Schwartz: 2 NFC Win Total Bets I Love
Tim Fuller – USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: David Johnson
- With organized team activities in full swing, now is a great time to place some seasonal over/under futures bets.
- The Cardinals over 5.5 wins: Their defense returns and offense is improved.
- The Giants over 6.5 wins: Their offense has been rebuilt and defense has a new coordinator.
As we barrel toward the first night of the NFL season, now fewer than 100 days away, we can use this time to find value in some seasonal over/unders. After the draft, I wrote about some of the futures I’d put money on, and now that we have settled into organized team activities it’s a great time to find more value for y’all.
Arizona Cardinals Over 5.5 Wins (-155)
The Cardinals’ win total is criminally low. Before I rave about their draft, let’s flash back to their 2017 campaign. Believe it or not, the Cardinals finished 8-8, which seems remarkable with the way we discuss their season. Arguably the best all-purpose running back in the NFL, David Johnson (who had league-best marks of 2,118 yards and 20 touchdowns from scrimmage in 2016), played only a single game before injuring his wrist and missing the rest of the season. On top of that, quarterback Carson Palmer (who was aging but still good) missed the final eight games of the season. It’s no wonder the Cardinals’ offense finished 30th in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA).
The reason the Cardinals finished even .500 last season was their defense, which was ranked fourth overall by Football Outsiders and was led by pass rusher Chandler Jones, who finished with 17 sacks. They return his partner in crime, Marcus Golden, who had 12.5 sacks in 2016 before sitting out most of 2017. Their run defense allowed only 3.53 yards per carry last year, good for third in the NFL, and Football Outsiders actually ranked the Cardinals first against the run. They return almost their entire unit and have added a defensive guru at head coach in Steve Wilks. Their defense will continue to dominate in 2018.
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On offense, the Cardinals have added quarterback Sam Bradford, who when healthy, is better than anything they had last season. If Bradford isn’t up to par, then guess what? Enter Josh Rosen. I love Rosen and think he’s going to be the best of this rookie quarterback crop. Johnson is back. The Cardinals signed right guard Justin Pugh to bolster the offensive line. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald might be getting ready to retire, but he’s still playing at a high level. The Cardinals lost play caller and offensive designer Bruce Arians, but when they hired Wilks he brought along Mike McCoy, who has been a successful offensive coordinator for multiple teams around the league. I expect him to have success this year.
In summation: The defense is back. The offense, which had no talent last season, is reloaded. Even though the over is juiced, I’m buying over 5.5 wins.
New York Giants Over 6.5 Wins (-175)
Last season was an utter disaster for the Giants, but their situation has improved with the hiring of new head coach Pat Shurmur, who last year with the Vikings helped a unit quarterbacked by a journeyman backup finish fifth in offensive DVOA. This team could significantly outperform its total, like the Rams last year.
Talk about a loaded roster on offense! At wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. is back from injury and Sterling Shephard is entering his third season. Tight end Evan Engram flourished last year in his rookie campaign. The Giants revamped their offensive line by signing left tackle Nate Solder and drafting left guard Will Hernandez. The Giants also drafted phenom running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick. If there’s a question mark with the offense, it’s quarterback Eli Manning. Maybe I’m biased because I played with him, but I think Eli has something left in the tank. Former head coach Ben McAdoo’s offense was a terrible match for Eli, especially given the troubles the Giants had on their offensive line.
The defense added coordinator James Bettcher from the Cardinals, who — as detailed above — were great last year. In fact, in each of Bettcher’s three seasons as defensive coordinator, the Cardinals ranked in the top six in yards allowed. The Giants have a solid pass rusher in Olivier Vernon, a solid middle linebacker in Alec Ogletree, a top safety in Landon Collins, and potential Pro-Bowl corners in Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple.
Buy the over!