Win totals for this upcoming NFL season have been up at Caesars Sportsbook for several months now, but even after free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft, we haven't seen much movement. The Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are tied in having the highest posted win total at 11.5, while the Arizona Cardinals have the lowest listed total at 4.5.
Usually Vegas is right on the mark with these win totals, but not always. Last year, sportsbooks missed big-time on the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos. Injuries caused Los Angeles to go 5.5 wins under its preseason total, and we all know Russell Wilson's first season in Denver was a disaster. The Broncos lost five more games than expected in 2022. On the flip side, the Seattle Seahawks shocked everyone by making the playoffs and winning three more games than expected, and the Minnesota Vikings won four more games than expected, claiming the NFC North with a 13-4 record.
Which NFL teams could surprise or disappoint in 2023? Let's examine five teams that could end up having large discrepancies with their win totals. This article is not five best bets to make, but more about examining potentially volatile teams that are boom-or-bust candidates.
Minnesota Vikings: Over 8.5 (-125)
Out of all the win totals, this line probably surprised me the most. Kevin O'Connell went 13-4 in his first season as head coach, but the Vikings did set an NFL record with 11 one-score wins. I think everyone is expecting the Vikings to take a step backwards record-wise, but why is Vegas expecting them to go from 13-4 to 8-9 or worse with Aaron Rodgers out of the division?
Losing Dalvin Cook hurts, but look at the division. The Detroit Lions are favorites to win the NFC North for the first time since 1993, but that's clearly no guarantee; the Green Bay Packers are working in a new quarterback; and then Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears have plenty to prove after being the worst team in the league last year. Bottom line, the Vikings could fly over this win total in 2023.
Las Vegas Raiders: Under 7.5 (-190)
When it comes to teams falling well short of their win total, it usually has to do with injuries and/or coaching problems. The Raiders are a candidate to experience both. Josh McDaniels went 6-11 in his first year as lead man, and his team became the first in NFL history to blow five double-digit second-half leads in a season. He ditched Derek Carr for his old friend Jimmy Garoppolo -- who has an injured foot. In fact, as you've probably heard by now, the Raiders had to that could result in the team cutting him. Even if that doesn't happen, it's worth wondering how effective Jimmy G will be away from Kyle Shanahan.
Davante Adams is a bonafide stud, but you have to wonder how good he will be with Garoppolo. Additionally, it's not exactly great that he told The Ringer he doesn't see "eye-to-eye" with the front office, and that he's going to have to buy into what the Raiders are trying to do. The AFC West may be a tough division, and it could be a tough year in Sin City.
Carolina Panthers: Over 7.5 (-120)
With Tom Brady gone, the NFC South could not be more wide open. It looks like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are rebuilding, the Atlanta Falcons still appear to be a middle-of-the-road squad, and the New Orleans Saints are taking a spin on the veteran quarterback carousel. Then there are the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers could be the team in the NFC South that rises above the rest. They actually gave the Bucs a run for their money last year despite firing their head coach midseason and suffering through quarterback inconsistencies. This offseason, Carolina scored head coach Frank Reich, quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 overall pick, a new running back in Miles Sanders, and some weapons in D.J. Chark, Adam Thielen, Jonathan Mingo and Hayden Hurst.
Reich could end up being the best hire of this cycle, and his introductory press conference showed he has a good pulse on what this team is about -- and what it can be in the future. He talked about how the run game is absolutely vital to everyone keeping their jobs, and how Carolina's underrated defense can serve as the backbone for the team. The Panthers went 7-10 last year despite all of the adversity, plus Carolina has the.
New Orleans Saints: Under 9.5 (-140)
The Saints recorded their first losing season since 2016 under Dennis Allen. While the new head coach produced a top-five defense on the field, the offense was inconsistent to say the least. New Orleans replaced Andy Dalton with Derek Carr, and this could go a couple different ways: He could provide a Matthew Stafford-like boost, or flop.
After going 7-10 last year, does the addition of Carr really give the Saints three more wins? Before being benched for Jarrett Stidham last year, Carr recorded his second-worst completion percentage (60.8%), threw 14 interceptions, which is tied for his career high, and had an 86.3 passer rating, the second-worst of his career. The NFC South is wide open, but you have to remember that star running back Alvin Kamara is likely facing a suspension at some point following the from early 2022. Could that be handed down before the start of the regular season?
Allen has a lot to prove as a head coach, Carr could struggle, and Kamara could miss several games due to suspension. It's possible the Saints disappoint in 2023.
Seattle Seahawks: Over 9 (+110)
Some believed Seattle was going to be the worst team in the NFL last year. Instead, Pete Carroll's group put together a winning record at 9-8 and made the playoffs. Geno Smith was a big reason why, as he won NFL Comeback Player of the Year, made the Pro Bowl and broke franchise single-season records for passing completions, attempts, passing yards and completion percentage.
The Seahawks offense is loaded with Smith, two franchise tackles, Kenneth Walker III and a trio of talented wide receivers including rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but the defense still finished in the bottom eight in yards allowed per game (361.7) and points allowed per game (23.6). However, I expect this unit to be improved with the additions of cornerback Devon Witherspoon, defensive end Derick Hall, defensive end Dre'Mont Jones, safety Julian Love and the return of Bobby Wagner.
When you look at the division, the 49ers again have high expectations, but uncertainty at the quarterback position. No one knows what the Rams are going to be and then the Cardinals may be the worst team in the league. Could Seattle win the NFC West in 2023?