After a 17-12-3 record from 2012 (all predictions made in May, mind you), I followed it up last year with a 16-16 record in 2013. Not real pleased with that obviously, although I did go 10-6 in the NFC ... and a disappointing 6-10 in the AFC.
2014 will be better. I promise. Favorites are noted with asterisks (***).
Shoutout to Joe Fortenbaugh of NFP for providing the juice on these. In case you're new here, the parentheses beside the Over and Under notates the price of the bet. For instance: the Eagles over is +115, so you would take home $115 if you bet $100 and won. Conversely, it takes betting $135 to win $100 on the Philly under.
Leave your picks and favorite selections in the comments and feel free to let me know your thoughts on Twitter @WillBrinson.
Philadelphia Eagles, 9
Over (+115)/Under (-135)
One of my top picks from 2013, the Eagles are much trendier to succeed in 2014 after Chip Kelly's impressive debut. Their over/under jumped by a full two games but it's hard not to be bullish on them even with the departure of DeSean Jackson. The offense is still loaded, the defense should improve and there's a nice, soft three-game opener against the Jags, Colts (without Robert Mathis) and Redskins. Much easier than Chip's opening stretch last year. I like them as a 10-win team and NFC East champs as of right now.
Dallas Cowboys, 8
Over (-110)/Under (-110)
The smart play is to just type PUSH and move on. Over the last three years, the Cowboys are a combined 24-24, with each season culminating in an 8-8 record. They are mediocrity defined. Playing the NFC West this year is terrifying and Jerry Jones' team sports a really difficult schedule (vs. SF, @TEN, @STL, NO) to start the season. Losses on the defensive line are a real concern and I'm not sure I'm buying what they're selling. 8-7 going into the final week against the Redskins is almost a lock. Just depends on whether you think they'll win or lose.
Washington Redskins, 7.5
Over (+125)/Under (-145)
Pretty obvious Vegas doesn't believe in Washington topping eight wins this year. It's hard to blame them after last season's debacle. But Robert Griffin III should be healthy this year, there's a new coaching staff in town, D-Jax is there and the young sieve of a defense should be improved. Retaining Brian Orakpo and grabbing Morgan Moses in the draft were nice moves. I think RG3 bounces back this season and shows people he can be a pocket passer.
New York Giants, 7.5
Over (-135) / Under (+115)
The opposite of Washington: Vegas expects people to be the over. Not surprising since this Giants team typically doesn't stay bad for long. Eli Manning has to be better, by default. Odell Beckham, Jr., is a delightful addition to his arsenal and Jerry Reese focused on shoring up the offensive line. I am not sold on the Giants defensive line, however, and the running game gives me pause, even with the addition of Rashad Jennings. Don't like betting against Tom Coughlin but the Giants only have one double-digit win season since 2009.
New Orleans Saints, 9.5
Over (-150) / Under (+130)
Please find me a reason why the Saints aren't winning the NFC South this year. The addition of Brandin Cooks in the draft was a superb pick: he's the take-the-top-off-the-defense weapon Sean Payton's defense needs. Jairus Byrd rounds out a ridiculous secondary. Jimmy Graham will play. The offensive line is a small concern but Drew Brees will overcome that. I can't help but see 10-12 wins coming.
Carolina Panthers, 8
Over (-130) / Under (+110)
Absolutely understand why people expect regression here. Jordan Gross retired and the offensive line looks like it's in shambles. Key members of the secondary departed, including Mike Mitchell and Captain Munnerlyn. Greg Hardy's dealing with off-field issues. Cam Newton with offseason surgery. Kelvin Benjamin (raw) and Jerricho Cotchery (old) are the top wideouts. I'm not really optimistic on going up top here but I think they'll be better equipped to handle the personnel losses than most folks expect.
Atlanta Falcons, 8
Over (-130) / Under (-110)
Interesting comparison with Carolina, huh? You're betting on regression one way or another. Jake Matthews should mean more protection for Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will be healthy. Tony Gonzalez is gone but Ryan has weapons. Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford have a ton of experience for better or worse. The defense will be healthier and, I think, substantially more dangerous with Mike Nolan shifting it in the direction of more 3-4 looks. Definition of a rebound team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7
Over (-120) / (even)
Can I take all overs in one division? That never works out well. I loved what the Bucs did this offseason, frankly. They ditched Mike Williams but replaced him with Mike Evans and have two massive rebound receivers with Evans and Vincent Jackson. Big targets should be familiar to Josh McCown (even if Mike Glennon might be the better quarterback). Doug Martin looks like a healthy return. Lavonte David is going to FLOURISH under Lovie Smith's guidance. Gerald McCoy too. Even with Darrelle Revis gone the secondary's pretty loaded. Brutal opening schedule, though -- 3-3 would be a nice way to hit the bye. Eight wins is going to be tough with this schedule but it's not impossible.
Green Bay Packers, 10
Over (-145) / Under (+125)
Since we're assuming full Aaron Rodgers health, it's no surprise the over is getting the run here. They won eight games even with Rodgers hurt, so why not go double digits if he's ready to go, particularly with Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy serving as a strong core of weapons. Three of the Pack's first four games -- and five of their first eight games -- are on the road, they've got two divisional games (Week 4 at Chicago, Week 5 against Vikings on Thursday Night Football) in the span of five days and it's not like they get an easy stretch following the bye. Winning 10 games isn't easy, y'all.
Detroit Lions, 8
Over (-150) / Under (+130)
It's difficult not to get enchanted by the offensive potential of the 2014 Lions. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in the backfield are a great one-two punch, Matthew Stafford's efficiency could jump under Jim Caldwell, Calvin Johnson is the most dangerous weapon in the NFL and we don't really know how defenses will partition off players to guard Golden Tate and new addition Eric Ebron. The defense is a major red flag, although Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley playing for new contracts at the same time could get spicy. But I've got them sitting at seven wins as they head to Chicago and Green Bay late in the season and I'm not sure they close things out in those games.
Chicago Bears, 8
Over (-140) / Under (+120)
If the Bears were a stock, I would be ... mmmmm ... bullish on them. They're sporting a basketball team on offense with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte. Jay Cutler might (should/will?) keep growing under Marc Trestman. Defense was a disaster in 2013, but they invested heavily in free agency and the draft to fix the issue. Suddenly pass rush might be a strength with Jared Allen, LaMarr Houston and Willie Young. If Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton hit as defensive tackles that line is dangerous. Kyle Fuller was a wonderful first-round pick.
Minnesota Vikings, 6
Over (+105) / Under (-125)
What a wild card the Vikes are this year. They were a lock on the under last year after overperforming and getting in the playoffs. Right up until they took Teddy Bridgewater, I liked the under again this year. He's pro-ready (even in bad weather) and has Norv Turner coaching him up along with Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph as weapons. Did I mention Adrian Peterson? But their opening schedule is brrrrrrrrrutal. @STL, vs. NE, @NO, vs. ATL, @GB could very well equate to an 0-5 start. Six or seven wins is doable but will be difficult.
Seattle Seahawks, 11
Over (-145) / Under (+125)
Predicted "11 wins ... along with an NFC West title" for the Seahawks back in May last year. Woohoo me. Not on an island this year: the juice on the over here is pretty crazy right? Seattle might very well win 12 games again this year. They're very good and the offense will be better if Percy Harvin's healthy for a full season. The NFC West is tougher in 2014, somehow, and Seattle gets four road games against playoff teams, plus Washington and the three NFC West teams way from home. Even if you only account for a single home loss next year, they have to win five of those difficult games to cash this for you. I'd bet it bumps up to 12 before the season starts. And no, I don't feel good about this.
San Francisco 49ers, 10.5
Over (-120) / Under (even)
Are the 49ers ever going to have the bottom fall out on them? They sure seem like a candidate for some regression each year, but then each year they succeed and come close to winning the Super Bowl. Navorro Bowman's injury is a major red flag and who knows what Aldon Smith will bring to the table. Can Colin Kaepernick take a step with his weapons healthy? I look at this schedule -- particularly with two games at home to close -- and see 11 or 12 wins assuming a split with the Seahawks. But this number is all over it, honestly.
Arizona Cardinals, 7.5
Over (-120) / Under (even)
WHAT? This is WAY too low. Arizona's a Super Bowl sleeper in my mind: Carson Palmer's a red flag but Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are a stud wideout pair. Andre Ellington's a sneaky impressive back. Jared Veldheer is a massive boost and Jonathan Cooper is a free first-round pick. The defense is loaded. I get they play in a tough division but lock it up.
St. Louis Rams, 7.5
Over (-110) / Under (-110)
Another good number from Vegas here. Honestly the NFC West is so difficult to predict because all four teams could be good and they're going to beat the mess out of one another. I love the Rams addition of Aaron Donald to a defensive line with Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Michael Brockers. How do you stop those guys from getting the quarterback? (It's rhetorical. You don't.) Greg Robinson will pave the way for Zac Stacy to run. Sam Bradford has to have one decent year, right???