The NFL season is about two months away so this seems like a good time to look at Over/Under Win Totals while there is value.
We are now about two months away from the start of the NFL regular season, and in an attempt to aid you with your NFL picks, this seems like the perfect time to look at the 2012 Over/Under Win Totals.
That is because we are now close enough to the season to get a decent evaluation of each team’s strengths and weakness and to get a reasonable gauge of how they will fare vs. their schedule, but still barely far away enough that we can still find some value on the win totals.
Now keep in mind that these odds will only get tighter as the regular season nears, so our advice would be to act on these as soon as possible provided you can get roughly the same odds we recommend. We have four ‘over’ selections and four ‘under’ selections based on the current posted win totals and odds at Pinnacle Sports.
The odds on these may vary, but the win totals themselves should be about the same across all major books with very few exceptions.
2012 Over/Under Win Totals
Carolina Panthers ‘over’ 7½ (-130): It was just two short years ago that the Panthers were the laughingstock of the NFL, going a league-worst 2-14, but Carolina improved by four games to 6-10 last season with Cam Newton having a Rookie of the Year campaign at quarterback and we look for an improvement of at least two games this year to get to the .500 mark and to cash this ticket. In fact, if Newton shows some normal progression, the Panthers could challenge for a playoff spot considering that New Orleans’ Bounty-gate scandal could potentially leave the division wide open and we are not as high on the Atlanta Falcons as some others are (more on that later). An already great Carolina rushing arrack added some depth in Mike Tolbert and the defense should be improved. Now some may joke that the defense only has one way to go after an atrocious 2011, but the linebackers could be legitimately good with Thomas Davis and John Beason returning from injury and the drafting of Luke Kuechly.
Dallas Cowboys ‘over’ 8½ (-144): Yes these odds are higher than we normally like to give, but we are picking the Cowboys to win the NFC East this season with at least 10 wins. Dallas went a disappointing 8-8 last season mainly due to a porous defense, and getting safety Morris Claiborne out of LSU with the sixth pick in the draft looks like a steal. They also signed possible the best free agent cornerback available in Brandon Carr away from the Kansas City Chiefs. Thus, the defensive backfield should be immensely improved this year and the linebackers are still solid, led by DeMarcus Ware, who leads the NFL with 99½ sacks over the last seven years. If the defensive line shows just a little improvement, which is possible with the underrated Sean Lissemore reportedly playing a bigger role this year and the drafting of defensive end Tyrone Coleman in the third round, then a division title should be within Dallas’s grasp because the offense should be fine. Quarterback Tony Romo had nice stats last year and now has a very good back-up in Kyle Orton in case of injury, DeMarco Murray emerged as a top-flight running back last season and the receiving corps is deep and solid if it can stay healthy.
New York Jets ‘over’ 8½ (-132): Some people are looking for the Jets to decline this season after missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record last year, but we actually foresee at least a one-game improvement. Obviously the biggest news during the off-season in perhaps the entire NFL was the Jets acquiring Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos, and while some think that will create an uncomfortable atmosphere in the clubhouse, we actually like the move on a couple of levels. First of all, we think that the move will bring out the best in incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez. After all, this was a guy that was good enough to lead the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games before falling off noticeably last season, where he may have been too relaxed with no real competition behind him. Secondly, we think that Tebow will provide a nice change of pace in Wildcat formations, as he is an upgrade over Brad Smith, whom the Jets used in that manner a few years ago. Additionally we think that the Jets did a great job of improving their needs for a pass rush (Quinton Coples, Demario Davis) and a play-making wide receiver (Stephen Hill) in the draft.
Oakland Raiders ‘over’ 7 (+102): No, we do not think that the Raiders are powerhouses or anything, but they play in a weak division where it is not inconceivable where they can get five wins alone, or at least four. Any success the Raiders have this season will come down to quarterback Carson Palmer performing like an elite NFL quarterback and running back Darren McFadden staying healthy, although Oakland does have nice depth at that position with Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones behind McFadden. Palmer was inconsistent last year, but you must remember that he was brought back from retirement in the middle of the season so we will cut him some slack. He actually has a chance to be good now that he is with the club from the get-go, so if McFadden stays in one piece, the Raiders could challenge for an AFC West crown where 9-7 or maybe even 8-8 could win the division.
Atlanta Falcons ‘under’ 9 (+139): While many experts are picking the Falcons to win the AFC South because of the Saints’ troubles, we honestly think that they will be one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL. Yes, Matt Ryan is solid at quarterback, but we think that there are legitimate concerns at the other offensive shill positions and on the offensive line, concerns that the New York Giants exploited while blowing Atlanta out in the playoffs. Michael Turner was running in slow motion down the stretch last season, and they have the diminutive (5-foor-6) but potentially explosive Jacquizz Rodgers behind him and not much else. Also wide receiver Roddy White seems to have lost his explosiveness, which should enable defenses to blanket Atlanta’s new number one wide-out in Julio Jones. To make matters worse, the Falcons traded up to draft Jones last year at the expense of not improving the left tackle position, and that still remains an area of need. Defensively, last year’s big signee Ray Edwards was a huge disappointment with only 3½ sacks and Atlanta lost its leading tackler last season in Curtis Lofton to the rival Saints. Additionally, opposing quarterbacks can continue to pick on free safety Thomas DeCoud.
Kansas City Chiefs ‘under’ 8 (-110): The Chiefs had what was perceived to be a disappointing 7-9 season a year ago, but personally we feel that was Kansas City’s true level after taking advantage of a ridiculously weak schedule in a surprising playoff run two years ago and we are looking for at best a similar 7-9 record this year. The Chiefs lost quarterback Kyle Orton in the off-season, meaning that Matt Cassel now has the job all to himself. We have never been big fans of Cassel and his weak throwing arm, and as mentioned, he statistically good 2010 season had a lot to do with facing a weak schedule. Kansas City did add Peyton Hillis, who we like a great deal, at running back, but he can never stay healthy due to his reckless style. On defense, Kansas City did nothing to upgrade a pass rush that produced only 29 sacks in 2011 and the secondary suffered a key loss in cornerback Brandon Carr.
Philadelphia Eagles ‘under’ 10 (+126): The pressure may be off a bit this season without all the “Dream Team” hype from last year surrounding them, but the Eagles may still have trouble reaching double-digit wins after that disappointing 8-8 campaign. The offensive line had trouble protecting Michael Vick, and that unit has now lost its best piece with Jason Peters tearing his Achilles. Now Philadelphia admittedly had a great draft, as defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive end Vinny Curry could all have an immediate impact. The flip side of that though could be that the defense is very young and will go through some growing pains. Plus, playing in a tough division doesn’t help.
St. Louis Rams ‘under’ 6 (-115): Will the real St. Louis Rams please stand up? This team went from 1-15 in 2009 to coming within one game of winning the NFC West in 2010 in Quarterback Sam Bradford’s rookie season to back to 2-14 last year. That led to the firing if Coach Steve Spagnuolo, as Jeff Fisher was brought in to right the ship. Now this team does have some nice pieces on defense, particularly on the defensive line, but the offense simply has too many holes to win much more than four games this season even with some improvement under Fisher. Bradford regressed badly last season, completing only 53.5 of his passes and throwing 15 interceptions against 18 touchdown passes with two lost fumbles added in for good measure. Of course it does not help that St. Louis had no play-makers at wide receiver, an area that was not addressed in the draft. On top of that, the offensive line was dreadful and shows no signs of improvement and running back Steven Jackson may be on the downside of his career after such a heavy workload since coming to the Rams.