Let out a deep sigh of relief because football is FINALLY back. It’s 2016 NFL Preview time!
To celebrate the NFL’s triumphant return, countless football lovin’ folks will hit the Vegas strip to tackle a plethora of bets, with the over-under (O/U) being one of the most common and popular choices.
The SportsChump – a longtime friend and Buccaneer apologist – has once again launched his Over-Under Contest, challenging his readers to predict the regular season win totals of NFL teams, specifically extracting a top ten and assigning confidence points to each.
Here’s the Vegas over/unders for the 2016 NFL season:
TEAM 2016 O/U
Arizona Cardinals 10
Atlanta Falcons 7.5
Baltimore Ravens 8
Buffalo Bills 8
Carolina Panthers 10.5
Chicago Bears 7.5
Cincinnati Bengals 9.5
Cleveland Browns 4.5
Dallas Cowboys 9
Denver Broncos 9.5
Detroit Lions 7
Green Bay Packers 10.5
Houston Texans 8.5
Indianapolis Colts 9.5
Jacksonville Jaguars 7.5
Kansas City Chiefs 9.5
Los Angeles Rams 7.5
Miami Dolphins 7
Minnesota Vikings 9.5
New England Patriots 10.5
New Orleans Saints 7
New York Giants 8
New York Jets 8
Oakland Raiders 8.5
Philadelphia Eagles 7
Pittsburgh Steelers 10.5
San Diego Chargers 7
San Francisco 49ers 5.5
Seattle Seahawks 10.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7
Tennessee Titans 5.5
Washington Redskins 7.5
To piggyback off the Chump’s contest, here’s the 2016 NFL Preview featuring a heapin’ helpin’ of prognostication (in order of confidence):
2016 NFL Preview: Team Over-Under Predictions
10. Arizona Cardinals – (10 wins – OVER)
The Cardinals are arguably the most complete team in the NFL heading into the regular season. David Johnson rushed for 378 yards in his first three games as a starter, and will be a beastly compliment to the Arizona passing game that features Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown. Let’s not forget Arizona’s ferociously aggressive defense that last year was headlined by Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson and Calais Campbell. During the offseason, the Cards traded for Chandler Jones, who will be a monstrous addition to an already dangerous team. Arizona should be considered the NFC frontrunner and a team that should have little trouble winning more than ten games this season.
9. New England Patriots – (10 ½ wins – OVER)
Quite honestly, last year’s writeup on the Patriots still applies, specifically this segment: “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.” Jimmy Garoppolo takes the keys to the New England machine for the opening month, facing the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans and Bills. A 2-2 start is a fair bet, leaving Brady to go 9-3 the rest of the way, leading to another big season for Robert Kraft and Co.
8. Green Bay Packers – (10 ½ wins – OVER)
For the Packers, it’s all about health. When Jordy Nelson went down prior to last season, the Green Bay offense was never quite the same. Randall Cobb was also banged up and rather ineffective (at least, for Cobb standards – 79 catches, 829 yards). The offense featuring Aaron Rodgers, Nelson, Cobb, Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, James Starks and a trimmed-down Eddie Lacy will be very hard to stop. Toss in the fact that the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater and the Lions are without Calvin Johnson, and well… how many more reasons do you need? Give me a dozen victories for Green Bay.
7. Philadelphia Eagles – (7 wins – UNDER)
The Eagles spent the majority of the offseason buried in a strange quarterback carousel, emerging with Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz on the depth chart. Then, Bradford gets dealt to Minnesota for a 2017 first round pick and fourth rounder in 2018. Throw in a surprising hire at the head coach position and we have ourselves some very open-ended questions in the City of Brotherly Love. Oh, and let’s not forget that the roster is still chock-full of players from the failed Chip Kelly experiment. The NFC East will certainly not be a juggernaut by any means, but this team has way too many question marks, leaving a double-digit losing season to be more likely than not. The real over/under should instead focus on when Carson Wentz sees the field.
UPDATED (9/5/16): Well, that was fast. Today, the Eagles named Carson Wentz the starter for Week 1, with Chase Daniel serving as the backup. With the Browns on the schedule, this is a smart move.
6. Los Angeles Rams – (7 ½ wins – UNDER)
Professional football is back in “La La Land” and as bad as the Lakers are, the city might actually care. That is, until they see the product on the field. Todd Gurley is a monster, but opposing teams will focus on shutting him down. That will force the likes of Case Keenum, Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt to exceed expectations. While the defense featuring Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn are sure to lead to a plethora of coaching headaches, it likely won’t be enough to compete in a division that includes the Seahawks and Cardinals. Like the situation in Philly, we are more likely to focus on an over/under that features when top pick Jared Goff will see playing time. Then again, prognosticators are already listing Goff as a future NFL bust. In the end, the welcoming party may end up being the biggest celebration for the 2016 Rams.
5. Chicago Bears – (7 ½ wins – UNDER)
The Bears are still young and evolving on defense, which could be a problem in a division that features the high-flying Packers, pass heavy Lions and Adrian Peterson led Vikings. That leaves the error-prone Jay Cutler to push his team into the win column, and that will be a challenge with a number of new faces on offense. Kevin White is supremely talented, but has never seen the field in a regular season game. Jeremy Langford is also somewhat unproven and for these reasons and more, expect another losing season in the Windy City.
4. Minnesota Vikings – (9 ½ wins – UNDER)
The injury to Teddy Bridgewater put the season in question for Minnesota, although the Vikings – a playoff team last year – will tell you otherwise. A recent deal for Sam Bradford is intriguing, but the former top pick has had an injury-prone, up-and-down career. Either way, he’s a better option than Shaun Hill. Teams are still likely to stack the box against Adrian Peterson, leaving Bradford to march the offense down the field. The talent is certainly there and taking the under still allows for a 9-7 finish, which seems like wishful thinking now that Bridgewater is out. Bradford has only played all 16 games twice in his career, which again raises way too many questions for the boys in purple.
3. Washington Redskins – (7 ½ wins – OVER)
Last season’s NFC East champs are getting no love from prognosticators and that’s somewhat understandable considering the fact that the football world wants to see if Kirk Cousins can match his near flawless performance over the final two months of last season. If Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson can stay healthy, there are plenty of weapons at Captain Kirk’s disposal. Throw in shutdown corner Josh Norman to keep Odell Beckham and Dez Bryant in check, too. An 8-8 season is all that is needed to take the over? “You like that?” Yes, I do like that.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – (7 wins – OVER)
Last year, I took the Jags and the over and missed out. Although, I was on the right track. Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and the Jacksonville offense really exploded onto the scene, but the defense mostly struggled. The Jags added a ton of defensive talent through the draft (Hello, Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey), plus other pieces through free agency. Fool me once, maybe… but I’m jumping back on the Jacksonville wagon and looking for the Jags to take the next step. Look for the Jags to notch it’s first non-losing season since 2010.
1. Dallas Cowboys – (9 wins – UNDER)
Another year and another major injury for Tony Romo, this time prior to the regular season. Following the latest Romo setback, the football world developed an instant crush on Mississippi State product Dak Prescott, who has posted impressive numbers during the preseason. Prescott’s numbers – 39-50, 78% completion percentage, 5 TD, 0 INT – are certainly eye-popping, but let’s consider the fact that this is preseason and teams are not playing starters, nor or they throwing overly-aggressive schemes at opponents. The same hype is there for Ezekiel Elliott and that’s understandable considering the former Buckeye’s talent level and offensive line that he’ll be running behind. But consider this team a low-confidence question mark, as the Dallas defense struggled last season and the injuries seem to pile up every year. I’m expecting another middle-of-the-road disappointment in Dallas.