NFL Win Totals 2022: 5 Unders, 2 Overs Our Experts Are Betting This Season
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Tannehill (left) and Mike Vrabel (right)
The beginning of the 2022 NFL season is just a few days away, and our experts here at The Action Network have a new slate of win total over/unders that they love. Up-and-coming squads, perennial playoff teams, cellar-dwellers – they have it all covered and break down each pick below.
Sean Koerner: Lions Over 6.5
The Lions were much better than their 3-13-1 record indicated last season. Here were their ranks in some of the key metrics I like to look at:
- One-score game luck: 2-5 (third worst)
- Pythagorean wins over expected: -1.9 (fourth worst)
- Adjusted games lost due to injury: Third worst
With average one-score game and injury luck, the Lions could easily win a few more games this season. They will also see the third-biggest jump in terms of SoS after having the fifth-toughest schedule in 2021 and will have the third-easiest schedule in 2022.
The Lions selected Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall pick, and he should instantly impact a defense that ranked 29th in DVOA a year ago. This will still be a below-average unit.
Given Detroit was already able to play like a 5-6 win team with poor defense, bad one-score and injury luck, I like the value we are getting on the Lions over.
Chris Raybon: Cardinals Under 8.5
Teams that finish with a winning record typically have to win at least half of their home games, if not more. The Cards could fall well short of that, as they have to play the Chiefs, Bucs, Rams, Chargers, Eagles, Patriots and Saints at home, plus the 49ers in Mexico City (which counts as a home game). Their road schedule is no walk in the park either, with games against the Broncos, Vikings and Raiders, in addition to the Rams and 49ers.
The Cardinals always look sexy on paper because Kyler Murray is a flat-out baller, controversial contract clauses be damned. But this is an extremely fragile team with a ton of downside. They lost one of the best pass rushers in the game in Chandler Jones. J.J. Watt is 33 and has missed at least half the season in four of the last six years. Their top three corners are Marco Wilson, Byron Murphy Jr. and Antonio Hamilton, and neither of them — nor anyone else on the roster at the position — earned an above-average PFF grade last season. The same is true for the offensive line.
Last year, we saw the upside the Cardinals possess when they jumped out to a 7-0 start. This year, I think we see them more closely resemble the squad that closed the season 4-6 (including 2-6 with Murray, who won’t have DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games this year due to a PED suspension). I project Arizona to be favored in only seven games this year.
Stuckey: Titans Under 9.5
Anyone care to join me in betting the under on the only team that has gone over in each of the past five seasons?
I didn't love the offseason for the Titans, who traded away star wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles on draft night. That's going to leave a massive hole on an offense with questions along the offensive line and wide receiver. Derrick Henry returns from injury, but there are a lot of miles on that truck even though he'll certainly get his. The defense should be solid, but isn't spectacular enough to carry the squad.
Now, to be fair, Tennessee did win 12 games last year even with a number of key injuries on offense. However, this was closer to a nine- or 10-win team based on their statistical profile (10.2 Pythagorean wins, for reference.)
The Titans got extremely lucky in close contests — 6-2 in one-possession games — and also benefited from turnover timing in a number of other victories. Here's a sample of that unsustainable good fortune …
Week 2: Down 14 in the fourth quarter at Seattle, the Titans rallied to tie the game before eventually winning by three in overtime.
Week 6: Came back in the fourth again to win by three — this time against the Bills, who turned it over on downs in the final seconds when Josh Allen slipped on a QB sneak inside Tennessee’s five-yard line in the final seconds.
Week 8: How about another three-point win in overtime after trailing in the fourth? This time, Indianapolis took the L.
Week 9: Tennessee notched an impressive win over the eventual Super Bowl-champion Rams 28-16, despite being outgained in yardage 347-194 (4.7-3.5 yards per play). Two gifts from Matthew Stafford led to 14 points on two total offensive yards.
Week 10: The Saints outgained the Titans 373-264 (6.1-4.6) in a two-point loss with Trevor Siemian starting at QB for New Orleans. The Saints failed to convert the game-tying two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds.
Week 16: The 49ers outgained the Titans 389-278 (6.7-4.8!) in a three-point loss. Jimmy Garoppolo turnovers and untimely, uncharacteristic Trent Williams penalties proved to be the difference.
Week 18: With the top seed in the AFC on the line, Tennessee secured another three-point win over the Texans to close the regular season in a statistically even game.
Six wins by a field goal or less! Sometimes, it's just your year, but regression certainly looms in Nashville in 2022.
Plus, in a loaded AFC, the South as a whole improved while the Titans took a step back in my opinion.
I project only 8.2 wins, so I happily went under 9.5 at the best available odds, even if I'm admittedly a bit scared to go against Mike Vrabel, who has consistently exceeded preseason expectations.
Brandon Anderson: Cowboys Under 10.5
The Cowboys remain the most public team in football, and this line is a gift.
Dallas certainly has plenty of talent. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and CeeDee Lamb lead the offense, while Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs headline the defense. The Cowboys are average or better at every position group offensively and, really, up and down the roster other than the D-line.
The big concern is the once-great offensive line. Dallas already lost two starters in the offseason, but losing LT Tyron Smith to injury could be a fatal blow. The Cowboys plummeted from 4.8 to 4.2 yards per carry without Smith last season and 0.13 to 0.03 EPA on passing plays. With Smith, the Cowboys were a top offense. Without him, they’ve barely been average.
It’s hard to see where the Cowboys got better. The line is worse, and the loss of Amari Cooper leaves the receiver room thin. Randy Gregory is a big loss, and the pass defense is due for major regression after this unit posted the highest EPA on turnovers forced of any team in five seasons.
Dallas has just five winning seasons since 2009 and have only gone over this win total twice in that stretch. The opening schedule is tough, and Mike McCarthy’s seat could get hot quickly if Dallas stumbles out of the gate, especially with the persisting Sean Payton rumors.
Despite all that, Dallas bafflingly remains the division favorite with an inflated win total. The Cowboys are somehow +240 to miss the playoffs. That implies a 71% chance of making it to the postseason, and that’s awfully optimistic for a team one or two more injuries away from collapsing in typical Dallas fashion.
The Cowboys look more mediocre than bad, but the perception of this team doesn’t come close to matching reality. I love the under and I’ll bet Dallas to miss the playoffs at +240 as well.
Gilles Gallant: Texans Under 4.5
For me, Davis Mills ain’t it. He got sacked 31 times in 13 games in 2021. He also has below-average skill players to work with across the board outside of Brandin Cooks. On the other side of the ball, Houston’s defensive line ranked as one of the worst last year in quarterback pressures and finished 26th in total sacks.
Looking at the Texans’ schedule, they have eight games against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year, but each of those squads got better.
Anthony Dabbundo: Raiders Under 8.5
The addition of Davante Adams is producing a lot of Raiders hype, but they still have a major question mark at head coach. It’s very possible that Josh McDaniels learned from his failed stint with Denver, but I’m going to pay to find out this year and bet against Las Vegas.
Based on history, teams who make the playoffs with a point differential as bad as the Raiders last year (-65) do not fare well in the ensuing season. There have been seven other teams to qualify for the postseason with a minus-50 or worse difference. Of those seven teams, only one made the playoffs, and that was an extraordinary circumstance because the Broncos added Peyton Manning that offseason. Of the other six teams, five finished with a losing record while the 1990 Steelers went 9-7 but missed the playoffs.
The AFC West also includes teams who made massive roster upgrades. Las Vegas won four games in 2021 against the Broncos and the Chargers, but you could make the case that those two teams are the most improved, at least on paper.
The Raiders were 15th in offensive early-down EPA and just 12th in defensive EPA. Adams is a nice addition and the Raiders should benefit a bit from a defensive-scheme change, but history suggests that the Raiders will struggle to replicate last year’s fortune in close games. This season, The Autumn Wind may be a Raider, but it’ll be blustering below .500.
Samantha Previte: Panthers Over 6.5 wins
The Panthers have won five games in each of the last three seasons, which doesn’t exactly set the stage for winning at least seven this year. However, it would be a massive disservice to ignore how dreadful those teams were and the huge upgrades made over the offseason.
Carolina’s two biggest points of pain last season were at quarterback and offensive line — both of which have since been addressed. Since 2019, the Panthers have relied on a rotating QB cast of Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton, P.J. Walker and Kyle Allen. They remedied this sad tale with the acquisition of former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. People generally forget how banged up Mayfield was in his final season with the Browns. He dealt with a knee strain and a torn labrum, which was reinjured and later required surgery.
Mayfield is in a great position to make a strong comeback campaign behind an improved offensive line and top-tier weapons at his disposal. Carolina addressed their dreadful OL — which ranked 31st in the NFL in 2021 according to Pro Football Focus — and added 2022 first-round left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, veteran guard Austin Corbett and center Bradley Bozeman. In terms of weapons, Mayfield will look to D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey, who has missed 23 games due to injury since signing a four-year, $64 million contract extension in 2020. McCaffrey had been the focal point of the Panthers’ offense prior to dealing with a flurry of injuries.
Carolina has the benefit of playing in a soft division which has undergone major quarterback attrition. Schedule-wise, they play the Falcons twice, the Browns in Week 1, Giants in Week 2, Seahawks in Week 14 and Lions in Week 16. That already feels like six wins locked in. I don’t predict they’re going to be a “zero-to-hero” team, but I think they can eke out at least seven wins — or just enough to both miss the playoffs and miss securing a top draft pick in 2023, a painful Carolina tradition.