Guide to Betting NFL Win Totals: 25 Bets Worth Locking In Before Week 1

Guide to Betting NFL Win Totals: 25 Bets Worth Locking In Before Week 1 article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson

A lot can change from one NFL season to the next.

Star players leave in free agency. Others are traded. New coaches are hired. And so on.

Add in a pandemic that shortens the offseason and eliminates preseason games, and we're talking about an even higher volume of new factors to consider when finalizing our NFL futures portfolio.

After months of calculating my projections and refining my power ratings, I've identified 25 (!) potential edges on team futures — namely win totals, which I've analyzed for every team in an effort to identify betting value below. So let's jump right into my guide to betting (or not betting) all 32 win totals!

ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN | CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAC | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SEA | SF | TB | TEN | WAS

NFL Win Totals

The following spreadsheet compares win total lines from four different sportsbooks — DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and BetMGM — to my projected wins, then calculates whether there's an edge on the over or under of a team's total.

While the spreadsheet updates available odds in real time at every book except BetMGM, note that my following picks are as of August 27. I have included thresholds for each one so that you know to which point I would bet a given pick, but your personal risk tolerance may differ, which is why I've also added a "calculator" to the spreadsheet.

If you click this link to download the spreadsheet, you can plug whatever odds you have access to in Columns R-T, then the edge based on my projections will automatically calculate in Columns AE-AF.

Note: The percentages to the right side of the sheet are the expected return on investment for each bet. Personally, I look for at least a 3% positive ROI before making a win total bet, though I do make exceptions.

[Download My Win Totals Spreadsheet Calculator]

Arizona Cardinals Win Total

My Projected Wins7.5
2019 Record5-10

Kyler Murray should build on his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign — adding DeAndre Hopkins makes it even more likely the quarterback takes a big Year 2 leap.

Marcus Gilbert opting out of the season will force the Cardinals to start third-round pick, Josh Jones, at right tackle — Jones' ability to quickly adapt to the NFL is one of only a few factors standing between Arizona becoming a top-five offense.

The Cardinals should go over their win total as long as their defense plays closer to league-average than it did last season. Eighth overall pick Isaiah Simmons will play a massive role in that as he should improve their run defense and tight end coverage — two areas they must improve in considering how loaded the division is with running schemes and TE talent.

Despite playing in the NFC West, the Cardinals have an average strength of schedule thanks to their non-division schedule, which features the Dolphins, Football Team, Panthers, Giants and Jets.

The Cardinals' +13 year-over-year jump in my strength of schedule ratings is one of the seven "luck" metrics they've graded positively on. (I detail my full Luck Ratings and the nine metrics I weigh here.) Their +7 luck rating is the highest of any team — one of the many reasons I love them to go over.

PICK: Over 7 (-115; bet to -135)

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Atlanta Falcons Win Total

My Projected Wins7.4
2019 Record7-9

After a 1-7 start to the 2019 season, head coach Dan Quinn decided to move WRs coach Raheem Morris onto the secondary. They looked like a completely different team over the final eight games, closing out the season 6-2. Exactly how much of that turnaround had to do with Morris specifically is unclear, but the Falcons decided to promote him to defensive coordinator as a result.

I believe the Falcons are somewhere between the first- and second-half versions of their 2019 selves, which is essentially league average.

Atlanta also faces the toughest schedule of any team in my ratings, by far — not only do the Falcons have to face the Saints and Buccaneers twice in the NFC South, but they also get the Seahawks, Cowboys, Packers, Chargers, Vikings and Chiefs.

I'm right in line with the market on this total — 7.5 is the optimal line here, so I'm not taking a side.

Baltimore Ravens Win Total

My Projected Wins11
2019 Record14-2

My colleague Evan Abrams analyzed high win totals heading into 2019, finding that of the 161 teams with double-digit totals over the previous 30 seasons, only 62 (42.2%) went over. Then the six teams with double-digit totals last season went 3-3.

Historically, the market does tend to overvalue the top teams entering each season. I would say the main reason is underestimating just how unpredictable a typical NFL season can be — uncertainty hurts the superior teams and benefits the inferior teams. That's why now as we're entering a season with the highest levels of uncertainty yet, it'll have an even more significant impact.

The Ravens are virtually tied with the Chiefs for the No. 1 spot in my power ratings.

The Ravens have a brief window in which they can spend large amounts of money to bolster the defense before they need to pay Lamar Jackson, and they've seized that opportunity. If you can believe it, they may be an even better team on paper in 2020 after upgrading their lone weak spot, signing star defensive end Calais Campbell to a two-year deal worth $25 million and spending a first-round pick on linebacker Patrick Queen.

Upgrades aside, I'm betting on the uncertainty of this season and taking the under.

If the Ravens benefit from good injury luck and Jackson plays all 16 games, they'll crush 11.5 wins. But without him, the Ravens would be closer to a 7-8 win team. And given that he takes significantly more hits than any other quarterback and we now have to worry about positive COVID tests, the market seems to be underrating that potential downside.

PICK: Under 11.5 (-115; bet to -125)

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Buffalo Bills Win Total

My Projected Wins8.4
2019 Record10-6

The AFC East won't feature Tom Brady for the first time in nearly two decades, which means the door is wide open for the Bills, who have already emerged as the favorites to win the division.

The addition of Stefon Diggs should help improve Josh Allen's deep ball accuracy, which will be vital to unlocking Allen's potential. However, the general public is underestimating how much more difficult their schedule will be this season compared to last. In 2019, they had the fourth-easiest schedule en route to their 10-6 finish. Now I have them projected to face the eighth-toughest — a -20 year-over-year difference in their strength of schedule rank.

Outside of the AFC East, the Bills will have to face the Chiefs, Rams, Chargers, Steelers, Seahawks, 49ers and Titans. It'll be tough for them to repeat double-digit wins, which is why I love the Under 9.

PICK: Under 9 (+110; bet to -140)

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Carolina Panthers Win Total

My Projected Wins5.7
2019 Record5-11

The Panthers are a rebuilding team that has a lot of turnover heading into 2020. In fact, they're the only team that will have a new head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and starting quarterback entering the season.

Given how limited the offseason has been, that could spell trouble for Carolina from the start.

I'm in line with the market on their win total of 5.5, so this is a pass for me. My in-season strategy for the Panthers will be to fade them early on as their lack of continuity will be a considerable disadvantage, then I'll look to back them once the team begins to gel more.*

*In-season plan subject to change.

Chicago Bears Win Total

My Projected Wins7.6
2019 Record8-8

It's still unclear whether Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky will be the Week 1 starter in Chicago, but it's unlikely to change my power ratings either way. The truth is that both would come with a wide range of outcomes.

I could see the Bears taking a "hot hand" approach with these two, which would make sense considering they have the NFL's sixth-easiest schedule and still a potential top-five defense. Having both could alleviate the responsibility of having to stick with one: The Bears could bench either if they struggle, and in a way, having two options raises their floor and ceiling this season.

However, the Bears' most likely outcome is another 8-8 finish, so their current win total of 7.5-8 is pretty sharp. This is another pass for me.

Cincinnati Bengals Win Total

My Projected Wins5.9
2019 Record2-14

The Bengals have a +7 score in my "luck" ratings, tied for first with the Lions and Cardinals. You could argue that all the bad luck they encountered last season was a blessing in disguise as it helped land them the first overall pick.

Joe Burrow will be an NFL-ready starter on Day 1. He has above-average weapons in A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon, but the offensive line will have to improve on its disastrous 2019 season in order to give Burrow a chance. Some encouraging news for their offense is that left tackle Jonah Williams, who was unable to play his rookie season, should be 100% now.

The Bengals will have six new starters on defense, which should significantly improve their play on that side of the ball.

D.J. Reader will give their run defense a boost — his 3.9% missed and broken tackle rate against the run ranked 12th among 89 qualified defensive linemen. Third-round rookie Logan Wilson fills a massive hole at linebacker, which is a crucial position given they have to face Lamar Jackson twice. Vonn Bell, Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes will help bolster Cincinnati's secondary as well.

There's no question that the Bengals will have a significantly better roster this season. It's also unlikely they go 0-8 in one-score games again. Their had the sixth-hardest schedule in 2019 and will face the 12th-easiest in 2020.

The Bengals should be able to get at least six wins.

PICK: Over 5.5 (-134; bet to -145)

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Cleveland Browns Win Total

My Projected Wins8.5
2019 Record6-10

Expectations were high for the Browns heading into 2019 and they fell well short.

Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. didn't quite gel in their first season together. Mayfield specifically was to blame for their -8 turnover margin as he threw 21 interceptions (second-most). It resulted in the Browns firing Freddie Kitchens and bringing in Kevin Stefanski as the new head coach.

Stefanski led the run-heavy offense in Minnesota last season and is expected to install a similar scheme in Cleveland. He couldn't ask for a better running back duo in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the offensive line should improve with the addition of veteran Jack Conklin and first-rounder Jedrick Wills, and the Browns should run more 2-TE sets, which means more Austin Hooper and David Njoku.

A more conservative offense should limit the number of turnovers by Mayfield and allow him to regain his confidence. The Browns also have the third-easiest schedule, which should play right into their more conservative approach on offense.

I'm very bullish on the Browns in 2020, but I'm right in line with their 8.5 win total. Instead, the best way to invest in their upside is their odds to win the Super Bowl — they could thrive in the uncertain environment this season.

PICK: Browns to win Super Bowl (+4000; bet to +3800)

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Dallas Cowboys Win Total

My Projected Wins9.4
2019 Record8-8

The Cowboys played more like an 11-5 team than an 8-8 team in 2019. But as a result of their actual record, Jerry Jones decided to move on from Jason Garrett and hire Mike McCarthy as the new head coach.

Dallas struggled in close games last season, going 0-5 in games decided by seven or fewer points. Records in close games mostly come down to luck, so I would expect them to regress toward 50/50 in close games next season.

Football Outsiders calculated every team's adjusted games lost to see which suffered the best or worst injury luck of 2019. The Cowboys graded out as the fourth-healthiest team, but it appears they're already witnessing regression: Gerald McCoy suffered a season-ending quad injury at the start of training camp, a huge loss considering they signed him to fill the void left by Maliek Collins. I lowered their power rating by -0.3 as a result.

I'm projecting the Cowboys to go under 9.5 wins. However, I'm waiting to see how many fans they expect to allow at AT&T Stadium. If they intend to have 20,000 or more fans at their home games, my projection will be closer to where the market is right now — no bet from me as of yet.

Denver Broncos Win Total

My Projected Wins7.5
2019 Record7-9

There are a wide range of possible outcomes for the Broncos in 2020 as their success depends on how much Drew Lock progresses. He had an up and down rookie season, but overall it was encouraging: Out of 47 rookie quarterbacks to attempt at least 150 passes since 2010, Lock's 89.7 Total QBR ranks 10th — his 6.2 adjusted net yards per attempt also ranked 10th.

The Broncos signed Melvin Gordon in free agency then drafted three pass-catchers — first-round WR Jerry Jeudy, second-round WR K.J. Hamler and fourth-round TE Albert Okweugbunam — so Lock now has the weapons needed to succeed.

I'm right in line with their 7.5 win total, but given their wide range of potential outcomes, there's some value in them making the playoffs at +180 odds. The expansion to seven teams per conference will benefit a team like Denver, which shares the same division as a powerhouse like Kansas City. I have the Broncos graded as the second-best team in the AFC West and think this is the best way to invest in their upside.

PICK: Broncos to make playoffs (+180; no further)

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Detroit Lions Win Total

My Projected Wins7.3
2019 Record3-12-1

The Lions are tied for first in my "luck" ratings for a few reasons:

  • Their +17 change in year-over-year strength of schedule rank (11th in 2019 vs. 28th for 2020).
  • Their Pythagorean expected record, 6-10, was notably better than their actual 3-12-1 record.
  • They had the fourth-worst luck in one-score games last season, going 3-7-1 in such spots, so they're due for positive regression.
  • They had the worst luck in time led, leading 43.1% of the time — 12th-best (!) in the NFL. Typically you would expect a team that led that often to win closer to 8.5 wins, so expect positive regression here as well.
  • They had the ninth-worst injury luck last season and, after losing him for eight games, welcome back a fully healthy Matthew Stafford.

Thanks to their offseason moves, the Lions should also have at least a league-average defense.

After trading Darius Slay, they spent the third overall pick on CB Jeff Okudah. They also brought in a trio of former Patriots: DT Danny Shelton, LB Jamie Collins and S Duron Harmon.

Matt Patricia's attempt to recreate a Bill Belichick's brand of football has flopped so far. This may be his last chance to prove he can make it all come together, which is why he's a favorite to be the first head coach to be fired. But while it's easy to frame a narrative that Patricia is a terrible coach who is responsible for their losing record, as my luck ratings indicate, the Lions were on the wrong side of variance in 2019 and should fare much better in 2020.

The NFC North is also likely to be weaker than most expect. Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago could all realistically struggle, so there is a path for Detroit to take the division. That's why I'm making small investments in the Lions to reach their ceiling as NFC North champions at +600 and Patricia to win Coach of the Year at +4000.

PICKS: Over 6.5 (-139; bet to -150) [Bet now at BetMGM]
Lions to win NFC North (+600; no further) [Bet Now at FanDuel]
Matt Patricia to win Coach of the Year (+4000; no further) [Bet now at DraftKings]

Green Bay Packers Win Total

My Projected Wins8.4
2019 Record13-3

Most of the Packers' offseason buzz has been about their first-round selection of Jordan Love. The decision was very peculiar given that Aaron Rodgers seems to have at least a few more years left in the tank, so I would expect Love's addition to motivate Rodgers quite a bit this season.

The Packers made another peculiar decision to not invest more into adding passing weapons for Rodgers: Their biggest free-agency signing was Devin Funchess, who opted out, and their TE depth chart is unproven.

The Packers overachieved in 2019. Their Pythagorean expected record indicates they played more like a 10-6 team, not a 13-3 team, a lot of which can likely be attributed to their 6-1 record in one-score games.

Now the arrow is pointing down for the Packers in 2020. I like the under here.

PICK: Under 9 (-130; bet to -150)

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Houston Texans Win Total

My Projected Wins7.1
2019 Record10-6

Bill O'Brien continues to be the real-life version of "Taco" from The League, trading away DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in exchange for David Johnson — one of many moves that will create long term damage.

That said, if Johnson can regain his 2018 form and Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks can stay healthy, the Texans could have a top-10 offense this season. After all, they still have Deshaun Watson, who gives them a chance to win any game he plays.

Still, I'm bearish on Houston for reasons that extend beyond those offseason blunders. The Texans were one of the luckier teams in terms of one-score games, going 8-3 in such spots. They also had the fourth-best fumble luck One of the more alarming stats of their 2019 season was that they led only 37.1% of the time — you would expect a team at that rate to win ~7.3 games.

I'm projecting the Texans for only 7.1 wins, so there's value on their under.

PICK: Under 7.5 (-105; bet to -125)

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Indianapolis Colts Win Total

My Projected Wins9.1
2019 Record7-9

The Colts have the easiest strength of schedule based on my ratings, an elite offensive line, a solid run game and a defense that should see a considerable boost from the addition of Deforest Buckner.

With their setup, it makes sense they're the favorites to win the AFC South (+120 at DraftKings).

Their 5-2 start after Andrew Luck's retirement was one of the biggest surprises of 2019. It all fell apart as they went 2-7 over their final nine games, but they were the third-youngest team last season per Football Outsiders' Snap-Weighted Age metric.

The addition of Philip Rivers should provide a boost in leadership. Rivers, of course, is prone to the occasional unforced error. But playing behind one of the league's best offensive lines will help limit those.

I am right in line with their win total of 9, so this is a pass for me.

Jacksonville Jaguars Win Total

My Projected Wins4.7
2019 Record6-10

The Jaguars may end up being the 2020 version of the 2019 Dolphins.

The Jags open the season with my lowest power rating, is already unloading assets like Yannick Ngakoue for draft capital, and will be hoping to land the No. 1 pick in 2021 to select Trevor Lawrence — but Gardner Minshew could foil that plan if he continues to improve off his rookie season.

Their most likely outcome is a 5-11 season, so I'm staying away from their 4.5-win total.

Kansas City Chiefs Win Total

My Projected Wins11.3
2019 Record12-4

It's remarkable that his 2019 Super Bowl MVP campaign could be considered a "worst-case scenario" season for Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes dealt with ankle/knee injuries for much of the regular season. Between the two games he missed and the four games he had to play without Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs were without their two most valuable players for six full games.

Yet, despite those circumstances, every underlying metric indicates they really were as good as their 12-4 record would suggest. In fact, given their poor injury luck and third-worst fumble luck, you could argue the reigning champions will be even better this season.

Their offense has the potential to break NFL records. And that's without factoring in how the potential absence of fans could fuel offensive scoring across the league as it'll be easier for home and away teams to call out any adjustments needed at the line of scrimmage.

I'm showing slight value on the Chiefs' under, but I don't think I'll touch it. As of writing, they're one of only a few teams set to open the season with fans at their home games — a factor that will influence how much home-field advantage any team will have.

>> Create Custom Fantasy Cheat Sheets Using Koerner's Rankings

Los Angeles Chargers Win Total

My Projected Wins8.2
2019 Record5-11

The Chargers were one of the unluckiest teams of 2019:

  • Their -3.5 wins lost from one-score games tied for last place (2-9 record).
  • They had the third-worst injury luck.
  • They had the worst fumble luck.
  • Their -17 turnover margin tied for last in the league.

Philip Rivers' 20 interceptions played a massive role in their poor turnover margin, so one could argue that the transition to Tyrod Taylor should improve their chances of winning — he's been turnover-averse throughout his career (1.5% interception rate), and I'm operating under the assumption that they intend to start him as long as they're in playoff contention. Ideally, rookie Justin Herbert would develop under Taylor in preparation to be their 2021 starter.

I like betting on the Chargers to bounce back this season with Over 7.5 wins.

PICK: Over 7.5 (-134; bet to -150)

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Los Angeles Rams Win Total

My Projected Wins7.9
2019 Record9-7

Sean McVay took the NFL by storm in 2017, leading the Rams to an 11-5 finish in his first season as head coach, then followed that up with a Super Bowl appearance in 2018.

Needless to say, 2019 was a letdown as the Rams missed the playoffs.

There are plenty of theories about why the Rams regressed, including poor play from their offensive line to opponents figuring out McVay's scheme. But my theory is much more straight forward: Their schedule was brutal. It graded out as the toughest in the league, according to Football Outsiders' opponent DVOA.

Their schedule will again be an uphill battle as the NFC West is one of the best divisions in the league. The 49ers and Seahawks should still be top-5 to -10 teams while the Cardinals have the potential to become a playoff-caliber team.

My biggest concern for the Rams heading into 2020 is their lack of depth, which is their biggest weakness — Jared Goff's backup is John Wolford, their defense will rely heavily on Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey being active for all 16 games, etc. It makes their power rating very fragile as any cluster injuries would have a much more significant impact on the Rams than it would on most teams.

Given the uncertainty of 2020 and the realistic expectation that teams will have to deal with players testing positive for COVID, the environment of this season does not suit the Rams well. That's why I'll be on their Under 8.5 wins.

PICK: Under 8.5 (-125; bet to -145)

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Las Vegas Raiders Win Total

My Projected Wins6.9
2019 Record7-9

Derek Carr was extremely efficient in 2019, grading very well in nearly every metric.

A big part of that was due to Jon Gruden putting Carr in situations to make high-percentage throws, which makes perfect sense as the Raiders became incredibly thin at WR once Antonio Brown left shortly before the start of the season. Now I think they realize that in order to become a playoff contender, they'll need to expand Carr's playbook in 2020. That's why they aggressively pursued pass-catching weapons in free agency and the draft.

All that aside, the Raiders have two glaring issues:

  1. They ranked 30th in Football Outsiders' Defensive DVOA last season, which will continue to be a weakness.
  2. They're going from the 12th-easiest schedule of 2019 to the third-toughest of 2020.

The market seems to be overlooking those two factors, which is why I like the Under 7.5 wins.

PICK: Under 7.5 (-115; bet to -140)

[Bet now at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]

Miami Dolphins Win Total

My Projected Wins6
2019 Record5-11

First-year head coach Brian Flores and veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick deserve a lot of credit for leading the Dolphins to a 5-11 record last season.

The offensive line was historically bad, which forced them to abandon the run altogether. Defenses were also able to tee off on Fitzpatrick thanks to the Dolphins allowing the second-most pressures. The poor protection is why I think the Dolphins would like to hold first-round rookie Tua Tagovailoa out until 2021, if possible, so they have more time to bolster the O-line.

Given that, as I said throughout 2019, any bets for or against a Fitzpatrick-led team is the very definition of gambling. I'm going to pass on their win total.

Minnesota Vikings Win Total

My Projected Wins8.6
2019 Record10-6

Kirk Cousins is going to miss Stefon Diggs.

I don't think people realize just how much better Diggs makes quarterbacks look, especially when it comes to deep passing. Last year, Cousins was on target for 76% of pass attempts of 20 or more yards to Diggs. But when targeting other pass catchers, Cousins was around league-average at 43%. Diggs' elite ability to track the ball is likely the main reason for the difference.

Without Diggs, the Vikings' run-heavy offense may be easier for defenses contain, which will put even more pressure on head coach Mike Zimmer to ensure the defense remains a top-10 unit.

Complicating whether Zimmer can do that is the loss of four defensive veterans: Xavier Rhodes, Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph and Trae Waynes. Rhodes was arguably the worst corner in the NFL, so his loss may actually help them. However, there's some uncertainty about how well this new unit will perform, so I'm projecting the Vikings closer to an 8-8 team entering the season.

PICK: Under 8.5 (+145; bet to +130)

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $500 risk-free bet.]

New England Patriots Win Total

My Projected Wins8.5
2019 Record12-4

The Patriots are one of the most difficult teams to project for 2020,

The Tom Brady era is over, and Cam Newton will likely be their starter for the foreseeable future. But they lack playmakers on offense and had a league-high eight players opt out of the 2020 season. To make matters worse, they'll feature four new starters on defense, so it's unlikely we'll see the same type of dominance we saw from last year's unit.

Bill Belichick will likely figure out a way to make it all work, but there's a wide range of outcomes for this team.

It appears my 8.5-win total projection is actually bearish compared to the market. An underrated factors is that the Patriots had the easiest schedule of 2019 but will face the 12th-most difficult schedule of 2020 — a trend all AFC East teams have to deal with as they face the NFC West, the best division in my power ratings.

PICK: Under 9.5 (-125; bet to -160)

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New Orleans Saints Win Total

My Projected Wins10
2019 Record13-3

The Saints' window to win another Super Bowl is closing fast as this could end up being Drew Brees' final season.

They were very fortunate to win all five games Brees missed due to injury last season — Teddy Bridgewater did an effective job in place of Brees, posting a 9-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. But if Brees were to miss any time this season, a combination of Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill would replace him under center — a significant drop-off.

The Saints graded out as the luckiest team of 2019, thanks in part to their 6-1 record in one-score games,

I have them rated as the third-best team in the league, but view them as most likely ending up with a 10-6 record. A lot of would have to go their way to in order for them to hit 11 or more wins, and their floor is much lower now if Brees ever misses time, so I'm taking the under.

PICK: Under 10.5 (-115; bet to -130)

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New York Giants Win Total

My Projected Wins6
2019 Record4-12

The lack of continuity could significantly impact the Giants this season.

New head coach Joe Judge will have limited time to implement a new scheme. They'll open the season with five new starters on defense. And Nate Solder opting out will force them to start first-round pick Andrew Thomas at left tackle to protect Daniel Jones' blindside.

To make matters worse, they face the second-toughest schedule this season.

I'm right in-line with their win total of 6, so I'm passing on a bet. But as for in-season, I may target their moneyline whenever they're a sizable underdog. Jones has shown the ability to go off any given week, so they could pull off a couple big upsets this season.

New York Jets Win Total

My Projected Wins6
2019 Record7-9

The Jets were able to win seven games last season, which is remarkable considering they had to start Luke Falk for a three-game stretch when Sam Darnold was out with mono. But I think it's going to be tough for them to match that win total this season.

They have the biggest difference in year-over-year strength of schedule at +21 (from fourth-easiest to seventh-hardest). C.J. Mosley opted out, which is a massive loss for the defense. They traded away Jamal Adams for Bradley McDougald and a pair of first-round picks that may eventually pay off for them. But for 2020, it's a significant loss.

The loss of Adams lowers the Jets' power rating by a half-point. His loss is one of the main reasons I like their under.

PICK: Under 6.5 (-115; bet to -135)

[Bet now at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]

Philadelphia Eagles Win Total

My Projected Wins9.1
2019 Record9-7

The Eagles are one of the best-run teams in the NFL. I've always been impressed by their solid depth at nearly every position — a strength that will be even more important in 2020, making them a very resilient team in a season of so much uncertainty.

That said, two positions they've struggled to get consistent production from has been wide receiver and cornerback. They addressed the first by drafting first-rounder Jalen Reagor and the second by trading for Darius Slay. They'll still need DeSean Jackson to stay healthy, and they'll hope Alshon Jeffery can return from injury sometime in the first half of the season. But overall, they've upgraded both of those weak spots.

I'm in line with their win total, but there are pretty clear paths to the Eagles hitting their ceiling, which is why I nibbled on their Super Bowl odds at 19-1.

PICK: Eagles to win Super Bowl (+1900; no further)

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $500 risk-free bet.]

Pittsburgh Steelers Win Total

My Projected Wins9.2
2019 Record8-8

The only 2019 takeaway that matters is that the Steelers can't afford another Ben Roethlisberger injury.

We learned that Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges are not starting-caliber QBs. The only reason the Steelers finished 8-8 without Big Ben for 14 full games was thanks to Mike Tomlin shifting his coaching philosophy to hide Rudolph and Hodges and to lean on their elite defense.

The Steelers ranked first in Football Outsiders' weighted DVOA, which weighs end-of-season games more heavily. A lot of their late-season success had to do with their in-season trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is shaping up to become the next Troy Polamalu of this defense.

When you couple Big Ben's return with the potential of the Steelers defense to be a top-five unit once again, I am very bullish on them this year. With the fifth-easiest schedule, I have them projected for 9.2 wins, so I'm taking the over.

PICK: Over 9 (-110; bet to -120)

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $500 risk-free bet.]

Seattle Seahawks Win Total

My Projected Wins9.3
2019 Record11-5

I have long considered Russell Wilson to be one of the best QBs in the NFL — that's why I'm continually ranting about the limitations Pete Carroll places on Wilson every year when Carroll caps the QB at ~500 pass attempts.

To best illustrate how the Seahawks went 11-5 despite this flawed approach, look no further than their 36.4% time-led rate: Teams that lead 36.4% of the time should be expected to win 7.1 games on average. The reason the Seahawks overachieved by nearly five wins is they lean on Russell Wilson to lead them to fourth-quarter comebacks. Last year he led the league with five.

That reliance on Wilson's late-game heroics is also the main reason they finished 9-2 in one-score games. Usually in cases like this one, I would attribute that record to pure luck. However, in this particular case, the Seahawks got incredibly lucky because they have Wilson as their QB.

Wilson has said the offense should be more aggressive this season and "treat every quarter as the fourth quarter." It remains to be seen whether that will end up being the case, but I do like investing in that potential here with the over.

It helps that they also traded for Jamal Adams, who should be a game-changer for a defense that ranked in the middle of the pack last year (18th in DVOA).

PICK: Over 9.5 (+110; bet to -105)

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San Francisco 49ers Win Total

My Projected Wins10.2
2019 Record13-3

The 49ers had the second-best luck based on the metrics I use to calculate that. However, I do consider Kyle Shanahan to be one of the best coaches in the NFL, therefore I'm willing to bet against any significant regression.

That said, their 10.5-win total could still be a notch too high.

The defense should take a step back without Deforest Buckner. First-round draft pick Javon Kinlaw could match Buckner's production in a couple of seasons, but that's unlikely to happen as a rookie, so the 49ers will likely need to lean on their offense (mainly Jimmy Garoppolo) more to win games this season.

It's unclear whether Deebo Samuel will be ready for Week 1 as he's still recovering from a broken foot. Given how thin they are at WR, I would lower the 49ers' power rating to about a half-point any game he misses. As a result, I'm willing to nibble on their under.

PICK: Under 10.5 (+100, up to -115)

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Win Total

My Projected Wins9.4
2019 Record7-9

Like a lot of NFL fans, one of the things I'm most excited to watch this season is Tom Brady in Tampa Bay: He'll have the NFL's best WR duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and Brady was able to lure Rob Gronkowski out of retirement.

That said, this offense will be a lot more conservative with Brady under center and will generate significantly fewer turnovers.

That'll undoubtedly benefit the defense and give them a chance to catch their breath between drives. The unit ranked fifth in DVOA and is loaded with talent — Lavonte David and Devin White are shaping up to be one of the best linebacker tandems in football.

I want this over, but books needed to inflate the market to invite money on the under 10. I have the Bucs projected at 9.4 wins, so I'm going to bite on the under here.

PICK: Under 10 (-125; bet to -145)

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Tennessee Titans Win Total

My Projected Wins8.5
2019 Record9-7

Figuring out which version of Ryan Tannehill we will get this year is key to this market.

Depending on what metrics you use to evaluate a QB, Tannehill played between a top-5 and -10 QB in 2019. One of my favorite metrics to evaluate QBs is Positive%, which is how SportsInfoSolutions measures the percentage of plays a player added expected points of more than zero. I like it because it removes all outlier plays in both directions.

Tannehill ranked first out of 33 qualified QBs in that metric.

I do think teams will spend this offseason watching his film and figuring out ways to slow him down. It's also possible he just reverts to the Ryan Tannehill we saw over the first six years of his career, and describing him as league-average over that span would be generous.

I'm expecting the Titans to regress quite a bit this season and see slight value on their under.

PICK: Under 9 (-145; bet to -155)

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Washington Football Team Win Total

My Projected Wins5.4
2019 Record3-13

To say the Football Team has had a roller coaster of an offseason would be an understatement.

Between the name change, RB Derrius Guice being arrested for charges of sexual assault then subsequently release, Ron Rivera revealing he has cancer (and has every intention of coaching through it), and reports of widespread workplace sexual harassment followed by allegations of Dan Snyder's direct involvement, the team's offseason would make a good 30 for 30: The Football Team one day.

However, in terms of their on-field outlook, one of the most significant developments has been Alex Smith's return to football after what appeared to be a career-ending leg injury. I fully expect the Football Team to start Dwayne Haskins Week 1 given they spent a first-round pick to acquire him last year and need to see if he's capable of being their QB of the future. But if he struggles early on, there's a chance they turn to Smith.

That possibility gives their team a high floor and is one of the reasons I like their over.

One of the lone bright spots for the Football Team is their defensive line. They already had a ton of potential with Montez Sweat, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen — all first-round picks from the previous three drafts. But now they added one of the best edge prospects we've seen in Chase Young.

Having an elite defensive line can make life easier on the secondary and help them sneak their way into a 6- to 7-win season.

PICK: Over 5 (-120; bet to -140)

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