NFL Season Win Total Picks
(Lines available at Paddy Power)
Professional gamblers are divided as to the value of betting on the season win totals. Some love the stability provided by the large sample size; much of the week-to-week craziness of the NFL is balanced out over the whole season. Others hate the idea of tying up their money for four months, especially when a big injury can derail a team’s entire campaign. For a casual bettor and NFL fan, these bets offer good value for money as you get a rooting interest in 16 games for the price of one!
Without realising it, three teams on the list fit into a very promising statistical trend. In the last six years, 23 teams had losing records but positive turnover differential. Only five of them fell to a worse win/loss record the following season. This year finds Buffalo and Tampa Bay meeting that same criteria.
This is thanks to the importance of turnovers in an NFL game - the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game nearly 78% of the time. Therefore the ability to generate turnovers ultimately leads to winning teams.
New Orleans Saints – Over 10 wins (5/6)
You can pencil in 8 wins at home for this team; the Who Dat’s are undefeated at the Superdome in their last two seasons under Sean Payton.
In fact they are 20-4-1 against the spread when playing at home. It is important to remember that the idea of a spread is to make the game a 50/50 proposition. The Saints were heavy favourites in the majority of those home games, but still won 80% ATS!
But, they have proved they are not just a finesse dome team. In the 2013 playoffs they marched into a frosty Philly and physically dominated a good team. They rushed for 185 yards and 14 first downs while limiting the vaunted Eagles ground game to just six first downs.
While they were ultimately ousted at Seattle, there is no shame in losing a one-score game to the best team in football, in the loudest stadium in America.
In the offseason they signed ball hawking Jairus Byrd to pair with their energizer bunny Kenny Vaccaro to form one of the best deep defensive tandems in the league. In the draft they snagged the electric Brandin Cooks. He will provide a deep threat for Brees and replace Sproles as the ‘space’ player.
At CGT sports books in Las Vegas, the Saints are currently listed as the favourite for 11 of their 15 games played prior to Week 17. If the Saints can win two on the road they win ten games – I think they win four.
Buffalo Bills – Over 6.5 (4/7)
Few casual fans realise how dominant the Bills were at home last season. As I wrote in week 16 last year, “the Bills are 5-1 ATS at home, with games against the Patriots, Panthers, Chiefs and Bengals – all 9-5 or better. Their easiest game was against the Jets, who they beat by 20.” Buffalo finished the season at home by blanking the Dolphins 19–0.
A look ahead to this season’s home slate suggests a 6–2 record, with the visiting Packers and Patriots the toughest obstacles, which leaves us needing one road victory to go over 6.5.
There are some concerns about the defence, having lost a defensive rookie of the year in Kiko Alonso and a pro-bowler in Jairus Byrd. However defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is known for building his units around the front four, a tactic which should fit the Bills perfectly with their explosive front line.
With a shiny new receiving weapon in Sammy Watkins, a double-headed monster at running back and a top-ten defence, I think the Bills can get that one road win at the Jets, Raiders, Lions or Texans.
Kansas City Chiefs – Under 8 (11/10)
The Chiefs weren’t a playoff calibre team a year ago, and they got demonstrably worse in the offseason. In their 9-0 run to start the 2013 season they faced FIVE backup quarterbacks. After the bye they went 2-6 including the playoffs.
Since that insipid run they have lost seven players who started in 2013. The offensive line in particular was decimated, losing three out of five starters.
Andy Reid might have been able to paper over those cracks if Alex Smith moved like Colin Kaepernick back there, but Smith has never been more than a system quarterback.
The schedule is also a lot more daunting than 2013. They will face the powerhouse NFC West along with the improved AFC East. In their division, only the scuffling Raiders have a lower projected win total. The Chiefs need to win nine to make this a losing bet. Far more likely is a disappointing 7-9 campaign.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Over 7 (20/29)
The current state of Florida professional football teams is so shambolic that the Buccaneers have decided to become the Chicago Bears lite.
They hired former Bears coach Lovie Smith to install his technically and fundamentally sound Cover 2 defence. They brought in former Bears quarterback Josh McCown, then went and found him a basketball-team sized group of receivers...like he enjoyed in Chicago.
The new-look offence should flourish. McCown led the entire league in Total QBR in 2013 and his new supporting cast of Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Doug Martin are full of talent.
We also know the Lovie Smith defence will bend but not break and generate plenty of turnovers. The main roadblock to this being a successful wager is the competitive NFC South, but if the Bucs can split those games they should be right in the wild-card race by the end of the season, with 10 wins.
- The NFC South’s Carolina Panthers have the lowest number of projected wins of any defending division champion (8). Vegas expects the Falcons to improve (8 wins) and the Saints to win the division (9.5).
- Last season three teams were given totals of 11.5 (Broncos, Patriots, 49ers) and all went OVER the number. This season only the defending conference champs have totals as high as 11.
- Four of the top six clubs in terms of projected wins are from the NFC, reflecting the lopsided balance of power between the conferences. (Anyone remember the Superbowl?)
- Predictably the bruising NFC West has the highest predicted cumulative wins total with 36.5. The AFC South has the lowest with 28.5. The other six divisions have cumulative totals between 32 and 33. Parity still reigns in the NFL.
- Nothing is expected to change in the AFC East where the Patriots have dominated, winning 10 of the last 11 years. They are projected 2.5 more wins than the next best team in their division: the widest gap in the NFL.
- The Arizona Cardinals will face the most difficult schedule in 2014 with opponents’ overall projected win totals collectively adding up to 138 victories this season.
- On the flip side, the Houston Texan’s opponents are projected a gentle 118 wins.