With the COVID-19 pandemic being less than a year away from ending, it’s time to get back to ‘normal’ America sports betting. But how do you read American odds when no bookmaker is willing to give them? Well, it’s not as hard as you think. All you need to do is look at weekly winning percentages for the top professional sports teams in the United States.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are one of the most recognizable names in American football, having won the Super Bowl in both the ‘70s and ‘90s. Since 2009, the team has had one of the most dominant running backs in NFL history in Mark Ingram. In fact, in 2019, under head coach Joe Bouie, New Orleans scored the fifth-most points in a season in NFL history.
With Ingram at the forefront, fans of the team will know what they’re getting into. The 35-year-old has rushed for 964 yards this season, which is currently the 11th-most in NFL history. He also has 12 total touchdowns and an impressive average of 4.7 yards per carry.
While New Orleans has mostly been a success this season, the last year has been a struggle. With quarterback Drew Brees being a month or so away from turning 41 years old, the writing was on the wall that something was bound to give. Sure enough, in Week 17, New Orleans’ season came to an end as they lost 23-16 to the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. The team’s 2019 record is 2-14, which is the worst in the franchise’s history. Bookmakers now list the Saints as 7.5-point underdogs against the Pittsburgh Steelers in next week’s Divisional Round.
The defending Super Bowl champions are back this year with a vengeance. Pittsburgh rolled out the ‘Birds of a Feather Flock’ in their offseason, drafting a swarm of rookie quarterbacks including one with a direct link to Joe Namath: Tua Tagovailoa (10). However, the selection of Alabama’s Tua is a bit of a risk. The three-time first-team All-American only slightly exceeded the NCAA’s freshman eligibility requirements, and he’ll be making his much-anticipated pro debut in Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints.
But that’s not all the Steelers have in store. Roethlisberger, the heart and soul of the franchise, is back for his 19th season. He’s arguably the best quarterback in NFL history and helped the Steelers to five Super Bowl titles and 15 playoff appearances. Last year, the 41-year-old threw for 4,600 yards and 36 touchdowns, leading the Steelers to another dominant season. And at the age of 41, Roethlisberger is still going strong.
However, one would think that after such a magnificent career, Roethlisberger would find it difficult to live up to the high standards set by his predecessors. But that’s not the case, as 2019 has been yet another excellent season for the Steeler franchise. Behind Roethlisberger, the team utilized a true passing game. JuJu Smith-Schuster led the team with 77 receptions for 1,175 yards and nine touchdowns. Smith-Schuster also had six receptions for 131 yards and two scores in the thrilling 30-27 Wild Card Round win over the Los Angeles Rams. The team’s offensive output was even more impressive in the second half, amassing 21 first downs and 439 yards in the second half alone.
The story behind the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers is simple: they put the pedal to the metal each and every season, going all-out on offense and relying on the defense to hold things down. The result is always explosive football and plenty of points.
Jacksonville may not be a household name, but the team has been to the postseason 10 times in the last 14 years. Most recently, they made it to the AFC Championship Game in 2017 and 2018 before bowing out to the New England Patriots. However, it’s not like the Jags are one of the more accomplished teams in the league. Most experts agree that Jacksonville is one of the most disappointing teams in professional sports. It’s difficult to believe that the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense allowed 40.5 points per game this year, easily the highest in the league.
But, as was the case with the other two teams on this list, it’s not like Jacksonville is lacking for talent. Even though they’re pretty much a one-man show, head coach Doug Marrone is one of the best offensive minds in football. He coached the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs in 2015 and 2016 and led the Jags to an 8-8 record this year.
In fact, Marrone deserves a lot of credit for the surprising success of the 2019 Jacksonville Jaguars. Without the head coach, the Jags would be lucky to have even made the postseason. Marrone made the bold decision to change the culture in Jacksonville, not only bringing in new players but also demanding more from his existing ones. While most coaches and General Managers are content to rest on their laurels, Marrone is the exact opposite, driving his team to succeed year after year. Fans of the Jags should keep an eye out for Marrone in the near future, as he has a good chance of being one of the best head coaches in the league.
The Cleveland Browns haven’t had very much fortune over the years. The team hasn’t had a winning season since it moved to Cleveland, and it only made the playoffs once, that being in the 2004 season under Bill Belichick and Joe Thomas. Since then, the Browns haven’t done much better, amassing a 21-45 record and winning just once, in 2017. However, it’s not like the Browns haven’t had plenty of talent. Since 2014, the team has ranked in the top 5 offenses each year, mainly led by star running back Nick Chubb.
But it’s more than just the offense. The Browns also benefit from having the second-best defense in the NFL. While Chubb may have the tough job, he clearly had a breakout season, gaining 1,382 yards and 15 touchdowns. In fact, since coming back from injury in 2018, Chubb has rushed for 2,210 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The combination of Thomas and Chubb is a lethal one. Since the Heisman Trophy was first given out in 1967, only six running backs have won it. Chubb is one of the five, as well as the only one currently playing in the NFL.
It’s clear that the Browns are ready to break out of their 20-year dry spell, and with Thomas and Chubb at the helm, it’s a scary proposition for defenders.
The Tennessee Titans are another team that haven’t had much luck lately. After going 11-5 and making the playoffs in 2018, the team slumped to 7-9 and has been out of the postseason since. One would assume that this would be a rough spot for an NFL head coach. But that’s not the case for Mike Vrabel, who won the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2019. Since taking over for Mike Munchak in 2017, Vrabel has led the team to back-to-back playoff appearances and a 15-17 record. While the Titans haven’t seen a lot of success, it shouldn’t be pointed out that they have a pretty decent defense, too.
After intercepting Tom Brady four times in the first half, the Titans defense smothered the New England Patriots in the second half, holding them to just one touchdown and no points in the fourth quarter.
It’s not like the Titans have been standing still either. Since 2014, the team has ranked in the top 10 of both offense and defense each year. In 2019, the Titans led the NFL in both passing yards (7,235) and net passing yards (5,838). And perhaps most impressively, the team set a record by producing a 134.8-yard average per game, best in the NFL. With both starting quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill and Jacoby Brissett, returning for 2020, it will be interesting to see how the Titans do this year. Will they be able to build on their success from 2019, or will the numbers come back down to Earth? Regardless, the 20-year drought is over for the Tennessee Titans, and Mike Vrabel will have himself a good story to tell in the coming months.