With NFL Training Camp right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to look at some of the most over-hyped teams of this century. For this list, I will look at the Vegas Odds of every team heading into the season and see which teams had the biggest drop off at season’s end with their final record. In order to be considered for this list, the team must have had their Vegas Odds be at least 8 wins before the season started. Since there will be some ties between teams for win differentials, the tiebreaker will be settled by how hyped that team was. That means that the tiebreaker is based on the higher win total in the Vegas Odds. Also, I will be discussing these win totals as being “win predictions”. This will lead to some teams having win predictions with “.5” at the end of them. Obviously teams can’t win half a game, but when it comes to this top 10 list, it helps to add them in there. So let’s begin.
10. 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars (Win Differential: -5)
The Jaguars started off the 2008 season predicted to win 10 games. After coming off an 11-5 season the year before, this prediction didn’t seem too crazy. However, after several injuries to their offensive line and one crazy incident 1, the Jaguars saw themselves finish with a 5-11 record. It is last time the Jaguars have had their win prediction in the double digits.
9. 2004 Miami Dolphins (Win Differential: -5.5)
After going 10-6 the year before, the Dolphins came into the 2004 season predicted to win 9.5 games. The team seemed like it had a real chance to make the playoffs until the shocking retirement of Ricky Williams, their star running back, before the season started. His retirement put the team in a hole that it could never get out off. The Dolphins lost the first 9 of their 10 games to start the season and finished with a 4-12 record.
8. 2015 Dallas Cowboys (Win Differential: -5.5)
The Dallas Cowboys were one of the best teams in the 2014 NFL season. They had a 12-4 record, 8 pro bowlers, and went toe-to-toe with the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs 2. The Cowboys started the 2015 season 2-0 and looked to make their 9.5 win prediction seem a little low. However, after injuries to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys lost 7 straight and ended the season with a 4-12 record, making their bandwagon fans disappear for a year 3.
7. 2003 Oakland Raiders (Win Differential: -5.5)
After going to the Super Bowl and having an 11-5 record the year before, the Raiders were predicted to win 9.5 games. They had Rich Gannon, the MVP the year before, they had two star wide receivers in Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, and stars on their defense in Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson. However, the next year the Raiders went 4-12, losing 7 of those games by a touchdown or less. The reason they are ranked ahead of the 2015 Cowboys and the 2004 Dolphins is that this team came off a Super Bowl appearance, which over-hyped them a little more than the other two teams.
6. 2005 Philadelphia Eagles (Wind Differential: -5.5)
The 2005 Eagles saw themselves doing the same thing as the 2003 Raiders did. Like the Raiders, the Eagles made the Super Bowl the year before and lost 5.5 more games than they were expected to. However, the Eagles were predicted to win 11.5 games, a very high win prediction for any team. They ended up going 6-10, mainly because of the problems they had with Terrell Owens. The year before, T.O. was arguably the best receiver in football. The next year, he was more of a problem than a benefit. This and the injuries they had to Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook that year lead them to having such a bad season.
5. 2012 Kansas City Chiefs (Win Differential: -6)
The Chiefs came into the 2012 season with hopes of improvement from their 7-9 season the year before. Instead, they went in the wrong direction. After being predicted to win 8 games before the season, the Chiefs went a whopping 2-14. Even with this shockingly poor record, they were still able to have 6 pro bowlers, 3 of them from their linebacker core. For a team with such a bad record, having one pro bowler would be shocking. It just shows that even if you have a poor season, the hype can stay with you.
4. 2012 Philadelphia Eagles (Win Differential: -6)
The 2012 season saw another team lose 6 more games than expected. The Eagles were predicted to win 10 games heading into the 2012 season. The Eagles went into the season expecting to make a playoff push with Head Coach Andy Reid and their starting Quarterback Michael Vick. After starting the season 3-1, the Eagles seemed like they were right on track to do so. They instead lost 11 of their last 12 games ending with a 4-12 record. Andy Reid ended up getting fired and Nick Foles took over as their starting quarterback the next season.
3. 2013 Atlanta Falcons (Win Differential: -6)
Unlike every other team on this list, the Atlanta Falcons had the best record in their respective conference the year before. They went 13-3 in 2012 and ended up being only 4 points from making the Super Bowl. The expectations that came the next year were very high as they were predicted to win 10 games. The Falcons never seemed to get going as they finished the season 4-12.
2. 2011 Indianapolis Colts (Win Differential: -7.5)
The Colts went into the 2011 season expecting make their 10th consecutive playoff appearance. Their dominance of the past decade and a 10-6 record the year before gave the Colts a win prediction of 9.5 wins. However, the Colts lost Peyton Manning before the season even started to a neck injury. He would be out the entire season and the Colts wouldn’t win their first game until week 15. The Colts ended with a 2-14 record, released Peyton Manning, and started a new era with Andrew Luck. Just goes to show how valuable a good quarterback truly is to a team.
1. 2013 Houston Texans (Win Differential: -8.5)
The 2013 Texans seemed like a true Super Bowl contender heading into the season. They came off a 12-4 season the year before, had arguably the best defensive player in the NFL in JJ Watt, and a great offense with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. They were predicted to win 10.5 games going into the season and after starting 2-0, seemed poise to make a run. What seemed like a promising start quickly turned into a miserable season. The Texans lost the next 14 games and finished 2-14. Both their Head Coach and Quarterback lost their job the next season and the Texans haven’t truly been great ever since.
Vegas every year offers their Win Total predictions for every NFL team. It offers the fans with a perspective on what the experts expect their teams to do. In most cases, teams end up with win totals very close to their Vegas predictions. When it comes to teams on this list, they came into the season with high expectations and ended with high draft picks. Sometimes being hyped is not a good thing. For teams on this list, the season might have been better if they flew under the radar a little bit.