NFL Win Totals: Eagles, Bears and Panthers Are the Best NFC Over/Under Bets for 2020
Stacy Revere, Getty Images. Pictured: Mitch Trubisky
The picture for the 2020 NFL season is starting to come more into focus and there are three NFC Win Totals that stick out to me as a good bets. All of them are unders. For a deep dive on win totals across the NFL, check out The Action Network Podcast.
Odds as of August 27. Find offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks here.
Philadelphia Eagles Under 9.5 (-120)
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I think the Eagles are one of the better organizations in the entire NFL. They are generally progressive and ahead of the curve in many different areas of the game, but I just don’t love this current roster.
I am a believer in Carson Wentz, who still navigated this team to the postseason with a completely decimated wide receiving group last year. The Eagles needed DeSean Jackson to stay on the field to provide some explosiveness and a deep threat that opens up the rest of the offense underneath.
It remains to be seen if Jackson can stay healthy and if he hasn’t lost a step and I’m skeptical that Alshon Jeffery, who is currently injured, has anything left in the tank. That means the Eagles will need Jalen Reagor to contribute right away in his rookie season.
There have been some optimistic reports out of camp about the young receivers (Reagor, John Hightower, Quez Watkins) but I don’t put a ton of stock into those type of things. Regardless, there will obviously be a steep learning curve for rookie wideouts in the NFL, especially this year.
The Eagles have had one of the steadiest offensive lines in the NFL over the last few years but that continuity could take a major hit in 2020 after losing one of the most-dominant guards (Brandon Brooks) in the league to injury. Philadelphia will rely on veteran Jason Peters to stay healthy and fill the void at right guard.
Andre Dillard will try to hold down left tackle but he’s looked very shaky early in his career and the Eagles won’t have swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai to fall back on because he signed with the Lions.
If Dillard can’t adequately protect Carson Wentz’s blindside and/or Peters can’t stay healthy, the Eagles will have to worry about their offensive line for the first time in a long time.
Brief scare at #Eagles camp: Joe Ostman bull rush drives Andre Dillard back into Carson Wentz and the QB is bent back. Crisis averted as Ostman eased up at the end. That’s the good news.
Bad news: Dillard still struggling vs. power rushes.
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 26, 2020
While questions remain on offense at wide receiver, offensive line and the health of Miles Sanders — Wentz can at least still lean on one of the better tight end groups in the league.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles addressed a glaring need by signing two marquee free agent cornerbacks in Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman, who have both previously played for DC Jim Schwartz. If you believe Slay still has No. 1 shadow corner ability, Philadelphia will improve tremendously against opposing No. 1 receivers.
I am not convinced Slay is still able to operate at that level, though, and think the Eagles will struggle in that department.
Slay had a down year in 2019 (86th-rated corner, per Pro Football Focus) and will turn 30 on January 1 — an age where man-to-man corners can drop off a cliff in production.
I also have doubts about 5-foot-9 Avonte Maddox as the other primary corner. But his job will obviously get a lot easier if Slay shines as the top gun. If the Eagles don’t improve in coverage on the outside, this defense could struggle in 2020 as the middle of the field looks very vulnerable, especially since they also need to replace safety Malcolm Jenkins with either Will Parks or Jalen Mills.
Philadelphia certainly has devalued the linebacker position and I’m on board with that philosophy in today’s NFL, but this group looks as weak as any in the league.
At least Eagles fans can feel confident that the defensive line, which has three of the league’s six highest-paid 4-3 defensive tackles, will control the line of scrimmage.
In today’s game, better production at corner and receiver could help the Eagles win back-to-back division titles — something no team in the NFC East has done in 15 years. If you’re buying both groups, you’re likely buying the Eagles.
I just happen to be a seller, so I’ll gladly pay to make this team prove they can win 10 games. Four division matchups against the Giants and Redskins helps on paper but I still only project the Eagles to win 8.4 games.
Carolina Panthers Under 5.5 (+110)
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This is not an ideal year to bring in an entirely new coaching staff, a new starting quarterback and potentially up to 11 new starters. I expect a lot of growing pains for the Panthers early in the season and those could linger much longer than usual due to the shortened preseason.
Teddy Bridgewater has been more than a serviceable backup over the past few seasons and he’s had success as a starter — especially against the spread — but, he has usually played for playoff contenders. Bridgewater will need to more than just manage games with this subpar roster against one of the NFL’s toughest schedules.
Bridgewater has familiarity with new offensive coordinator Joe Brady and should limit the turnovers that plagued Carolina last year, but I personally just don’t think he’s capable of leading this new look Panthers team to seven wins.
There are exciting weapons for Brady to play with, but this overhauled offensive line could really hold the Panthers back throughout the season.
Taylor Moton is a solid right tackle, but I’m not sure how much left tackle Russell Okung has to give at this point of his career, assuming he can even stay healthy. And there appears to be a glaring weakness in between both tackles.
Let’s take a quick look at the defense.
Last year, the Panthers switched to a 3-4 base in order to generate more of a pass rush. They succeeded in doing so but were absolutely dreadful against the run, finishing 32nd in DVOA per Football Outsiders.
Carolina will now go back to a 4-3 base this year with Kawaan Short and rookie Derrick Brown manning an interior that saw plenty of attrition in the offseason.
The new scheme should theoretically help against the run, but replacing Luke Keuchly with Tahir Whitehead in the middle could end in disaster for a unit that will need to replace eight primary starters, including both top performing corners from 2019.
The pass defense might get torched all season, especially when you consider they have six games against three division opponents with elite passing attacks.
This is not the year you want to deal with widespread change. And the Panthers are arguably dealing with the most turnover of any team in the NFL. They also play in a difficult division and, according to my numbers, they have one of the five toughest schedules in the NFL.
I project 4.7 wins, so I clearly see plenty of value at under 5.5.
Shopping Advice: If you can find an Under 6 wins at less than -140 odds, I prefer that alternative. I personally bet Under 6 (-134).
Chicago Bears Under 8 (-130)
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I don’t think it matters much whether Mitch “Bortles” Trubisky or Nick Foles wins the starting quarterback job. I have them both rated pretty similarly. Either way, I don’t see this offense doing much in 2020.
No matter who is under center, there’s a chance that he will have way too many voices in his ear. Chicago has a new offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Oh, and head coach Matt Nagy is still calling plays, which has not gone swimmingly so far.
We know about the limitations at quarterback but it doesn’t help that the Bears project to have a limp rushing attack. David Montgomery, who recently suffered a groin injury in camp, has yet to break out, but most of the problems have started up front. Chicago’s offensive line has ranked in the bottom five in Adjusted Line Yards in each of the past two seasons.
Injuries, penalties and a lack of depth hurt the Bears’ OL last season but a lack of individual production hasn’t been there, either. This bunch has to give whoever wins the quarterback job more time and also help the Bears get some semblance of a rushing attack. That’s a big ask since the Bears didn’t do anything address its offensive line issues.
Adding Germain Ifedi doesn’t move the needle. Maybe new offensive line coach Juan Castillo can work some magic and elevate this underwhelming group — but I don’t see it.
Things are better on the other side of the ball. The Bears replaced Leonard Floyd with Robert Quinn and will have a healthy Akiem Hicks, so they have a ferocious front seven with one of the better linebacking groups in the NFL.
That said, the loss of Eddie Goldman (opt out), who has served as the anchor for five season, leaves a big hole in the middle.
I also have plenty of questions about the secondary, particularly at corner. With Steelers castoff Artie Burns lost to injury, the Bears may need Jaylon Johnson to contribute sooner rather than later as a starting corner opposite Kyle Fuller.
That’s a tall order for a rookie coming off offseason shoulder surgery. If Johnson isn’t ready, you might see both Buster Skrine and Kevin Toliver in nickel and dime situations. Yikes.
At least Eddie Jackson moving back to his more natural free safety position could help generate more turnovers, which Chicago could sorely use.
Would it shock me if the Bears won one of the NFL’s most wide-open divisions? Absolutely not. A few good bounces in the NFC North could go a long way. That said, I’ll make this offense and slightly overrated defense prove me wrong in a division where Chicago clearly has the worst starting quarterback.
I project 7.0 wins for the Bears, so I have no hesitations hitting under 8 here.