece from May, I got a 70% chance that at least one reaches the postseason.

That may sound crazy, but remember, expect the unexpected in the NFL. While you may not fancy any particular team’s chances, taking the field is often a good move.

Don’t believe me?

Of the 27 teams that went 3-13 or worse since 2002 (when the league went to the 8 division format), five of them reached the postseason the next year (18.5%). So basically, the collectively worst teams in the league a year earlier have outperformed where this site has the odds of three California teams.

Basically, if you had taken the four worst teams from the previous year (by wins, ties broken by point differential) and done this bet that none would reach the playoffs, you would have lost 8 of 13 years.

Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco weren’t collectively the four worst teams last year, so even that is an extreme example. When I ran permutations of each year, using teams that had 7, 7, 5, and 4 wins like these four a year ago, I came up with an average of 75% that you would get at least one of them in the playoffs a year later. Taking a random collection of two 7 win teams, a 5 win team, and a 4 win team would have made you a loser 75% of the time if you bet none would reach the postseason.

I know it’s hard to project which team will make the playoffs. But in the NFL, accounting for uncertainty is usually the way to go. Even if most of these teams look like they will struggle, history and real life is filled with surprises. Don’t fall for this bet and go against that history.

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