The true NFL offseason is officially upon us. Mandatory minicamp has come to a close and players from all 32 teams have gone their separate ways. Most players will get some vacation time in while continuing to work out in preparation for the return to training camp in late July. Once training camp arrives, the road to Super Bowl 54 begins in earnest.
Each year, sports bettors are able to wager on where they think each team will finish up in the win column. Sportsbooks release a number for a team’s win total and you can bet over or under that number. If you land on the number, it’s a push, or tie.
Below are win totals for the four teams in the NFC West. The number in parenthesis is the juice on the over and the under. For example, if you bet the over on 10 wins for the Colts, the payout is +130 (you bet $100 to win $130). If you bet the under, the payout is -150 (you bet $150 to win $100). That means the under is the favorite.
Sportsbooks are not predicting each team will win the number of games on the win total. Rather, they are setting a number so that they can get a similar amount of money on both sides of the wager. They do not want an extensive liability on one side or the other since then they would be relying on a specific outcome. With even money on both sides of a wager, the house will profit more often than not.
Now that roster overhauls are mostly complete and teams have finished up spring workouts, we took a few minutes to chat with site managers from each SB Nation team blog. They offered reasons why their team could end up over the win total and why their team could end up under the win total. The sites pay close attention to their teams and have more insight than your average national reporter.
Indianapolis Colts: 10 (+130, -150) — Stampede Blue
Why over: The Colts ended the 2018 regular season as arguably the hottest team in football. The snap count for rookies and second-year players was astronomical and it took some time for a new coaching staff to start hitting its stride. This year, all but one starter has returned from both sides of the ball, the rookie and second-year players who took a step forward in the back half of the season will be entering their second seasons in the Colts new offensive and defensive schemes. No franchise used more draft picks on defense in 2019 than Chris Ballard did for the Colts. He also signed free agent wide receiver Devin Funchess and drafted speedy rookie Parris Campbell. Jack Doyle will return to the field after injuries derailed his 2018 campaign. The prospect of Ebron and Doyle taking the field for an entire season is rather exciting for the offense. The Colts have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, return all of their starters, and project to be even better in pass protection and run blocking with the return of Howard Mudd to the staff. Andrew Luck is entering the off-season training program healthy for the first time in three years. Frankly, no team has more reason to believe that it should improve its record from a season ago than the Colts. They won ten games last year.
Why under: The Colts struggled considerably to compete against teams with good offenses in the early part of the 2018 season. This year, the offensive power they will face will be considerably stronger for much of the season. Winning difficult games against marquee NFL quarterbacks is always a challenge and these games can often go either way. If you consider that losing a game or two in the division is almost an annual certainty and throw in road games against the Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New Orleans Saints, you’re dealing with a rather small margin for error. Philip Rivers, reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees will test the Colts young defense. Getting to ten wins in 2019 will be harder than it was a year ago.
Houston Texans: 8.5 (+130, -150) — Battle Red Blog
Why over: The Texans face some big questions after a tough offseason, but this is still a team that won 11 games last year. Even with some regression, there is a decent-sized cushion to stay above .500. They remain in a division with two teams (Titans, Jaguars) that have plenty of their own question marks heading into the season.
Most importantly? They are running DeShaun Watson back out there. They invested in their offensive line, which was badly needed after a 62-sack season last year for Watson. There are plenty of questions between veteran Matt Kalil and rookies Tytus Howard and Max Scharping, but they shot their shot with free agency dollars and a first and second round pick. If the line shows even a little bit of improvement, over 8.5 wins seems eminently reasonable.
Why under: DeShaun Watson was pummeled last season, to the tune of 62 sacks. He still put together eye-popping numbers, but he cannot continue at that rate. The Texans drafted offensive tackles Tytus Howard and Max Scharping in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft and signed Matt Kalil to play left tackle, but all three come with question marks. If the offensive line does not show significant improvement from last year, this offense could be in trouble.
On the defensive side of the ball, they lost safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Andre Hal, and cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson. They replaced them with Tashaun Gipson and Bradley Roby, but they are downgrades in the secondary. The Texans face a host of strong offenses in 2019, including the Patriots at home and the Saints and Chargers on the road.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8 (+115, -135) — Big Cat Country
Why over: The 2018 season for the Jaguars was a staggering disappointment, but the team wasn’t bad at everything. It still had one of the NFL’s most elite defenses, finishing No. 4 in points allowed. What dragged the team down was an offense that was decimated by injuries — especially along the offensive line — coupled with poor play at quarterback. Nick Foles doesn’t need to play like a Super Bowl MVP to get Jacksonville back on track. As long as he’s efficient and avoids mistakes, the Jaguars can lean on their running game and defense to replicate their 2017 success.
Why under: The issues for the Jaguars that caused them to bottom out went way beyond quarterback. The defense wasn’t its self last year and will go into 2019 without Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, and Barry Church — three players who played huge parts in the 2017 dominance. The Jaguars also traded away Dante Fowler, Jr. and will likely be without Telvin Smith. And aside from the poor play of Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler, the offense dealt with a horrible season from Leonard Fournette, a staggering lack of talent at receiver, and injuries along the offensive line. Signing Nick Foles — an inconsistent quarterback who is notorious for checking down short of first downs — isn’t going to come close to solving all those issues.
Tennessee Titans: 8 (+110, -130) — Music City Miracles
Why over: Injuries are one consistent aspect of the NFL, but predicting who will get hurt is not a simple task. Marcus Mariota has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his concern, which is concerning. However, the Titans upgraded at backup quarterback, swapping in Ryan Tannehill for Blaine Gabbert. The Titans went 9-7 in spite of Mariota dealing with an elbow issue much of last season. They have a better option in case Mariota deals with a significant injury, which offers some insurance on the over.
The team made significant upgrades on offense with guard Rodger Saffold and wide receiver Adam Humphries. Cameron Wake could add some punch to a pass rush that struggled with consistency.
They face a tough schedule with the NFC South and AFC West, but they get the Chargers, Chiefs, and Saints at home. If they can get through a tough first four games (at Cleveland, vs. Indianapolis, at Jacksonville, at Atlanta) with a pair of wins, they’ll be in great shape.
Why under: Guard Rodger Saffold upgrades the offensive line and guard Nate Davis offers upside, but question marks remain. If the line does not improve on a shaky 2018, Marcus Mariota’s health could be more likely to come into play. Tannehill is better than Gabbert, but he’s still not a great option.
Otherwise on offense, can Corey Davis take the next step in his development. The addition of free agent Adam Humphries could help, but it’s possible Humphries is nearing his ceiling and Davis proves more flash. If they both don’t take a step forward for Mariota, it could make for tough sledding for the offense.
The defense could be what carries this group, but they need to see more from the pass rush. They ranked 22nd in adjusted sack rate, and need Cameron Wake and Harold Landry to beef it up. If they don’t step up, this defense could be left spinning its wheels to a certain extent.
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Odds and lines subject to change. See website for actual odds.
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