The NFL season is right around the corner, as the season is set to kick off next week with Texans vs. Chiefs on Thursday night. It might not feel that way with no preseason to dissect, and with the NBA and NHL still in the midst of their delayed postseasons, but football is almost upon us. So it's time to delve into our predictions for the 2020 NFL season, starting with each team's win total.
Each year, sportsbooks place a number on the expected win total of each NFL team and allow bettors to decide whether a team will go over or under that total. We asked our staffers to make up to three best bets using the odds provided by William Hill Sportsbook, and the results were pretty interesting. You can see every pick in our team-by-team look below, but here are a few highlights.
The Cowboys were our most popular consensus pick, with four staffers taking them to go Over 9.5 wins despite the heavily-juiced price of -145 (meaning you have to bet $145 in order to win $100). "The Cowboys stumbled often in 2019 and still finished with eight wins," said longtime Cowboys reporter Patrik Walker. "They've now swapped Jason Garrett for Mike McCarthy and added CeeDee Lamb to the league's best offense, while going all out on rebuilding the pass rush with big name talent."
The Broncos had the most picks in all with six staffers putting them in their best bets, but the fascinating wrinkle is that three took the Over on 7.5 wins at -115, and three others took the Under at -105. "Drew Lock went 4-1 as a starter last year; you don't think this team can win just one more game in 2020?" one writer said. "I could not pick this Broncos Under fast enough," responded another. You can see their full responses below.
More strong consensus built around the Cardinals Over 7 wins at -130, the Texans Over 8 wins at +140, and Washington Under 5.5 wins at +105, which each pick made by three staffers with no one taking the other side.
Which teams will go over and under their win totals? R.J. White and host Will Brinson break it all down on the Pick Six Podcast; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
One other note: It's typically smarter to bet Unders than Overs with all else being equal. Why? The maximum number of wins that can occur in any season is 256 (all 32 teams play 16 games, so if half went undefeated they would combine for 16x16 wins, or 256). But each sportsbook's win total market has more than 256 wins baked in; over at William Hill, there are 261 wins on the board, with more juice on the Overs than Unders. It's the time of the year for optimism, and people tend to like betting on Overs more than Unders, even though the math doesn't add up.
Here's the rundown on the staff members making these picks: NFL insider Jason La Canfora; senior writer Pete Prisco; Pick Six Podcast host Will Brinson; staff writers Cody Benjamin, John Breech, Jordan Dajani, Bryan DeArdo, Jared Dubin, Josh Edwards, Jeff Kerr, Tyler Sullivan, Chris Trapasso, Patrik Walker and Ryan Wilson; and editors Brett Anderson, Dan Schneier, Kevin Steimle and R.J. White.
Over 7 (-130) | Under 7 (+110)
Anderson: Over 7. You know about the Cards' big additions (DeAndre Hopkins, Isaiah Simmons, Josh Jones) and how Kyler Murray seems set for a Year 2 takeoff. But did you know Arizona plays six of the NFL's eight worst teams by projected win totals (Panthers, Washington, Giants, Jets, Dolphins and Lions)?
Brinson: Over 7. Give me your dregs! (Ed. note: Brinson also took the Overs on the Lions and Bengals.) Those sure are some non-sexy NFL teams I'm picking when it comes to the Overs, but my real problem isn't the teams I'm taking, it's the juice on the Overs, all of which are pretty jacked up. ... There is plenty of consistency in Arizona and Detroit this offseason, which should lead to better luck in one-score games this year, particularly early in the season.
Prisco: Over 7. The Cardinals will be sneaky good. How good? Playoff good. They will win nine games, even in the tough NFC West. Kyler Murray will have a big season, and I see big improvement for the defense. That Over looks good.
Over 7.5 (-110) | Under 7.5 (-110)
Schneier: Under 7.5. The Falcons have the most difficult schedule in the NFL when accounting for opponent's projected win totals (the only strength of schedule analysis you should actually care about), they play in a division that just brought in Tom Brady and still has Drew Brees, and their defense is still several players at all three levels away from being any good.
Over 11.5 (+100) | Under 11.5 (-120)
Breech: Under 11.5. Betting against the Ravens might sound crazy, but here's the fact of the matter: 14-win teams always get worse the following season. Since 2000, there have been a total of 12 teams that have won 14 games or more, and those 12 teams combined to win just 10.4 games the following season. That's a steep drop from 14, and it's a drop I see the Ravens making. Baltimore might get to 11, but that still won't hit the Over.
Over 9 (-110) | Under 9 (-110)
Trapasso: Over 9. On paper, the Bills are as good as they've been in a very long time, the Patriots have plenty of new pieces and had a collection of important players opt out. The Dolphins will be better but are at least another year away from contending, and the Jets are a mess. Even with outings against Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson this season, Buffalo should at least get to 10 wins like it had last season.
Wilson: Over 9. This is the Bills' year; Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are now in Tampa Bay, the Patriots quarterback situation is in flux, and several key members of that defense have opted out this season. Meanwhile, Sean McDermott is making his case as one of the best young coaches in the league as quarterback Josh Allen enters Year 3.
Over 5.5 (-120) | Under 5.5 (+100)
Sullivan: Under 5.5. You can make an argument that Carolina is one of the clubs most impacted by the pandemic limiting offseason activities. Not only are the Panthers trying to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater up to speed, but they've completely overhauled the coaching staff by bringing in Matt Rhule. Getting everyone on the same page is going to take time, which they simply don't have. The defense is also more than suspect.
Over 8 (+110) | Under 8 (-130)
No best bets, but the lean is to the Over with plus odds after the Bears managed eight wins last season despite one of the worst offenses in the league.
Over 5.5 (-135) | Under 5.5 (+115)
Brinson: Over 5.5. Give me your dregs! (Ed. note: Brinson also took the Overs on the Cardinals and Lions.). Those sure are some non-sexy NFL teams I'm picking when it comes to the Overs, but my real problem isn't the teams I'm taking, it's the juice on the Overs, all of which are pretty jacked up. ... The upgrade to Joe Burrow, plus an improved offensive line and the return of A.J. Green plus multiple other viable weapons, will keep Cincy in plenty of games and get them to six wins.
DeArdo: Under 5.5. Cincinnati, a two-win outfit in 2019, should be vastly improved this season with the arrival of Joe Burrow, the return of A.J. Green and the other additions the team made during the offseason. That being said, it's hard to see the Bengals winning more than five games in a division as competitive as the AFC North.
Over 8.5 (-110) | Under 8.5 (-110)
Benjamin: Over 8.5. Cleveland has too much talent that merely swapping Freddie Kitchens for Kevin Stefanski should boost the Browns above .500.
Edwards: Under 8.5. This pick may come as a surprise but Cincinnati and Pittsburgh should be improved in a division that already includes the 14-2 Ravens. The Browns have an entirely new coaching staff and the offense has not looked as cohesive as expected. It does not help that three starters on defense were lost to injury and an important depth piece -- defensive tackle Andrew Billings -- opted out.
White: Under 8.5. The Browns continue to get the benefit of the doubt, but the new coaching staff will have issues hitting the ground running after this offseason, and it'll be tough getting to nine wins in a division with the Ravens and Steelers.
Over 9.5 (-145) | Under 9.5 (+125)
Benjamin: Over 9.5. The Cowboys have a recent history of hitting double-digit wins and/or claiming the division after a down year, not to mention a loaded offense.
Breech: Over 9.5. The Cowboys went 8-8 in a season where they were held back by coaching, and the good news for them is that coaching shouldn't be an issue this year.
Trapasso: Over 9.5. This is the most loaded Cowboys roster we've seen since the club went 13-3 in 2016. The Eagles' offensive line is banged up, and the Giants and especially the Washington Football Team are not legitimate contenders right now. Dallas should have a reasonably easy road to double-digit wins.
Walker: Over 9.5. The Cowboys stumbled often in 2019 and still finished with eight wins. They've now swapped Jason Garrett for Mike McCarthy and added CeeDee Lamb to the league's best offense, while going all out on rebuilding the pass rush with big name talent. I look for them to take the NFC East with 11 wins.
Over 7.5 (-115) | Under 7.5 (-105)
Anderson: Under 7.5. The Broncos' offense is in too much flux to trust after so little offseason work.
Dajani: Over 7.5. Some of my colleagues are excited to take the Under for the Broncos, but I'm pretty confident in the Over. The Broncos went 7-9 last year with Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen starting a combined 11 games. Drew Lock went 4-1 as a starter last year; you don't think this team can win just one more game in 2020? Also, I don't have to mention how much Vic Fangio and Co. tried to boost the offense.
Dubin: Under 7.5. I could not pick this Broncos Under fast enough. Denver is incorporating a new offensive coordinator, two rookie wide receivers, three new offensive linemen, a new running back, and has a quarterback in his first full season as a starter. They also share a division with the Chiefs and play the fourth-toughest schedule in football this year. Yikes.
Edwards: Under 7.5. There are concerns about Denver because the offensive line is a mess and the Broncos are adding a lot of new faces to a young team. The only hesitation is that Denver is arguably the only team able to salvage homefield advantage with the change in altitude. The NFL could mandate teams arrive in the away city late in the week, which will prevent teams from acclimating over the course of the week.
Prisco: Over 7.5. I am a big believer in Drew Lock as a quarterback for the Broncos, which is why I like their Over. With Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler joining Courtland Sutton, the Broncos will score points. That's a good combination with pass rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
Wilson: Over 7.5. The Broncos are the biggest wild card in my picks because any success they have will come down to second-year QB Drew Lock. If Lock plays well, this is a 10-win team; if he struggles, they'll be lucky to win seven games.
Over 6.5 (-145) | Under 6.5 (+125)
Breech: Over 6.5. If Matthew Stafford stays healthy, I think Detroit could win eight or nine games.
Brinson: Over 6.5. Give me your dregs! (Ed. note: Brinson also took the Overs on the Cardinals and Bengals.) ... I'm OK laying the number on the Lions, because I think they cruise to their number assuming full QB health for Matthew Stafford. There is plenty of consistency in Arizona and Detroit this offseason, which should lead to better luck in one-score games this year, particularly early in the season.
Over 9 (+100) | Under 9 (-120)
Dajani: Over 9. Matt LaFleur and the Packers didn't get the credit they deserved last season for their 13-3 campaign. They may not match that in 2020, but I have them winning at least 10 games.
DeArdo: Over 9. It's hard to fathom the Packers not winning more than nine games after winning 13 games last season. The addition of rookie running back A.J. Dillon should improve a Green Bay offense that finished 15th in the NFL in rushing yards.
Over 8 (+140) | Under 8 (-160)
Anderson: Over 8. We're getting a great price on the Texans, whose awful Hopkins trade created a perception much worse than reality. Houston has averaged 10.5 wins the last two seasons, and its WR room remains talented.
Kerr: Over 8. As long as Deshaun Watson is healthy, the Texans should be penciled in for nine wins automatically.
White: Over 8. We slam Bill O'Brien for his questionable personnel decisions, but all he's done is win games as a coach, finishing above .500 in five of his six seasons in Houston and winning the division in four of the last five years. If I can get massive positive juice and a push if they only manage 8-8, I'm going to take it, but I would love to get Over 7.5. at -110 too.
Over 9 (-125) | Under 9 (+100)
Sullivan: Under 9. I'm not as high on the Philip Rivers signing as most are. I believe the turnover issues he dealt with in L.A. will carry over with the Colts.
Wilson: Over 9. The Colts' conversation starts with the arrival of Philip Rivers but this team looks great on paper -- on both sides of the ball -- in a division where the Titans could come back to earth and the Texans offense will now be without DeAndre Hopkins.
Over 4.5 (-130) | Under 4.5 (+110)
Benjamin: Under 4.5. It's fine if Gardner Minshew and D.J. Chark excite you, and the AFC South isn't particularly a pool of powerhouses, but the Jaguars have an insanely rough schedule to close the year. Among their final 10 opponents: the Browns, Chargers, Packers, Ravens, Steelers, Texans, Titans and Vikings. After finishing 2019 on a 2-6 stretch, they're in for more trouble.
Kansas City Chiefs
Over 11.5 (-130) | Under 11.5 (+110)
No best bets, but the slight lean would be to the Over even at the elevated price of -130.
Over 7.5 (+110) | Under 7.5 (-130)
Dubin: Under 7.5. The Raiders are absolutely shouting out for regression after going 7-9 last year despite the league's sixth-worst point differential. I still don't understand how they're supposed to stop anybody, and they have an extremely difficult schedule. Give me the Under.
Schneier: Under 7.5. The Raiders, who face the fourth-toughest schedule in a division with the best team in the football, should fall short of eight wins.
Los Angeles Chargers
Over 7.5 (-140) | Under 7.5 (+120)
La Canfora: Over 7.5. Take away Philip Rivers' nightmare turnovers, and get just a little luck with injuries, and the Chargers were .500 a year ago. They'll be better now. Tyrod Taylor has reached the playoffs with a far worse supporting cast.
Over 8.5 (+110) | Under 8.5 (-130)
Dubin: Over 8.5. The Rams went 9-7 last year despite getting a nightmare season from both Jared Goff and their offensive line. Why am I supposed to think they'll be worse in 2020?
La Canfora: Under 8.5. The Rams play in a brutal division, I don't see Goff elevating unless somehow the run game is transcendent again ... but the O-line keeps declining, too, and the defense has holes.
Over 6 (-130) | Under 6 (+110)
Edwards: Under 6. Brian Flores is a great coach and the team is genuinely headed in the right direction. The issue is that the Dolphins are facing a lot of changes during a shortened offseason; the coordinators are new, the offensive line is being scrambled, two wide receivers opted out and Tua Tagovailoa is likely going to be integrated into the offense at some point. There is a solid chance that this bet is a push, but the juice is on the Over.
Over 9 (-105) | Under 9 (-115)
No best bets, but the lean is to the Under after key losses at receiver and cornerback and with questions surrounding the offensive line. The coaching is good enough that nine wins wouldn't be a surprise, but anything more could be asking for too much.
New England Patriots
Over 9.5 (+125) | Under 9.5 (-145)
Dajani: Under 9.5. The Patriots had more players opt out due to the coronavirus than any other team and they have a new quarterback. Are you sure Cam Newton is going to come in and be the MVP Superman we saw in Carolina? Last offseason, he changed up his throwing motion and didn't throw one touchdown in the two games he started. I'll stick with the Under here.
Over 10.5 (-110) | Under 10.5 (-110)
Kerr: Over 10.5. The Saints have shown no reason to have an over/under of just 10.5 after racking up 37 wins over the past three seasons, the most in the NFL. New Orleans added Emmanuel Sanders to an already high-powered offense and Malcolm Jenkins joins the secondary after six standout seasons in Philadelphia. The NFC South is much better, but the Saints should still eclipse 10 wins, especially with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas anchoring the offense.
New York Giants
Over 6 (-120) | Under 6 (+100)
La Canfora: Under 6. The Giants will compete for the first overall pick. Their coach already looks way in over his head, and his staff leaves much to be desired. They stink at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball but man, they got all the safeties you could need! (Or, they did before the Xavier McKinney injury.) Can't run your way to seven wins.
Steimle: Under 6. This isn't much to brag about, but I've nailed the Giants under two straight years and I'm jumping on it again. The revamped offensive line should be improved (it won't take much for that to be true), but there's still some questions there with a rookie at left tackle and nobody truly standing out yet to take ownership at center and right tackle. On the other side of the ball, the secondary -- minus James Bradberry -- is a mess and there's just no pass rush. You also need to factor in a new coaching staff and a brutal schedule. The ceiling for this team is five wins.
New York Jets
Over 6.5 (+110) | Under 6.5 (-130)
Schneier: Under 6.5. I don't love to lay the juice, but the Jets will once again be without the quarterback of their defense (C.J. Mosley), they traded their best defensive player (maybe best overall player) from 2019 for draft picks, they cut arguably their most consistent offensive lineman (Brian Winters) despite having ample camp space, and they face the third-toughest schedule.
Over 9.5 (-105) | Under 9.5 (-115)
No best bets, but the slight lean would be on the Over in a relatively easy NFC East as the only team in the division with stability at coach heading into the season.
Over 9 (-120) | Under 9 (+100)
DeArdo: Over 9. Ben Roethlisberger returns to a Pittsburgh team that went 8-8 without his services in 2019. Throw in the fact that the Steelers have the second-easiest strength of the schedule in the NFL, and it feels like -- barring injury -- Pittsburgh should be on its way to at least 10 wins in 2020.
Over 10.5 (-110) | Under 10.5 (-110)
Steimle: Under 10.5. There's always a hangover the next season for the team that loses in the Super Bowl, and the 49ers play in what is arguably the league's best division. A key injury here or a bad bounce there and I could easily see them as a nine-win team.
White: Under 10.5. The 49ers improved all the way from 4-12 to 13-3 last season, so they were likely bound for some regression this season even before having to deal with injury issues at receiver. Any step back on the defensive side, or even something as small as a few bounces not going their way, will make 11 wins hard in the league's toughest division.
Over 9.5 (+110) | Under 9.5 (-130)
No best bets, but the slight lean would be on the Over at plus odds; the Seahawks have had a winning record in all eight of Russell Wilson's seasons and at least 10 wins in seven of those years.
Over 9.5 (-130) | Under 9.5 (+110)
Sullivan: Over 9.5. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers look like a wagon that should cruise to double-digit wins.
Walker: Over 9.5. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Bucs land 10 wins in a difficult NFC South, because that offense suddenly looks like an absolute terror.
Over 8.5 (-120) | Under 8.5 (+100)
Kerr: Over 8.5. The Titans offense is built around Derrick Henry, but they did average 30.4 points per game once Ryan Tannehill took over at starting quarterback. It's unfair to ask Tannehill to replicate his 2019 numbers, but he can still make plays in a system designed for his strengths.
Washington Football Team
Over 5.5 (-125) | Under 5.5 (+105)
Prisco: Under 5.5. I just think Washington has too many issues to get to six victories in Ron Rivera's first year, starting with the uncertainty about quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Trapasso: Under 5.5. Chase Young will be a blast as a rookie, yet Washington is (most likely) placing a young, inexperienced quarterback behind a shoddy offensive line without many weapons -- outside of Terry McLaurin. Winning four or five games wouldn't shock me whatsoever.
Walker: Under 5.5. Washington -- who is an absolute mess this offseason -- finds it difficult to locate six wins, because the degree of difficulty in Ron Rivera's first season in DC is unfathomable.