In one of my favorite annual articles, I’m going to breakdown the over/under on each team in the NFL and give my playoff picks for the upcoming season. Last season I correctly predicted the Seahawks beating the Broncos in the Super Bowl (yup!), and went 17-14-1 (+2.2 units) on over/under picks.
The AFC Preview can be found HERE.
Philadelphia Eagles – Over 9 wins (-140)
I doubted Chip Kelly in my NFC preview last year, but a game or two into the season I realized just how wrong I was. The Eagles defense has plenty of holes, but they only need it to put out a league-average unit and they can still be an elite team. Throw in the fact that the three other teams in the division are on the decline and I find this to be an easy over.
New York Giants – Under 8 wins (+120)
At least one of New York, Dallas, and Washington has to go .500, right? While as a Giants fan I’m definitely biased as to which one I think will, it’s hard to put that much faith into Eli Manning right now. The Giants are a high variance team, and could end up 11-5 or 5-11 rather easily. That said, I think the safer bet is the under on a team with a terrible linebacking corps, a weak offensive line, and a shaky quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys – Under 7.5 wins (-190)
-190 is a ridiculous price to pay, but the Cowboys defense may be the worst in the league and Tony Romo is already banged up. As talented as some of their offensive weapons are, I don’t think this team can piece it all together this year.
Washington Redskins – Under 7.5 wins (-115)
Unless RG3 returns a completely different player, the Redskins should be one of the worst teams in the NFC.
Green Bay Packers – Under 10.5 wins (-115)
Aaron Rodgers’s injury became the scapegoat for the Packers dreadful defense last year, and while Rodgers is back, their defense may have even regressed. While I’m taking the under, I still have a lot of faith in Rodgers and think the Packers likely end up at 10-6 or 9-7 in a dead heat with the Bears for the division.
Chicago Bears – Over 8.5 wins (-145)
If not for Chip Kelly’s entry to the league last year, people would be a lot more excited about Marc Trestman. He turned Jay Cutler and Josh McCown into elite quarterbacks while putting up the second most points in the NFL to the Broncos. However, they also gave up the most points in the NFL and ranked 25th in defensive DVOA. Letting go of Julius Peppers for Jared Allen is a nice upgrade, and they drafted defensive players with their first three picks to help bolster their secondary and interior defensive line, which was a huge issue last year. I’m a huge fan of the Bears this year and think they could easily win this division.
Detroit Lions – Under 8.5 wins (-130)
Matthew Stafford is a tricky player to figure out. He’s definitely talented, but I just don’t trust him as much as Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, or even Jay Cutler to make a big play. Add in a very average defense and I see a team destined for 8-8.
Minnesota Vikings – Over 6.5 wins (-150)
The Vikings definitely have some fight in them, and I hope Teddy Bridgewater gets the starting nod sooner rather than later. Their schedule is far easier than last year’s, and 7-9 seems like a very reasonable goal.
New Orleans Saints – Over 10.5 wins (-140)
I’m a huge fan of this Saints team. Their defense is pointed to as their weakness, but was actually 10th overall in DVOA last season. Jarius Byrd was a huge addition and if Champ Bailey has anything left in the tank, this secondary will be much improved. If the Saints get homefield in the playoffs, I think they can make a Super Bowl run.
Carolina Panthers – Over 7.5 wins (EVEN)
While nobody is expecting the Panthers to go 12-4 again, I believe the hate has gone too far. I still don’t have utmost faith in Ron Rivera, but I have a decent amount of faith in Cam Newton and a lot of faith in their front seven. The division has gotten stronger since last season, but Carolina should be able to stay afloat.
Atlanta Falcons – Under 8.5 wins (-150)
-150 is a little high of a line, but the Falcons defense is too weak upfront for me to expect them to win 9 games. Julio Jones and Roddy White being healthy should propel the offense back to the efficiency they were at from 2010 to 2012.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Under 7 wins (+110)
Lovie Smith is a good fit as their new head coach, but I highly doubt Josh McCown can replicate his success from last season in Chicago. The Bucs just feel like the worst team in this division to me, and I’d be shocked if they get to 8 wins.
Seattle Seahawks – Over 11 wins (-140)
Over the past decade, defending champs have been traditionally horrible against the spread. However, I think this Seahawks team as the youth and depth to buck that trend. They start out with the gauntlet of the Packers, Chargers, and Broncos in their first three games, but then their schedule is pretty light. If they can get up to 12 or 13 wins, another march to the Super Bowl on their home field could be in order.
San Francisco 49ers – Under 10.5 wins (-165)
The Niners have had a lot of off-the-field issues, but remain a force to be reckoned with. While they lost some defensive weapons, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, and Carlos Hyde should help keep their offense at an elite level.
St. Louis Rams – Over 6.5 wins (-115)
The recent news regarding Sam Bradford’s injury almost made me switch to the under, but then again: is Sam Bradford even any good? The Rams defensive line is fantastic, and with a pretty manageable schedule, I think it’s more likely they end up at 7 wins than 6.
Arizona Cardinals – Under 7.5 wins (+130)
The Cardinals are one of my picks to drop significantly from last season, and I think +130 is a great price on them getting 7 wins or less. Carson Palmer is getting old, and I’m not as big a fan of Andre Ellington as many others are. The Cardinals should struggle to score, and even if their defense keeps them in games, I don’t see them getting above .500 again.
- 3) Eagles over 6) Niners
- 4) Packers over 5) Bears
- 1) Saints over 4) Packers
- 2) Seahawks over 3) Eagles
- 1) Saints over 2) Seahawks
Super Bowl pick to come in AFC Preview tomorrow.
Matt Cott is a co-founder of RotoAnalysis and a contributor to The New York Times. Follow him on Twitter @KidCotti21!