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NFL over/unders 2018: Predictions for all 32 teams

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. catches a

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. catches a pass during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Aug. 12, 2018. Credit: Brad Penner

With the 2018 season kicking off in a little more than two weeks, it’s time to look at each team’s over/under win total projection. Which teams will overachieve? Who will underachieve? Let’s break down the teams by division. (The over/under win totals are according to OddsShark.com).

AFC EAST

NEW YORK JETS

O/U TOTAL: 6 WINS

This isn’t a make-or-break year for Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan, but the Jets’ coach/general manager duo need to see some results after their contracts were extended. The Jets last year were better than their 5-11 record suggested. Take away the fourth-quarter meltdowns and they could’ve been a .500 team. The defense played well and should be a strong point again. The Jets’ success all depends on the quarterback. If Bowles goes with rookie Sam Darnold, expect some growing pains. Still, he has star potential. The Jets have some underrated receivers in Jermaine Kearse and Quincy Enunwa, as well as one with a chip on his shoulder in Terrelle Pryor, so it’s not as if Darnold has nobody around him. How the Jets manage the three-games-in-11-days scenario to start the season will be a big factor in whether they go over or under their win total. If they’re 2-1 after the Monday night opener at Detroit, the home opener against Miami and a Thursday nighter in Cleveland, expect the Jets to be in the wild-card discussion in December. Even if they finish 8-8, that’s still an easy win for the over/under.

The pick: OVER

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

O/U TOTAL: 11 WINS

As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are in New England, it’s hard not to see the Patriots waltzing to the AFC East title. But will they win 12 games? The guess here is no, and while it’s usually a bad idea to bet against Brady and Belichick, this could be the year they don’t have it that easy. They lost offensive weapons Brandin Cooks, Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola, as well as cornerback Malcolm Butler and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Getting to face the Jets, Bills and Dolphins a combined six times is a reason the Pats have the highest over/under win total of any NFL team, but their non-divisional schedule isn’t easy: Texans and Jaguars to start the season, as well as games against the Packers, Vikings and Steelers. If the Pats finished 9-7, it wouldn’t shock me. Let’s say 10-6.

The pick: UNDER

BUFFALO BILLS

O/U TOTAL: 6 

The Bills overachieved last year and caught a few breaks down the stretch to end the longest playoff drought in major sports (17 seasons). It figures to be tougher this year. Whether it’s Nathan Peterman or rookie Josh Allen starting at quarterback, it’s hard to see the Bills hitting the seven-win mark. Look at the start to their season: at Baltimore, home to Chargers, at Minnesota, at Green Bay, home to Titans and at Houston. They could start 0-6.

The pick: UNDER

MIAMI DOLPHINS

O/U TOTAL: 6.5 WINS

Ryan Tannehill returns after missing last season, but it’s hard to be confident about a team that traded its best player in the offseason. With Jarvis Landry in Cleveland, Amendola will be the new slot machine in Miami, but it won’t be enough to make the Dolphins a contender. In addition to playing the Patriots twice, Miami has road games at Houston, Green Bay and Minnesota and hosts Jacksonville.

The pick: UNDER

AFC NORTH

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

O/U TOTAL: 10.5 WINS

With Ben Roethlisberger throwing to Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Le'Veon Bell being Le'Veon Bell – despite all the contract talk – the Steelers should have enough to win the division. But with a number this big, there’s no guarantee they’ll get to 11 wins. Pittsburgh is known to play down to inferior teams, especially on the road, so if it gets tripped up in one of those spots, that could be the deciding factor. In addition to playing rival Baltimore twice, the Steelers also play the Falcons, Panthers, Jaguars, Patriots and Saints. The following might make you do a double-take but don’t be surprised if the Steelers start the season on the wrong end of an upset special at Cleveland, a place where they won, 21-18, to open the 2017 schedule. The Browns, whose 0-16 campaign was sealed by Pittsburgh last season, will be extra motivated for that first win. If this number was 9.5, you’d have to go over but at 10.5, the safer bet is the under: 10-6 sounds right.

The pick: UNDER

BALTIMORE RAVENS

O/U TOTAL: 8 WINS
Baltimore should be one of the more interesting teams to watch. The defense always brings it, and John Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the NFL. But how will the Ravens use rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson? Two-QB sets with Joe Flacco? Wildcat? Jackson could be an X-factor for a team that has been in the need of one offensively. Alex Collins is poised for a big year out of the backfield, and new additions Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead at wide receiver also should give the offense a boost. Expect the Ravens to battle the Steelers for the division.

The pick: OVER

CINCINNATI BENGALS

O/U TOTAL: 6.5 WINS

Remember how well the Bengals played for Marvin Lewis at the end of last season? That was in part because the longtime coach and Cincinnati eportedly were parting ways after Week 17. Well, Lewis is back, and Bengals fans are probably thinking: Where was that fire and passion the first three and a half months of the season? Andy Dalton is too inconsistent to back here. The Bengals might not even be the best team in Ohio.

The pick: UNDER

CLEVELAND BROWNS

O/U TOTAL: 5.5 WINS

The Browns, the same team that went 0-16 last year, are going to be fun to watch. Not just because they’re this year’s “Hard Knocks” team. With Josh Gordon returning and the addition of Jarvis Landry, the Browns’ offense finally has some explosiveness. Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield should put up some points. Also, look for second-year tight end David Njoku to have a breakout season. Myles Garrett leads a defense that actually held its own last season, keeping Cleveland in games that most other teams would have found a way to win. If Cleveland can upset Pittsburgh at home in Week 1, then getting to six wins shouldn’t be out of the question. In fact, if a few breaks go to the Browns’ way for once, they could even compete for a wild-card spot. Even if they go 6-10 or 7-9, the over still hits.

The pick: OVER

AFC SOUTH

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 9

Jacksonville was last year’s AFC darling, winning the division and being a few conservative play calls and defensive meltdowns away from shocking New England in the AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars’ defense is a force, but can Blake Bortles get the job done for a second straight year? The Jags’ best receiver, Allen Robinson, signed with the Bears in the offseason. Jacksonville could be one of those teams that regresses after a surprise season, but its defense is too good to let that happen. The AFC South is stacked, and the belief here is that three teams could make the playoffs. The Jags may not repeat as division champs, but getting to 10 wins should be doable.

The pick: OVER

TENNESSEE TITANS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 8

The Titans, or as I like to call them, Patriots South, are my surprise AFC team. With former Patriot linebacker Mike Vrabel taking over as  coach and Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler leaving New England for Tennessee, this team has a winning pedigree. Let’s not forget the Titans won a playoff game last season at Kansas City in the wild-card round before losing at New England, but if you paid attention to that Tennessee team, it had a very inconsistent season. Expect Vrabel to have a no-nonsense approach and with Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry poised for breakout years, the Titans have the ability to make a deep playoff run.

The pick: OVER

HOUSTON TEXANS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 8.5
If Houston stays healthy, watch out. Deshaun Watson was a breakout star his rookie season before an injury cut his year short, and with him back throwing to DeAndre Hopkins, expect Watson to be in the running for league MVP. He’s that good. On defense, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are a nightmare for offensive lines, and if that duo can stay on the field, Houston – like Jacksonville and Tennessee – could win the division and make a Super Bowl run.

The pick: OVER

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 6.5

So, if the other three AFC South teams all have a shot at making the playoffs, where does this leave the Colts? Well, they’re a hard team to read. Andrew Luck is back, but considering his injury history, this is a risky proposition. The Colts addressed their offensive line issues in the draft, and with new coach Frank Reich, you’d expect some early-season success around the good vibes of having Luck back. Could they win seven or eight games? Sure. Is it more likely they fall around that 5-6 win mark? Yes.

The pick: UNDER

AFC WEST

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 9.5

If not for a dreadful start in which nothing went their way, the Chargers would have stormed into the playoffs last season and probably have made some noise. But they missed out on a tiebreaker. They were doomed after an 0-4 start that included losses by three, two and two points. The Chargers are my pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and after going through their schedule, I have them at 13-3. They have that much talent on both sides of the ball. With the Philip Rivers-to-Keenan Allen connection and a big-time running back in Melvin Gordon, the offense shouldn’t have any issues. When they got going last season, they were unstoppable at times. The defense, though, is the real star, with edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram forming one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL. Add in a talented secondary that bolted its status with Florida State safety Derwin James, the steal of the first round of the draft, and well, the Chargers could not only be the best team in California but all of football.

The pick: OVER

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 8.5

The Chiefs’ season will ride on the rocket right arm of Patrick Mahomes. With Alex Smith traded to the Redskins, it’s Mahomes’ show. He  played only in last year’s regular-season finale, but he made some throws that not many quarterbacks could make. He’s my breakout star of 2018, and if you didn’t know who he was before the preseason, you were introduced to him last week when he threw a 69-yard touchdown pass on the fly that was the talk of Twitter and highlight reels. Expect more of the same, especially with the speedy Tyreek Hill (the recipient of that perfect TD pass in triple coverage) and tight end Travis Kelce. The Chiefs lost their offensive coordinator, Matt Nagy, now the Bears’ head coach, so Andy Reid will be calling the plays again. The Chiefs could win 10 games or they could win seven but the belief here is there’s a stronger chance they’ll be a nine or 10-win team and compete for a wild card.

The pick: OVER

OAKLAND RAIDERS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 8

Jon Gruden is back with the Raiders, and of course the former broadcaster’s first game will be on Monday Night Football. Will Gruden’s “grinder” mentality create a new atmosphere in Oakland? Probably. But not sure the Raiders have enough talent on both sides to be a contender right away. The whole Khalil Mack holdout thing is a headache. David Carr has a new target in Jordy Nelson but in a talented division, it won’t be enough to finish with a winning record.

The pick: UNDER

DENVER BRONCOS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 7

Denver finally has some certainty at quarterback after they added Case Keenum in the offseason. The Broncos got a steal in the draft when linebacker Bradley Chubb fell to them at No. 5 overall. Team him with Von Miller and that’s one of the more intimidating pass-rushing duos in the NFL. Denver is also one of the toughest places to play for visiting teams because of the altitude so factor that into their win-total prediction. If Keenum has anything to close to the year he had with the Vikings, the Broncos should have enough to be an 8-8 team. The playoffs likely will be out of reach but a .500 record won’t be.

The pick: OVER

NFC EAST

NEW YORK GIANTS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 7

The Giants are in win-now mode, hoping to capitalize on the last couple years of Eli Manning’s career and make another Super Bowl run. They added a running back in No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. They beefed up the offensive line, bringing in Nate Solder from the Patriots and drafting Will Hernandez in the second round. With a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. to go alongside Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, a tight end who plays more like a wide receiver, all of the offensive pieces are there to make the Giants a contender. But the biggest offseason acquisition was Pat Shurmur, the former Vikings offensive coordinator who did wonders with Case Keenum. New defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s intensity should also carry over. At first glance, I thought the Giants’ schedule was so tough they might go 4-12 or 5-11. But after reconsidering and realizing how big of an upgrade Shurmur will be over Ben McAdoo, the second guess here is that the Giants could compete for a wild-card spot. The Eagles should fly away with the division, but a hungry Giants team looking to forget about last year’s 3-13 debacle can win eight, maybe nine games.

The pick: OVER 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

O/U TOTAL WINS: 10.5

For the Eagles — and over/under bettors — the magic number will be 11. As in wins it will take to win this bet. As in Carson Wentz’s number. If Wentz is fully healthy and ready to go, the defending Super Bowl champs have the talent to repeat. This is a big number but with two games each against the Cowboys and Redskins, as well as games against the Bucs and Colts, the Eagles should be able to get to 11-5.

The pick: OVER 

DALLAS COWBOYS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 8.5

Dak Prescott has running back Ezekiel Elliott and a big offensive line, but who exactly is the Cowboys quarterback going to be throwing the ball to? Jason Witten is in the Monday Night Football booth and Dez Bryant is talking a big game on Twitter. In addition to playing the champion Eagles twice, Dallas has to play two of the best divisions in football — the NFC South and AFC South — so reaching a winning record will be tough.

The pick: UNDER 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 7

When I printed out the game-by-game NFL schedule for every team and predicted each team’s path, there were a lot of L’s for the Redskins. Fifteen to be exact. A 1-15 record is probably unlikely but this team will struggle to find wins after losing rookie running back Derrius Guice to a preseason injury. Alex Smith is a good quarterback, but he’s not an upgrade over Kirk Cousins. It’s going to be a long season for Washington.

The pick: UNDER 

NFC NORTH

GREEN BAY PACKERS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 10

Green Bay’s 2017 season essentially ended when Aaron Rodgers was injured at Minnesota. With the best quarterback in the game healthy, expect the Packers to make a run at the Super Bowl. Yes, they lost Jordy Nelson, but Rodgers still has Randall Cobb and Davante Adams as well as new tight end Jimmy Graham. Rodgers hasn’t had a big red-zone target like Graham, and expect the former Saint and Seahawk to have a career revival punctuated by Lambeau leaps (which, if you saw the preseason highlights, are more like little jumps for the 6-7 former Miami basketball player). Green Bay addressed its secondary in the draft, going cornerback-cornerback in the first two rounds. If Rodgers stays healthy and the defense is improved, 12-4 is a realistic expectation.

The pick: OVER 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 10

Minnesota will be the popular Super Bowl pick after adding quarterback Kirk Cousins to a solid offense to go along with one of the NFL’s top defenses. But will Cousins live up to the hype? He has a rocket arm but he’s never won a playoff game so fans should temper their expectations a bit. He has weapons in Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph, as well as second-year running back Dalvin Cook, whose rookie season was cut short to an injury. The defense is stacked and everything adds up to the Vikings being a playoff team. But will they win 11 games? Going to go against popular public opinion and say the Vikings finish 9-7 or 10-6.

The pick: UNDER 

CHICAGO BEARS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 6.5

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that the Bears are my breakout team for the 2018 season. They had such a great offseason that they can be this year’s 2017 Rams. First-year head coach with an offensive background? Check. Second-year quarterback who could benefit from a fresh new offense after an older, more conservative coach his rookie year? Check. A handful of offensive playmakers? Check. Add those check marks to a solid defense that held its own last season and you have the makings of a surprise team that could compete for a wild-card spot. It all depends on quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who didn’t do much his rookie season. Now, with John Fox out and Matt Nagy, 40, bringing a fresh face and fresh offensive system, Trubisky could be this year’s Jared Goff. Nagy brought in former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich to be the offensive coordinator, so expect the Bears to utilize their speedy running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in an imaginative offensive scheme. They added former Jaguar Allen Robinson and former Falcon Taylor Gabriel to the receiving corps, and if Kevin White can stay healthy, Trubisky will have some weapons. The Bears should easily get to seven wins, and don’t be surprised if they go 9-7 or 10-6 and get the final NFC playoff spot.

The pick: OVER 

DETROIT LIONS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 7.5

Not sure what to make of the Lions. They have a new coach in former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, so you have to expect the defense to be improved. Matthew Stafford is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL, but does Detroit have enough playmakers to be a player in this division? The guess here is no. One of the aspects of picking every team’s over/under is that if you think the other three teams in a division will finish with a winning record, that usually means the fourth team will struggle. That’s the case here. Yes, the Lions can go 8-8 but we’ll roll the dice and say 7-9.

The pick: UNDER 

NFC SOUTH

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 9.5

The Saints were a Minnesota Miracle away from reaching the NFC Championship Game. Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger, and the Saints are built to win now. And that’s what they’ll do. In addition to Breesing to double-digit wins, the prediction here is that the Saints will hold off the Falcons for the NFC South title and then play the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Yep, the Saints are my pick to win Super Bowl LIII. If Super Bowl predictions are Hollywood scripts, mine would go like this: Brees outduels the guy who replaced him, Philip Rivers, and beats his old team, the Chargers . . . only after Marcus Williams makes a game-saving tackle to atone for last year’s gaffe on the Minny miracle touchdown. Alvin Kamara should build on his Offensive Rookie of the Year season. The Saints open the season with home games against the Bucs and Browns, then road games against the Falcons and Giants before returning home to host the Redskins. A 5-0 start is very possible. They close with Carolina, Pittsburgh, Carolina and also play the Rams, Vikings and Eagles, but the Saints are for real and could finish 12-4. 

The pick: OVER 

ATLANTA FALCONS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 9

If Julio Jones catches Matt Ryan’s fourth-down pass in the end zone, the Eagles are still searching for their first Super Bowl title. But the Falcons fell just short in the divisional round, and with most of their key players returning, you have to expect they’ll be right back in the NFC playoff picture. Atlanta’s defense might be the NFL’s fastest, a flock of ball-hawking players who should produce some points of their own. Opening the season at Philadelphia on Thursday night and then the Panthers and Saints at home won’t be easy, but Atlanta has too much talent not to win 10 games.

The pick: OVER 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 9

Carolina was a wild-card team last season, and should be in the running to make the playoffs again. The only problem is that New Orleans and Atlanta might be better. Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise if all three NFC South teams make the playoffs as they did last season. Look for second-year running back Christian McCaffrey to have a huge year, and Luke Kuechly and the defense to deliver as usual. In addition to playing the Bucs twice, the Panthers also draw the Bengals, Redskins, Lions and Browns. Ten wins should be doable.

The pick: OVER 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 6.5

The Bucs will not only finish in last place, the worst team in an otherwise stacked division, but they could be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick. With Jameis Winston suspended to start the season, it will be Ryan Fitzpatrick’s show. Let’s see how Tampa Bay’s season begins: At New Orleans, home to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and then at Chicago before the Week 5 bye. Hello, 0-4! If the Bucs win four games, I’ll be shocked.

The pick: UNDER 

NFC WEST

LOS ANGELES RAMS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 10

The Rams were last year’s surprise team. That won’t be the case this year as they have a big blue and yellow target on their back. Sean McVay and Jared Goff will be up for the challenge, and with Todd Gurley in the backfield and new deep threat Brandin Cooks joining an already talented receiver unit, expect the Rams to put up 30 points per game again. The defense should be stellar as well, with offseason acquisitions Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib at cornerback and Ndamukong Suh up front. A look through their schedule and I had them at 12-4. Legit Super Bowl contender.

The pick: OVER 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 8.5

Jimmy G. That’s what it’s all about for San Francisco, which struck it rich when acquiring Garoppolo in a trade with the Patriots last season. Garoppolo is 7-0 as a starter, including 5-0 last season as the 49ers ended on a high note after starting the season 1-10. Now, the 49ers are a popular pick to make the playoffs. They might be a year away from that, but I’m willing to roll the dice and say they get to nine, maybe even 10 wins. They looked like a different team with Garoppolo running the offense, and that winning feeling is contagious. Not many 6-10 teams are happy with their season, but the 49ers had to feel like gold going into the offseason. 

The pick: OVER 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 8

Whenever you have Pete Carroll as your coach and Russell Wilson as your quarterback, you’re probably in good shape. But the Seahawks still didn’t do anything to address their offensive line and the Legion of Boom defense is now a bust. It’s surprising to me that the over/under total is so high at 8, but then again, the experience and winning pedigree of Carroll and Wilson probably have something to do with that. It’s been a while since Seattle struggled, but this looks like this will be the year as they’ll fight the Cardinals for third place in the NFC West.

The pick: UNDER 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

O/U TOTAL WINS: 5.5

Will Arizona start rookie Josh Rosen at quarterback? They should. It’s hard to see the Cardinals competing for a playoff spot, so why not give the former UCLA a star a chance? Larry Fitzgerald is back and so is David Johnson. Replacing Bruce Arians’ offensive mind is new head coach Steven Wilks, the former defensive coordinator at Carolina. Arizona is always a tough out at home, and this over/under total is low, but there’s a reason for that. In addition to playing the Rams and 49ers twice, the Cardinals play the Vikings, Chiefs, Chargers, Packers and Falcons all on the road. Yikes! Can you say 4-12?

The pick: UNDER 

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