2014 NFL Regular Season Win Totals
Well, it’s the middle of summer, and as entertaining as the World Cup has been, I’m ready for the 2014 NFL season to get going again. Rather than go over the over/under win totals of every team like I did last year, I’d like to focus on what I think the best bets are and really go in depth as to why I like them. For 2013, I went 9-13-2 on my posted picks. Not my best work, but it’s all about being accountable.
New England Patriots
OVER 11 wins -115
This is simple. The team is better than last year, and they’ve covered or pushed this line in 10 of 13 years with Tom Brady as QB and Bill Belichick as coach. Rob Gronkowski should be healthy for week 1. For how long, we don’t know, but this offense runs through their big red zone target. The schedule isn’t as easy as last year, but before their week 10 bye, they get the Dolphins, Vikings, Raiders, Chiefs, Bengals, Bills, Jets, Bears and Broncos. I imagine they’ll be favorites in all but that last one, and I can see them winning 7 of their first 9. Yes, the post-bye schedule gets tougher, at Colts, Lions, at Packers, at Chargers before a relatively friendly finish of Dolphins, at Jets and the Bills, but historically, Brady-Belichick teams improve noticeably after the bye week. I think at worst this is a push, and the odds are good. You’ll all get a handwritten apology from me if the 2014 Patriots go 10-6. With Revis Island, and the young offense making a year 2 jump, I think this is a safe OVER.
UNDER 6.5 wins +120
Staying in the AFC East, this team just lost their young playmaking linebacker Kiko Alonso for the year. They didn’t make any impact moves in the offseason, and they haven’t won more than 6 games since 2008. I think the Jets and Dolphins will be better this year, and the Bills won 3 of those 4 games last year. Starting behind the 8-ball before training camp, there’s no telling how this team reacts mentally and emotionally. I think there’s good value in this bet as the team has already gotten worse. They end the year at Denver, home to Green Bay, at Oakland and at New England, and I could see them losing all of those, even at Oakland in the middle of three difficult games. If they go 5-7 at best through the first 12, I think this is a winner. Yes, Manuel may progress, but their backfield is still in flux as it seems like no one can effectively use CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson, and Sammy Watkins will need some time to get acclimated to the NFL. Take the UNDER.
Green Bay Packers
OVER 10.5 wins -115
Aaron Rodgers was 6-2 last year, with losses at the Niners and Bengals. The rest of the subpar QBs that came out of the clown car in Green Bay went 2-5-1. I think the Rodgers incident was a freak accident and the team will be better this year. They lost some pieces on the offensive line, but I believe that they’ll address that as efficiently as they addressed the defense, which added Julius Peppers and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. I don’t have many other numbers to back this pick up, other than the fact that the Packers usually cover this number when Aaron Rodgers plays a full season, and the OVER seems like a good play.
UNDER 9 wins +110
I know, it’s almost sacrilegious to go against the revolutionary Chip Kelly up tempo offense. Consider that the Eagles were a Kyle Orton interception away from finishing 9-7 and out of the playoffs, and now they’ve lost their best receiver in DeSean Jackson. They acquired Darren Sproles who will bolster the receiving game, but right now their best and most veteran wide receiver is Jeremy Maclin coming off a torn ACL. They’ve got young talent, but I’m a believer in the idea that a full year of tape on Chip Kelly and Nick Foles means this team is bound to regress a bit. The Redskins and Giants will be better this year, and the Eagles went 4-2 in the division in 2013. This could easily push, but this team is too volatile to hold it together for a whole year. I think there’s good value on the UNDER.
New Orleans Saints
OVER 10 wins -115
The NFL is a quarterback driven league. It’s not an accident that the three teams I’ve selected to go over their win totals have Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Ignoring the Bountygate year for the Saints, Brees and co. have covered this line every year since 2009. They lost Darren Sproles, but gained clarity on offense both in the running and passing game. I’m very confident that Kenny Stills will step up on offense, and Kenny Vaccaro will pick up where he left off in his electric rookie year on defense. The scariest part of this bet is the old adage that the Saints don’t win on the road. Their road schedule includes the Falcons, Browns, Cowboys, Lions, Panthers, Steelers, Bears and Bucs. Road warriors or not, they should win at least 4 of those. I think this may take until week 17 to cover, but it’s just very unlikely that a Saints team with Brees and Payton at the helm doesn’t get to at least 10. The Saints are tied for the 8th easiest schedule in the league as well.