2021 NFL Win Totals: Our Experts’ 5 Favorite Bets, Including the Chiefs Over & Saints Under
Getty Images. Pictured: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Our analysts have been busy breaking down how to bet 2021 NFL futures — take Sean Koerner’s piece analyzing all 32 team win totals, as an example. But if you’re short on time, or just want the picks our staff is most confident in, the five personalities behind our NFL podcasts have identified each of their top win total bets below.
2021 NFL Win Totals
|Chris Raybon||Chiefs Over 12.5 Wins (+120)||BetMGM|
|Sean Koerner||49ers Over 10.5 Wins (+100)||FanDuel|
|Brandon Anderson||Dolphins Under 9.5 Wins (-145)||PointsBet|
|Raheem Palmer||Saints Under 9 Wins (-120)||DraftKings|
|Stuckey||Washington Under 8.5 Wins (+115)||PointsBet|
Chris Raybon: Andy Reid is 8-0 toward the over as head coach of the Chiefs, and 19-4-1 toward the over including his days in Philadelphia. Oftentimes, I’d look at these numbers and think “regression,” but all I see is a top-two NFL coach in Reid, the league’s best quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, and a deeper, improved offensive line that thwarts Mahomes’ only kryptonite.
Only twice have Reid’s overs in KC even come down to the final week.
I’d bet this down to -110.
Sean Koerner: There are reasons to be bullish on the 49ers.
They had the worst injury luck in 2020, so they’re due for positive regression on that front. It also helps that they’re going from the third-toughest schedule to the fifth-easiest.
The biggest question is at what point Trey Lance will overtake Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback, but having both actually gives them a high floor (Garoppolo) and a high ceiling (Lance).
Their 10.5-win total is right in line with my projection of 10.7 wins, but at +100 at FanDuel, I like the over.
Brandon Anderson: The Dolphins surprised everyone and went 10-6 last season, and it feels like everyone is just writing them into playoff contention again because of that.
That doesn’t make much sense, though.
We don’t know if Tua Tagovailoa is a real NFL-caliber starting quarterback yet, and there’s no Ryan Fitzpatrick around as an emergency plan. Miami might believe in its quarterback and talented receivers, but this is an unproven offense with a poor offensive line and running game.
The defense was pretty good last season, and Brian Flores can coach ’em up. But this is might be the best-coached division in the league, especially on defense, so that is no longer a noteworthy advantage. Miami also got outlier play from its outstanding corners last season and likely won’t be as elite again intercepting passes or on third downs — two areas that are rarely consistent from one year to the next.
The Dolphins also got some real breaks on special teams a year ago.
This is my favorite over/under on the board. I have Miami projected at 7.7 wins — almost two full wins short of the total. I’ll also consider playing the Fins to finish last in the division at +500 at FanDuel.
Saints Under 9 Wins (-120) at DraftKings
Raheem Palmer: Although Drew Brees spent the last few years of his career looking washed and devoid of arm strength (which prohibited him from taking deep shots down the field), he brought accuracy, stability and the leadership that made the Saints a contender.
Have you seen what happens to teams when they lose a Hall of Fame quarterback?
It’s not pretty.
Since 1993, teams that have replaced a quarterback who had played at least 10 seasons have won 4.3 few games the following year. Only the 2012 Colts (who went 11-5 after replacing Peyton Manning with Andrew Luck) and the 2000 Dolphins (who had Jay Fiedler under center instead of Dan Marino) have winning records among those teams that lost a quarterback who had played at least 10 seasons.
As a fan of football, the game is better when Jameis Winston is playing. Who else has thrown a 30-touchdown, 30-interception season?
Although Winston should be better post-Lasik surgery, and with the presence of Sean Payton, I’m not sure that’s enough to overcome the rest of this roster.
The Saints have salary-cap issues that caused them to lose Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook, edge rusher Trey Hendrickson, Kwon Alexander, Malcolm Brown and Janoris Jenkins. With Michael Thomas out to open the season, this offense will take a step back.
Defensively, I don’t have a lot of faith in this unit. Cam Jordan is still a star, but he’s 32 years old. Marshon Lattimore continues to regress after a dominant rookie season, as he had just a 47% success rate last season. They’re still dependent on the 34-year-old Malcolm Jenkins, which doesn’t inspire much confidence from this unit.
I expect both the Saints offense and defense to take a step back from 2020, and with improvement from the rest of the division, this spells a down year for the Saints — especially with them losing multiple home games in the wake of Hurricane Ida’s impacts on Louisiana. We saw what happened to the 49ers last season when playing home games in Arizona, and with the Saints moving to Jacksonville, their home-field advantage disappears.
Washington Under 8.5 Wins (+115) at PointsBet
Stuckey: Even though Ryan Fitzpatrick should serve as an upgrade at QB for a Washington team that did boost its wide receiver unit, the regression monster looms. And I’m just not sure I trust him at quarterback all season.
And while the defensive line might be the best in the NFL, the defense might be a tad overrated. Last year, Washington won seven games against the following quarterbacks (and decimated offensive lines):
- Andy Dalton (twice)
- Carson Wentz
- Jalen Hurts (pulled for Nate Sudfeld)
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Nick Mullens
- Ryan Finley (Joe Burrow got hurt)
Washington allowed 30-plus in five of the other seven non-division games. Regardless of what you think of this defense, it undoubtedly benefited from a very quarterback-friendly schedule.
That’s certainly not the case this year. Just take a look at who they will face:
- Tom Brady
- Aaron Rodgers
- Patrick Mahomes
- Josh Allen
- Matt Ryan
- Justin Herbert
- Russell Wilson
- Derek Carr
That means in eight of its 12 non-division games, it will face eight of the top-11 passers from last season. Plus the Cowboys and Eagles should have much healthier offensive lines this year, and Dak Prescott has returned for Dallas.
In 2020, four of Washington’s seven wins (57%) came against those two clubs.
Bottom line is that the schedule gets exponentially more difficult. In fact, I have Washington with the league’s hardest schedule, per my preseason power ratings.