Today we have a look at San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay
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.
Tomorrow we will wrap things up with Tennessee and Washington
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The early bird package will end August 31 2013