ARIZONA CARDINALS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 8.45)
There has been a significant downgrade in Arizona’s expectations. After winning 11 games last year, the market is expecting a major regression predicting them to have 8.5 wins. Cardinals usually start the year off well before fizzling in the second half, but that success came with DeAndre Hopkins. With him sidelined and the tumultuous offseason between Murray and the front office, I’m skeptical. I’m looking to selectively bet the Cardinals’ opponents team total over. With their offensive line being porous and the secondary exploitable, I’d imagine there will be opportunities for big plays. Their opponent point total was suppressed last season due to the inexplicable fumble recovery rate by Arizona. If that gravitates toward league average, their opponents will have significantly more opportunities to put points up on the board.
ATLANTA FALCONS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 4.65)
I have grave concerns about this team. Ignoring a deficient roster, there is reason to believe the Falcons front office are tanking. With a mobile quarterback and a dearth of talent on the outside (with the exception of Kyle Pitts), I expect them to be a run first team, which will lead to lower scoring affairs. I’d look to selectively play the under throughout the year.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 10.44)
I’m very bullish on the Ravens this year. I’ve taken their over season win total, to win the division, and to win the Super Bowl. They have a really good coach and a roster that is set to take another leap now that they are fully healthy. The biggest concern I have, perhaps the only concern, is their lack of WRs. If the second year, Rashod Bateman, can be even a lower tier WR1, the sky's the limit for this team.
BUFFALO BILLS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 12.02)
I have the Bills atop of my power ratings and with good reason. They are bringing back arguably the best defense from last year and are adding Vonn Miller. Their offense should be just as electric as last year's. I don’t think the loss of Daboll will hurt the Bills as much as it will help the Giants. There are so many things that happened positively for the Bills and negatively in regards to luck factor that I believe it will all just cancel itself out. Their win total is a touch higher than last year's record, which seems about right for me.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 6.75)
I don’t like Carolina as a team and wouldn’t be shocked if they are fighting for the first pick with Matt Rhule in street clothes by season’s end. However, I do think there is an opportunity to bet their overs. Their defense lost their leading pass rusher and corner, while their offense gains a healthy McCaffery and DJ Moore. Not to mention the upgrade of Sam Darnold to Baker Mayfield is substantial.
CHICAGO BEARS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 5.13)
I am indifferent on the Matt Eberflus hire in regards to their future success, however, I do think its damning for this year’s team. A new front office and coaching staff have nothing vested in this current roster. They have a former first round quarterback who they didn’t draft and was unsuccessful in his rookie year, major holes at every position, and they traded or released several notable veterans to become more cap conscious. Despite the easier schedule and the potential improvement from Fields, I think this Bears team is in trouble. The front office and coaching staff didn’t create this problem and can certainly pin a poor year on the previous regime. If you missed out on the 7 and 7.5, I’d still play under 6.5 regular season wins.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 9.99)
The last thing everyone remembers is the Bengals coming up just short in the Super Bow. However, they were hardly a powerhouse throughout the season. They only won 10 games, barely made the playoffs, lost to the Jets and Bears, had extremely fortunate covid and injury luck, and played an extremely easy schedule. This team will be tested against stiffer competition. The Bengals have the weapons in Burrow and the receiving corps to overcome their deficiencies if everything goes right, but the likelihood of that happening two years in a row is small. As ClevTA points out, 5 of the last 7 Super Bowl losers went under their win total. I’m not bucking that trend.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 8.11)
The Browns are a ready made team to compete for a playoff run. However, with their quarterback situation being what it is, it completely stunts their optimism. Brissett as the starter barely makes this team average. They have an extremely easy start to the year, but if they don’t sweep the first four or at minimum go 3-1, they could be in some serious trouble. Even when he returns in Week 12, Watson won’t be able to massage the Cleveland concerns away. After all, he looked extremely rusty in his limited preseason action.
DALLAS COWBOYS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 10.27)
Money has come in against the Cowboys in the futures marketplace and it’s not hard to see why. They were extremely lucky finishing eighth in injury luck, second in fumble recovery, and eighth in one score games. They have had substantial departures and very few additions to fill those spots. With a once prominent offensive line group, now injured, aging, or departed, how well will the rest of the offense perform? When your owner/gm is pumping up the run game and talking about how the run game, specifically Ezekiel Elliot, will be featured in the offense, it is just an additional reason to fade the team.
DENVER BRONCOS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 10.06)
The Broncos were once said to be a team that was a quarterback away from competing. With Russell Wilson now in tow, they don’t have any more excuses. They have a fantastic 1-2 punch in the run game, and receivers aplenty despite losing Tim Patrick for the year. Defensively, they have added Randy Gregory and DJ Jones to bolster the defense, but still have some question marks at the secondary position. Ultimately, this team has a high ceiling and floor. At worst, I expect them to be competing for a playoff spot. At best, they could be Super Bowl bound.
DETROIT LIONS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 6.47)
There has been a lot of optimism with the Lions this offseason. Some of it is completely founded. They only had 3 wins last season, but had the third worst injury luck, fifth worst one score game percentage and should have won 1.6 more games according to pythagorean win percentage. They now have the fifth easiest schedule after having the fifth hardest last year. They have an eclectic coach that seems to have the players bought in and brimming with confidence. However, they are also on Hard Knocks, which has made the team expensive. Buying the Lions at the start of the offseason should prove to be a fruitful endeavor. However, at this point in the year, it is certainly -EV. I’m waiting for a PHI -3 in Week 1 or an under 7 on the DET win total.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 11.25)
The Packers finished eighth in fumble recovery percentage, sixth in one score games, and second in pythagorean win percentage. Luck was certainly on their side. This season, facing a harder schedule and with Davante Adams in LV, Aaron Rodgers will have his work cut out for him. GB had the worst special teams last season and have little reason for optimism in that department this season. With limited weapons at receiver, I expect the Packers to transition to a more run-heavy approach with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon than they have in previous years.
HOUSTON TEXANS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 4.11)
Houston has officially moved on from the Deshaun Watson saga, but they still have a significant amount of concerns regarding their football team. The Texans finished third worst in point differential. They were also winless in one score games. They have a dearth of talent on the roster and made no significant improvements this offseason. To make matters worse, they have the sixth most difficult schedule in the NFL. There are individuals that believe Davis Mills is the real deal, a steal in last year’s draft. I’m not buying it. Organizationally, they know this is a long term fix, which is good because they will be in the doldrums again this year.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 10.33)
I was high on the Colts last year, but like the fan base, I was let down by Carson Wentz. With Wentz now in Washington, the Colts turn to Matt Ryan to steer the ship. This is a significant upgrade at quarterback that I don’t believe is fully being accounted for in the line. They have the third easiest schedule in the league and seemed to add free agents to account for those that exited. I’m bullish on the Colts and wouldn’t be shocked if they tend to hit the over more frequently due to their poor secondary and schedule and improved quarterback play.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 5.90)
How much positive can a team gleen from a coaching change? That question has been hotly debated in Jacksonville. The Jaguars were an embarrassment last season, but that most came from their ex-coach Urban Meyer. With Super Bowl Champion, Doug Pederson, leading the way, the Jaguars are in much better hands. They were extremely unfortunate in all luck factored categories last season. With a roster better than they performed and a schedule significantly easier, I expect the Jaguars take a leap toward respectability this season.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 10.39)
The Chiefs had the hardest schedule last season and are poised to have one again this year. Their offense will have to shift after Tyreek Hill took his talents to South Beach, but I’m not sure that will be that damaging in the long run. I’d be more concerned about the secondary, who coincidentally lost Tyran Mathieu this offseason. The Chiefs were extremely fortunate in all luck factor categories last season and still only finished with 12 wins. There are some significant changes this offseason, including a more difficult division. Money has come against the Chiefs in the win total department, and rightfully so. But on a game to game basis, I’m not sure there is a quarterback/coach duo I trust more.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 8.42)
There were several distractions last season, which made the Raiders double digit win total all the more impressive. Derek Carr played above expectation and was the leader the team desperately needed. Looking deeper into the numbers, they may have been more lucky than good. They now have a much more difficult schedule and if the luck factor falls back to the mean, we should see some regression. All of this is now accounted for in the marketplace with the Raiders being priced at 8.5 wins. With a porous offensive line and with the inevitable raise in expectation from the Raider faithful, Derek Carr will have difficulty finding the same success this season.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 10.61)
The Chargers are primed to make a Super Bowl run this season. With perhaps the best up-and-coming quarterback in the sport, Justin Herbert and company look to tackle the most difficult division in the NFL. There really isn’t a weak spot on either side of the ball. Their skill positions, defensive line, and secondary are all excellent. If the offensive line can give Justin Herbert time, there is reason to be bullish on the Chargers. If they weren’t playing in this division, they would be getting a lot more love in the Super Bowl market.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 9.98)
One of the most obvious questions for the Rams is if they will have a Super Bowl hangover. The team is built on veterans who finally got their ring. How much fire and desire do they have to sacrifice for another season? Several players exited and retired, but they still have their best players at the most important positions. With cap casualties, the Rams are certainly very thin. If injuries happen to their stars, we could see a free fall with this team. They have the third hardest schedule after having the 10th easiest last season. There is reason to expect some regression from the Rams this season.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 8.63)
Mike McDaniel and Tyreek Hill have added a lot of excitement in Miami. The team and the fan base are champing at the bit to see what production they will see from the Dolphins this year. Most of the time when there is narrative leading the charge, there is opportunity to fade a team. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to do that just yet with Miami. They did have the easiest schedule last year and the 12th most difficult one this year. They finished top ten in almost all major luck factor categories and still have Tua as their quarterback. They had 9 wins last season and their win total is 9 again this year, which makes sense with all things considered.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 9.46)
The Vikings always seem like the team just barely on the outside of being really good. This past year was a let down, which may have been one step backward to take two forward. With Zimmer out and O’Connell in, the Vikings should see a more modern, pass-first offense. Opening up the passing game will not only allow them to utilize Justin Jefferson, who may be the best receiver in the game, but also create an emptier box for Dalvin Cook. I’ve taken some Vikings to win the division with a potential GB regression and MIN resurgence. There may still be some value left in that market.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 8.56)
I’ve seen articles written about how Mac Jones has looked terrible all summer and others about how he is a darkhorse for the MVP. Welcome to the NFL offseason! I am a huge believer in Bill Belichick and fully expect him to put a good product on the field each weekend. With that being said, they face the fifth toughest schedule in the NFL, share a division with the odds on favorite, and were relatively lucky last season. At this point in his career, Mac Jones is a game manager. Despite the articles written, I don’t think he will be awful or God’s-gift. He will be somewhere in between, just like the Patriots themselves.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 9.28)
The Saints are a team I’m bullish on and have placed a significant amount of bets on. I’ve played them over 7.5 and 8 wins, to win the conference, in week 1, and in several Game of the Year lines. This organization doesn’t think this is a reset year as exhibited by their free agency spending and drafting. They had 9 wins last season, despite having the 12th most difficult schedule. They now have the 12th easiest, have a healthy Jameis Winston in an offense that will feature a healthy Michael Thomas, and rookie WR Chris Olave. Trevor Penning was also drafted to secure the offensive line, which was a concern last year. I’d still play the market numbers on the aforementioned bets.
NEW YORK GIANTS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 7.19)
Much like the Jaguars, the Giants will benefit greatly by their coaching change. Going from Joe Judge to anyone is a huge improvement, but I specifically think the coaching and front office hires will exact immediate dividends. The Giants now have the third easiest schedule after having the second most difficult one last year. Daniel Jones is having a better camp then he has shown previously, even if there are obvious question marks about him. If he struggles or gets hurt, which he has in every season in his short career, Tyrod Taylor is a more than serviceable backup. The Giants may not win the division, but they will be a really improved ball club this year.
NEW YORK JETS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 5.42)
The Jets may have won the draft, but I don’t expect much winning for the remainder for the year. With Zach Wilson hurt and Joe Flacco next man up, I find it hard to believe they will find success with the once “elite” quarterback. The Jets were unfortunate in terms of luck last season and they will need to find a four leaf clover to fix it this season. They now have the fourth most difficult schedule and, if the wheels fall off, I think Robert Saleh could be a darkhorse to lose his job this season.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Power Rating Win Expectation: 10.29)
The Eagles had the third easiest schedule last season. Common thought would suggest they would have a more difficult road this year. As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend!” The Eagles are predicted to have the easiest schedule this year. With the bloom quickly falling off the Cowboys’ rose, the Eagles have taken serious money in the futures market. At the current price, I’d much rather buy Eagles stock to win the division than Dallas. If Jalen Hurts can be even an average quarterback throwing the ball, the sky's the limit for this team. They are fairly stacked across the board and, with the addition of AJ Brown, finally have some big play potential in the passing game.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 6.75)
The Big Ben era is officially over in Pittsburgh, which may be a good thing. Despite not having a brand named signal caller, Trubisky and Pickett both should be an upgrade at the position. Roethlisberger simply couldn’t throw the ball deep in recent years, which made the Steelers incredibly inefficient. Mike Tomlin always seems to have his teams playing well regardless of the talent on the roster, you may be expecting a surprising team in Steel City. My concern would be the difficulty of the schedule and how effective the quarterbacks will truly be. The Steelers are a team that will take a week or two for me to get a true sense of their ability.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 10.23)
You always knew what you were getting from a Jimmy Garoppolo team. The 49ers would win between 9-11 games and always be competitive. I just never felt they were a real threat to win the Super Bowl. In steps Trey Lance, who’s potential could lead the 49ers to the promised land or an early draft pick. He is that divisive. There is plenty of talent and his connection with Brandon Aiyuk seems to be genuine. This is yet another team that I won’t make any definitive decisions on until I see them play a couple of weeks in the regular season.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 4.77)
After trading away Russell Wilson, there has been little optimism in Seattle. The Seahawks only managed to win 7 games last season. They now have a harder schedule and will either rely on Geno Smith or Drew Lock at quarterback. The former is certainly more conservative and the latter likes to take chances. With great risk comes reward, but also the opportunity for turnovers. Both lead to points. Identifying which quarterback is playing should move the total a point or two in either direction.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 11.15)
Tom Brady retired this offseason and then unretired. Then left midway during the preseason only to return recently. He’s now 45 years old and, at the time of this writing, doesn’t have his security blanket in Gronk. There is still plenty of talent on this roster to make a Super Bowl run, but something feels off about this TB team. I’m not a huge believer in Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers actually lost more players to free agency then they could replace. They do have the sixth easiest schedule, but even that is harder than last year’s second easiest. With a slew of offensive line injuries, I’m bearish on the Bucs.
TENNESSEE TITANS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 8.64)
The Titans are expected to take one of the biggest step backs this season compared to last. After winning 12 games last season, they now are projected to win just 9. With wide-outs AJ Brown and Julio Jones in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, respectively, the Titans will be forced to rely on the run game even more this year. But Derrick Henry is coming off an injury and has a ton of miles on his tires. The receiving corps was bolstered by Robert Woods, Austin Hooper and rookie Treylon Burks. There has also been speculation the Titans could move on from Tannehill after this year in a cap saving move. 3 games down in the win total market is significant, but I’m not sure it's enough.
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (Power Rating Win Expectation: 8.42)
The Commanders were disappointing last season after losing Ryan Fitzpatrick to an early season injury. The defense, which looked dominant at times the year prior, looked pedestrian at best. They now have Carson Wentz who was jettisoned by the Colts to save the day. I’m not sure that is music to the Commanders faithful. The silver lining is Washington will go from the fourth most difficult to the fourth easiest schedule this year. They will need some help to return to NFC East contention. With Carson Wentz at quarterback and a terrible secondary, I don’t believe they have the horses to do so.
SOME VALUE IN THE WIN TOTAL MARKET:
New Orleans Saints OVER 8.5 Wins @ FanDuel (+105)
Philadelphia Eagles OVER 9.5 Wins @ PointsBet (-130)
Los Angeles Rams UNDER 10.5 Wins (-110) Market Wide
Chicago Bears UNDER 6 Wins @ Caesars (-125) *2 Unit Play*
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