NFL season prop betting: Last undefeated team
When placing bets on teams to remain undefeated the longest, keep in mind that the Cardinals were the final undefeated team last season, while the Steelers were 11-0 in 2020. Neither team could win a playoff game, so early-season success and postseason success aren't inextricably related.
When it comes to this market, the board looks a little bit different from overall expectations. Like playing in a survivor pool, you aren't necessarily trying to survive, you're trying to win, even if that means you're out early.
Last undefeated team
Los Angeles Chargers (+700)
The choice of favorite certainly speaks to the uniqueness of this market. It's not about who the best team is, nor is it about who's most likely to win in Week 1 or even Week 2. The Chargers are favorites because of their schedule after their visit to the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football to start the season's second week.
Stealing a page from our offseason preview, here is the Chargers' schedule from Weeks 3-9:
Using the current moneyline prices, Los Angeles is +270 to begin the season 2-0. If they can survive a tough two games in five days, there's a good chance the Chargers start 5-0. Then their moneyline odds project to multiply as follows:
If you think 5-0 would be good enough to make the Chargers the last undefeated team, then a bet at +700 before they take on the Broncos in a tightly lined game is the way to play it value-wise. Even if there's another team at 5-0, needing a win at home over Denver - followed by the rest of L.A.'s first-half slate - isn't a bad backup plan.
The oddsmakers' hint
The other most notable element in this market is the placement of a team's bye week. Months of research have concluded that NFL teams cannot, in fact, lose during their bye week - it's the Bingo free space of this market!
Unfortunately for bettors, the list of teams on their bye during Week 6 - the first week that teams can have a bye - is uninspiring:
A list of more interesting teams have a bye in Week 7:
The Bills visit the Rams, Chiefs, Ravens, and division-rival Dolphins before their bye and are still just +800 to stay alive in their own personal survivor contest. The second-choice Rams are +750 but aren't even favored in their first game, so we'll look to the less-heralded teams for a bet.
Philadelphia Eagles (+1400)
After being a 4-point favorite in Week 1 at Detroit, the Eagles actually host the Vikings in Week 2 so have the upper hand there. In their next four games, the Eagles are only underdogs at Arizona - by less than a field goal.
Oddsmakers are well aware of how a team's schedule can affect its win probability in this market. The Eagles are the 13th choice for most wins this season, but they're listed eighth here.
Oddsmakers are providing a hint as to who might have an artificially enhanced record through the first half of the season, so why not take a shot at things falling the right way for either the Chargers, Eagles, or both before their relatively early bye week?
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.