NFL Win Totals: Patriots, Browns, More Bets for 2020
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Bill Belichick
The 2020 NFL season is rapidly approaching.
To help you identify futures with value, our crew of football betting analysts are here to walk you through their favorite win totals. You’ll find their picks and explanations below.
2020 NFL Win Totals
Click the pick to skip ahead to that analysis.
Matthew Freedman: Patriots Over 8.5 Wins (-143)
I’m not a mathematician, but the Patriots have won at least nine games in 19 of the past 20 seasons under head coach Bill Belichick. That seems like a high ratio.
In fact, the Pats have won 10-plus games every year since 2003, and that includes 2008, when they were without quarterback Tom Brady for almost the entire season. Over the past 17 years, Belichick has coached his team to a 13-6 record in Brady-less games.
The Pats will once again be without Brady, but Cam Newton is an above-average replacement, the defense is one of the league’s best units and the AFC East is still notably weak.
I’d bet this to 9.5 (+100), which is available at William Hill as of writing.
Stuckey: Eagles Under 9.5 Wins (-120)
The Eagles are one of the better organizations in the NFL. They are generally ahead of the curve in many different areas of the game, I just don’t love their current roster.
I’m a believer in Carson Wentz, who still navigated this team to the postseason with a completely decimated wide receiving group in 2019, but the Eagles again have major questions at WR this season.
After boasting one of the NFL’s steadiest offensive lines over the past few years, that continuity could take a major hit in 2020 after losing one of the league’s most dominant guards (Brandon Brooks) 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. If he 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
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 previously played for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. If you believe Slay still has No. 1 shadow corner ability, Philadelphia will improve tremendously against opposing No. 1 receivers.
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. But 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.
[Bet Eagles under 9.5 at FanDuel and get a $500 risk-free bet.]
Sean Koerner: Lions Over 6.5 Wins (-139)
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 cornerback Jeff Okudah. They also brought in a trio of former Patriots: defensive tackle Danny Shelton, linebacker Jamie Collins and safety 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.
I’d bet over 6.5 wins up to -150.
[Bet Lions over 6.5 at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]
Travis Reed: Browns Under 8.5 Wins (+105)
The Browns are coming off of a 6-10 season, yet the market is expecting them to improve their record by at least three wins. My model isn’t buying into that improvement.
My latest simulations have the Browns winning nine or more games only 24% of the time. Their division features reigning MVP Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, a returning Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, and No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow in Cincinatti. On average, Cleveland wins 2.4 games in the AFC North, leaving a lot of ground to make up with the rest of the schedule to reach 9-7.
Getting plus money on this bet makes this my biggest edge by far this season and one of the largest edges I can remember, ever. Because of that, I would bet this all the way to Under 8 (-165).
Mike Randle: Bills Over 9.5 Wins (-143)
Buffalo has won at least nine games in two of three seasons under head coach Sean McDermott. The Bills have finally exercised the demon of New England nemesis Tom Brady and are primed to end the Patriots’ 11-year reign atop the AFC East.
Buffalo should again have a strong defense — a unit that ranked second and sixth in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA over the past two seasons and improved its per-game sack rate from 2.2 to 3.0 last season.
The Bills also added offensive weapons for versatile quarterback Josh Allen. Former Minnesota wideout Stefon Diggs had a career-high 12.1 yards per target in 2019, third-best among all wide receivers. They also replaced veteran running back Frank Gore with dynamic rookie Zack Moss, who has already impressed in camp.
Behind an offensive line that returns four of five starters, Allen is primed for a career-season. He has 17 total rushing touchdowns and is averaging more than 40 rushing yards per game over his first two NFL seasons. Along with Diggs, the Bills return speedy wideout John Brown, who saw career-highs in targets, receptions and receiving yards last season.
Buffalo should get off to a strong start, with its first four opponents combining for a combined record of 28-36 last season. I’m very comfortable betting this up to 10, and would even consider 10.5 depending on the juice.
[Bet Bills over 9.5 at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]
Collin Wilson: Bengals Under 5.5 Wins (+110)
As much as I love to dive into advanced analytics, expecting Joe Burrow to increase this team’s total wins from two to six seems elementary.
Don’t get me wrong, Burrow will thread plenty of deep shots to the outside shoulder of Tee Higgins once the trenches are redefined. But a few key factors are being overlooked:
- The Bengals’ offensive line ranked 26th in pass-blocking in 2019.
- The defense ranked 24th in adjusted sack rate last season.
- And finally, no team allowed more rushing yards in 2019 than the Bengals, a prime reason half the defense has been replaced for 2020.
Sharp minds will point to the Bengals’ 0-7 record in games decided by seven or fewer points. But until head coach Zac Taylor proves he can be a coach in the NFL and the trenches are improved, I am wagering a jump of four wins is unlikely.