By Doug Upstone of Doc’s Sports
Even though we cannot feel or touch it, we sense it. Football is coming.
Football bettors and handicappers across the country are doing their homework in anticipating a fresh NFL season. Among the very first things that bettors and fans of particular teams hone in on is season win totals. This gives everyone a benchmark to understand where their team might end up for the upcoming season. They can choose to agree or disagree with sportsbooks prognostication and place a wager if they so choose.
Our focus here is on some of the most popular teams that everyone cares about or has an opinion on. That doesn’t make these best bets, though some could be, rather, to get you in the mood for making NFL expert picks for the upcoming season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Over/Under 11.5 wins
The Super Bowl champs are now the hunted. Most assume because Tom Brady is the quarterback, he is immune from aging. Some reports this summer had him playing all season with a knee that needed surgery. Tampa Bay is bringing back all 22 starters, how do they not repeat?
Besides, Carolina is rebuilding, Atlanta has a new coaching staff, and New Orleans doesn’t have Drew Brees any longer. Well, we might be wrong but we are not buying in on the Buccaneers. This has mostly to do with how the NFL works. There will be greater obstacles to overcome, you never know about injuries and in every game you play, the opposing team gives its best shot.
Tampa Bay will have nine road games, with none of them easy. Could the Bucs win another Super Bowl, sure the talent is there, but we’ll say they win the NFC South with an 11-6 record and fall UNDER against the NFL odds.
Kansas City Chiefs Over/Under 12
The Kansas City Chiefs have something to prove; last year’s Super Bowl result was a fluke, in part based on the offensive line being in tatters. The K.C front office has gone out and addressed this in the offseason and goes into the season believing Patrick Mahomes will not be running for his life.
Andy Reid’s defense has to improve and that is possible as they have linebackers with potential that can help shore up their 21st ranked rush defense from a year ago.
Kansas City will be challenged early, but Cleveland, the L.A. Chargers and Buffalo are all at Arrowhead Stadium, with Week 2 matchup at Baltimore the toughest road game. The AFC West has not improved significantly making the Chiefs and OVER a solid play.
Dallas Cowboys Over/Under 9.5
Coming off a 6-10 season in Mike McCarthy’s first year, the only place Dallas can go is up. The Cowboys are favored to the weak NFC East, but here is a question. Will the Cowboys win 9 or 10 games, with a win total set at 9.5?
Having Dak Prescott return will help immensely along with having a retooled and healthier offensive line. Much like last year, one can assume Dallas will score, but will the defense improve enough to have the Boys reach double digits in wins for coach McCarthy?
The Cowboys' defense conceded the most points in team history. And the second most rushing and total yards. They were a disaster and changed defensive coordinators and are going back to a 4-3 set trying to play more to their talent on hand. The defense will be better across the board as long as linebacker Jaylen Smith has the hunger to play to the big contract he signed before the 2020 season.
With road games at Tampa Bay, the Chargers, New England and Kansas City and being a so-so home team for years, Jerry Jones's team wins their division but comes up short on the win total at 9-8.
Las Vegas Raiders Over/Under 8
For all the hoopla surrounding Jon Gruden, he’s 119-114 as an NFL head coach. Last year the Raiders were 6-3 and looked destined to make the playoffs until their porous defense was thoroughly exposed and they finished 8-8.
Gruden got rid of one of his friends in the business in Paul Guenther as defensive coordinator and brought in highly respected Gus Bradley to run the defense. Vegas signed seven defensive free agents and drafted six more players on that side of the ball and undoubtedly will be better, just not better than average.
Last year’s excellent offense has been overturned at the point of attack, the offensive line. Signing defensive free agents meant cost-cutting elsewhere and the O-Line took the hit. Though the O-Line will be younger and more athletic, that doesn’t necessarily equate to improvement and we’ve all seen what happens to Derrick Carr when under duress.
Starting on Thanksgiving, another late-season failure is possible with contests at Dallas, at Kansas City, at Cleveland, and at Indianapolis, along with division home games with the Chargers and Broncos. UNDER is our vote.
Note: Odds will vary by the sportsbook, find the best numbers you can.
Doug Upstone of Doc’s Sports has - 21 Documented No. 1 Titles - 94 Documented Top 10 Finishes - 25 Handicapper of the Month Awards. (Latest: MLB May 2021) Doug as a professional handicapper/writer has written for various well-known sports betting websites and several football newsletters