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The NFL schedule is being released today — some leaks have already started before the official drop — and now that the Draft is behind us, it is time to look at future totals in earnest.
FanDuel has had its Regular Season Totals up for a couple of weeks, and the lines have yet to see much, if any, movement based on limited offseason roster shuffling. If you have yet to sign up for an account, now is the time to do it and get your plays in before sharps adjust the thin margin of totals.
The OutKick team took to scouring those odds and pulled its five favorite total plays to get in on. Check out the logic behind each and follow/fade accordingly.
Las Vegas Raiders (OVER 6.5 wins): Few teams were as mercurial as the Raiders in 2020, as the team both bested the Chiefs and lost miserably to the Falcons. It also had nine games decided by one score (going 5-4) en route to an 8-8 season. That makes every game seem winnable, or losable, which puts getting 7 wins in a 17-game season a tempting total. For the most part, the Raiders will return the same team they had last year but with some additions that make us like this play even more. The addition of Kenyan Drake to the offense provides an actual backup — and change of pace — to Josh Jacobs, and the addition of a trio of serviceable receivers in John Brown, Zay Jones, Willie Sneed on make-good contracts adds to the group of Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and third down specialist Hunter Renfroe. Going six-deep at receiver, plus Darren Waller at tight end, will make Derek Carr better.
Defensively, the team addressed some big needs on the line and in the secondary. It brought in Yannick Ngakoue (to pair with his former Jacksonville DC, where he blossomed), pocket collapser Quinton Jefferson, and reclamation project Solomon Thomas to go with Johnathan Hankins and Clelin Ferrell. It added Casey Heyward to the secondary and brought Karl Joseph home again. Overall, this is an upgraded unit.
The schedule also sets up nicely. Of course, the AFC West figures to be a battle every week, and for the sake of this debate, let’s play it to the lowest end — swept by the Chiefs, split with Chargers and Broncos. That gets to two wins. The Raiders get the AFC North this season, and again, let’s play this to a split — losses to Ravens, Browns; wins against Bengals, Steelers. That is four wins. The Silver and Black also have the NFC East on the schedule. Even conservatively, this should be three wins. Philly and Washington are both in Vegas and even with the Giants on the road, Big Blue should still stink. Taking on Dallas on the road is a toss up, but let’s call it a loss. Now we already have seven wins and hit our total. That leaves the remaining three games against the Dolphins and Bears at home. The Colts on the road is a little meaningless for this example, but if we assume that the Raiders go 1-2 in those, with just a win against the Bears, it is an 8-9 season. Realistically, this could easily be a 9-8 team, which leaves 6.5 with a lot of breathing room. — Dallas Jackson
Cleveland Browns (OVER 10.5 wins): There are two main factors working in favor of the Cleveland Browns OVER 10.5 wins in 2021. (1.) The Browns face a number of teams in flux at the quarterback position. Let’s start in the conference, where Pittsburgh will be going through its Big Ben farewell tour after the future Hall of Famer took a pay cut in the final year of his contract to play one more year for the Steelers. Joe Burrow is coming off knee surgery, and the Bengals are still the Bengals. The Browns, if they’re a Super Bowl contender, should sweep both teams. A split with the Ravens and Cleveland puts them at 5-1. Add in what should be wins against the Broncos (QB issues), Lions (new QB), Bears (most likely starting a rookie), the Texans (an expansion team), plus a road win against the Patriots (they spent a bunch of money, but will it matter for Cam and Mac?) and Cleveland is at 10 wins.
That leaves the Browns and its deep roster of talent with wiggle room against the Raiders and Cardinals at home and the Chargers, Packers, Vikings, and Chiefs on the road. Remember, this is a 17-game schedule.
(2.) This is a typical rising trajectory NFL team. The QB position is solidified now that the team has picked up Baker Mayfield’s fifth-year option. The defense, which gave up a pedestrian 26 ppg on its way to an 11-5 record a year ago, added John Johnson III at safety, Takkarist McKinley at DE, Malik Jackson at DT, Troy Hill at nickel, and Anthony Walker at LB. Safety was the No. 1 issue for Cleveland and Johnson is expected to end all issues at the position. Browns safeties, according to @NextGenStats, allowed 12 TD passes in 2020, worst in the league. Johnson gave up one in 2020. This has all the makings of a 12-5 team. — Joe Kinsey
Miami Dolphins (OVER 9.5 wins): The Dolphins won 10 of their 16 games last season, despite issues on the offensive side of the football. A major contributing factor in that success was a defense that ranked near the top of the NFL in points allowed per game (21.1) and turnover differential (+9). Most of that unit returns, plus they have four significant additions: Bernardrick McKinney, Justin Coleman, Jaelan Phillips and Jevon Holland.
Those moves should keep this unit at or near the top, but the changes on offense will make the biggest difference for Miami. Tua Tagovailoa didn’t struggle in 2020 as much as some claim, but he wasn’t a game-changing presence either. Entering Year 2 – further removed from that gruesome hip injury at Alabama that almost ended his career – the former first-round pick should be much better. The offensive line has had more time to gel, plus there are the additions of Matt Skura in free agency and Liam Eichenberg in the draft. Now toss in those much-needed weapon upgrades Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller V, and it’s easy to see why the offense is poised for a breakout, especially now that Chan Gailey will no longer hinder the play-calling. If the Dolphins can somehow get consistent production from their run game, there aren’t a lot of concerns left for the offense — at least not on paper.
The Bills will continue to be the heavy favorites to win the AFC East, but Miami may also find its way into the playoffs after a 10-plus-win regular season. The schedule shouldn’t be much of an obstacle. The Patriots and Jets are breaking in a lot of new key pieces, and the NFC crossover slate is more than manageable, with the exception of that road trip to Tampa Bay to take on the reigning Super Bowl champs. After going 10-6 last season, finishing just one game over .500 — or anything less — in 2021 would be unacceptable. Brian Flores will find a way to get this team to at least 10 wins, especially now that it’s a 17-game regular season. — Clint Lamb
Kansas City Chiefs (Under 12.5 wins): Wait, 12.5? I tried telling Chiefs fans last year: you aren’t winning again. I’m back to help once again. Chiefs fans, take the under. Take it and run. Kansas City proved last year, with single-digit win after single-digit win, that it can’t close teams out. The defense is shaky, the running game is below average, and the entire offensive line was rebuilt in the offseason. As great as Mahomes is, he has not been as effective without Eric Fisher protecting his blindside. With Fisher, Mahomes is 40-6. Without Fisher, Mahomes is just 4-4, and you all saw what happened in the Super Bowl without the LT. Fisher is gone and Orlando Brown is in — we will see.
The division is also a concern here. The Raiders play the Chiefs tough. Las Vegas beat KC last season and lost the rematch by just four points. The Chargers may be the most improved team in the NFL with a legit Super Bowl roster. And Denver is not easy. (Imagine if they land Aaron Rodgers, as some have predicted…) Aside from the division, the Chiefs have matchups against the Packers, Titans, Football Team, Steelers, Browns, Ravens, and Bills in 2021. Man, I don’t see a path to 13 wins. No chance.12.5 is a lot, especially with these division, schedule, and roster concerns. — Bobby Burack.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Under 6.5 wins): With Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence (oh, and seemingly Tim Tebow) in town, football is again abuzz in Jacksonville. And hey, why not? Over the last decade or so, you’d be hard-pressed to find bigger and more successful college names than Meyer and Lawrence (and Tebow).
Sadly, only one of the aforementioned is expected to be an actual difference-maker. That would be Lawrence, and not only is he playing the most important position, he’s also playing the most difficult. And history tells us that first-year quarterbacks need a while to adapt. History also tells us that Meyer is likely to need some time in his first foray into NFL, and that the Jaguars are coming off 15 straight losses. So there’s no way they will hit six wins. On the bright side, it could be lots of fun watching them try. — Sam Amico
5 CommentsLeave a Reply
A futures bet would mean locking up money for 8 months.
Do you know how much dogecoin I can buy with that money.
Yeah great point. It’s a 50/50 shot of winning to begin with. Add in the 8-month factor and you’re already down 5%+ on interest you could’ve been earning, so it’s really like 45/55. And that’s assuming you have unlimited cash to bet all the other bets you want to make during the 8 months.
Browns: I’ll fade the Browns over 10.5 out of principle. Last year, the Browns pulled out wins against the Bengals & Jags by the grace of God. And because they had good year last year, they now they get the 9th hardest strength of schedule under the NFL’s scheduling procedures. I don’t like Juju, but he wasn’t wrong when he said “The Browns is the Browns.”
Just saying…the O/Us are all over the place depending on which shop you stop at. The numbers you cite are not gospel.
You take Under on the Packers, right? Then you can just collect your money once Rodgers is traded. I think that is how gambling works