2020 NFL Schedule: Way-too-early win total predictions

The NFL schedule has finally been released, and the Follow The Money crew looks at all the best and worst trends and matchups that jump off the page at first glance.

The official NFL schedule release means that sportsbooks have updated betting lines for the 2020 campaign.

Below are what I consider to be the eight best over/under adjusted team win total plays for the season.

After checking out the predictions below, send me yours on Twitter @AndyMc81.

New England Patriots

Over/under win total: 9.0

This would be Bill Belichick’s finest work if he could get New England into the playoffs with a quarterback room led by unknown Jarrett Stidham and journeyman Brian Hoyer. The question is though: can this Tom Brady-less crew top nine victories?

The Patriots have the toughest schedule in 2020 based on their opponents’ 2019 win percentage of .537. Squaring off against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs as well as arguably the league’s most challenging division in the NFC West, plus the dynamic Baltimore Ravens, is quite the gauntlet. Even the Patriots’ usual cake-walk adversaries in the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are better on paper.

Finishing 8-8 or 9-7 seems just about right for Belichick’s crew, so for the sake of this exercise I’ll take the under.

Pick: UNDER

Buffalo Bills

Over/under win total: 9.0

The spectre of Tom Brady is gone from the AFC East and now all the pressure rests on Buffalo to take back a division they haven’t won since 1995. I love this nine-win line as the Bills have improved on both sides of the ball.

Another year in the Brian Daboll system provides consistency for quarterback Josh Allen, who now gets a true elite-level receiver in Stefon Diggs. Rookie Zack Moss partners with Devin Singletary in the backfield to keep defences honest and their defensive line got a bit more athletic, too.

The Bills are tied for the fifth-most difficult slate of opponents, but are taking on all non-playoff teams in the first quarter of the season. Bills Mafia will be furious if this win total is not surpassed.

Pick: OVER

Chicago Bears

Over/under win total: 8.5

Choosing the Bears to go over .500 seems a little generous considering their underwhelming draft, off-season acquisitions and a new quarterback controversy.

Chicago’s best shot at hitting the win-total over is starting fast against the Detroit Lions and New York Giants – two non-playoff clubs a year ago, but teams that each have more stable QB situations. The final six weeks of the season sees the Bears battle NFC North rivals four times.

This franchise is screaming 8-8, at best, to me. Under 8.5 wins, for sure.

Pick: UNDER

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Over/under win total: 9.5

I’ve seen this over/under line at 9.5 and 10. Avoid the double-digit win number and slam down your bet on the over for 9.5.

Imagine what Tampa Bay could’ve done last season with Tom Brady instead of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions. The artillery Brady has to work with in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, a returning Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard is incredible.

However, we must keep in mind that training camp will likely be decreased because of COVID-19 and that limits chemistry building snaps. How quickly do TB12 and his new teammates gel? Plus, the Bucs face difficult divisional battles against the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and even the retooling Carolina Panthers.

I could see the Bucs ramping up slowly, hitting their stride with a weaker mid-season slate and finishing strong to at least secure a wild-card berth.

Pick: OVER

Philadelphia Eagles

Over/under win total: 9.5

Excuse me while I sprint to a virtual betting window and select the under.

I hated Philadelphia’s draft from a win-now perspective. The team is still way too vulnerable at wide receiver as they continue to rely on the aging, and oft-injured, DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey. Rookie Jalen Reagor doesn’t move the needle for me, which puts the offensive focus again on the tight ends and running back Miles Sanders.

The Eagles won the NFC East at 9-7 in 2019, and are looking closer to .500 than a group that can add an extra victory. Also, the Dallas Cowboys ramped up on both sides of the ball and the Giants should be a tougher out.

Pick: UNDER

Minnesota Vikings

Over/under win total: 9.0

The polar opposite of Philadelphia was Minnesota’s draft and off-season. They traded a disgruntled Diggs to Buffalo for a first-round pick that landed them a big, sure-handed receiver in Justin Jefferson to pair alongside Adam Thielen.

They lost cornerbacks in free agency and addressed that by drafting one of the best corners in the 2020 class 31st overall, Jeff Gladney. The Vikings even upgraded the offensive line depth in tackle Ezra Cleveland in the second round.

Minnesota locked down 10 victories a year ago and in my mind are better now, while their divisional opponents have not made the same progress. Blow that Viking horn and take the over.

Pick: OVER

Dallas Cowboys

Over/under win total: 9.5

A new coach and a fresh outlook could catapult the Cowboys back to the top of the NFC East. Mike McCarthy has reportedly modernized his offence and is stacked with weapons. Rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was a steal at No. 17, joining Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliot as options for Dak Prescott.

Even if Dallas’s defence isn’t where they’d like it to be, the added offensive explosiveness will force the Eagles, Giants and Washington Redskins to keep pace on the scoreboard. Jerry Jones’s bunch also has the third-easiest strength of schedule. I’m bullish that the Cowboys make the jump.

Pick: OVER

Baltimore Ravens

Over/under win total: 11.5

Outside of the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs, it’s Baltimore and Lamar Jackson who are the toast of the NFL. My concern with the lofty expectations of the Ravens is how they adapt to the inevitable adjustments made by defensive coordinators.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman was the architect of Colin Kaepernick’s success in San Francisco and is essentially using the same playbook now. As we saw back then, the run-pass option style was eventually figured out and the run-first quarterback was slowly neutralized.

Jackson doesn’t protect himself well enough on the move and any injury would be catastrophic. I’d also expect clubs to try to emulate how effective the Titans defence was in these past playoffs when they forced Jackson to throw more. That led to a pair of interceptions and a 52.5 per cent completion rate for the Madden 21 cover star as Baltimore was shockingly bounced from the post-sesason.

Overall, the Ravens are a complete enough unit to repeat as AFC North champions. However, don’t discount how difficult their six combined games versus the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals will be.

Putting cash down on over 11.5 victories is a bit too rich for my blood.

Pick: UNDER

THE REST

Arizona Cardinals: 6.5 (UNDER)

Atlanta Falcons: 7.5 (OVER)

Carolina Panthers: 5.5 (OVER)

Cincinnati Bengals: 5.5 (UNDER)

Cleveland Browns: 8.5 (OVER)

Denver Broncos: 7.5 (UNDER)

Detroit Lions: 6.5 (UNDER)

Green Bay Packers: 9.5 (UNDER)

Houston Texans: 7.5 (OVER)

Indianapolis Colts: 8.5 (OVER)

Jacksonville Jaguars: 4.5 (UNDER)

Kansas City Chiefs: 11.5 (OVER)

Las Vegas Raiders: 7.5 (UNDER)

L.A. Chargers: 8.0 (UNDER)

L.A. Rams: 8.5 (UNDER)

Miami Dolphins: 6.0 (UNDER)

New Orleans Saints: 10.5 (OVER)

New York Giants: 6.5 (UNDER)

New York Jets: 6.5 (UNDER)

Pittsburgh Steelers: 9.0 (UNDER)

San Francisco 49ers: 10.5 (OVER)

Seattle Seahawks: 9.5 (OVER)

Tennessee Titans: 8.5 (OVER)

Washington Redskins: 5.5 (UNDER)

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