As we enter perhaps the most uncertain NFL season in recent memory, it’s kind of strange that we would be making predictions on NFL futures. After all, we don’t even know what our own future holds for us. But training camps are underway, and we’ve got regular season over/unders from the folks at BetOnline.
Moving through these, I am struck by a few of the odds on team totals. I’m not sure these are going to be my best plays when all is said and done, but they are worth discussing.
We’ll take them from three different divisions. And guess what – we don’t think any of them are going to the playoffs.
Over 7.5 Wins -115
Under 7.5 Wins -115
I guess there are a lot of reasons to be down on the Texans. One of them is head coach Bill O’Brien, who may have “jumped the shark” some time ago. Another is that they dealt away DeAndre Hopkins, who has consistently been one of the top wide receivers in the league. And Indianapolis and Tennessee both figure to be better in the AFC South.
There are deep threats on hand, in the persons of Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Brandin Cooks. The problem is that DeShaun Watson (sacked 49 times last year) may not have time to get the ball to them down the field. Houston has repeatedly had ho-hum options in the backfield, and unless David Johnson undergoes a serious career revival, that will be the case again.
The defense was 28th overall in a 32-team league, handicapped with losing JJ Watt at mid-season. Even with all of this, they got to the playoffs. Could they possibly drop to seven wins? We wonder. There are some rough road trips, as they go to Kansas City and Chicago and Pittsburgh, which should be better. And home games against Baltimore, Minnesota, Green Bay and New England won’t be any picnic. Still, it might be a little more agreeable than last year’s slate.
As much as we’d like to ticket them for disaster, we think they’ll survive .500.
Over 6.5 Wins -130
Under 6.5 Wins +100
A lot of BetOnline patrons may point to their metrics from last year and scoff at the idea that they could take a leap, but I’ve been telling people that this team really used its off-season well. Remember that they had a lot of draft picks and salary cap room. And they managed to upgrade themselves at almost every position.
Whether Tua Tagovailoa is going to be a big part of this is anyone’s guess. The plan right now is for Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the starting QB, but this team really played for him last season, winning five games, and it could have been seven. They have running backs on board (Matt Breida, Jordan Howard), behind a revamped offensive line. And the likes of Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Kyle Van Noy and Byron Jones have been added to the defense, not to mention what some of the draft choices are going to bring.
They’ve changed offensive coordinators, and Chan Gailey brings a veteran presence to a young staff. In terms of personnel,. this will much more resemble a legitimate NFL team. In fact, on a game-by-game basis, they’ll be competitive which just about anyone. Sure, they may get hung out to dry on road trips like the one they’ll make to San Francisco (or Santa Clara, to be more specific). And we’re not sure what Tom Brady’s departure from the AFC East means, since they managed to beat the Patriots last year (and often enough at home). And speaking of home, keep something in mind; they have gotten the go-ahead to accommodate up to 13,000 fans at Hard Rock Stadium, which is something a lot of other teams won’t have.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Over 7.5 Wins -145
Under 7.5 Wins +115
The running joke is that the Chargers won’t be playing on front of any fewer fans this season than they did last. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that this is the team nobody cares about. Would that change this year?
These guys could have one of the better secondaries in the NFL. And of course they have those two great pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. All could be well with the stop unit.
But that’s just half the picture. Here’s the thing – I don’t know of any reason to believe that Tyrod Taylor is going to light it up with his passing numbers. He is “seat-warmer,” right? If he turns out to be ineffective early, does coach Anthony Lynn pull the trigger and go with rookie Justin Herbert? The first-round draft pick from Oregon has a learning curve that is considerable, and may find himself in the lineup well before being ready.
I know that Lynn loves to run the ball. And they’ve made nice additions on the right side of the offensive line. He’ll have to run it this time without Melvin Gordon. And if the pass game is not as much of a threat after the departure of Philip Rivers, how much more difficult does that become?
Maybe it’s worth noting that this is the first time ever that this franchise will be playing its home games on an artificial surface. And that other teams in the AFC West like Denver and Las Vegas figure to have improved. This situation just seems a little combustible to me.
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