Like many NFL bettors, NFLbets digs on the over/under win totals proposition bet every preseason: It’s not nearly as difficult to turn a profit against as Super Bowl futures and some truly standout opportunities exist (we’re looking at you, Eagles over/under 9½…) to earn a little extra bankroll in time for some playoff wagering.
Admittedly, the learning curve on this season will be even steeper for the bettors than even the players, with even less information to work with before opening day kickoff than usual. Nevertheless, we’re optimistic about this prop and pessimistic about the chances of the below six teams to make the posted over/under wins line…
• New Orleans Saints, under 10½ wins. Gasp! Eek! Heresy! Can NFLbets really be suggesting that the imoortal Drew Brees is not literally so? Actually, yes. The truth is that the only two quarterbacks in the past 70 years who have had a reasonably productive season at the age of 41 are Tom Brandy and George Blanda, and Blanda was already a placekicker by then.
Just for argument’s sake, though, let’s say Brees is as efficient this season as he has been the previous two seasons, allowing the running game even more touches. Say that this one offense, thanks to continuity, starts the season sharper then most and that fantasy darlings Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas produce all season and stay uninjured.
Still. Eleven wins is a lot for a team with a schedule like the 2019 Saints. Aside from a nice stretch in weeks 4-8 (at Detroit Lions, vs “Los Angeles” Chargers, vs Carolina Panthers, at Chicago Bears), New Orleans has one seriously grueling schedule – especially if you believe in threats from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (which most folks do) and Atlanta Falcons (which NFLbets does). True, the Saints are 13-5 SU against the NFC South over the past three seasons, but it feels like that ratio is going to balance in 2020.
To cover the worst-case scenario: Say New Orleans is 4-0 against the NFC South and 8-4 going into Atlanta for week 13. Cool – just start hedging!
• Philadelphia Eagles, under 9½ wins. Ever since That Super Bowl Win, the Eagles have come out flat – they’re 4-4 SU in September the past two seasons – and have underwhelmed thereafter. In all games from 2018 through ’19, the Eagles have managed a record of 19-16 SU (16-19 ATS) overall and 10-13 SU/ATS against non-NFC East teams. The decline will continue in Philadelphia, and the truth is that this line would be at 8½ had Dallas not been playing in a state of coachlessness last season. Take advantage of this line for sure.
• Los Angeles Rams, under 8 wins. Short Golden Age, eh? Like the Eagles, the Rams rose meteorically to the heights of the Super Bowl only to come crashing down even harder. In 2019, Aaron Donald and the Rams defense improved statistically on its 2018 offense, but the offense certainly did not, somehow shedding 133 points from one season to the next. Rookie HB Cam Akers may be as badass as Todd Gurley and perhaps Sean McVay can fill the dual head coach/offensive coordinator role; sadly, Jared Goff is still Jared Goff. The worst you can probably do here is push.
• Houston Texans, under 7½ wins. So now DeShaun Watson is in Houston at least through 2023 at a total potential haul of $65.54 million – but at what cost to the roster? The Texans dealt DeAndre Hopkins presumably to justify Watson’s big deal, bringing in Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb, which might be the moneyball play but may not make the best offense.
Little was done in the offseason to improve the seemingly always poor OL, which in 2019 ranked 21st in run protection and 27th in pass protection per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. Meanwhile, the running game in 2020 will be based on David Johnson, who spent nearly all of 2017 out due to injury and got just 130 touches total in ’19. Factor in the tendency for AFC South teams to go .500 within the division, and it’s tough to justify this Texans team getting to 8-8.
• New York Giants, under 6½ wins. Your also-rans for the 2020 NFL season, according to the sportsbooks: The Giants, Miami Dolphins (at over/under 6 wins), Cincinnati Bengals (5½), Carolina Panthers (5½) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (4½). As tempting as all these are to cover the under on, remember how the plucky Dolphins played in the second half of ’19; how the Bengals have a potential generational stud at quarterback; and about how the Panthers, you know, have Christian McCaffrey.
But the Giants? Another blah offseason and the continued “maybe if we ignore it, it will go away” mentality regarding the offensive line, these guys still mostly resemble Saquon Barkley on an XFL team – quite probably the worst team in the NFC.
And the nicest thing about this bet: The Giants will likely have to get 7 wins in their first 11 games, because he’s their final five weeks: at Seattle Seahawks, vs Arizona, vs Cleveland Browns, at Baltimore Ravens, vs Dallas. And if the Giants are dropping divisional games to Washington and Philadephia, perhaps only Jacksonville can save New York from the no. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft…
-- written by Os Davis