Bet Labs Simulations: Three NFL Win Totals Offering Value
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Immediately after the NFL released its 2018 schedule, we ran 10,000 simulations of the upcoming season to reveal projected win totals for each team. We assumed sportsbooks would post win totals after the draft, but to our delight, oddsmakers opened NFL regular-season win totals Wednesday afternoon.
There is much we don’t know about the 2018 season, but with the market set, it’s time to fire at some win totals. Which teams are offering bettors value?
To determine if there is value betting a team to go over or under its win total, we compared our projections to the oddsmaker’s line. For the most part, our simulations agree with the betting market as 23 of 32 teams are within one game and six other squads within two.
Oakland Raiders – Under 8.5 (+110)
Projected wins: 6.1, Difference -2.4 games
Last season was a major disappointment for Oakland. The Raiders won just six games after notching 12 wins in 2016. The offense scored 18.8 points and totaled 324.1 yards per game, down from 26.0 points and 373.3 yards the previous season. A back injury to Derek Carr (pictured above) helps explain some of the offensive struggles, but take a look at his QBR each season he has been in the league: 34th in 2014, 26th in 2015, 16th in 2016, 22nd in 2017, according to Football Outsiders. Even if Carr bounces back, he has shown himself to be an average quarterback at best.
And then there is Jon Gruden. Oakland spent $100 million to get the coach out of retirement, but after Gruden won the Super Bowl in 2002, his Buccaneers averaged 7.5 wins over six seasons and went 0-2 in the playoffs. We are betting the under for a team that has neither a very good QB nor coach.
Cincinnati Bengals – Over 5.5 (+140)
Projected wins: 7.7, Difference 2.2 games
Cincy finished last season 7-9 due to an offense that was last in yards per game (280.5) and 26th in points per game (18.1). That could change this fall as the team faces the fourth-easiest schedule in the league, expects Tyler Eifert back and still employs one of the best receivers in the game in AJ Green. Plus, Andy Dalton actually rates better in our model than Derek Carr. Cincinnati should see some positive regression on the offensive side of the ball. At +140 odds, the over has value.
Indianapolis Colts – Under 6.5 (+125)
Projected wins: 4.4, Difference 2.1 games
The Colts are the hardest team to handicap in football. Andrew Luck hasn’t played a down since 2016 and there is no guarantee he will be back in the lineup for Week 1. Even if the franchise quarterback is healthy, this is a roster lacking talent. The Colts were at the bottom of the league a season ago, ranking 29th in offensive and 27th in defensive DVOA, respectively, according to FootballOutsiders. Bettors willing to fade Indy can bet $100 to win $125 that the Colts finish with six or fewer wins in 2018.
Here are how the rest of the league’s team projected win totals compare to the betting line: