After a month-plus of NFL preparation, looking at several offseason factors that drive my thinking, I am ready to unveil the season-win-total prop wagers in which I will be investing this season. Here are four teams I expect to hit the Over.
Atlanta Falcons Over 7.5
Atlanta begins anew under coach Arthur Smith, who takes over a team that was 4-12 a year ago despite being outscored by just 1.1 point per game. Historically, coaches who start their careers with teams that scored at least 23.5 ppg the previous season tend to fare pretty well. The Falcons also qualify for a transition system under which teams that lose eight or more games by a possession or less improve by an average of nearly four wins the next season. Smith’s team starts with a winnable home game against Philadelphia and should be favored in three of its first five games. In the NFC South, I don’t see much going on in Carolina, and New Orleans seems due for some regression. Atlanta should benefit.
Dallas Cowboys Over 9
It was a rough first season in Dallas for Mike McCarthy, whose team finished 6-10 and lost its first eight games against the spread. The Cowboys began 2020 under the weight of unrealistic expectations, and the injury to Dak Prescott in Week 5 put any playoff aspirations to bed. But in their second through fifth games, the Cowboys put up 36.5 ppg. The offense was ready for greatness. Now with Prescott expected back and expectations much more tempered, I think the second year of the McCarthy era could be much different. Dallas qualifies for an intriguing system that shows that all but five of 33 teams have improved after a season in which they endured a negative turnover differential and won fewer than six games ATS. The NFC East remains weak, and it seems time for the most talented team in the division to distance itself from the riffraff.
Jacksonville Jaguars Over 7
I’ve been gushing over Trevor Lawrence’s abilities since the moment he stepped onto the field for Clemson. I believe he is as natural a star as we’ve had at quarterback in many years. I believe the combination of new coach Urban Meyer and Lawrence instantly improves the Jaguars by leaps and bounds. I’ve heard the arguments about Meyer not having coached at the pro level, but he has been a winner everywhere, has commanded respect and seems to have genuinely impacted the excitement for playing in Jacksonville. In this first season, Meyer qualifies for a system that shows new coaches improving by 4.8 wins per season if their teams were outscored by 8.5 ppg or more the previous season. I know that adding 4.8 wins would make only 5.8 for the Jaguars this season, but if you look at the early part of the schedule, it’s conceivable they could win four or five of their first six games. At that point, with momentum on their side, anything is possible.
Las Vegas Raiders Over 7
I’m not a huge fan of anything specific the Raiders have done since January to get better in 2021. However, 11 teams have scored 27 or more ppg in the last 20 seasons and did not make the playoffs. The combined record of those teams in the follow-up season was 109-67, good for 61.9 percent and an average of 9.9 wins per season. Las Vegas qualifies for that system in 2021, the same angle that backed the Buccaneers last year. In addition, the 2021 season will be a bit of a redo for the Raiders in terms of their honeymoon in Vegas. With Allegiant Stadium filled to capacity, this franchise will finally feel the real love of being in Sin City. That motivational boost figures to be huge.
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