2019 NFL Season Win Totals: Bears due for some regression, Lions brutal schedule could spell doom
Looking at the NFC North win totals for all four teams
The NFL Draft is deep in the rearview. OTAs are underway, but we are hurtling towards the dead period in the NFL. There's no better time to embark upon a dangerous but fun mission: looking at the win totals for every NFL team and deciding whether or not each team will win more or less games than Vegas predicts.
Nothing ages better than NFL predictions in May right? Turns out I'm not terrible at it! The last few seasons have been pretty profitable: 2016 I went 10-5-1 in the AFC and 8-7-1 in the NFC. In 2017 I went 12-2-2 (!) in the AFC and 9-7 in the NFC. Last year in the NFC was not ideal with a 7-8-1 record. The AFC was once again absurd, as I went 12-4 in my over/under picks for that conference.
For you math majors, my AFC record from MAY the last three years is 34-11-3 in terms of picking over-unders. That's stupid. I'd tell you to bet on every AFC pick I give here, but there's some regression coming at some point probably.
Last year we went team-by-team with these picks, but this year we'll be going back to the divisional format I used in 2016 and 2017. If you hate any picks, love any picks or have better ideas, leave them in the comments or yell at me on Twitter @WillBrinson. You can also get an audio breakdown of all these divisions on the Pick Six Podcast, as we run through each division on our DAILY NFL PODCAST over the next few weeks. Listen to the latest episode in the player below.
All lines are courtesy of the Westgate at the time the article was published. They're subject to change but I'll be grading myself next May on these numbers. The numbers next to the win total indicate the juice. If an over is +150, it means you make $150 for betting $100. If it's -150 you need to bet $150 just to win $100.
Win Total: 9 Over (-120) / Under (EV)
2018 was an incredible season for Matt Nagy, the rookie head coach who trained for years under Andy Reid. The division fell apart around him as Mitchell Trubisky took a step forward and Chicago's defense looked the best it's looked in years. Can history repeat itself? Yes in terms of the win total remaining similar. How it happens might need to be different. The Bears didn't grossly outperform their projected win total or anything, but they were lucky from an injury and turnover standpoint. Neither of those things tend to repeat themselves. Add in the departure of Vic Fangio to Denver, plus the attrition of key players (Bryce Callahan, Adrian Amos) and the defense is just going to take a step back. It's up to Nagy and Trubisky to make up for that with the offense taking another step forward. The personnel is there for it to happen -- David Montgomery added to Tarik Cohen gives Chicago enough of a backfield presence, while Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton are a bountiful group of weapons. I believe in Trubisky and think he could have a nice 2019 season, so I don't want to sell hard on Chicago, but I think this might be an eight or nine win team on the high end with an improved division and very tough schedule.
Win Total: 9 Over (-120) / Under (EV)
I think Pete Prisco described this as "free money" which might be the largest possible red flag for the Packers going into the season outside of this article about the Green Bay power structure from Tom Silverstein. Everything about Green Bay's season sets up for the kind of year I love: a quarterback on a Bleep You Tour trying to make sure everyone knows it was his old coach who screwed things up before, all while learning a new offensive system which will force him to get laser locked and focus in on being efficient. The defense was low-key terrible last year, but we're all assuming it's fixed now because they paid two pass rushers in free agency and drafted Darnell Savage. I think the unit will be a lot better because of injury reasons and growth from younger players, but I don't think the Packers defense will be magically elite all of a sudden (we thought that last year and it was a mistake). Offensively, I have questions too. Aaron Rodgers is a Hall of Fame quarterback with Hall of Fame "Game of Thrones'' takes, but there is only one above average pass catcher on this roster right now (Davante Adams) and we haven't seen anything concrete over the long haul from any of the running backs. The Bears and Vikings await in the first two weeks and the last two weeks of the schedule. If Green Bay can hold serve at home and manage six-plus wins at Lambeau, they'll go over. I like this team for a bounceback, but I don't think double digit wins with a rookie head coach is a slam dunk.
Win Total: 9 Over (-110) / Under (-110)
I'm sort of stunned how quickly everyone got off the Vikings bandwagon. Love for Minnesota disappeared faster than Garrett Bradbury via the draft might be the most important draft add of the entire first round. Minnesota bringing in Gary Kubiak as a consultant means they will be running a zone-blocking scheme and Bradbury played more than 90 percent of his snaps in a similar scheme for NC State last year. Dalvin Cook ran in the same kind of offense at Florida State. Pet Eflein gets to shift to guard, where he's more comfortable and Kubiak's scheme can overcome issues in terms of talent on the line. Cousins' inability to win in big moments is a major concern for a team with five prime time games, but I think they only need two of those (Week 8 versus Washington and Week 13 versus Green Bay) to hit this total. Defensively I'm not worried about anything outside of Everson Griffen's mental health -- I think Mike Zimmer will coach this unit up and they were able to get everyone back in the fold. Griffen's absence was definitely an issue for the defense; if he's full go I think this team has a lot more upside than anyone is giving it.. I think this is the sneaky bounceback team though. Their addition of
Win Total: 6.5 Over (-120) / Under (EV)
Confession: I want to love the Lions. I really do. Matt Patricia looks like a smaller Dave Schools and is a rocket scientist. Those are two great reasons to root for someone! Matthew Stafford plus Kenny Golladay plus Marvin Jones plus Kerryon Johnson plus T.J. Hockenson? That's a fun group of offensive guys. Are they going to pound the ball, though? Is this a run heavy team in the mold of the Patriots? Is that actually function-able outside of New England and Dallas and a few other places in 2019? The front four is nasty if Trey Flowers is the pass rusher they paid for, but the secondary features a bunch of question marks. When Dave Richard and I went through this schedule, I completely turned on this team. I'm a little down on the division (see: above) but it's still a really tough group of teams to battle. What's the over-under for division wins for Detroit? 1.5? (And why am I asking so many questions?) If they don't win in Arizona in Week 1 they're staring 0-4 in the face heading into an early bye week. There just aren't many easy games out there for Detroit, outside of maybe Tampa Bay at home. Washington and Oakland are both road games, which is killer.
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