July is a quiet month for football, and that applies to oddsmakers as well as regular fans. The folks at Las Vegas oddsmaker CG Technology has come up with a fun opportunity for both NFL and college football fans around the country.
NFL and college football win totals have been developed over the offseason, and now CG is offering a cross-sport win total opportunity. They have picked pairs of teams based on either geographic similarity, or in the case of the Patriots and Alabama, the perception of them as the frontrunner for their given league.
Our writers took a look at the list and came up with their favorite bets. Betting on a team at -1/2 means you need that team to win one game more than the other team. Betting on a team at +1/2 means you only need the teams to finish with the same number of wins to win your bet.
David Fucillo: 49ers (-1/2) over Southern California
This is a fascinating comparison in light of the possibilities for both teams in 2019. The 49ers win total is sitting at 8 and the big question is what to make of Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s returning from a torn ACL, and has yet to start a full season in the NFL. Add in an overhauled defense, and the 49ers range of possible outcomes is significant.
On the other side, USC is installed at 6.5 wins and they could an even larger range of potential outcomes. Bill Connelly previewed USC heading into 2019, and pointed to nine straight potential one-score games, including four straight to open the season. The Trojans’ season could be made or broken a month in.
I’m a big fat 49ers homer, so I’ll stick with the 49ers as the more likely candidate to rebound in 2019. Graham Harrell is a solid addition at OC for the Trojans, but I’m not seeing them hitting their ceiling this year.
Christian D’Andrea: Raiders (-1 1/2) over UNLV
The poor Rebels. Once the only game in town, they’re soon to be replaced by another 2000s-era doormat when the Raiders get to Las Vegas for their tentative 2020 debut. Everything about Oakland’s move southeast is meant to overshadow its collegiate counterpart.
The Raiders will bring three league championships to town, along with a $2 billion state-of-the-art stadium and a $100 million head coach. The Rebels have three all-time bowl wins — two, according to the NCAA, actually — and will only get to leave the sun-baked confines of Sam Boyd Stadium thanks to the NFL’s nascent arrival.
While UNLV has made modest improvements to jump from the two-win realm and become a steady four- to five-win threat, Jon Gruden went out and gave his team 2019’s biggest overhaul. A hollowed-out four-win squad added players like Antonio Brown, Trent Brown, and LaMarcus Joyner in an attempt to load up on talent prior to the team’s upcoming move. Combine that with one of the league’s easier schedules (aside from four games against the Chiefs and Chargers), and Oakland is set for a revival this fall.
UNLV, on the other hand, has a nearly nonexistent passing offense and one of college football’s worst defenses. While the Rebels will also benefit from a soft schedule, Bill C. only sees them as favorites in four games this fall. I’ll give Gruden the benefit of the doubt for a six-win season in 2019.
Adam Stites: Alabama (PK) over Patriots
Rooting against Alabama or the Patriots is a waste of time. The evil empires of their respective domains just win, win, and win some more. Including bowl victories, Alabama has 11 consecutive double-digit win seasons. The Patriots’ streak of reaching at least 10 wins — albeit with a longer schedule — is at 16 years.
The good news for the NFL is that eventually Father Time will slow Tom Brady down. That’s how it works for every other human, at least. He turns 42 in August and that’s well past the point any quarterback has played at a high level. Prior to Brady’s 29-touchdown 2018, no 41-year-old quarterback ever topped even 10 touchdown passes in a season.
There’s no end in sight for the Crimson Tide’s dominance, though. Alabama had the No. 1 recruiting class this spring, something they’ve had in eight of the last nine years. The best you can hope for is for Alabama to lose a couple games per season.
The rub here is that the win totals do not count any bowl game or College Football Playoff victories. So the maximum victories for Alabama on this prop is 12 wins. You can count on at least 10, probably 11, possibly even 12.
The Patriots won 11 games during the 2018 regular season — their lowest total since 2009 — but still finished as NFL champions. In the months since their Super Bowl victory, Rob Gronkowski retired, Trey Flowers and Trent Brown left in free agency, and Tom Brady — well — got older. They offset some of those losses by adding Michael Bennett in a trade and veteran free agents like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jared Veldheer, and Demaryius Thomas.
But getting 11 or more wins is going to be difficult. If Brady’s plays drops off even a little, Alabama should be able to top New England’s win total this year.
James Dator: Browns (+1/2) over Ohio State
I’m not going to tell you how to bet, because I am an atrocious bettor. I had a fake ID when I was 16 years old, went to the casino in Sydney on a regular basis, and didn’t learn a thing. What I do know, however, is what’s funny — and the fact we can have any bet that puts Ohio State against the Browns and it carries a meager 1⁄2 line is the best thing I’ve heard this year.
If you went back in time five years and told someone about this bet they would slap you — and you’d deserve to be slapped. That said, give me the Browns on this one. Partially because I love dumb things, and also because look, I actually think this could happen.
There’s no doubt the Browns would need to reach their upper ceiling for this to happen. They went 7-8-1 last year, while Ohio State was 13-1, but have you seen how garbage the 2019 Browns schedule is?
Out of division they play the AFC South, NFC West, and AFC East. Yes, there are a few good teams in that lot — but not exactly the most terrifying outside of the Patriots and Rams. I believe in the Browns, and that is the only time you’ll ever hear me utter the phrase “I believe in the Browns.”
Sarah Hardy: Ohio State (-1/2) over Browns
I have nothing but respect for my colleague James Dator and I’m not saying that he’s wrong. But if you’re asking me to put my trust in either Ohio State football or the Cleveland Browns, I’m picking the Scarlet and Gray every time.
It’s alternate universe-level weird that Ohio State and the Browns are in similar situations entering the new season. A first-time head coach who made a name for himself in a short period of time last year. A roster dripping with high-potential, if still somewhat unproven, talent. A fanbase that’s hopeful but knows there are plenty of questions to answer.
It’s even MORE bizarre that it’s the Browns who have a stable quarterback situation. Here’s what the top of Ohio State’s QB depth chart looked like last year: Dwayne Haskins, Tate (Tathan, if you’re nasty) Martell, Matthew Baldwin.
None of those guys will be back in 2019. Haskins is in the NFL, and the other two transferred out.
Luckily for the Buckeyes, dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields decided to leave Georgia after his freshman year and was granted immediate eligibility. He’s now Ohio State’s highest-rated recruit ever and, barring injury, will be the starting quarterback even if it hasn’t been announced yet (I mean, c’mon). He’ll join an offense that has three-year starter J.K. Dobbins leading a deep running back group, veteran receivers like K.J. Hill and Austin Mack, and a freshman who can make catches like this:
The defense, despite its struggles last season that Haskins was mostly able to mask, was able to cut Greg Schiano loose this winter. It also returns Chase Young (likely Ohio State’s next top-10 draft pick) at pass rusher, has what should be a shutdown secondary with players like Jeff Okudah and Jordan Fuller (Sinbad’s nephew!), and welcomes in top defensive end recruits Zach Harrison and Noah Potter.
Sure, Ohio State had to replace a coach who never lost more than two games in a season during his time in Columbus, and Ryan Day is still a bit of an unknown. It’s also Ohio State. The Buckeyes always reload with four- and five-star recruits who will one day be playing in the NFL. In the last 17 years, they’ve failed to reach double-digit wins only twice. And they get to play Rutgers every year.
The Browns are dealing with high expectations for the first time in decades — longer than Ohio State’s players have been alive — and Freddie Kitchens will have his hands full keeping the drama at bay. It won’t be as easy as it might seem for the Browns to get to nine or more wins. They certainly can do it, but will they?
I want to believe in the Browns. Really, I do. I already believe in Ohio State, though.
Morgan Moriarty: Florida (1) over Jaguars
I have betted a total of like three times in my entire life, so I can’t say that I’m exactly a pro when it comes to this. In fact, I recently won 60 cents at a Pittsburgh casino, if that tells you anything you may need to know about my gambling abilities.
Give me Florida on this one because 1) As a UF alumnus (GO GATA) this is an extremely biased bet with my heart that I’m sure isn’t proper strategy, but YOLO. However, Florida’s got a real shot to make it to the SEC Championship Game this year, as long as it wins one between LSU and Auburn, and can finally beat Georgia. That should get them to at least 10 wins by the end of the regular season. Sure, Feleipe Franks (or Emory Jones?) has to get his shit together, but I feel cautiously optimistic about the QB position under Mullen in Year 2.
I’m aware of the hype that Nick Foles brings to Duval, but the Jags’ schedule doesn’t do them any favors. In 2019, Jax will face the Chiefs, Saints, and Chargers. Not to mention the Jags have some brutal road stretches, including three of four weeks away from home during Week 2 through Week 5, and consecutive road games during Week 15 and 16, facing Oakland and Atlanta, respectively. Don’t get me wrong, Jacksonville is in good shape for the future, but the schedule doesn’t do it any favors in 2019.
Vijay Vemu: Michigan (-1/2) over Bears
There is optimism to be had for both the Chicago Bears and the Michigan Wolverines. Last season, they used their stingy defenses as the backbone for their teams. Chicago, with Khalil Mack, had one of the top defense in the league while Michigan finished in the top 20 in the country in opponents points per game. Even though both had questions surrounding their quarterback play (I still believe in you, Mitchell Trubisky), their offenses did their part as well.
Heading into the 2019 season Chicago is expected to be competing for the NFC North title while Michigan is expected to be one of the top teams in the country.
Chicago is facing a much tougher schedule this fall. Last season it took everyone by surprise and finished with a 12-4 record. This year might not be as easy. The Bears have to play the Rams, Chiefs, Chargers, and Saints this season along with four crucial division matchups against Minnesota and Green Bay. Chicago should be up to the task but given the chaotic nature of the sport, one or two bounces could go against Chicago, costing them some wins.
The same can’t be said about the opponents Michigan will be facing. Their toughest games this season will be against Notre Dame, Penn State, and Ohio State. Their first two games will be non-conferences ones against Middle Tennessee State and Army. Michigan is the cream of the crop in the Big Ten and they have massive expectations. They do get home field in both of their rivalry games (Ohio State, Michigan State) and project to have a top defense according to S&P+.
It’s not often I’m negative against the Bears. But given Michigan’s schedule, they have a better chance of reaching 12 wins than Chicago.
NFL-CFB cross-sport win totals
Raiders; 1½; UNLV
Patriots; PK; Alabama
Notre Dame; PK; Packers
Georgia; 2; Falcons
Oregon; PK; Seahawks
49ers; ½; Southern California
Steelers; PK; Penn State
Ohio State; ½; Browns
Michigan; ½; Bears
Texas; PK; Cowboys
Saints; 1; Louisiana State
Florida; 1; Jaguars
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Odds and lines subject to change. See website for actual odds.
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