Yesterday I posted the power rankings from the end of the regular season last year. From there I like to get started with my analysis on who I expect to be better than the consensus and who I expect to be worse. The rankings noted below are my own and may differ from the NFL rankings. Each day I will analyze 5 teams.
Arizona Cardinals Total 5.5 2012 Record 5-11
The Cards had the toughest schedule in football last season. Having to play in, what is now, one of the toughest divisions in football took its toll. With just 5 wins Arizona was better than just the Lions and Eagles in the NFC. Arizona had no quarterback to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald last year. They ranked 28th in passing offense and 30th in overall offense. This season they should get an uptick in passing with veteran Carson Palmer now throwing it. The defense was ok, 14th overall. Looking at the schedule there won’t be too many pushover games despite playing a last place schedule. Detroit and Philadelphia figure to improve, the NFC South is solid. Their best shot at a win comes against Jacksonville in week 11. They are going to have to get 5 more wins some place in order to get the over here. Leaning under.
Atlanta Falcons Total 10 2012 Record 13-3
The Falcons boasted the best record in the NFC last season. Many thought the record was better than it should have been. The Falcons squeaked by in many games last year against much weaker opponents. The won games against Carolina, Oakland, Arizona and Tampa that they not only could have lost but probably should have lost. Add in a week 2 win over Denver who had Peyton Manning still trying to figure out the offense and his teammates. Manning had 4 early turnovers and still almost won the game late. Last year Atlanta played the 13th toughest schedule. This year they will get a first place schedule which means playing at San Francisco and Green Bay and home for Seattle and Washington. They play the AFC East which means New England but they do catch a break with the Jets. I expect the division to be much more competitive with the Saints focused on football and Carolina and Tampa improving with great young talent. With that said 10 looks to be a number we can not get much value with. Better options elsewhere.
Baltimore Ravens Total 8.5 2012 Record 10-6
Make no mistake this is Joe Flacco and Ray Rices team. The Ravens are offense first now ranking 10th last season. The Super Bowl champs come into this season looking a bit different then they did when they were hoisting the Lombardi Trophy back in February. Losses like Anquan Boldin, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will impact this team for sure but Ozzie Newsome might be the best GM in the game today. Coupled with a very good head coach I do not expect the Ravens to live off of last seasons successes. The Ravens ranked 11th overall at the end of the regular season. The team got hot once they fired Cam Cameron. I gave some statistics to that case in my Super Bowl preview selection last year. A look at the Raven schedule shows that the road won’t be easy but they need to be just 1 game worse than last season. They are heavy favorites against the Jets and Cleveland at home. They need to find 7 more wins. If they can go 5-3 at home they will need to go 4-4 on the road. The toughest road game will be week 1 in a rematch from last seasons Divisional game with the Broncos. The remaining 7 games are all games they can win. They will need 4 of those if they get just 5 at home. I like Baltimore to find a way and go over the 8.5.
Buffalo Bills Total 6.5 2012 Record 6-10
The Bills were a sexy over pick last season and disappointed many. This year the number to beat is one more win then last season. Buffalo played a weak schedule in 2012 ranking 29th. The defense was awful and finished 30th overall. Can EJ Manuel be the Russell Wilson of 2013. That is the big question. But the even bigger question is can this defense stop their opponents enough for it to matter. The Seahawks were able to help Wilson along by playing great defense. Buffalo can not duplicate that. A look at their schedule shows they do have some games they should win. Home games against the Jets, Kansas City and Miami are all very winnable. If they sneak in another win at home that means a 3-5 road schedule will get the over. They play at Jacksonville, The Jets and Cleveland. Those would be the games they have the best shot in. 7 wins is certainly possible and I would lean that way but not enough to make a strong play on them.
Carolina Panthers Total 7 2012 Record 7-9
Year 3 of the Cam Newton era begins for the Carolina Panthers. The 2011 rookie sensation fizzled late in 2011 and early in 2012 before coming on strong again in the second half. The Panthers were ranked 14th overall last season, just ahead of Minnesota and Dallas. This team played solid defense ranking 7th overall. I love teams who are solid against the pass and they were. 6th overall with teams like Denver and San Francisco ahead of them. The schedule looks pretty difficult. As stated earlier the NFC South has no pushover games. They will be playing the AFC East which will give them a couple of easy games. They look to win the Ram, Jet and Bucs game at home and on the road they get Arizona and Buffalo. I think this is a team that will make a push for a playoff spot. You get a low number here because of the schedule and division. Can they be 1 game better than last year? I think so. I like Over 7 with Carolina.
Chicago Bears Total 8.5 2012 Record 10-6
No team was higher ranked and did not make the playoffs then the Chicago Bears. They finished 6th overall led by the number 4 defense. The Bears were close to making the playoffs had Green Bay beat Minnesota in the final week of the season. A game that went down to the wire. Urlacher is now gone and filling that void of a leader will be tougher to do then filling in his on field abilities as he was in decline the last few years. Lovie Smith and his defensive minded coaching departs and in comes Marc Trestman. Trestman has been known for taking QB’s to the next level. Under his tutelage Bernie Kosar, Scott Mitchell, Steve Young, Jake Plummer and Rich Gannon all had some of their best seasons ever. There is no reason his West Coast system could not benefit Jay Cutler. The talent has always been there now it is time to keep him upright and this system should do that. Last season the Bears were 20th in offense and 29th in passing. There will be a dramatic increase in both. The defense should remain solid. The schedule will not be easy. The division is full of potential playoff teams. Out of the division the only easy game is Cleveland and maybe St. Louis but they are on the road. If you like the Over you have to think they are just better than the rest of the division and they just might be. I am going Over the 8.5.
Cincinnati Bengals Total 8.5 2012 Record 10-6
The Bengals finished the regular season ranked 10th and made the playoffs. They were one slightly over thrown ball away from beating Houston in Houston and advancing but it was not meant to be. The Bengals strength was its defense finishing 9th overall. The defensive line was good and should be even better this season. Atkins and Johsnon are a formidable pass rush combination and getting better. AJ Green is a superstar but Andy Dalton was very inconsistent last season. They look to improve offensively as Mohamed Sanu will become a bigger factor for this team. But for all of their talent to show its riches Andy Dalton will have to be better than last season. If Dalton brings the QB rating up into the mid 90’s this team could be very tough to beat. The schedule is not one of the toughest we have seen. There are a number of winnable games. They need to win 6 home games to make the over look really good and 5 keeps you in the running. The toughest games will be Baltimore, New England, Green Bay, Baltimore. If they can split those I think the over hits. I will take Over 8.5 with the Bengals.
Cleveland Browns Total 6 2012 Record 5-11
The Browns were disappointing yet again last season. They may have found the RB of the future in Trent Richardson but the QB of the future is still up in the air. You do not win in this league without a QB and the Browns need one to emerge. Brandon Weeden will need to become that guy this year. Norv Turner is now the offensive coordinator and he has had great success with QB’s in the past. Especially as a coordinator. Weeden showed flashes throwing for 300 yards 3 times last year. The TD to INT needs to improve from 14 and 17 however. The schedule is not easy. The Browns have not been very good on the road and it is tough to see them winning more than 1 or 2 games on the road this season. It will take more than that to get this number over 6. Lean under 6.
Denver Broncos Total 11.5 2012 Record 13-3
As long as we are just looking at the regular season then the Broncos have one of the best QB’s of all time. Manning took a little time to settle in last year but when he did the Broncos became a force to contend with. Gamblers cashed in big on Denver as well as it was easy money backing the Broncos after the first few weeks winning 9 of 11 down the stretch ATS. Now that Manning is healthy and familiar there is no reason to expect the Broncos to come out of the box like they did last season. Wes Welker should be a great addition for the Broncos. Manning loves to have a slot WR he can rely on and Welker is as good as it gets. One big issue they do have is Von Miller is suspended for the first 6 games due to substance abuse violations. The Broncos schedule opens tough with Baltimore and the Giants but after that there are a slew of winnable games. Since 2003 Manning has failed to win 12 games just once. With a defense that ranked 3rd last season Manning should be able to get that 12 number again easily. Broncos over the 11.5.
Dallas Cowboys Total 8.5 2012 Record 8-8
When are the expectations not high in Dallas? The Cowboys had destiny in their own hands last season and let it slip away in the last week. Tony Romo, once again, threw the game away, with a pick 6 against the Redskins and sealed the fate of the Cowboys for 2012. Dallas finished 16th in the power rankings and were only higher ranked than one playoff team, the Colts. There is a ton of talent on this team. Romo, despite his clutch mishaps, has a ton of talent. Dez Bryant is one of the top 5 WR in the game today. Witten at TE continues to be a great security blacket for Romo. RB Demarcus Murray was a beast on short yardage situations last season. If he stays healthy he will be a TD machine in the red zone. Monte Kiffin has come in to replace Rob Ryan as defensive coordiantor. The defense will move from a 3-4 to a 4-3. It will be interesting to see if Ware and Spencer will be as effective as they were in the 3-4 system. Kiffin should help the 19th defense in the league and a healthy Murray will improve on the 31st rushing attack. The schedule gives them a chance to start of decently with KC, ST. Louis and San Diego but if they struggle at all it wont be easier the rest of the way. Dallas will be in the hunt most of the year as 10 wins will likely win the division but I am not sure they will be the team to get the 10. No opinion here on the 8.5.
Detroit Lions Total 7.5 2012 Record 4-12
Detroit was a team whose record was a lot worse than their performance. Detroit finished 17th overall which should have been closer to or 8 win season. Detroit has the premiere WR in the game in Calvin Johnson. He can put up big numbers anywhere. Stafford, when healthy, is up in the top 10 QB’s in the league. Last season he had 8 300 yard games but the Lions do throw it a ton. They ranked 5th overall in offense but just 23rd in rushing offense. The offense was carried by the number 1 ranked passing attack. When you pass like they do it puts pressure on the defense and it showed. The defense was 26th Overall. This year they bring in two defensive players in the first two rounds of the draft in DE Ansah and CB Slay. Both are expected to help this defense out. Reggie Bush comes in as well to help out on the offensive side of the ball. He could be very interesting as it gives another dimension to this offense. But at the end of the day the Lions will need to stop people to win. The schedule is not favorable. When I look at it I am not sure where the 8 wins come from to get the over. I think the public likes this team to bounce back and possibly make the playoffs. I think this team improves but not enough. 6 or 7 wins at most this season. Under 7.5
Green Bay Packers Total 10 2012 Record 11-5
When you have one of the best QB’s in the league you will always be a contender. Aaron Rodgers is relied upon to win games and he is capable of doing just that. They lose Jennings so Cobb will have to step up and be the number one WR they feel he can be. Rookie RB Eddie Lacy should get the bulk of the carries. They finished 5th overall in the power rankings. The area needed to improve the most was defense ranked 10. The addition of Dante Jones at DE may help. The Packers get the division winners schedule. Tough road games at San Francisco, Cincinnati, Baltimore, NY Giants, Dallas. At home they get Washington, Atlanta. From the looks of it they could be very good at home winning 6 or 7. They will struggle to be .500 on the road however. Which puts us right around that 10 win number. I am leaning under but not enough for a play.
Houston Texans Total 10 2012 Record 12-4
This team was everyone’s darling the last couple of seasons but my sense this year is people are down on them. They appeared to be a very weak 12-4 team last year and it showed in the playoffs. They ranked behind Chicago at 7th overall last year. The defense was 8th while the offense 11th. The offense is usually all about Arian Foster. Houston was a middle of the pack passing team and relied on Foster to carry the load. This season Foster comes in with some back issues which can’t make Texans fans feel very good. Ben Tate has proven to be a formidable backup however averaging 4.3 YPR. First round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins looks to compliment Andre Johnson in the passing game. The defense looks to get stronger with the addition of the aging Ed Reed. Hopkins may be the best second option the Texans have ever had. The division is still pretty weak. The Texans should be up at the top all season long. The Texans schedule has them at Baltimore and San Francisco. They get Seattle, New England and Denver at home. Those are the toughest non divisional games they face. They should win 4 divisional games easily. They need to win 3 of those 5 tough games and then get 4 more. It wont be easy. I think 10 is right where they will be.
Indianapolis Colts Total 8.5 2012 Record 11-5
No team was luckier to make the playoff than the Colts last season. Finishing the regular season ranked 23rd puts you in Miami and Cleveland territory. But so many times the ball bounced the Colts way and they were able to steal some wins late in games. Bruce Arians did a great job with this young team as interim coach and now leaves to take over in Arizona. That loss may be significant. The Colts ranked just 27th in total defense last year while the offense was just 19th. With all the excitement over Andrew Luck many fail to realize he threw for a lesser completion percentage than Mark Sanchez last year, 54.1%. The 18 INT’s also need to come down. The schedule has games at San Francisco and Cincinnati. They get Seattle, Denver at home. I want to fade this team but they have a lot of winnable games on the schedule. Like the Texans they should win 4 divisional games. They need a way to win 1 of those 4 toughest games and then win 4 of the following Oakland, Miami, @San Diego, St. Louis, @Arizona, @Kansas City. You can make a strong case for the over. I would lean that way but not going to make a play on it.
Jacksonville Jaguars Total 5 2012 Record 2-14
The Jaguars were the worst team in the league last season. That is becoming a habit in Jacksonville. Gus Bradley comes in as the new head coach to try and turn the ship around for the new ownership. It appears Blaine Gabbert is going to win the job from Chad Henne who actually showed some signs of promise last season. Gabbert has yet to produce consistently in the NFL. The schedule for last place teams tends to be easier but the Jags will be an underdog in almost every game they play. They will win 1 maybe 2 division games. Their best shot at winning at home is Kansas City, Buffalo, San Diego, Arizona. I do not like their chances. Take the under 5.
Kansas City Chiefs Total 7 2012 Record 2-14
No team gets a bigger improvement over 2012 total in Vegas then does the Chiefs. The number is 5 games over their total from a year ago. New Head Coach Andy Reid probably has something to do with that. Another key addition is at QB with Alex Smith taking over the reins. Smith emerged as a solid QB under the tutelage of Jim Harbaugh the last 2 seasons but fell out of favor after San Francisco got a taste of how electric Colin Kaepernick can be. The running game is sold with Jamaal Charles leading the way. Expect Charles to have a big year under Andy Reid who likes to throw the ball to his backs. The Chiefs were a tough team to watch last season. They were in so many games yet had so many turnovers cost them. They had 37 turnovers in all. They lost 5 games by less than 10 points. The Chiefs were dismal in my rankings last season finishing 31st overall. They should be much improved from that but getting to 8 wins may be difficult. The schedule is not the toughest. They get an easy opponent out of the box in Jacksonville but it is on the road. They only games they are in against much better talent is Houston at home and the two Denver games. With the new coach and QB this team holds the ball better than it did last season and finds a way to win more than 7. Over the 7.
Miami Dolphins Total 7.5 2012 Record 7-9
The Dolphins got off to a nice start, 4-3, in 2012 but then went 3-6 to close it out. Tough losses to the Jets, Arizona and Indianapolis really kept this team from a possible playoff birth. But they were not really deserving. Finishing 22 overall, just ahead of the Colts, in the rankings. Miami was doing it mostly on defense ranking 11th overall the offense however ranked 29. Ryan Tannehill looked good at times and will now have Mike Wallace to throw to. This should boost the 26th ranked passing offense a bit. Reggie Bush had a nice season with almost 1300 all purpose yards. Bush is now running in Detroit so Miami will look to unproven backs to pick up the slack. The schedule has the Dolphins on the road 3 of the first 4. They must beat Cleveland or they could be facing 0-5 with Indy, Atlanta, New Orleans and Baltimore as the first 5 games. That start looks too daunting. I like the under 7.5 on Miami.
Minnesota Vikings Total 7.5 2012 Record 10-6
Interesting total as the oddsmakers anticpate a big drop off for the Vikings who made the playoffs last season. Of course Minnesota has the premier RB in the game in Adrian Peterson. AP figures to have another monster season. The question mark will be in the passing game. Ponder was efficient last year at 62.1% but it was mostly short passing as he threw for just 2935 yards. A good 20/12 TD/INT ratio though showed Ponder will take care of the football. Minnesota was middle of the pack last year ranking 15th. That would be an 8-8 record, right where the experts have them this season. The question is do they outplay last season or are they about the same. Greg Jennings comes in from GB to help the 31st ranked passing offense. Defensively Minnesota ranked 16th. Minnesota loses a home game this year because they are playing in London as the home team against Pittsburgh. The schedule is brutal. The weakest team they face looks to be Philadelphia, whom they get at home. 7.5 will be close to where they are. I would lean to the under slightly as I think the rest of the division is better.
New England Patriots Total 11 2012 Record 12-4
The class of the AFC East by far the Patriots need to duplicate last season to cover the 11 win total. Tom Brady loses his favorite target We Welker but Danny Amendola takes Welkers place and is probably a better talent. The question is always health with Amendola. If healthy he could be a great target for Brady to go to. Another lost target is Aaron Hernandez who is sitting in jail awaiting trial for murder. The other great TE Rob Gronkowski is battling health issues as he has had numerous surgeries in his short career. If healthy he is a force. The Patriot defense has been overlooked in recent years as the unit has given up big chunks of yardage. They should improve from the 21 ranking a year ago. The other night the defense was able to hold Detroit to 16 points in the first half despite playing with their backs on the end zone the whole half as the offense had 4 turnovers. The schedule is manageable The division looks to be weak so figure on 5 wins there. 7 more gets the over. It won’t be easy but consider Brady has won at least 11 games in 8 of 11 season. The Patriots over the 11.
New Orleans Saints Total 9 2012 Record 7-9
The whole bounty situation is a thing of the past and now the Saints are back to normal. Sean Payton will be back calling plays, just the way Drew Brees likes it. This team got off to an 0-4 start and just could not get enough momentum together to make a playoff run last year. The offense was great as usual finsihing 2nd but the defense stopped nobody finishing dead last. The defense is moving to a 3-4 scheme to try and improve. It can’t get much worse. The schedule is tough but not brutal. Two tough divisional games to open and then two winnable games with Arizona and Miami at home. After that it gets a bit tougher but they still get Buffalo and the Jets. Winning 10 to get this over will be a lot to ask for. I do not like this defense and that could be what keeps this team from making the playoffs again. I would lean under the 9 but it should be close.
New York Giants Total 9 2012 Record 9-7
The Giants missed the playoffs last year for the 2nd time in the last 3 seasons. But the year they did make it they won it all. Eli Manning has shown a knack for playing big in the big game, especially in the 2 minute drill. But the regular seasons for the Giants have never been great. Even in their 2 Super Bowl seasons they were lucky just to get into the playoffs. This year the oddsmakers have the Giants total right where it was a season ago. They are favored in the NFC East but the team that wins that division is generally right around 10 wins. So getting to 10 is never easy. The Giants have averaged 9.625 wins in the Manning era and finished under 9 just twice winning 8 in ’06 and ’09. Last season the Giants finished 9th overall in the rankings ahead of Washington who won the division. The Giants were certainly good enough offensively but the defense lagged behind ranked just 17th. When the Giants win it is because they are getting a pass rush. In 2012 they missed Pierre-Paul for 12 weeks. If he is healthy this year it could give a boost to that mediocre defense. The schedule outside of the division is light having to play the weak AFC West. Lean over 9.
New York Jets Total 6.5 2012 Record 6-10
The Jets are as close to first place today as they will be the rest of the season. The comedy continues as fans of every team in the AFC East enjoy watching Rex Ryan do his thing each week. This time Rex decided to play Mark Sanchez late in the 4th quarter against the Giants with the 2nd and 3rd string unit. Sanchez was being hit hard on every snap until he finally injured his shoulder. Seeing as Geno Smith looked awful and not ready to start an NFL game it is unclear what Rex was thinking. But generally that is how it goes in Jet camp. Only Rex knows what he is thinking. The Jets defense should be improved however. Despite losing Revis there is some talent on the defensive side of the ball. The problem is they will not be able to score without a QB. The offense was 28th last season and count on that being about their number this year. The schedule has very few cupcakes on it. The Jets will be a dog in all but 3 games. I have a hard time finding 7 wins. Take the Jets under the 6.5.
Oakland Raiders Total 5.5 2012 Record 4-12
In order for the Raiders to beat the number they will have to get production from their QB position. The question is who will that QB be. Terrel Pryor has looked good in the preseason while Matt Flynn has not. It looked like it was Flynn’s job to lose going into camp and he very well may have done that. Last season Carson Palmer played well for the Raiders. They ranked 9th in passing. The problem on offense is keeping McFadden healthy. Run DMC has not played more than 13 games in any season. No reason to think this season will be different. The defense was one of the worst in the league ranked 29. I do not see the improvement on that side of the ball to make a case for this team improving. The schedule shows they may be favored 3 times this year. You need to win those and 3 more to get the over. It will not be this season for the Raiders. Under the 5.5.
Philadelphia Eagles Total 7 2012 Record 4-12
I am not sure if there is a collective offensive unit that is more careless with the ball then the Eagles. It seems all of their star players like to carry the ball low and as a result they were -24 in turnovers last season. That really was the major reason they had just 4 wins. Vick looks to be the starting QB once again for new Head Coach Chip Kelly. It will be interesting to see how Kelly runs his offense and if it is similar to the up tempo he ran in Oregon. That tempo is great for the offense but it does weaken the defense. We saw an offense in San Francisco change its approach at the expense of the defense last season. (see my Super Bowl analysis from last season). That defense was strong this one is not. Eagle games could be very high scoring this season. The schedule this year is always going to be tough in division. Out of the division they do get a break with the AFC West. In the NFC they get a tough NFC Central. This team will be improved this season. 7 looks to be a good number. Tough call on either side.
Pittsburgh Steelers Total 9 2012 Record 8-8
Well are the Steelers better than they were a year ago? That is the question to answer when looking at this total. Big Ben is back at the helm and when healthy we know he can win games for the Steelers. The question is can he be healthy. The Steelers did what they do in the offseason which is replace aging players and contracts with younger cheaper additions. Pittsburgh was 5th in defense last season but the offense was a dismal 22. They should improve there if Ben plays 16 games but will the defense be as good. The schedule has them playing the NFC North which won’t be easy but the AFC East, whom they also play, may give them a couple of wins. They also benefit from a 3rd place finish getting Tennessee and Oakland on the schedule. Getting to 10 wins will not be easy and if they do it may be good enough to win this division. I can see this team right at the 9 so I will pass on the Steelers.
San Diego Chargers Total 7.5 2012 Record 7-9
San Diego was one of the more disappointing teams in 2012 going 7-9 and missing the playoffs. I think the season was summed up in one play, 4th and 29 against Baltimore and they let Ray Rice run around for the first down which led to the tying score and eventual loss. The other shining moment was the 2nd half collapse on Monday night against the Broncos up 24-0 and lose 35-24. Those were the games that led to the demise of Norv Turner, perhaps a few years too late. In comes new head coach Mike McCoy from Denver. This team finished 21 in the rankings last year but the defense was not bad at 12. Turner was an offensive coach and so is McCoy. We will see if that change means much. The bottom line is can Rivers play better than he did last season. Rivers at times looks like he is giving games away on purpose. Some of his decision making is really questionable. Gates can no longer be counted on as Rivers security blanket in the passing game. There is some talent at WR however with Vincent Brown probably his best option. The schedule has SD playing 4 playoff teams at home, a place where they went 3-5 last season. In addition to those 4 teams they get Dallas and The Giants at home. Their road schedule is much easier. They could repeat 2012 with a better road record than home. It looks like getting to 8 is about as good as this team will do. I will lean under but not enough to play it.
San Francisco 49ers Total 11.5 2012 Record 11-4-1
Maybe the most hyped team of the season, which always makes me approach with caution. The Niners are defending NFC champions. Expectations are for this team to be better than they were a year ago. That would mean 12 wins and a Super Bowl Championship. The last time the Super Bowl loser won it all the next season was 1972 when the Dolphins went 17-0. If you go back to my Super Bowl analysis you will see that there was a definite change to the 49ers when Kaepernick took over from Smith but it wasn’t all positive. The 49’ers defense was mediocre without the more ball control style offense. If you are expecting a dominant defense, don’t. I suspect a move back in defense from their number 1 ranking while the offense should improve from 9. The two should cancel each other out. The question here is whether they can be better. The schedule looks favorable. We know about the division, with Seattle being very good, St Louis improving and a bad Arizona team. They get The AFC South, which is not strong and the NFC South which is competitive but the best team in the NFC is probably not coming out of there. So there is an opportunity to get to 12 wins here. To do it they will need to be almost perfect at home which means defeating Green Bay, Atlanta, Indy, Houston and Seattle. That is a tall order but doable. I can not take the over here but I can’t take them under either although that is the lean.
Saint Louis Rams Total 7.5 2012 Record 7-8-1
St. Louis is improving with one of the best coaches in the game Jeff Fisher. They will need to be a little better this season to get the over. The team brought in Jake Long and Jared Cook and rookies Ogletree and Austin are expected to have major impacts. Bradford is the question mark. He loses his favorite target in Danny Amendola, although he was never healthy enough to play a full season. Bradford was a very respectable 22/13 TD to INT and I expect him to be back in that ballpark again. The defense finished 13th last season with the offense 21st. I expect the offense to be better this year with the defense getting a slight uptick as well. That is the good news, the bad is they have to play Seattle and San Francisco 4 times although they managed to go 2-1-1 against them last year. The rest of the schedule has some winnable games but not many. This team will be right at this number once again unless Bradford has a monster season. No opinion on the 7.5.
Seattle Seahawks Total 10.5 2012 Record 11-5
One of the biggest surprises of last season was Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. We knew the defense was solid and Lynch was a beast but nobody saw Wilson coming. And when he did the Seahwaks got on a roll. This season there will be no surprises but Wilson is a winner. This team finished 3rd in my rankings ahead of San Francisco last season. The defense was 2 and the offense 7. I think this defense finishes number 1 this year with the offense staying right where they are. Percy Harvin does come in to add a weapon to Wilsons arsenal. The schedule at home doesn’t really matter since the Seahawks are impossible to beat at home. 7-8 wins should be easy. On the road however it gets tougher. At Houston, Indianapolis, Atlanta and the Giants. I think they handle business on the road as well though and cover the 10.5. Seattle over.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Total 7.5 2012 Record 7-9
As the oddsmakers like to do they will put a number up on Tampa right where they were a year ago. Tampa played to their ranking finishing 19th overall. Doug Martin broke out last season as one of the top RB’s in the game. But QB Freeman has seen his completion percentage decline from 66.5% in 2010 to 62.6% in ’11 to 54.8% last season. He must be better than that for him to keep his job and have this team improve. Tampa was 16th in overall offense with a 22 defensive ranking. They ranked high against the run, 1st overall, but that may be deceptive since teams were passing on them so easily, ranked 31. There was not much reason to try and run it. Tampa’s schedule on the road is brutal with just the Jets in week 1 to look forward to. That road schedule scares me. I will take under the 7.5 with Tampa.
Tennessee Titans Total 6.5 2012 Record 6-10
The Titans go as Chris Johnson goes. In 2011 he fell off the face of the earth but he rebounded a bit in 2012. Which CJ will show up in 2013? The offensive line is improved with Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack. That should help Johnson find some holes to run in. Jake Locker needs to improve to get this team into contention. Last seasons 11/11 TD/INT ratio wont hack it. Locker can throw it, now he needs to find a way to do so under control. The offense ranked 23 last season. It may have been worse if not for a shootout with Detroit. The defense was worse ranked 31 overall. Just New Orleans was worse and they do not have the New Orleans fire power on offense. The front 7 is young but does have potential. The secondary is weak however. The schedule won’t be easy. Opener at Pittsburgh followed up by a road game in Houston. Could easily be an 0-2 start. If they do happen to split then they could find themselves on pace for an over because the next 3 opponents are much weaker. It can be done and I would lean slightly over 6.5 but not enough to warrant a play.
Washington Redskins Total 8 2012 Record 10-6
Big jump for the Redskins thanks to RG3 and Alfred Morris. Not much is said about Morris with RG3 the star everyone jumps to but Morris had a big season averaging 4.8 YPC. Overall the team ranked 15, right in the middle of the pack. So they did over achieve a bit. Injuries are a concern with RG3 as he comes off knee surgery. The defense was not great ranked 23rd overall. They could be thrown on ranking 29th against the pass. They have tried to make some improvements there but not enough to make this a top defense. The Redskins won a lot of close games. The ball seemed to bounce their way as well as they were +17 in giveaways. They will need a similar stroke of luck to win the division again. The schedule will be much more difficult than the last place schedule they faced last season. I will pass on this team but I have a feeling the under might be the play here.
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