This is the toughest time of the year, by far. The NBA and NHL seasons are done, baseball is still a couple of months away from being exciting, and football is so close I can taste it – yet, there’s still so long to wait. From the draft to mini-camps and finally preseason training, the NFL is almost cruel in the way it keeps feeling like it’s time for football, despite being several more weeks away.
To satiate my NFL cravings, I decided it was time to begin my preseason analyses and break out some season-long win totals. And I have to tell you, thanks to some residual feelings from last year, misleading stats or records, and a few unfortunate mainstream narratives, there is a boatload of talent available out there this summer.
When I was outlining this thing, I probably found about ten lines I feel confident about betting. I only reduced it to six so that I’ll only be sharing the easy money; the locks; the sure things! I’m telling you people, I am absolutely feeling it this year, so get your bankrolls ready; we have some big NFL win totals bets to make.
There may not be a whole lot to watch this time of year, as far as sports are concerned, but it’s not all bad. This is when the handicappers that have done their homework get to take advantage of the many glaring market inefficiencies and pricing errors. If some of these picks seem crazy today, come back and talk to me in two months; there’s nothing in this world that I love more than a good, “I told you so.”
Denver Broncos – Over 7 Wins
|Over 7 Wins||-110|
|Under 7 Wins||-110|
|1||Noah Fant||Tight End|
|2||Dalton Risner||Offensive Tackle|
|3||Dre’Mont Jones||Defensive Tackle|
|5||Justin Hollins||Outside Linebacker|
|6||Juwann Winfree||Wide Receiver|
2018-19 Record: 6-10
The Denver Broncos won six games last year with Vance Joseph as their Head Coach, and now they have Vic Fangio. I really shouldn’t even have to continue writing this section. If you don’t think a coaching upgrade of that magnitude is worth at least two additional wins, I really don’t know what to tell you.
Ya know how every season it feels like a couple of teams explode out of nowhere to become overnight playoff contenders?
By the way, Denver wasn’t exactly a pushover last year. They beat the Seahawks, Steelers, and Chargers, played the Chiefs tough twice – losing by 4 and 7 points respectively, and lost games to the Rams, Texans, and Browns – all by three points or less.
So, you take that roster and replace one of the worst coaches I’ve ever seen in my life with the savant responsible for designing last year’s Chicago Bears’ defense, install Joe Flacco back into the system that best suits his skill set, and bring in Mike Munchak to shore up the offensive line?!?
Then they add a hyper-athletic first-round tight end to the mix? Do you have any idea what explosive, pass-catching tight ends do in these Kubiak/Shanahan-style zone stretch play-action offenses? If you’re curious, check out George Kittle. Taking the Denver Broncos to surpass seven wins might as well be printing money.
Philip Lindsay is going to absolutely feast on stretch runs to the outside which will open up the bootleg play-action passes for Flacco to do what he does best – bomb the ball deep to guys like Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, and the rookie Fant. Are they going to be the Chiefs or Chargers on offense? No. But they’re going to be formidable; plus, the offensive isn’t even the exciting part.
Remember how I said Vic Fangio was the architect of last season’s smothering Chicago Bears defense? Well, if you thought Khalil Mack was fun, now the former DC has both Von Miller and Bradley Chubb to play with alongside Derek Wolfe (in a contract year, no less), Shelby Harris, and Adam Gotsis. There’s a chance we see an all-time great defensive unit emerge.
Sprinkle in the versatility of Zach Kerr on the D-line, a couple promising rookies, and a secondary that’s six deep with Chris Harris Jr., Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan, and Justin Simmons leading the way, and I may pass out just thinking about what Fangio will be able to get out of all this talent.
Want to hear something crazy? Forget about this little win totals line; I’m going to put a few bucks on these guys upsetting the Chiefs and Chargers to win the AFC West. We’ve seen this story before: dominant defense with an aging game-manager at QB and a stout running attack. At +1400 to win the division, it’s looking like a steal.
Houston Texans – Under 8 Wins
|Over 8 Wins||-110|
|Under 8 Wins||-110|
|1||Tytus Howard||Offensive Tackle|
|2||Lonnie Johnson Jr||Cornerback|
|3||Kahale Warring||Tight End|
|5||Charles Omenihu||Defensive Lineman|
|7||Cullen Gillaspia||Full-back / Special Teams|
2018-19 Record: 11-5
The 2017-18 Houston Texans may very well have been the worst 11-5 team ever to grace the gridiron. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride for us Texans fans. We opened the season with high hopes of being contenders following Deshaun Watson’s remarkable rookie campaign, only to promptly drop the first three games.
Just as all hope was lost, a three-point overtime victory against the Colts in Week 4 started a nine-game winning streak that may have done more harm to the franchise than good. Sure, earning that many consecutive wins is difficult to hate on, but it covered up a lot of fundamental problems that have been plaguing the organization.
Watson took way too many bad hits, and while plenty of them were the fault of his awful offensive line, a sizable percentage were merely the result of horrific decision-making. To say he regressed in his second season is an understatement.
The Texans seemed to make some kind of effort at getting their franchise QB more protection, but neither of their rookie offensive linemen is particularly inspiring. Tytus Howard has the athleticism and footwork to eventually be a starting left tackle, but he’s too weak at the moment to handle an NFL bull rush. Then their third-round pick, Max Scharping, is plenty strong, but he’s way too slow. They’re going to have to move him to guard, where I suppose he’ll compete with awful Rankin for a starting spot.
I don’t even want to talk about Houston’s on-the-field product anymore; the entire organization is a mess currently. Poor Deandre Hopkins is still a stud, but they let the Honey Badger leave in free agency, lost Kareem Jackson to the Broncos, Jadeveon Clowney is holding out for a new contract (and will undoubtedly get injured after he skips training camp), and the team fired their GM then was never able to hire a replacement.
Then there’s the issue of Bill O’Brien and his god-awful play calls. I don’t know what happened to this guy, but in 2017-18, he may have been the least creative offensive mind in the NFL. If this team has half-a-brain, they’ll try to land a Khalil Mack-like return for Clowney, tank this season, and hire a new GM and coach next offseason.
While every other team in the AFC South drastically improved, the Texans got worse. And they weren’t all that good, to begin with. Nine consecutive wins sound great until you see how they were barely squeezing them out against weak opponents, while relying on numerous lucky breaks – including bizarre coaching decisions, missed field goals, and the like. Now they get to play a schedule made for a division winner. If they win five games I’ll be surprised.
New York Giants – Over 6 Wins
|Over 6 Wins||-110|
|Under 6 Wins||-110|
|1||Dexter Lawrence||Defensive Tackle|
|3||Oshane Ximines||Defensive End|
|5||Darius Slayton||Wide Receiver|
|7||Chris Slayton||Defensive Tackle|
2018-19 Record: 5-11
Before I got all crunk and started predicting the Denver Broncos to usurp the Chiefs and Chargers atop the AFC West, this was the bet I figured people would call me an idiot over. But if you look at this Giants team objectively, it’s highly probable that they’ll be able to win more than six games. It feels like they’re a dumpster fire because they screwed up the Daniel Jones pick and lost Odell Beckham Jr., but the rest of their draft was solid.
To hit this win total, all New York has to do is record one more victory than they did last season. Superstar running back and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley will return as the focal point of the offense with 16 games worth of experience and a Pro Bowl appearance under his belt, which will complement their quickly-improving defense.
Looking at the young defensive players acquired in the draft, there’s a decent chance the Giants can play a physical, grinding style that will make them much more competitive than their PR would have you believe. They replaced the underperforming Olivier Vernon with their second of three first-round picks, Dexter Lawrence and drafted three promising cornerbacks in the first, fourth, and sixth rounds.
In return for OBJ, New York also received Jabrill Peppers, adding yet another strong presence to their secondary. Antoine Bethea was then picked up in free agency to plug into the starting free safety spot.
When they weren’t stocking their defense with young, physical, speedy athletes, the Giants were acquiring beef for their offensive line. The Browns sent over Kevin Zeitler for Vernon, giving NY a top-flight guard opposite Will Hernandez before also signing Spencer Pulley and Mike Remmers in free agency.
Not to mention, Jon Halapio — who has the potential to become a top-five talent at his position – is returning from a Week 2 foot/ankle injury that ended his season to compete for the starting center role. It’s not hard to see what they’re doing; this squad is going to be brutally tough in the trenches.
The Giants are going to play fast and aggressive on defense, then pound the ball with their superstar RB. Their newly improved offensive line will not only make Barkley’s life easier but should be an asset in pass protection as well – whether it’s Eli Manning or Daniel Jones taking the snaps.
By the way, I think they are going to be much better at throwing without Odell this year too. He’s super talented, but in the last couple of seasons, his negative impact on the locker room seemed almost to outweigh his abilities.
New York went out and got Golden Tate and for their receiving corps and re-signed Corey Coleman and Sterling Shepard. They may not have a marquee star WR, but they now have three speedy athletes that can take a short crossing route and explode upfield for a significant gain or stretch the defense as deep threats.
All they need from Eli or Jones is for them to manage the game, hand the ball off to Saquon, and occasionally hit one of their shifty slot-type receivers on quick routes to keep the chains moving. If even 40% of their draft picks become serviceable players, New York’s rebuild is going to be successful much sooner than anybody expected.
Looking at NY’s schedule, I can find three wins right away: Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Miami. They get the Cowboys and Redskins twice apiece; even if they just split those series – though I can see them beating Dallas twice if Ezekiel Elliott’s hold out lasts too long – that brings them to five wins.
Then they just need two more wins to come from their matchups against the Jets, Bills, Eagles (x2), Lions, Packers, Vikings, Bears, or Patriots. That feels very doable; covering six wins will be child’s play.
San Francisco 49ers – Over 8 Wins
|Over 8 Wins||-115|
|Under 8 Wins||-105|
|1||Nick Bosa||Defensive End|
|2||Deebo Samuel||Wide Receiver|
|3||Jalen Hurd||Wide Receiver|
|5||Dre Greenlaw||Outside Linebacker|
|6||Kaden Smith||Tight End|
|6||Justin Skule||Offensive Tackle|
2018-19 Record: 4-12
Now, this line feels a bit trickier than the others to me. The 49ers had the worst luck imaginable last year, to the point that they were starting practice squad QBs towards the end. The Niners finished 2017 so hot; it seemed particularly unfair for them to be plagued by so many injuries just as they were shaping into a contender.
Before the season even began starting RB Jerick McKinnon went down to a torn ACL, but their worst stomach punch came in Week 3. Playing against the Kansas City Chiefs, San Fransisco’s brand-new face of the franchise, Jimmy Garoppolo, tore his ACL as well while running up the field.
The worst part is the 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan is a brilliant offensive mind, but we’ve never gotten to see him execute his vision for this roster. The son of a legendary coach, the young Shanahan utilizes many of the same football philosophies – building most of his playbook around the stretch zone run and its play-action bootleg counters from the same formations. Only Kyle is much more creative and mixes in a wide variety of different looks.
In fact, I’m basing my decision to take the over on the 49ers win total primarily on the presence of Kyle Shanahan. That, and the way George Kittle took to the system last season. Despite all of the injury woes, it wasn’t all negative in San Fransisco.
With just about every key offensive weapon out for extended stretches – if not the entire year – Kittle was a revelation. The second-year TE set an NFL single-season record for receiving yards with 1,377, somehow led the league in Yards After Catch with 870 – something never before accomplished by a tight end.
Jimmy G. will be back under center this year and with an established superstar TE to utilize now. They also drafted two supremely talented rookie WRs in Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd that will give this unit even more pop. In the backfield, the Niners added Tevin Coleman who joins Matt Breida, Jerick McKinnon, and Raheem Mostert. All SF needs is for two or three of these guys to stay healthy.
Meanwhile, on defense, I haven’t even mentioned that they’ll be welcoming the second overall pick of the draft, Nick Bosa, to their squad. He will immediately give them a pass-rush off the edge playing opposite of Dee Ford, who was acquired from the Chiefs. Ford notched 13 sacks and 7 forced fumbles in 2018, so this should be quite the duo for opponents to be forced to deal with. Throw DeForest Buckner down there between them, and I’m starting to feel a lot better about covering these 8 wins.
Looking at the 49ers schedule, I feel comfortable counting five wins right off the top: Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, the Redskins, and Arizona twice. The Steelers come to SF in Week 3 for the Niners’ home opener, and between Big Ben playing on the road and Antonio Brown no longer there to demand a double-team, I’m calling that win number six.
With Todd Gurley’s knee problems and Jared Goff’s significant regression during the second half of last season, I feel confident that Shanahan’s boys can at least split the series, getting us to seven. Then we just need to find two more wins in games against the Browns, Panthers, Packers, Ravens, Saints, Falcons, or Seahawks (x2).
Cleveland has way too many personalities, and I’m anticipating their implosion, so that seems like a likely candidate for one. Also, while I like the Seahawks this year, I can easily see the 49ers winning one – if not both – of those games. Especially if they stay even remotely healthy.
The Falcons don’t have a defense, so that contest will be a shootout that could go either way, the Panthers aren’t particularly inspiring, and who knows if Baltimore’s gimmick offense will be solved by Week 13.
I’d say it’s highly likely that the Niners reach 10-12 wins as long as their defensive line, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kittle, Deebo, and any two of their running backs play the majority of the season. Give me the over at –115 all day.
Atlanta Falcons – Over 8.5 Wins
|Over 8.5 Wins||-115|
|Under 8.5 Wins||-105|
|1||Kaleb McGary||Offensive Tackle|
|4||John Cominsky||Defensive End|
|5||Quadree Ollison||Running Back|
|6||Marcus Green||Wide Receiver|
2018-19 Record: 7-9
This is an easy one! I can basically wrap up this entire section with a single point: Steve Sarkisian is finally gone! Can you imagine being an offensive coordinator that couldn’t figure out how to get Julio Jones the ball? In 2016, Atlanta’s offense was the best in the entire NFL, averaging 33.8 points per game. The high-octane attack, developed by Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, was nearly unstoppable, carrying the Falcons all the way to the Super Bowl.
Sarkisian was hired the following year when Shanahan accepted a Head Coaching position in San Fransisco. Widely known as a human disaster, Sark wasted no time putting his hideous stamp all over the once-dominant unit. In the very next year, and with much of the same personnel, the moronic play-caller managed to reduce the Falcons’ scoring average to 22.1 points per game; 11.7 fewer than only twelve months prior.
Last year, he managed to improve that number to 25.9, still well shy of Atlanta’s potential. But he’s the University of Alabama and Nick Saban’s problem now, the Falcons are bringing back Dirk Koetter, who was with the franchise in the same role from 2012 – 2014. He may not have been as good as Kyle Shanahan, but Koetter’s offense was able to reach the NFC Championship Game in 2013!
If they didn’t make any other changes, the switch at OC would probably be enough for me to take the over on the Falcons, but they had a phenomenal draft as well. Atlanta drafted two offensive linemen in the first round, who will contribute right away.
They’ll be joined by free agent signings James Carpenter and Jamon Brown up front. Not only will the influx of physical blockers give Matt Ryan more time to work their new vertical passing attack, but they’ll benefit Devonta Freeman and the running game as well.
This is a roster that’s going to get back to putting up insane point totals. Austin Hooper is becoming an asset at the tight end position, Julio Jones is still a top-three WR (when he doesn’t have Sark hindering him), and Mohammad Sanu, Calvin Ridley, and Justin Hardy complete a well-balanced and extremely dangerous receiving corps.
The Atlanta Falcons’ defense may not have been adequately addressed this offseason, but the changes they were able to make should be worth between 2-5 wins at is it. Head Coach Dan Quinn – who was the Defensive Coordinator for the “Legion of Boom” Seahawks – plans to take over defensive play-calling duties, which will also help.
The Falcons lack a reliable pass-rush, but are relatively stable on the D-line with Grady Jarret, have decent linebackers and safeties, and have seen potential from their corners. With a robust scheme and fewer injuries, Atlanta could be right back to contending for Super Bowls – like they were before the Sarkisian sabotage.
Based on the assumption that they return to having one of the most dominant passing attacks in the NFL, I’ve got them picking up at least three wins from their four contests against the Panthers and Buccaneers, respectively. Wins over the Titans, Texans, and Cardinals will give them three more. Now we just have to find three wins in Atlanta’s games against the Vikings, Eagles, Colts, Rams, Seahawks, Saints (x2), 49ers, and Jaguars.
That’s doable, especially if they’re back to their old form. Imagine their 2016 offense, with Calvin Ridley thrown into the mix! So long Sarkisian, we are going over!
Indianapolis Colts – Over 10 Wins
|Over 10 Wins||+105|
|Under 10 Wins||-125|
|2||Ben Banogu||Outside Linebacker|
|2||Parris Campbell||Wide Receiver|
|3||Bobby Okereke||Outside Linebacker|
|5||Marvell Tell III||Safety|
|5||E.J. Speed||Inside Linebacker|
|6||Gerri Green||Outside Linebacker|
|7||Jackson Barton||Offensive Tackle|
2018-19 Record: 10-6
Indianapolis’ 2018 first-round pick, Quenton Nelson, immediately changed the identity of his new team last year and turning the franchise’s most significant weakness into a strength. Andrew Luck spent the entirety of the second half of the season operating from clean pockets as Frank Reich’s team grew into one of the AFC’s best.
They finished the 2018 regular season winning nine of their last ten games, and they’ve only gotten better this offseason. The Colts put together a brilliant draft, using their cache of ten picks to get nastier and tougher on defense and faster on offense. Indianapolis is my pick to win the AFC South and should be one of the two best teams in the conference – if not the NFL.
In addition to Andrew Luck recovering and returning to Pro Bowl form, the Colts have built an impenetrable offensive line and developed a deadly running game led by Marlon Mack. After signing away Detroit Lions’ TE Eric Ebron – who was earning a reputation as a bust – the new acquisition caught 13 touchdowns (more than doubling his career total), gained 750 yards, and made his first Pro Bowl.
They built upon the roster that was already taking shape as a Super Bowl contender by drafting Rock Ya-Sin, Khari Willis, and Marvell Tell to help with their secondary, then grabbed another three linebackers in the first five rounds.
If that wasn’t enough, Frank Reich’s offense will get another injection of speed from late-second-rounder Parris Campbell from Ohio St. He will give Luck another electric weapon out of the slot, alongside TY Hilton, Eric Ebron, Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Chester Rogers, Jack Doyle, and Devin Funchess. The Colts have so much versatility on offense, I feel comfortable calling them this year’s Kansas City Chiefs.
Even though I know they’re good for at least eleven wins, let’s look at their schedule. They’ve got Houston twice, Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Miami for sure. Then, I’m confident they can take another three wins out of their four games versus the Titans and Jaguars, bringing us to eight.
From there, the Colts only need three more wins from the Falcons, Chargers (who may be without Melvin Gordon), Chiefs, Broncos, Steelers, Saints, and Panthers. The Steelers and Panthers games are the two most-probable wins, and Indy can easily grab one more with a good game against Denver, New Orleans, or San Diego.
And Now We Wait…
People, you cannot fathom how pumped researching these win totals, and 2019 rosters got me. Now, the only thing left to do is submit my picks with one of our top NFL betting sites, and wait to cash my tickets in February.
Looking over these six teams, I firmly believe each of them is poised to defy expectations – for better or for worse. The Broncos and Giants will shock people the most, just as a handful of disrespected franchises do every single season. Indianapolis will ascend to the top of the NFL once again, better than they’ve ever been during the Andrew Luck era, and possibly compete for a Super Bowl. Looking at their roster, it’s hard to imagine who will be able to stop them.
On the other side of the coin, Houston is becoming a disaster. They’ve been involved in one embarrassing story after another and undoubtedly had the least inspiring 2019 draft of the six teams covered here today.
Other than watching the Bill O’Brien era finally crashing down in flames, what I’m most looking forward to is watching the Atlanta Falcons. It will be so delightful seeing them return to their former glory after enduring the curse of Steve Sarkisian.
I’ll tell you one thing about betting NFL win totals: if you do enough research, you gain a deep appreciation for competent front offices. I’d say five of the six teams discussed in this post are run by people who know what they’re doing, and I look forward to profiting from their wisdom.