The NFL has wrapped up training camp and Labor Day Monday means Week 1 is upon us. The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans kick off the 2020 NFL season on Thursday, and then we get a full slate on Sunday and Monday to get the season underway.
This is a different kind of year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There were no in-person workouts during the spring offseason program and the entire preseason game schedule was canceled. It makes assessing each team a little more difficult heading into a season that may or may not play to a full completion.
It will be particularly difficult to figure out which teams will over- or under-perform expectations. 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 DraftKings Sportsbook win totals for the four teams in the NFC East. A year ago, the Eagles held off the Cowboys, finishing 9-7 to Dallas’ 8-8. The Giants finished 4-12 while Washington 3-13.
The number in parenthesis is the juice on the over and the under. For example, if you bet the over on 9.5 wins for the Cowboys, the payout is -162 (you bet $162 to win $100). If you bet the under, the payout is +132 (you bet $100 to win $132). That means the over 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.
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.
Dallas Cowboys: 9.5 (-162, +132) — Blogging The Boys
Why over: It is expected that the Dallas Cowboys will have one of the better offenses in the NFL. Given that this is an offensive league, that should bode very well for them. They are returning plenty of players, added CeeDee Lamb, and Indiana Jones-swapped Jason Garrett for Mike McCarthy. Double digits should be easy.
Why under: There are generally bumps in the road during the first year of a new head coach and that is when global pandemics are not occurring. While there is a ton of optimism surrounding Mike McCarthy there simply might not have been enough time for things to properly gel.
Philadelphia Eagles: 9 (-134, +110) — Bleeding Green Nation
Why over: Carson Wentz managed to lead the Eagles to nine wins last year despite working with the NFL’s worst wide receivers. There’s reason to believe his supporting skill players will be better in 2020. DeSean Jackson is healthy and looking spry as ever, Jalen Reagor looks ready to contribute when he gets healthy, and pretty much all of the Eagles’ receivers looked good in training camp. Philly’s offense has the potential to be much more explosive. The defense is also expected to improve with the additions of Darius Slay and Javon Hargrave. Jim Schwartz is one of the better defensive coordinators in the NFL and he’s gotten more out of less in recent years.
Why under: The Eagles’ offensive line has the potential to be a disaster. Starting left tackle Andre Dillard and starting right guard Brandon Brooks are already out for the season. The Eagles could move Jason Peters to left tackle but the 38-year-old likely isn’t going to be able to play 100% of the offensive snaps. It’s not perfectly clear who will play at left tackle if Peters isn’t lining up there. It could Matt Pryor, who was getting wrecked while lining up there in practice. Or it could be Jordan Mailata, who has never played an NFL snap and was also getting wrecked while lining up there in practice. The Eagles may have finally gotten the wide receiver position right but it might not matter if Wentz doesn’t have time to throw the ball. He might get crushed back there.
New York Giants: 6 (-110, -110) — Big Blue View
Why over: The Giants won four games a year ago, and you can easily argue that coaching cost them two or three wins. If you believe they are better coached, they should have a better chance in close games. Daniel Jones should be better. Saquon Barkley is healthy. The defense has holes, but more depth.
Why under: The schedule is difficult. Joe Judge is a rookie head coach who didn’t have OTAs or preseason games to help him install his systems, a huge disadvantage. The roster is very young. The Giants are, really, starting over. Again.
Washington Football Team 5 (-143, +118): — Hogs Haven
Why over: Ron Rivera and a new outlook in D.C. is likely a real thing. As the team name changes and controversy surrounds management, Rivera is the presence this team needs to put together wins. Of course, a step forward by QB Dwayne Haskins will need to happen as well, but Rivera has shown he can help get the most out of his quarterbacks in the past. On paper, this team added a dominant defensive player in Chase Young and a big play waiting to happen in Antonio Gibson in this year’s draft to go along with already proven receiver Terry McLaurin. — Chet Gresham
Why under: All of those things that Ron Rivera might be able to help in changing the culture of this team could get drowned out pretty quickly with losses and surrounding noise. And with a team that lacks a strong base on their offensive line, they could easily snowball into yet another three win or fewer season. Haskins will need to keep his head on straight, as he’ll likely be running for his life more than not and relying on young players who are bound to make mistakes. — Chet Gresham
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (NH/CO) or 1-800-BETS OFF (IA). 21+ (18+ NH). NJ/PA/WV/IN/NH/IA/CO/IL only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and condition.