This week’s Overtime goes out to all my readers who just unloaded half of their wardrobe at Plato’s Closet so they could lay $15 more on the Detroit Lions over/under. Gambling is fun. (Warning: it is also semi-illegal.)
My over/under picks are for the friendly wagers. Do you know an Oakland Raiders fan who’s a lunatic and thinks his or her team will win more than five games? The cheat sheet below says yes, betting that person the pink slip to your car is a good call.
The sheet also acts as a quasi-season preview. Now that reading isn’t en vogue, an ultra-focused and condensed piece is the way to go.
Lastly, the wizards in Vegas set all of the win totals.
Side note: I’m writing this before the start of the season, which means I don’t have all the knowledge you people from the future do.
Arizona Cardinals: under 5.5 – Stacked division, hard schedule, and a brutal loss of Jonathan Cooper. Should be a very competitive five-to-seven win team. I’ll bank on five.
Atlanta Falcons: over 9.5 – Can be even more explosive on offense despite issues on the line. Secondary is underrated. Will fight the Saints for NFC South crown.
Baltimore Ravens: over 8.5 – Don’t let the talking heads on TV fool you: the Ravens had a near-perfect offseason. Made transitional moves at the right time. Dennis Pitta injury scares me the most, but the foundation is there for 9-10 wins.
Buffalo Bills: over 6 – Monster defensive front and an unchained C.J. Spiller. They’re already better off with rookie E.J. Manuel at quarterback. Look for them to surprise the Dolphins for second place in the AFC East.
Carolina Panthers: under 7.5 – Too many questions at receiver and offensive line. Cam Newton is a machine, but he can’t do it solo. And I’m starting to suspect Ron Rivera is a bad coach.
Chicago Bears: over 8.5 – Cutler is a loose cannon that Marc Trestman will help tame. Less than .500 would be a failure with this roster.
Cincinnati Bengals: over 8.5 – Geno Atkins. Also, Geno Atkins. Sprinkle in some A.J. Green. Andy Dalton better not screw this up.
Cleveland Browns: under 6.5 – I’ll call it a hunch. They can win seven games on paper. Weeden is an absolute disaster, though, and that division won’t give them any breaks.
Dallas Cowboys: over 8.5 – Ugh. Anyone can win the NFC East. Cowboys finished 8-8 last season against all odds. A little bit of health and improvements from the youth will launch them over .500.
Denver Broncos: over 11.5 – Early injuries are a concern, but my goodness, look at their division. This roster at 80 percent could sleepwalk through the AFC West. Oh yeah, it’s time to stop making fun of Rahim Moore, people who only watched one game of the season.
Detroit Lions: under 7.5 – A juggernaut in fantasy and a headache in reality. Front four can’t save the defense. Shootouts ahead.
Green bay Packers: over 10.5 – Casey Heyward was my Rookie of the Year. Great players at important positions: that’s a nice combo. Rodgers is stupid good and losing Jennings is whatever.
Houston Texans: over 10.5 – Rookie wide receivers are tough to count on, but DeAndre Hopkins looks like a vet. Offense will become slightly more dynamic, and the defense will hold steady. J.J. Watt’s 2012 may have been the best season a defensive player has ever had.
Indianapolis Colts: under 8.5 – Yes, regression. Somewhat bizarre free agency moves and two sets of shaky lines drops them to eight wins. But the division is bad and Andrew Luck is a Colt so I could be wrong.
Jacksonville Jaguars: under 5 – Blaine Gabbert secured the starting quarterback job with a broken thumb. The Jaguars are in trouble.
Kansas City Chiefs: under 7.5 – If I say over, I’m just like every other Chiefs mark out there. Call the under and I’ll be remembered forever, right?
Miami Dolphins: under 7.5 – Jeff Ireland can buy half of the players in free agency, but he can’t buy my praises. Ryan Tannehill is still a couple years away. The upgrades at linebacker aren’t actual upgrades. Their offensive line is one giant swivel door in pass protection. I’m feeling OK about this pick.
Minnesota Vikings: under 7.5 – Christian Ponder.
New England Patriots: over 11 – The Patriots are not flawless; they are just better than everyone else at painting over those weak areas. And Tom Brady is what they like to call a surgeon. The Patriots cast of receivers was considered subpar in July. Then they played with Lord Tom, and now I’m comparing them to the ’99 Vikings corp. But seriously, Danny Amendola is better than Wes Welker. Trust that.
New Orleans Saints: over 9.5 – I remember thinking last year, “Man, this defense seems historically bad.” Well, it turns out they were historically bad. They allowed the most yards ever. The most marginal of improvements should allow the offense to carry them to 10 wins.
New York Giants: under 8.5 – Hard to predict. The defensive line is in limbo (aside from the specimen that is Jason Pierre-Paul), and that makes all the other defensive parts even less inspiring. Expect some ugly crapshoots.
New York Jets: under 6 – Not that hard to predict. They are in fantastic position to have the league’s worst offense. However, I still back Rex Ryan as a coach and think their crop of talent on defense is getting overlooked (especially Wilkerson). The Jets are too gritty to get bulldozed.
Oakland Raiders: under 5 – By far and without a doubt the easiest to predict. This roster. Take a look at this roster. I could get a production deal with NBC by turning this roster in as my screenplay.
Philadelphia Eagles: over 7.5 – I’m a sucker for the Chip Kelly hiring. The Eagles are not going to directly mirror the Ducks, but the general concepts will work. With the state of the NFC East, I could see a full year of Michael Vick (fat chance) putting them in the hunt for first place.
Pittsburgh Steelers: under 9.5 – Ben Roethlisberger has been a punching bag behind the leaky Steelers line. On top of that, the Steelers’ legendary zone blitz scheme was fruitless last year. Experience won’t carry them through the AFC North.
San Diego Chargers: under 7.5 – Lock this one in. The Chargers have a pile of injured players and a much higher pile of promising, but unproven youngsters. Philip Rivers is all the way gone, too. He can no longer sling the deep ball and his decision-making is mind-boggling. It’ll take the perfect storm for the Chargers to reach eight wins.
San Francisco 49ers: push at 11 – Pretty decent team that would win more than 11 games if not for a killer schedule.
Seattle Seahawks: over 10.5 – Could grant them the division if Percy Harvin didn’t have glass hips. They’re a beast of a team and are loaded at nearly every turn.
St. Louis Rams: over 7.5 – Rams are the youngest team in the league. The personnel turnover Les Snead and Jeff Fisher have executed since coming to St. Louis is dumbfounding. Sam Bradford now has the weapons to make use of his arm and is backed by a top-10 defense. The road to .500 is hellacious, but the Rams can get there.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: over 7.5 – Had Josh Freeman not fallen off a cliff, there’d be a legit argument for the Bucs as favorites in the NFC South. Like the Rams, their pathway to 0.500 is gnarly, but they’re too talented to bet against.
Tennessee Titans: over 6.5 – Not a co-sign of Jake Locker; rather, a bet that the pieces around him make up for the play at quarterback. CJ is back for real. Like, for real for real.
Washington Redskins: under 8.5 – Another hunch, mostly. The defense is a house of cards. They’re one injury to the front seven away from getting carved out by opposing teams. Honestly, they could stay healthy and still leave too much ground for the offense to make up.