The Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars are two of the biggest surprise teams of 2017. A year ago, the Rams ended their first season back in L.A. with a 4-12 record that included seven straight losses once they turned the ball over to top overall pick Jared Goff. In Jacksonville, the Jags finished 2016 with a 3-13 record, making it their sixth-straight season of five or fewer victories.
Fast forward a year and the outlook for each franchise – both with respective first year coaches Sean McVay and Doug Marrone – is much improved. Los Angeles (11-5) led the league in scoring and won the NFC West for the first time since 2003 while Jacksonville (10-6), on the strength of the No. 1 defense by DVOA, won the AFC South for the first time ever.
Heading into Wild Card Weekend, the Rams (-6.5 vs. Falcons) and Jags (-8.5 vs. Bills) have high expectations of advancing to the Divisional Round. But should bettors be concerned about backing teams (especially significant favorites) after a dramatic year-to-year turnaround?
L.A. and Sacksonville saw their win totals jump by seven games apiece. Since 1990, 23 other franchises had a win total improvement of seven or more games, with 20 of those teams making the playoffs. If we look at their history, the results will make fans – as well as bettors – of the Rams and Jags nervous.
Only seven of those 20 playoff teams made it to the conference championship game while three reached the Super Bowl. Just one, the 1999 St. Louis Rams, won it all. In all, the teams that made a big jump from one year to the next went 13-18 (41.9%) straight-up and 9-22 (29.0%) ATS in the playoffs.
Oddsmakers expect the Rams and Jags to advance to the divisional round, but history is not on their side to cover or make deep postseason runs.
Wild Card: Rams vs. Falcons
This Pro System is 23-11-1 (67.6%) ATS since 2003
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