As hard as it is to make predictions at the start of the NFL season, I do it anyway. However, this article will be different than my official predictions for the 2016 season, which will be published within the next week. Today I’ll look at Bovada’s over/under win total odds for the upcoming year and discuss whether I see any value.
Here are the bets I’m most confident in for the 2016 season. Note that if you don’t find a particular team here it is because I wasn’t comfortable taking a stance due to the odds. For instance, I stay away from most of the league’s best teams (Seattle, New England, Arizona) because they have the highest projected win totals. Believe it or not, these teams, as good as they might be, are often the riskiest to bet on: Last year, the three teams with the highest win total odds entering the season–Green Bay, Seattle, and Indianapolis–all went under their projected total (11). Just some food for thought.
Anyway, let’s begin.
The Falcons may have underachieved last year, but they were actually lucky to be 8-8. They played one of the league’s easiest schedules and still only finished 26th in DVOA (DVOA is Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric). Simply put, despite having some big names like Julio Jones and Matt Ryan, Atlanta is not very good. I’m hammering the under.
Baltimore suffered numerous injuries and still managed to be competitive in 2015 despite their 5-11 record. Their poor luck in close games should turn around this year, which means they are a good bet to be back in the playoff hunt.
Given what I said earlier, it may actually be smart to bet the under on teams like Green Bay who have high win totals. But I’m making an exception here because the Packers project to play one of the NFL’s easiest schedules. They should be in contention for the league’s best record.
Fronte’s been high on Houston for a while and I’m starting to see what he’s saying. Their offense should come close to matching the caliber of their defense with the additions of Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, and a new crop of young receivers to go along with DeAndre Hopkins. It also helps that they play in a weak division.
Andrew Luck may be back, but Indianapolis still looks weak as a whole. They don’t have much of a running game, their offensive line is leaky, and their defense is suspect. They are still a good bet to finish .500, but 10-6 is a stretch.
Why aren’t people high on the Chiefs? They have a very stout defense and their offense will get Jamaal Charles back this year. Unless injuries take their toll, Kansas City should be right around eleven wins once again.
I will admit there is some hope for Miami because they have a nice group of receivers and their pass-rush could be great now that Cameron Wake is healthy. But everyone is overrating new coach Adam Gase and I’ve never been a believer in Ryan Tannehill. I have them going 5-11.
I think Chip Kelly will be a good hire for the 49ers in the long-run, but he’ll have a rough first season. San Francisco had the league’s worst point differential last year, which suggests they overachieved just to get to five wins. Plus, I doubt Blaine Gabbert is going to turn things around.
Especially now that Tony Romo will miss roughly half the season, the door is open for the Redskins to repeat as NFC East champions. Their defense should improve now that they added Josh Norman and I’m not so sure Kirk Cousins is going to regress like many expect him to. For those reasons, I think Washington is criminally undervalued heading into 2016, making them my best over/under win total bet for the season.
Hopkins photo courtesy of Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports