Five games might not mean much in many sports, but in American Football, it equals to more than 30% of the NFL 2018 season (well, regular season), so it is already time to compare expectations versus reality for each team! Yes, from the 6th of September 75 games have been played, some favorites won while a good number of upsets have happened; so let’s try to recap what each teams expectations were and how the reality of results is.
To keep things in order let’s have a look at each division’s standings, starting from those in the American Football Conference…
The situation in the NFL 2018 Season in the American Football Conference after 5 regular season.
New England Patriots
- Expectations: NFL 2018 Season Super Bowl winner number 1 favorite.
- Reality: The start of the season was ups and downs as their 3-2 record shows. The defense has been weaker than expected, while the offense is doing fine while the veteran Brady leading the troops. Qualifying for playoffs is an easy thing for the Patriots as the level in the division is low. So postseason is most likely happening, but they need more that they showed us so far to have a real shot at the title.
- Expectations: Almost none as usual, playoffs are technically possible but look like a mirage.
- Reality: A sprint start to the season with three straight wins. Unfortunately 2 losses in the last 2 games brought the Dolphins back down to planet earth. It’ll be very tough for them to qualify for the postseason.
- Expectations: Try to win some games.
- Reality: A couple of very surprising wins already at Minnesota and against the Tennessee Titans. Very bad defense with an offense that is guided by a rookie quarterback (Josh Allen) which is still too green. Tough season, in line with expectations.
New York Jets
- Expectations: Get some wins.
- Reality: Two nice wins already in this NFL 2018 season, with their rookie quarterback (Sam Darnold) playing well, while their defense has been poor. Transition and growth year, hoping in a brighter future.
- Expectations: Playoff berth looked like a mirage.
- Reality: Much better than expected. Fast start (4-1): strong offense with a shining quarterback (Andy Dalton). The defense needs improvement, they will battle till the end to win the division.
- Expectations: Fight for a playoff spot without too much hope.
- Reality: Ups and downs, especially when it comes to their offense. Solid defense and a very tight division, which means that the Ravens even have chances to win it.
- Expectations: Try to get a few wins.
- Reality: Better than expected with their first win after waiting for 1 and a half seasons. A couple of losses win close results and even a second win in these first 5 weeks of the NFL 2018 season. Their rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is gaining experience and that will be good for the next season.
- Expectations: Playoffs.
- Reality: Bad start; the offense looks good, but their defense has been awful. The feeling is that the team is not really reliable; it will be tougher than expected to confirm the expectations.
- Expectations: Fight for playoffs.
- Reality: In line with expectations. They have a mediocre offense and a great defense. Given the balanced division, their playoff chances will last till the end.
- Expectations: Confirm a playoff spot.
- Reality: A little bit under expectations; the defense is very good but the offense is still not good enough. Still good chances to win the division.
- Expectations: A playoffs spot in the NFL 2018 Season was forecasted by many.
- Reality: The team is struggling in all units. Very bad start with 3 losses and even if they won their last 2 games to keep their post-season hopes alive, they need to do their best (and more) to reach playoffs.
- Expectations: A NFL 2018 season with no chances of playoff qualifications.
- Reality: Expectations confirmed, 4 losses in 5 matches and season looks compromised. Andrew Luck alone is not enough.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Expectations: A tough battle to gain a spot in this NFL 2018 Season.
- Reality: An amazing start to the season with a surprisingly good rookie quarterback (Patrick Mahomes). Five wins in 5 matches, with their quarterback always shining; their defense can improve but, for now, the best team in the league together with the Los Angeles Rams.
Los Angeles Chargers
- Expectations: Concrete playoff chances.
- Reality: Inconstant team that has been mediocre in both offense and defense. They need to step up and do it quickly to make it to the playoffs.
- Expectations: A tough 2018 NFL season, tough to make it to the playoffs.
- Reality: Exactly as predicted. Case Keenum is playing badly, the defense is bad as well, tough season.
- Expectations: Involved in the race for playoffs.
- Reality: Worse than expectations; the offense is a flop despite the big names, their defense hasn’t shown up yet and their season is compromised after 4 losses in 5 games.
Let’s move on to the second conference…
The situation in the NFL 2018 Season in the National Football Conference after 5 regular season.
- Expectations: A tough season with no post-season hopes.
- Reality: Their season is going better than forecasted. Their record in this NFL 2018 season is 1 win and 1 loss both at home and on the road, but they have shown to be much more competitive at home than away from FedExField. Their schedule is very tough, we don’t think they will make it to the playoffs.
- Expectations: Fight for a playoff spot.
- Reality: Their start to the season was more negative than positive. The offense does not look good and so does their defense, we don’t see them keeping up with their expectations.
- Expectations: Make it to the playoffs plus try to defend last season’s title.
- Reality: The start of the season was very negative; the offense is not working and the defense is nothing like last season’s. There is still time to recover given the weak division, but the Eagles don’t seem to be the same team they were last year.
New York Giants
- Expectations: Not many, only a small chance to qualify to playoffs.
- Reality: Even worse than expected, 4 losses in 5 games. The offense is not bad, their defense is non-existing. Their only playoff hope is the very balanced division they play in.
- Expectations: An anonymous season.
- Reality: A surprisingly good start to the season with good performances by their quarterback Trubisky. The defense good much better when they acquired Mack; the Bears can fight for that playoff spot till the very end, but it won’t be easy.
Green Bay Packers
- Expectations: Easy qualification to the playoffs and a possible Super Bowl title contender.
- Reality: Negative start; the defense has been very weak, their offense is 100% based on Rodgers, who is phenomenal but non enough for now. There’s enough time to bounce back.
- Expectations: Easy qualification to the postseason and title hopes.
- Reality: The beginning of the season was very negative. Their quarterback, Cousins, has yet to get used to his new teammates and plays. Not only that, their 2-2 record include a shocking loss at home against the Buffalo Bills. The defense does not look like the strong unit that has always been. Last week’s win against the defending champions (Philadelphia Eagles) can boost their hopes in a very balanced division.
- Expectations: Almost no chances to make it to the playoffs.
- Reality: In line with what we were expecting; Offense and Defense looked good at home (2-1 record), while they are awful on the road (0-2). They need to turn their away trend around to have a little chance in a surprisingly balanced division.
New Orleans Saints
- Expectations: Qualification to playoffs.
- Reality: So so at the beginning, but they quickly improved to a 4-1 record and now have good chances to qualify for the post season in this NFL 2018 season. The offense is bomb, while the defense needs to improve. This was our favorite at the beginning of the season to while the title and with odds at 19 (before game 1), it was impossible to not place a bet on the Saints.
- Expectations: A playoff berth.
- Reality: They are on the right track, the offense is good and Newton is at his best. The defense is solid as well but they need to work on their road game. They have real chances to qualify for the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Expectations: An anonymous season with no post-season chances.
- Reality: Ups and downs and slightly better than expected. The offense is working fine, but the defense is very weak; they need a miracle to make it to the post season.
- Expectations: Playoffs and chances to be a real competitor even in the post season.
- Reality: Awful, awful start to the NFL 2018 season; the offense is good, but the defense is non-existing. With 4 losses in 5 games, it’s already difficult to imagine them in the playoffs, they need to turn things around and they need to it now.
Los Angeles Rams
- Expectations: Playoffs and a shot to the title.
- Reality: Even better than expected; an atomic offense led by their quarterback Goff which seems unstoppable. The defense is not exceptional but good enough for now. Five wins in 5 matches and the best team in the league right now and also a lot of fun to watch.
- Expectations: Little playoff chances.
- Reality: In line with expectations; the defense is too fragile and their offense leaves the quarterback Wilson with no protection all the time. They have a big mountain to climb to make it to the post season.
- Expectations: Started with little to no chances of having a positive season.
- Reality: Things are even worse with 4 losses in 5 matches. A very weak offense and a quarterback that is not playing well at all (Bradford) led Arizona to such a bad record. The only win came with their backup quarterback, Rosen. The defense is trying to limit the damages.
San Francisco 49ers
- Expectations: good chances to qualify for the playoffs.
- Reality: Very unlucky as they lost their quarterback Garoppolo for the season. This means that they are done for the NFL 2018 season and their record (1-4) speak for itself. They will be back next year.
That’s it for teams and division standings, I hope this makes things clear about the situation after the first 5 weeks.
Let’s now have a look at the outright odds for the remainder of the NFL 2018 season and what we think.
Regular Season MVP Odds
We really like Drew Brees’ chances here. We actually think that the 3 favorites deserve to be favorite from what we have seen so far, but probably Brees and Goff have a slight margin on Mahomes as we are not sure on how long the Kansas City Chiefs will last. They have been solid so far, and the quarterback has been amazing, but he is still a rookie after all. If the Chiefs keeps playing this way, then Mahomes has a chance too.
Tom Brady is always an option and he dominates his conference: the second favorite guy to win the MVP in his conference is Roethlisberger (apart from Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs), currently priced at 26 and the Steelers do not look too good.
Outright Winner Odds
A concept that generally works in sports is that defenses win titles, but in this NFL 2018 season it looks like that is not the case. All the best teams at the moment have a very powerful offense and an average defense. What does that mean? Well, it could mean that strong attacks can go the distance this year.
Among the favorites, the most appealing odds is New Orleans’. The Saints are currently priced at 10 to win it all and even if it is nothing too juicy, it can still be a good option.
We had a preseason bet on New Orleans, when they were priced at 19, so current odds might not look good in comparison, but still… The fact with New Orleans is that they are allowing 30 points or so per game, which is far from good, but their offense has been unreal so far, with 35+ points scored on average.
To Win Division Odds
It looks like the favorites already have a nice lead in almost all the divisions…
- Cincinnati is playing much better than Pittsburgh and Baltimore for now, we expect them to win the division.
- Jacksonville should be able to take over the Tennessee Titans as they are not really consistent, while Houston (which was the preseason favorite) is struggling big time.
- Philadelphia and New Orleans should be able to win the respective division.
- Minnesota and Green Bay will fight till the end as Rodgers is a better quarterback, but Green Bay’s defense has been almost non-existent so far. We don’t expect Chicago to keep up with this pace.
To Win Conference Odds
A really quick thought on what could happen in terms of conference finals: we do not expect big surprises, so we would just go with Kansas City Chiefs versus New England Patriots in the AFC and Los Angeles Rams versus New Orleans Saints in the NFC.