With the NFL season less than a week away, fantasy drafts are in full swing, spirited debate shows are picking apart preseason games and prognostication is out of control. So when looking for dispassionate voices to turn to, Las Vegas oddsmakers are a good place to look. NFL teams’ over/unders for win totals provide a good feel for their expectations, but more importantly provide fun opportunities for investment. I’ve pulled over/under totals for each team from Bovada and combed through every teams schedule to see how I think they will fair. Not shockingly, Vegas seems to be spot on in many cases. But, some teams jump out to me as investment opportunities. Let’s go through my division projections and pull out the best betting opportunities. Best of luck!
Steelers (10.5): 13-3 OVER
I’m starting with one of my best bets. Pittsburgh has the Browns, Bears and Jags all within the first 5 weeks and should use that to get off to a fast start. I think they easily go at least 2-2 against the Chiefs, Packers, Pats and Texans, which should have them comfortably Over.
Ravens (8): 10-6 OVER
Another favorite of mine. The schedule is really favorable and if the offense performs at all this should be a comfortable 9 or 10 wins. It helps that they should be able to get at least 3 out of 4 against the AFC South.
Bengals (8.5): 7-9 UNDER
One of the reasons I’m high on the Steelers and Ravens is how low I am on the Bengals. I think this is a mediocre year in Cincinnati. Week 8-11 they play the Colts, Jags, Titans and Broncos. If they do better than 2-2, they could make a run at the over, but I don’t see it.
Browns (4.5): 4-12 UNDER
I think DeShone Kizer (Warning: Notre Dame bias) and the Browns have a respectable season, but this team is not in a position to win more than 4 games. I think they can beat the Jets and steal a couple AFC South games. They probably hang tough in t
heir division games, but 5 wins is too much to ask.
Texans (8.5): 9-7 OVER
I can’t see myself betting anything in this division because all these teams have an incredibly wide range of outcomes. I think Houston uses their defense and a ball-control offense to grind out 9 wins, but the schedule is tough and they need to get off to a good start.
Titans (8.5): 8-8 UNDER
A lot of people are high on the Titans, but I am not buying in. They are going to be a team that can beat anyone (starting with the Raiders in week 1), but will find ways to lose games they should win. They aren’t built to dominate teams and will end up falling back to .500
Colts (8): 6-10 UNDER
Even if Luck is healthy, this team will struggle to get to 8 wins, and if he’s out early it could get really ugly. If they can win home games against the Steelers and Broncos there’s a glimmer of hope for 8 wins.
Jaguars (6.5): 4-12 UNDER
I think this season has a better chance of seeing the Jags fall to each of the Jets, Browns and 49ers than seeing the Jags with a competent quarterback. There are enough pieces present that they might be able to claw 7 wins out of a softer schedule, but I am more confident in this under than any other AFC south bet.
Patriots (12.5): 13-3 OVER
The 16-0 talk is off the mark, especially with Edelman going down, but it is pretty hard to find losses on this schedule. I picked out 3, but had to work pretty hard. Strong Over.
Dolphins (7.5): 9-7 OVER
The rest of this division is much harder to figure out and the Dolphins have the largest gap from floor to ceiling. If Adam Gase’s offense clicks with Jay Cutler, they could make a repeat playoff run. Their first two games against the Buccaneers and Chargers will set the tone. I think they fall short of the playoffs, but get to at least .500.
Bills (6): 4-12 UNDER
This team isn’t even on the board in some places with all the uncertainty around Tyrod Taylor and the team’s general plan. I see a step back for the Bills and they’ll be closer to the Jets than Dolphins.
Jets (4.5): 2-14 UNDER
They have the Browns and Jags on the schedule, but that’s it for games you could even sort of talk yourself into for a win. Give them 2 wins, but this is an easy under for me.
Raiders (10): 11-5 OVER
When I started looking into this, I expected to be down on the Raiders, but if they can beat up on AFC East teams outside of Foxborough, I think they handle this division and get to 11 wins. If they go 3-0 against the Titans, Ravens and Eagles they will push for a first-round bye.
Chargers (7.5): 10-6 OVER
The Chargers are such a popular sleeper pick that it probably doesn’t count as a sleeper anymore, but I’m on the bandwagon. They were unlucky with close games and injuries last year and if they get more breaks they should easily get to 8-8. I think they handle their softer schedule and get to 10 wins. I love the over.
Chiefs (9): 8-8 UNDER
The Chiefs are counting on being able to repeat their formula from the last 4 years (it just feels like 40) and hoping that Andy Reid + Alex Smith finally equals something besides a disappointing playoff exit. It will be different this time, but not better. The schedule and their division are loaded and they will struggle to get to 8 wins.
Broncos (8.5): 7-9 UNDER
Unless Trevor Siemian takes major strides forward this team will be at the bottom of the AFC West. The defense will regress and the offense does not have enough to help them overcome a tough division. Getting the Cowboys and Patriots at home helps, but not enough.
Packers (10): 12-4 OVER
This is another best bet for me. Their week 1 matchup with the Seahawks could decide the NFC’s top seed and having the Falcons and Cowboys before even getting to week 6 is a TOUGH schedule. Still, they are good enough to win all those games and if they go 2-1, they should coast to 11 wins. In the end, they will dominate at Lambeau and win enough road games to get a first round bye.
Vikings (8.5): 9-7 OVER
The Vikings remind me a lot of the Dolphins. A solid team with an iffy QB, the potential to push a perennial powerhouse in their division while just as likely to crash and burn. I think they end up at the same 9-7, but I would stay away from this bet.
Lions (8): 6-10 UNDER
This is one of my most confident unders. It is well documented how blessed the Lions were in close games last year and Stafford just got PAID. If he relaxes even a little bit, I don’t see anyway this team gets 8 wins. I gave them a win over Green Bay and still only got them to 6 wins.
Bears (5.5): 5-11 UNDER
The Bears first 4 games (Falcons, Buccaneers, Steelers, Packers) is as rough as they come. Even if they steal one of those and beat up on the 49ers and Browns, I don’t see 6 wins. If they get good QB play, they will come close, but that’s a big if.
Buccaneers (8.5): 11-5 OVER
I think this is the year Jameis Winston and Mike Evans get the Buccaneers back to the playoffs. If the offensive line improves, they can top a tough division. If they split with the Dolphins and Patriots, I think they comfortably get the over.
Falcons (9.5): 10-6 OVER
I don’t see the reigning NFC champions getting back to those heights. It has little to do with the Super Bowl hangover and much more to do with the change in offensive coordinator, Matt Ryan’s track record before last year and the always lingering chance of a Julio Jones injury. I think this team is deep enough to get to 10 wins despite those concerns, but I don’t feel good about it.
Panthers (8.5): 10-6 OVER
I do feel good about the Panthers. They get a softer schedule to go with a motivated team and a healthy Luke Kecuhly. If they win their Thursday night game at home against the Eagles, I think they get this over stress-free.
Saints (8): 8-8 UNDER
This team seems locked into mediocre seasons until something in the Brees-Payton dynamic shifts. They can beat anybody or get shelled by anybody. It probably evens out to an 8-8 push, but in this division its more likely to go under.
Cowboys (9.5): 10-6 OVER
Obviously a tough one to predict with Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension, but I think the talent gets to 10 wins. It could be a slow start and it is definitely a tough schedule, but if they can go 2-2 against the Packers, Falcons, Seahawks and Raiders 10 wins should be in the cards. Its a stay away for me though.
Giants (9): 9-7 OVER
I could never see myself betting on Eli and Vegas seems to have this number right on the button. If they can get 2 wins from their AFC West games they should get 9-10 wins, but it will be close. Another stay away.
Eagles (8): 7-9 UNDER
A third stay away in this diva of a division. If Wentz makes a sophomore leap this team can push for the playoffs, but I think they struggle with the AFC West and their own division. 7-9 feels more likely than 9-7.
Redskins (7.5): 4-12 UNDER
The only bet I like in this division is the Redskins under. This is an organization defined by dysfunction and I think Kirk Cousins will struggle. The offense lost a lot of weapons and I do not have faith in Jay Gruden to piece wins together. They will be competitive in their division games, but they will find ways to lose.
Seahawks (10.5): 13-3 OVER
This is the fourth division leader I love. The Patriots, Steelers, Packers and Seahawks will be head and shoulders above the league and I will be stunned if Seattle doesn’t get more than 10 wins. If they handle the Giants and Cowboys on the road, they should get the conference’s top seed.
Cardinals (8): 10-6 OVER
The Cardinals took a step backward last year, but their stats were that of a playoff team. Arians will right the ship this season and have them in position to make the playoffs. If they can win their first two road games in Detroit and Indianapolis they should be on their way to an easy over.
Rams (5.5): 3-13 UNDER
The bottom of this division seemlike easy unders. I don’t have the Rams among my best because they play the Saints, Jaguars, Redskins, Colts and Eagles and I could see all of those as coin-flip games. This is a weird team, but 3-13 feels like where the dust will settle.
49ers (4.5): 3-13 UNDER
Another team that might get to 5 wins with an easy schedule and a new coach, but I think it will be another year before Shanahan pays dividends for the 49ers. I’m not quite confident enough to play this under, but its close.