NFL Winless Watch: Will the Lions break their losing streak before the Jaguars?

Eddie Griffin

The Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars were both expected to be bad, so to see that play out isn’t surprising. But here they are entering Week 6 without a win between them. Given that even the New York Jets have managed to win a game, that is saying something.

Of the 30 of 32 teams have won at least one game, some teams have won more than expected, like the Cardinals and Chargers. Some teams have won less than expected, like the Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, and 49ers. And some have more or less matched expectations, like the 4-1 Ravens, Bills, Packers, and Rams.

And then there are the Jags and Lions. Jacksonville has lost 20 straight dating back to last season, while the Lions have a nine-game streak going.

So which team will find the win column first? FanDuel Sportsbook is offering odds on which one will be the last winless team. The Lions are -150 to be the last winless team, while the Jaguars are +130 to be the last winless.

It has to be said that there are certainly many, many things more worth putting your money on than this. Part of our mission here at Betting News is to help you make smart bets. Sometimes that involves telling you to steer clear and not waste your money on something. This is one of those times.

But if it’s there to bet on, someone’s going to bet on in it, good sense be damned. We all have punted logic and sense out of the window as bettors a time or 27. But if you do bet on this, there is more value–and sense–in going with the Jaguars to continue their run of futility the longest.

If Jags Lose in London, Winless Run Likely to Extend to Late November

The Jaguars have the more favorable Week 6 matchup, as they face the 1-4 Dolphins in London while the Lions host the 3-2 Bengals.

The Dolphins are one of the season’s biggest disappointments after a 10-win season in 2020. They are certainly ripe for the picking as well. The Dolphins are failing to put much of a dent in the scoreboard, as they rank 31st in the NFL in points per game. At the same time, they have one of the league’s worst defenses, as they are rank–and rank low–in all of the major statistical categories. If ever there was a time for Trevor Lawrence to have his best NFL performance, this is it, as the Dolphins are struggling to make opposing quarterbacks sweat.

But if the Jaguars can’t manage to beat the Dolphins on Sunday, their current 20-game losing streak might well extend to at least 25 games.

Upcoming Schedule for the Jacksonville Jaguars

  • vs Miami Dolphins (in London)
  • at Seattle Seahawks
  • vs Buffalo Bills
  • at Indianapolis Colts
  • vs San Francisco 49ers
  • vs Atlanta Falcons
  • at Los Angeles Rams
  • at Tennessee Titans
  • vs Houston Texans
  • at New York Jets
  • at New England Patriots
  • vs Indianapolis Colts

So where will a win come if it doesn’t come Sunday? The Seahawks won’t have Russell Wilson, but Geno Smith should still be able to lead them to a home win. The next best spot is against the Falcons, who are currently 2-3, on November 28.

Unless you have been in the wilderness, by now you have heard of the scalding hot water Urban Meyer put himself in following the Jaguars’ loss to the Bengals in Week 4. We won’t rehash all of that here, but Jacksonville hosted Tennessee last Sunday in their first game after all of the…whatever you want to call it. And the end result was a 37-19 loss to the Titans that was all but over at halftime.

It was 7-6 after a quarter and 14-13 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, but the Jaguars managed only six points over the final 40 minutes as Derrick Henry and the Titans ran away with the win.

Now, the Titans are a better team than the Dolphins are currently, but that isn’t the topic at hand here. Do enough players on this Jaguars team want to play and win for Meyer? Are the players who have been around for all of their 20 consecutive losses fed up enough to win in spite of a coach they may be ready to see the back of already?

That represents the difference between where the Jaguars and Lions are at the moment and why the Lions are likeliest to win first.

Are the Luckless Lions on the Cusp of a Breakthrough?

The Lions may be 0-5, but they could–and should–have two wins to their name already. But two brutal last-second losses by the same scoreline have the Lions still searching for their first win of the season. And for even the slightest sliver of good luck.

In Week 3, they overcame a ten-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a late lead over the Ravens. All they needed was a stop on 4th-and-19 to seal the deal.

Then this happened.

And that was followed by this.

That was brutal enough in its own right, but the brutality reprised its role last Sunday in Minnesota. The Lions trailed 16-6 with four and a half minutes left, then rallied to take a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds left. But three Kirk Cousins completions later, the Vikings were in field goal range, and that was that.

While you can justifiably wonder about Meyer’s commitment to his team (and thus , there are no such questions about Campbell.

Will the Lions be rewarded for their resiliency against the Bengals? Joe Burrow and co. have been one of the NFL’s pleasant surprises so far and will be a tough out. But in the game that preceded Meyer’s “Candid Camera” moment, they needed a second-half comeback to beat the Jaguars at home, and four of their five games have been decided by three points.

If Sunday isn’t the day for the Lions, they still look likelier to find the win column sooner than the Jaguars.

Upcoming Schedule for the Detroit Lions

  • vs Cincinnati Bengals
  • at Los Angeles Rams
  • vs Philadelphia Eagles
  • at Pittsburgh Steelers
  • at Cleveland Browns
  • vs Chicago Bears
  • vs Minnesota Vikings
  • at Denver Broncos
  • vs Arizona Cardinals
  • at Atlanta Falcons
  • at Seattle Seahawks
  • vs Green Bay Packers

The Eagles did just score an impressive road win over the Carolina Panthers, but I also like that spot for the Lions. The Eagles did pick off Sam Darnold three times and rank third in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. But they were picked apart by Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes, and while Jared Goff certainly isn’t on the level of either of those two QBs, he is off to a positive start with minimizing mistakes and keeping the Lions in games.

Resiliency Will Reap Rewards for Determined Detroit

The emotional stuff all counts for only so much, especially on the professional level. Players play and win for coaches they dislike all the time, and we’re often none the wiser about it.

But on the surface, Campbell’s show of emotion and care for his players relative to Meyer’s lack of concern for anyone but himself elicits confidence one direction and concern the other.

And so should the difference in each team’s second-half performances. With the exception of their season-opening loss to the Texans, the Jaguars have started well. They led the Broncos after a quarter, held a nine-point lead over the Cardinals late in the third quarter, were up by two touchdowns over the Bengals at halftime, and scored two early touchdowns against the Titans. They have not been able to build off of those positive starts, however.

On the flip side, the Lions’ comeback against the Vikings was their third impressive fourth-quarter performance of the season. In their opener, they were down 41-17 with less than six minutes left against the 49ers and ended up 24 yards short of having a chance to tie the game in the final minute. The only game that the Lions were out of in the fourth quarter was their Week 2 loss against the Packers.

It is safe to say that the under is still the best bet for either team’s win total, which currently sits at O/U 3.5 wins for both teams. Looking at their schedules, three wins might be an optimist’s maximum.

But in looking at their prospects in the short term, it looks pretty clear that the Lions are the better bet to find the win column first. Again, don’t bet on it. Don’t. Please. But if you insist on doing so, there is only one option worth backing.

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