NFL Season Win Totals (NFC)
The NFL regular season is only a few weeks away. As was the case last season, I’ll be handicapping the entire board each week and posting opinions here at my site. Look for most release times to be Saturday morning.
One of the more interesting options for football bettors is season win totals. This is the number of regular season games each team is expected to win (16-game season).
Betting NFL season win totals has advantages and disadvantages. The good thing about them is variance tends to be reduced over the course of the entire season. While any team can have a good or bad single game, making individual game handicapping a real challenge, skill and talent spread over 16 games tends to not produce as many suprises. Of course, there are always exceptions.
The disadvantage of betting NFL season win totals, especially for bettors who do not have credit lines, is tying up money for several months at a time. If you bet a few team totals in August, a best-case scenario is you won’t be able to collect until January. For this reason, season win totals are not as popular among recreational bettors by sheer volume of money wagered, which (arguably) makes these closing numbers much harder to beat. This is because the sharp money has hammered the right market price into place, by now. Hence, there’s some validity to now being “too late” to find value on season win totals.
That said, I’m going to post opinions here anyway. Let’s begin with the NFC: Note — Current lines are taken from OLYMPIC SPORTSBOOK as of August 20, 2013.
DALLAS COWBOYS UNDER 8.5 WINS (-125) – “America’s Team” is consistently overrated (just one playoff win in 16 years) and now comes into the 2013 season with arguably its weakest starting lineup since the pre-Bill Parcells days. Offensive line looks to be a major concern, and defensive scheme is making a major adjustment from Ryan’s system to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3. Head Coach Jason Garrett appears to be yet another Jerry Jones puppet, coaching a narcissistic team with perpetual delusions of granduer. If Garrett couldn’t produce the last two seasons with much better squads, why will things suddenly change now? QB Tony Romo is one of the NFL’s worst on-the-field leaders, despite putting up huge numbers and now holding every Cowboys career passing record. One simply doesn’t sense enough fire in Romo, especially in the games that count. Add the rest of the division improving (all three other teams look better this year than last) and a brutal schedule where Dallas plays 6 of its first 9 games on the road, and you have a team that could be in disarray by mid-season. Eight wins is certainly possible, but it looks much more likely this team goes 7-9 rather than 9-7 (or better). Recommendation: UNDER 8.5 WINS (-125)
NEW YORK GIANTS OVER 9 WINS (-105) — Giants suffered a disappointing 2012 and missed the playoffs. Still, despite subpar year and many injuries, this solid team still won 9 games. In fact, look at the wins for the Giants since Tom Coughlin took over — 9, 9, 10, 8, 12, 10, 8, and 11. Never a losing season in that span. Coughlin and his staff are consistently among the best in the game, and given there’s no Super Bowl hangover effects now, I expect the team will perform better. The offense could shatter some yardage and scroring records given all the talent and experience. Defense is more questionable. I see 9 wins as possible, giving us a push. But the upside of a 10 or 11 win season is more likely than a Coughlin-coached team falling to .500 or worse and the -105 juice price seems a bargain. Recommendation: OVER 9 WINS (-105)
GREEN BAY PACKERS UNDER 10.5 WINS (-115) – Hard to bet against Aaron Rodgers given his stellar career record and numbers, but his surrounding cast appears weaker than in recent years. Some serious offensive line injuries and concerns, and given that Rodgers has been sacked increasingly over the years, coming into 2013 with a patchwork line should be a big problem. Defense is average, at best. Getting the hook on 10 is key here, as Packers could certainly go 10-6, which still gives us the win on the UNDER. Here’s an ideal contrarian wager where the public always seems to love the Packers and their high-powered offense, but where the number should probably be 10, instead of 10.5 The Packers also play a murderous schedule including opponents — San Francisco, Washington, Baltimore, Cincinnati, NY Giants, Atlanta, Dallas, and Pittsburgh. That’s 12 of 16 games against teams that went 8-8 or better last season. Recommendation: UNDER 10.5 WINS (-115)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS UNDER 7.5 WINS (+105) *BEST BET* — This is an inexplicable number. I just don’t get it. Last year, Tampa went 7-9 and now they must IMPROVE in order to eclipse the projection. How is this possible, even with some nice free-agent pick ups (defensive secondary)? Poor Bucs play in a rough division, with Atlanta, New Orleans (now back at full strength), and fast-improving Carolina. Schedule isn’t much easier out of division. So, where do the extra wins over last year’s mark come from? Moreover, what’s to suggest much improvement, given this team crumbled down the stretch last year, going 1-5 its last six games? Young coach, young team, tough division, and they must go .500 or better. Add the fact we get a plus price (+105) on the prop, and this is a must bet. Best wager on the board. Recommendation: UNDER 7.5 WINS (+105)
NEW ORLEANS OVER 9 WINS (-165) — I know it’s a cliche, but this team is on a mission. I’ve spent more time following the Saints in recent years than any team. These coaches, these players, and this entire city has a bunker mentality entering 2013, and will be on a well-focused mission to rebound back into double-digit wins. Sean Peyton returns to the sidelines, having been off 18 months to ponder and strategize. Offense looks completely healthy again. And a horrid defense is now led by Rob Ryan, who should generate some improvement. One of the NFL’s best offenses, a defense that should be stronger, coaches back on the sidelines, and a highly-motivated team and fan base should get New Orleans to 10 wins — at worse a 9-7 season (giving us a push). Note that vig is a concern, but I’d rather lay heavy juice in this spot and catch the PUSH on 9. I just have to think this team will improve by at least two more victories given all these factors, coming off a 7-9 season and “Bountygate” clearly behind it. Recommendation: OVER 9 WINS (-165)
ST. LOUIS RAMS OVER 7.5 WINS (-110) — Now that Jeff Fisher has a full season under his belt, a healthier team, and a QB with more experience, I predict the Rams could surprise. They’ll catch a number of teams off guard for sure. Ranking wise, the Rams were in the middle of the pack in virtually every statistical category, despite two overachieving seasons by SFO and SEA and a devastating number of injuries. Rams improved dramatically in offseason and are reportedly fired up with their best defense in years. This is typical Jeff Fisher football, where he stayed under the radar for a decade with Tennessee and always seemed to have a winning season. The parts are in place here for a .500 record or better. Plus we go contrarian against the two darlings of the division, coming off huge seasons (SFO/SEA). Schedule also looks favorable. Recommendation: OVER 7.5 WINS (-115)
SOME OTHER NFC TEAMS WITH COMMENTS:
MINNESOTA VIKINGS — Were a great bet to go UNDER 7.5 wins (opening number), but now that total has slid down to 7 (and still dropping fast at -130), we need 6-10 or worse to cash, so this is no play. Hard to imagine RB Peterson staying healthy a full season or putting up anywhere near the numbers of last season. Plus, the Vikings play in a brutal division, where Green Bay is always a threat to win 10+, Chicago comes off a 10-win season, and Detroit is most certainly going to rebound after a terrible 2012.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS/SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — Here’s an interesting proposition where it might be advisable to pick both of these teams to go UNDER. 49ers are listed at 11.5 and Seahawks are listed at 10.5. Hard to see both teams hitting 12 and 11 wins respectively. I’d make this wager except for a ludicrous -170 lay price on the San Francisco UNDER which negates the value (Seattle is UNDER-EVEN).
I’ll take a look at the AFC next time….