Let out a deep sigh of relief because football is finally back.
To celebrate the NFL’s triumphant return, countless football lovin’ folks will hit Vegas to tackle a plethora of bets, with the over-under (O/U) being one of the most common and popular options.
The SportsChump – a longtime friend and Buccaneer apologist – has once again launched his NFL Over/Under Contest, asking readers to predict the win totals of teams, specifically extracting a top ten and assigning confidence points to each selection.
Here’s the list of win totals, according to Vegas:
TEAM 2015 O/U
Arizona Cardinals 8.5
Atlanta Falcons 8.5
Baltimore Ravens 9
Buffalo Bills 8.5
Carolina Panthers 8.5
Chicago Bears 7
Cincinnati Bengals 8.5
Cleveland Browns 6.5
Dallas Cowboys 9.5
Denver Broncos 10
Detroit Lions 8.5
Green Bay Packers 11
Houston Texans 8.5
Indianapolis Colts 10.5
Jacksonville Jaguars 5.5
Kansas City Chiefs 8.5
Miami Dolphins 9
Minnesota Vikings 7.5
New England Patriots 10
Oakland Raiders 5.5
New Orleans Saints 8.5
New York Giants 8
Philadelphia Eagles 9.5
New York Jets 7.5
Pittsburgh Steelers 8.5
San Diego Chargers 8.5
San Francisco 49ers 7
St. Louis Rams 8
Seattle Seahawks 11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6
Tennessee Titans 5.5
Washington Redskins 6
To piggyback off the Chump’s contest, here are my 2015 NFL Predictions, adding a heaping helping of National Football League prognostication (in order of confidence) for the new season:
10. New England Patriots – (10 wins – OVER)
After Deflategate, Tom Brady is certain to be ticked off (more so than usual, that is), and ready to take his frustrations out on opponents. Plain and simple, until the high-speed locomotive that is Brady and Belichick has bought a one-way ticket to retirement, it’s hard to pick against them. Even if the NFL finds a way to get a Brady suspension back into the mix, Jimmy Garoppolo showed that he is more than capable, going 41-for-50 during the preseason. An 11-5 (or better) season for Kraft and Co. seems likely.
9. New York Jets – (7 ½ wins – UNDER)
New York’s front office may have peppered in a new coaching staff, but there’s still plenty of salt left in the wounds of Jets fans. Toss in a few tablespoons of dysfunction, specifically via the preseason headlines that were hijacked by the likes of Geno Smith’s jaw and Sheldon Richardson’s high-speed stupidity. Ryan Fitzpatrick now leads an offense that does have additional help from players like Brandon Marshall, and that’s likely the reason why the Jets landed an over/under value this high. Darrelle Revis coming back to anchor the defense certainly helps, too. Still, a .500 record for a rookie head coach in a talented AFC East division is a tall order. Yeah, expect the fans to mimic Richardson and head for the exits at about 143mph.
8. Denver Broncos – (10 wins – OVER)
Critics emerged once Peyton Manning’s stat lines dipped significantly over the final weeks of the 2014 regular season. Many also wonder if the aging veteran can remain healthy over the course of this season. Can Peyton also mesh with Gary Kubiak and his offense? There are more questions than there are Omaha’s screamed on the field. But most of them are silly, not only considering Manning’s elite game preparation, but also the talent surrounding him in Denver. The Broncos will mix in a fair share of C.J. Anderson and the run game, along with a ton of talent on defense. The AFC West division is tough, but with this kind of talent in the Mile High city, people should remain confident that as long as Peyton is on the field for 16 games, the Broncos should finish at 11-5 or better.
7. Indianapolis Colts – (10 ½ wins – OVER)
The Colts are fortunate to be in a weaker division and will get a handful of games against sub-par teams. Throw in the addition of WR Andre Johnson, who makes for a deadly one-two punch with T.Y. Hilton. Frank Gore is like the Christie Brinkley of running backs – never aging and still solid. You will never see that comparison anywhere else (and it’s probably better that way). What you will see is a plethora of people jumping on the Andrew Luck bandwagon, betting on Indy to win at least eleven regular season games.
6. Cleveland Browns – (6 ½ wins – UNDER)
Cleveland has a secondary that will give opposing passing attacks headaches, but when facing the Browns, there aren’t many other reasons to be popping Advil. Josh McCown and rookie Duke Johnson are likely to anchor the offense, with Dwayne Bowe as the top receiver (following Josh Gordon’s year-long suspension). Playing in a division that features the Bengals, Steelers and Ravens, the city of Cleveland may want to again focus its attention on LeBron James and the Cavs.
5. San Francisco 49ers – (7 wins – UNDER)
Jim Harbaugh is now coaching the Michigan Wolverines and while many think that’s a good thing, one can’t ignore his past successes in San Francisco. More importantly, look at the long list of players lost, such as Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Mike Iupati, Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith. With a new head coach and a dip in talent, 6-10 is a definite possibility.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – (8 ½ wins – OVER)
This isn’t a vote for playoff victories, folks. For four straight years, the Bengals have finished with nine regular season wins or more and in 2015, most of Cincinnati’s key pieces are returning. The Bengals will have one of the tougher schedules and will have four games against the Ravens and Steelers, but otherwise, stick with a steady team that has a strong running game (led by Jeremy Hill) and top wideout (A.J. Green).
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – (5 ½ wins – OVER)
Every list needs to have a surprise pick and one that no one else is willing to add to the mix. The Jags are that team. Many have praised the growth of Blake Bortles, given high marks to the talents of rookie RB T.J. Yeldon and listed WR Allen Robinson as a Fantasy breakout candidate. Jacksonville is a young team on the rise, and it has some solid pieces on defense that should keep them in plenty of games. It’s just whether or not this youthful group is ready to jump to the next level. With the youthful talent on this roster, 6-10 is a possibility.
2. Tennessee Titans – (5 ½ wins – UNDER)
Some of last year’s doormats will not be ready to take the next step towards the playoffs. With a young core of players led by QB Marcus Mariota, the Titans appear like a group that is going to take a lot of lumps this season. There isn’t much else to say, only that six wins seems like a pipe dream.
1. Carolina Panthers – (8 ½ wins – UNDER)
Cam Newton made headlines during the preseason when he fought with a teammate. That storyline faded away, only to shift to another big storyline when top receiver Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL. The Panthers have some talent on defense and will play in a weaker division, but overall, asking the likes of Newton, injury-prone Jonathan Stewart and rookie WR Devin Funchess to carry the offense, well… that may be a bit too much to make for a winning season. 8-8 seems more likely.
OK, folks, those are some of my 2015 NFL predictions.
Who you got?