One of the neat things about poker is that all the different hands have a value and can be ranked.
At the top of the tree is the Royal Flush, and at the very bottom, the high card, in between lie all other possible poker hands such as four of a kind, a full house, a straight, a flush, a straight flush, three of a kind, two pair, pair and so forth.
So when it came to this week’s look at how the 32 NFL teams have performed this season, I decided, seeing as we’re primarily a poker site, that I’d do it by hand rankings.
So, what I’ve done is translated all the possible hand rankings in poker into corresponding team performances in the NFL so far this season.
I’ve then given you an explanation of what the ranking means (in terms of the NFL) and then listed the teams that fall under that rating (and their record).
Remember, you can enjoy a wealth of NFL betting throughout the season at bet365 Sport, which has extensive outright, pre-match and In Play betting markets throughout the regular and post-season.
The best way to approach this post, is to think about an NFL Team and their current season record and how that would translate into a poker hand in terms of strength compared to other teams records.
So let’s get started with the top hand ranking in poker, the mighty and unbeatable Royal Flush.
NFL Team Performance Rankings By Poker Hand Strength
What cards to the NFL teams hold heading into the second half of the season? Who is hoping to draw some miracle cards as the flop, turn and river are revealed, and which teams are holding strong hands even before the community cards. Let’s take a look:
Qualifying NFL Teams – None
Nobody has had a perfect season so far and so there are no teams that qualify holding the strongest possible hands.
There have been some teams that have managed to reach the midpoint of the season unbeaten over the years. The Indianapolis Colts went 14-0 in 2009, and two years earlier the New England Patriots went 16-0, then won two playoff games but lost in the Super Bowl.
Only one team however has had the perfect ‘Royal Flush” season winning all their games and the Super Bowl, that team is the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
Qualifying NFL Teams – None
Perhaps a little controversial as we do have one team that have lost just one game, but as strong as the record is, I don’t feel that team has played as strongly as would be required for this strength of hand.
For me a Straight Flush level team is one that has to be playing very well, but who may have lost one game in a close finish or similar. Such as the 2020 Kansas City Chiefs, who got off to a dominant 7-1 start after eight games.
Four of a Kind
Qualifying NFL Teams – Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)
At the moment, the Philadelphia Eagles hold the strongest hand in the NFL with a 7-1 record that for me equates to four of a kind. Why?
Well, the Eagles have won a number of close games, and in some games they have been fortunate to land the win. Their play hasn’t matched the quality they showed last season, especially on defense and so I think they are not as quite as strong as their record suggests.
Four of a kind is a pretty unbeatable position most often and as such, we’d expect the Eagles to reach the playoffs comfortably from here. But whether they have the hand strong enough to win it all remains to be seen.
Qualifying NFL Teams – Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions (all 6-2)
There are five teams with a 6-2 record and I think all of them are on a par with a full house hand in poker, very strong, apart from the really exceptional hands.
All these teams have potential to be divisional winners and should feature in the playoffs. The odds are certainly in their favour in that regard.
With this hand, these teams are certainly strong enough to go all the way. The question is whether they’ll come up against something stronger in the playoffs.
Qualifying NFL Teams – Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks (both 5-2), San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills (both 5-3), Cincinnati Bengals (4-3)
It’s probably quite surprising to see the Bills, Bengals and 49ers in this rating. In terms of the quality of their squad, they should be at least one hand ranking higher, but their performances this season have been below par in a number of games.
Dallas and Seattle are both on the verge of hitting a full house but having played a game less, there are still some hurdles to get over, especially having lost twice already this season, but if they do win those games, then they can improve in strength.
Qualifying NFL Teams – Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers (all 4-3), New Orleans Saints (4-4)
These teams all hold a hand which they may feel gives them a chance of winning, but which could also turn out to be something of a pipedream against some of the strengths of their opponents at this theoretical NFL table.
Of the teams on this list you can make a case for each. All have strong defenses, but lack a bit of style and shine on offense and it may well be that which mean sthat they don’t improve from this middling sort of hand.
Three of a Kind
Qualifying NFL Teams – Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings (4-4), Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (all 3-4)
All the teams listed here have shown a capacity to improve beyond their close to 0.500 start on the season and there is potential for that three of a kind to perhaps improve further, if the team can hit form over the second half of the season.
The Vikings though may struggle with the loss of QB Kirk Cousins through injury for this season and perhaps a part of next. They have the lowest value trips of the five teams in this bracket.
The highest value is probably the Falcons, Texans and Chargers, who will all be hoping to build on their starts and push on towards the playoffs in their respective divisions.
Qualifying NFL Teams – Tennessee Titans (3-4), Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Washington Commanders (all 3-5)
These teams may feel that they have an outside shot at something this season, but holding two pair against some big hands, they are not likely to.
In truth the Titans only hit that pair this past weekend with the potential emergence of Will Levis as their starting quarterback. His stellar rookie debut has Titans fans excited as to what Levis could achieve as their signal caller.
The other four teams here have all shown inconsistency. When they’ve been good, they’ve been excellent such as Denver beating the Chiefs this week. But they have also lost some poor games, such as the Rams this week against the Cowboys. They’ll all need to hit some cards if they are to make it into the post-season.
Qualifying NFL Teams – Las Vegas Raiders (3-5), Green Bay Packers (2-5), New England Patriots (2-6)
The second weakest hand of all and there are three teams hoping that we may see a miracle in the second half of the season.
The Raiders troubles were compounded with head coach Josh McDaniel and GM David Ziegler’s sackings early today leaving them now in search of a new management team to bring the beleaguered outfit forward.
The Patriots and Packers are a pale shadow of their once iconic selves and it’s a rebuilding process at both. Hopefully, they have not played all their chips in this game so they can be dealt in again next season with perhaps a stronger starting hand.
Qualifying NFL Teams – Chicago Bears, New York Giants (both 2-6), Carolina Panthers (1-6), Arizona Cardinals (1-7)
If any teams can make a case for throwing their hand into the middle and quitting on the season, it is these four teams. Arguably the Bears have been the poorest team in the NFL this season, despite having two wins.
The Giants have huge issues at QB and were already struggling with both their first and second choices before they went down with injury. The Panthers landed their first win over the Texans this weekend and the Cardinals, well, have been what many people expected, lacking in many areas.
For these teams, I expect them to fold their hand on some point soon and perhaps start to focus on the next game beginning next season.
Join us again soon when we will list the performances of the NFL quarterbacks in a similar poker-themed way!