Take a deep breath, because a new season of the National Football League is nearly here, with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens kicking off a new year this Thursday. 

To celebrate the return of pro football, a slew of people hit Vegas to attempt and break through, tackling a number of different bets, with one popular option being over/unders (O/U).

The SportsChump, a longtime friend of The Wife Hates Sports, has kicked off a contest at his site, asking readers to predict the over/under win totals of NFL teams, specifically extracting a top ten, and assigning confidence points to each.  Here are the Vegas O/U values for each team heading into the 2013 season:

TEAM

2013 O/U

Arizona Cardinals

5 ½

Atlanta Falcons

9 ½

Baltimore Ravens

8 ½

Buffalo Bills

6 ½

Carolina Panthers

7 ½

Chicago Bears

8 ½

Cincinnati Bengals

8 ½

Cleveland Browns

6 ½

Dallas Cowboys

8 ½

Denver Broncos

11 ½

Detroit Lions

8 ½

Green Bay Packers

9 ½

Houston Texans

9 ½

Indianapolis Colts

7 ½

Jacksonville Jaguars

4 ½

Kansas City Chiefs

7 ½

Miami Dolphins

8 ½

Minnesota Vikings

7 ½

New England Patriots

10 ½

New Orleans Saints

8 ½

New York Giants

8 ½

New York Jets

6 ½

Oakland Raiders

5 ½

Philadelphia Eagles

7 ½

Pittsburgh Steelers

9 ½

San Diego Chargers

7 ½

San Francisco 49ers

10 ½

St. Louis Rams

7 ½

Seattle Seahawks

10 ½

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7 ½

Tennessee Titans

5 ½

Washington Redskins

7 ½

To piggyback off of the Chump’s contest – which you should consider visiting and submitting your own picks for – here are my selections (in order of confidence), with a reason for each pick:

10. Arizona Cardinals – (5 ½ wins – OVER)

If you have viewed some of the recent Fantasy Football posts at TWHS, then you are aware that I’m predicting that the Cardinals – especially Larry Fitzgerald – will benefit from the additions of Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians.  The defense and special teams should also see some flashes with Tyrann Mathieu joining Patrick Peterson.  The running game is still a question mark, and these additions do not mean that this is a playoff team, but getting at least six victories?  Seems like a great bet to me.

9. New York Jets – (6 ½ wins – UNDER)

Rex Ryan is on the hot seat in New York, and the quarterback position is a bit of a jumbled mess right now, with numerous additional options being added and cut, all while Mark Sanchez is injured and Geno Smith is showing his youth and immaturity.  Overall, the talent pool isn’t nearly as deep as it was a few years ago, and road games against New England, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Baltimore will not help either.  A 6-10 season, coupled with a new coach in 2014, seems like the likely end point.

8. Oakland Raiders – (5 ½ wins – UNDER)

Carson Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards in Oakland last season, but this year’s offense is likely to be run by either Terrelle Pryor or Matt Flynn.  Darren McFadden is explosive, but he can never go a full season without missing multiple weeks due to injury.  To make matters worse, in three of its first four games, the Raiders will face off against Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III.  Later in the season, Oakland has a four-game stretch against the Steelers, Eagles, Giants and Texans.  Plain and simple, this team will be lucky to reach five wins, let alone six.  Take the under.

7. Washington Redskins – (7 ½ wins – OVER)

The key to Washington’s season – and the likely reason for a win total set this low – is health, and specifically the health of Robert Griffin III.  Many have compared RGIII’s current injury rehab to that of Adrian Peterson, who posted incredible numbers in 2012 (coming off a knee injury).  Mike Shanahan recently announced that RGIII would be starting Week 1, and if he and other key members of the team can stay on the field, the Redskins should have no problem posting a winning record in 2013.

6. Indianapolis Colts – (7 ½ wins – OVER)

The Colts were vaulted to the playoffs last season by a solid offense, led by Andrew Luck and veteran Reggie Wayne.  T.Y. Hilton also emerged in the passing game during the second half.  This is a very talented group that added RB Ahmad Bradshaw during the offseason, likely giving it more offensive balance in 2013.  Throw in four games against the Jaguars and Titans, and it’s a good bet that the Colts will finish with a winning record.

andrew-luck-indianapolis-colts-quarterback

Andrew Luck should be able to carry the Colts to another winning season

5. Baltimore Ravens – (8 ½ wins – OVER)

These are the Super Bowl champions, and a 9-7 season would snag a correct pick in taking the over?  That’s surprising.  Sure, Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin have moved on, and Dennis Pitta is out due to injury, but there’s still plenty of talent on this football team.  The Ravens have a schedule that features the AFC East, and while the Patriots will be a major challenge, the Bills, Dolphins and Jets are all very winnable games.  The Ravens get Green Bay and Houston at home, as well.  All in all, the schedule will be tough, but this is a solid football team that should have no problem getting to nine wins.

4. Seattle Seahawks – (10 ½ wins – OVER)

Seattle would have to notch 11 wins, but this is a Super Bowl contender and a team that’s very balanced.  Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett join a Seahawks team that is already tenacious on defense and lights out at home.  Offensively, this is a balanced group with Russell Wilson anchoring the passing game and Marshawn Lynch leading the run game.  All in all, this is a very solid football team.

3. Green Bay Packers – (9 ½ wins – OVER)

Last season, Green Bay’s defense struggled at times, and can only get better.  The offense is the clear strength, and it will be again in 2013.  Greg Jennings may be gone, but there are still plenty of solid receivers, including Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley.  Aaron Rodgers should have another big year, and this time, the Packers could have more offensive balance, with rookie Eddie Lacy ready to break out in the run game.  It’s hard to imagine a team with this much talent not reaching the ten-win mark.

2. San Francisco 49ers – (10 ½ wins – OVER)

Last year, San Francisco featured a suffocating defense and a power run game that pushed them to the Super Bowl.  In the second half of the 2012 season, Colin Kaepernick added a new wrinkle of explosiveness to the team’s offense.  His ability to make plays with his arm and his feet are a huge addition.  Frank Gore returns as the starting running back and Anquan Boldin takes over as the top receiver.  The defense will again be a major strength and a force to be reckoned with.  In the end, the 49ers enter the 2013 season as one of the Super Bowl favorites, and therefore, reaching eleven victories is a good possibility, as long as the key contributors can stay healthy.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers – (9 ½ wins – UNDER)

The Steelers are one of the most well run franchises in all of sports, and more often than not, Pittsburgh ends up in the thick of the playoff chase during every season.  However, this team features some aging stars on its defense.  Pittsburgh also has injuries and no clear starter in its running game, while the passing game will be without Mike Wallace as a deep threat.  A winning season is still a possibility, but a double-digit win season seems unlikely.  Still, you can’t ever count them out, which is why I simply couldn’t put the confidence points too high.

Which team(s) do you feel should you be considered a sure thing?

Add your picks here, or at the Chump’s site (or both) – and then kick your feet up, grab a beer and enjoy the return of pro football!

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