Fairytale Major League Franchises

Updated: 89 Other

The unpredictable nature of sports such as football and basketball has made them fan favorites across North America - with millions tuning in to watch every week and whether it's a low-ranked team winning the championship, or a new player scoring on their debut, everybody loves an underdog!

Fairytale Major League Franchises
Steve Madgwick Editor-In-Chief

Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

People are keen to get involved in games any way they can, and even those who don’t know much about sports are partial to a bet when it comes to big sporting occasions. Because of this, a lot of people put their faith in US betting sites to help them pick out the winner - but even the experts can get it wrong sometimes. 

With this in mind, we wanted to see which franchises have exceeded all expectations by defying the odds. We have compared the preseason predictions to the actual standings over the last five seasons to reveal which NFL and NBA franchises have outperformed the bookmaker’s predictions by the biggest margins.

Football

Let's start with the NFL and see who performing above and below the bar


NFL teams outperforming the odds

NFL teams outperforming the odds 

As the most popular sport in the US, football teams are always in stiff competition with each other as they battle it out to be the best of the best. With this in mind, we wanted to find out which NFL teams have exceeded the experts’ predictions year in, and year out. 

Rank Team 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Overall performance difference
1 Seattle Seahawks 33.30% 22.20% 26.30% -26.30% 63.60% 23.80%
2 Kansas City Chiefs 41.20% 14.30% 21.70% -4.00% 33.30% 21.30%
3 Buffalo Bills 9.10% 42.90% 44.40% -4.30% 13.00% 21.00%
4 Miami Dolphins 7.70% 11.10% 66.70% 0.00% 5.90% 18.30%
5 Green Bay Packers -40.00% 44.40% 52.90% 23.80% -23.80% 11.50%
6 New Orleans Saints 36.80% 23.80% 14.30% 0.00% -17.60% 11.50%
7 Tennessee Titans 12.50% 12.50% 29.40% 26.30% -26.30% 10.90%
8 Baltimore Ravens 17.60% 64.70% -4.30% -23.80% -4.80% 9.90%
9 Pittsburgh Steelers -14.30% -15.80% 26.30% 5.90% 20.00% 4.40%
10 Dallas Cowboys 17.60% -11.10% -40.00% 33.30% 14.30% 2.80%
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1. Seattle Seahawks - Won 23.8% more games than predicted

The Seattle Seahawks may have only won one Super Bowl title, but they shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of NFL victories. Their recent form has earned them the top spot on this list as they have continually defied the preseason odds by winning 23.8% more games than predicted between 2018-2022.


2. Kansas City Chiefs -  Won 21.3% more games than predicted

Next on this list are the Kansas City Chiefs who are certainly a force to be reckoned with, evidenced by the fact that they have topped their division standings for the last seven seasons! Their success doesn't stop there though, as this team has outperformed the odds in four of their last five seasons in the NFL. Since 2018 they have won 21.3% more games than the bookmakers have predicted which is the second highest of any team in this list.


3. Buffalo Bills - Won 21.0% more games than predicted

In 2020, the Buffalo Bills won a massive 13 games out of a possible 16, which meant they finished the season in second place just behind the Chiefs. Similarly, the Bills fall just shy of the Chiefs here as they take the third spot in this list of NFL teams outperforming the odds by winning 21.0% more games than predicted.


4. Miami Dolphins - Won 18.3% more games than predicted

Taking the fourth spot in this top five are the Miami Dolphins who have won 18.3% more games than the bookmakers have predicted over the last five seasons. As well as this, the Dolphins are arguably the most impressive on this list as they are the only team in this top five who haven’t underperformed in any season since 2018.


5. Green Bay Packers - Won 11.5% more games than predicted

Last, but by no means least, are the Green Bay Packers who complete this top five list of NFL teams outperforming the odds. Despite not being in top form for the last five years, the Packers currently hold the title for the most overall wins in NFL history - so they are certainly not a team that should be underestimated!


NFL teams underperforming against the odds

NFL teams underperforming against the odds

Unfortunately, having a winning team means that someone also has to lose. Below is a list of teams that have fallen short of the bookmaker's odds by the biggest margins.

Rank Team 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Overall performance difference
1 Jacksonville Jaguars -44.40% -25.00% -77.80% -53.80% 38.50% -32.50%
2 Denver Broncos -14.30% 0.00% -33.30% -22.20% -52.40% -24.40%
3 New York Jets -33.30% -6.70% -69.20% -33.30% 27.30% -23.10%
4 Detroit Lions -20.00% -53.80% -28.60% -33.30% 38.50% -19.50%
5 New York Giants -28.60% -33.30% -7.70% -42.90% 20.00% -18.50%
6 Carolina Panthers -17.60% -37.50% -9.10% -33.30% 7.70% -18.00%
7 Arizona Cardinals -50.00% 0.00% 6.70% 29.40% -52.90% -13.40%
8 Los Angeles Chargers 26.30% -50.00% -12.50% -5.30% -4.80% -9.20%
9 Atlanta Falcons -26.30% -17.60% -46.70% -6.70% 55.60% -8.30%
10 Houston Texans 29.40% 17.60% -46.70% 0.00% -33.30% -6.60%
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1 . Jacksonville Jaguars - 32.5% fewer wins than predicted

As one of the most recent additions to the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars have certainly made a name for themselves. Even though they have underperformed in four of their last five seasons, they won 38.5% more games than the bookmakers predicted in 2022 - this saw them take the top spot in the AFC South division that year! If they continue in this form for the coming seasons then this could be the start of a new era for the Jaguars. 


2. Denver Broncos - 24.4% fewer wins than predicted

Despite appearing in this list, the Denver Broncos have had their fair share of success over the years, including three Super Bowl titles and a plethora of playoff appearances since their NFL debut in 1970. With 22.4% fewer wins than predicted, it seems that this team is not currently in its prime, however, we have every faith that they will be back to their winning ways soon enough!


3. New York Jets - 23.1% fewer wins than predicted

Taking the third spot in this list, with 23.1% fewer wins than predicted, is the New York Jets. Despite having had a rocky few seasons, the Jets have had some success over the years, including winning the prestigious Super Bowl title back in 1968. They may not currently be topping the league, but they have certainly caused some upsets - including a notorious victory over the LA Rams in 2020 where they overcame a 17.5-point spread to win! 


4. Detroit Lions - 19.5% fewer wins than predicted

Just below the Jets in this list are the Detroit Lions who, over the last five seasons, have fallen short of the bookmaker’s predicted wins by 19.5%. In the 2022 season, the Lions achieved 38.5% more wins than predicted which is the only time they have managed to exceed their predicted target in the last five years.


5. New York Giants - 18.5% fewer wins than predicted

Taking the final spot in this top five are the New York Giants who have underperformed by 18.5% in terms of wins between 2018-2022. First established in 1925, the Giants are among the oldest franchises in the NFL which means they are full of history. Even though the Giants have won four Super Bowl titles, their recent form has landed them on this list of NFL teams underperforming.

Basketball

Now onto basketball franchises to see who is above or below


NBA teams outperforming the odds

NBA teams outperforming the odds

The NBA has seen 19 different franchises win a championship title over the years, but which of the current teams are exceeding all expectations?

Rank Team 17/18 18/19 19/20 20/21 21/22 Overall performance difference
1 Toronto Raptors 21.60% 4.50% 14.00% -36.50% 35.20% 7.80%
2 Memphis Grizzlies -41.30% -4.30% 23.60% 20.60% 34.90% 6.70%
3 Charlotte Hornets -15.30% 9.90% -2.10% 24.50% 11.70% 5.70%
4 Oklahoma City Thunder -10.30% 1.00% 35.40% -2.20% 2.10% 5.20%
5 Sacramento Kings -1.80% 50.00% -17.30% 8.80% -17.80% 4.40%
6 Utah Jazz 18.50% 1.00% -17.80% 25.30% -6.70% 4.10%
7 Philadelphia 76ers 31.60% -4.70% -21.10% 12.60% 1.00% 3.90%
8 New York Knicks -4.90% -40.40% -20.80% 90.70% -10.80% 2.80%
9 Los Angeles Clippers -3.40% 29.70% -8.40% 1.10% -7.70% 2.30%
10 Phoenix Suns -26.30% -34.50% 15.30% 32.50% 24.30% 2.20%
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1. Toronto Raptors - Won 7.8% more games than predicted

By winning 7.8% more games than predicted, the Toronto Raptors have managed to take the title by outperforming the odds better than any other franchise in the NBA. Their success includes winning 21.6% more games than the bookmakers predicted in the 17/18 season - this also saw them top the Eastern Conference standings that year.


2. Memphis Grizzlies - Won 6.7% more games than predicted

As the only professional basketball team in Tennessee, the Memphis Grizzlies are doing their state proud as they rank second in this list. The Grizzlies had a tough year in the 17/18 season after winning only 22 out of a possible 80 games when they were predicted to win 37.5. Having said this, they have since defied the odds and clawed their way back into the rankings which has helped to earn them a place in this top five. 


3. Charlotte Hornets - Won 5.7% more games than predicted

Based in North Carolina, the Charlotte Hornets take the third spot in this list. In 2010 this team was bought by basketball legend, Michael Jordan, and since then, they have seen a steady rise in their success. Despite a lack of faith from bookmakers, this team has secured several impressive victories in the NBA, including 24.5% more wins than predicted in the 20/21 season!


4. Oklahoma City Thunder - Won 5.2% more games than predicted

Oklahoma City Thunder are the team in fourth, who have outperformed the odds between 2017-2022 by winning 5.2% more games than predicted. They surprised everybody during the 19/20 season when they exceeded all bookmaker’s expectations by winning 35.4% more games than predicted. 


5. Sacramento Kings - Won 4.4% more games than predicted

The Sacramento Kings haven’t won an NBA championship since the 1950s, but this hasn't stopped them from outperforming the odds here! The 18/19 season saw huge improvements in the franchise’s record as they bagged 50% more wins than bookmakers predicted. In addition to this, they also had an impressive season in 20/21 where they exceeded expectations by winning 8.8% more wins than predicted. 


NBA teams underperforming against the odds

NBA teams underperforming against the odds

As is the case with NFL, basketball is also unpredictable in terms of team performance. Below is a list of the NBA teams who have underperformed the most against their preseason odds between 2017-2022. 

Rank Team 17/18 18/19 19/20 20/21 21/22 Overall performance difference
1 Houston Rockets 17.10% -6.20% -18.50% -50.70% -27.30% -17.10%
2 Golden State Warriors -14.10% -8.80% -68.40% 4.00% 9.30% -15.60%
3 Los Angeles Lakers 4.50% -23.70% 3.00% -11.60% -37.10% -13.00%
4 Detroit Pistons 1.30% 6.50% -46.70% -14.90% -6.10% -12.00%
5 Minnesota Timberwolves -3.10% -13.30% -46.50% -22.00% 29.60% -11.10%
6 New Orleans Pelicans 21.50% -27.50% -20.00% -15.10% -8.90% -10.00%
7 Orlando Magic -25.40% 35.50% -20.50% -33.30% -2.20% -9.20%
8 Washington Wizards -11.30% -29.70% -7.40% 4.60% 4.50% -7.90%
9 Dallas Mavericks -32.40% -7.00% 6.20% -1.20% 7.20% -5.40%
10 Chicago Bulls 22.70% -26.70% -34.30% 5.10% 8.20% -5.00%
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1. Houston Rockets - 17.1% fewer wins than predicted

After outperforming the bookies’ predictions in the 17/18 season, the Houston Rockets have since dropped the ball when it comes to meeting expectations. Despite underperforming in terms of the bookmakers' predictions, this doesn’t mean that the Rockets have been performing poorly! The 18/19 season saw them finish the league in fifth place - winning the majority of their games and topping the Southwest division. 


2. Golden State Warriors - 15.6% fewer wins than predicted

Named after the famous bridge in San Francisco, the Golden State Warriors rank in second place on this list after winning 15.6% fewer games than predicted. Any fans of this team will want to forget the 19/20 season as the Warriors finished at the bottom of the league, winning 68.4% fewer games than the bookmakers expected. Having said this, the Warriors have still had their fair share of success, including seven championship wins under their belt!


3. Los Angeles Lakers - 13.0% fewer wins than predicted

Even if you aren’t a huge basketball fan, it is likely that you have heard of our number three spot, the Los Angeles Lakers. The late great Kobe Bryant, regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, spent his entire career with the Lakers - helping them achieve five NBA championship wins. As a result of their impressive history, the bookmakers have high expectations. However, over the last five years, it appears this team has been struggling to live up to these standards winning 13.0% fewer games than predicted over the last five years.


4. Detroit Pistons - 12.0% fewer wins than predicted

Next on this list are the Detroit Pistons who have had 12% fewer wins than predicted since the 17/18 season. After exceeding expectations in 17/18, the Pelicans have since dipped in terms of the bookmakers' predictions. It's not all bad news for this team though as their small forward, Brandon Ingram, recorded a career-high in terms of assists as well as bagging himself the title of NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2020.


5. Minnesota Timberwolves - 11.1% fewer wins than predicted

Taking the final spot in this top five are the Minnesota Timberwolves who, for the last five seasons, have won 11.1% fewer games than predicted. It's not all doom and gloom though, as the 21/22 season saw them exceed expectations by winning 29.6% more games than expected - this increase in wins could be the start of their rise to the top! 

Methodology

We used Pro Football Reference to take each NFL and NBA franchise’s predicted ‘W/L O-U’ across every season between 2017-2022. It is worth noting that decimal places have been used in these predictions to eliminate the chance of there being no winner or loser between a bettor and the sportsbook. 

We then used ESPN to find the actual W/L total for each franchise between these years. We had to remove the Las Vegas Raiders from our ranking as there was no predicted data for them between 2018-2019.

By subtracting the actual wins of each franchise from the predicted wins and dividing this number by the predicted wins, we were able to calculate the ‘performance difference’ for each season. We then added each franchise’s ‘performance difference’ between 2017-2022 to provide each one with an ‘overall performance’ score.

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