Written by: The Blitz Team
We are just a couple weeks removed from the federal government fully legalizing sports betting. Of course, it will still be up to the state governments to decide if they will allow it within their borders. Either way, most people have the understanding that gambling on sports will eventually happen regardless. For this month’s All32 Series, we’ve decided to take a look at if fans should go with the over or the under on their team’s wins in 2018. Check out what our team members think what you should do!
**Odds per https://www.oddsshark.com/nfl/nfl-over-under-win-totals per BetOnline**
(Note: as of this reading the odds may have changed, so check the closest legal betting outlet)
Baltimore Ravens — 8.5 Wins
The Baltimore Ravens have an interesting roster. They have some veteran starters at key offensive positions in Joe Flacco, Alex Collins, Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Ronnie Stanley, and Marshal Yanda. The problem is that these veterans have not exactly been super productive over the last couple of seasons. Flacco has definitely regressed, and the fact that the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson in the first round this year points to the fact that they are planning to move on from him in the very near future. Collins is entering his third year in the league, but he has only started 12 games in his career. I question whether or not their offensive line will be good enough to open up holes for the third year back. Ronnie Stanley is an above average left tackle, but the Ravens have some major question marks at center and right guard. James Hurst is able to play multiple offensive line positions, but it will be interesting to see if he can make an impact as the starting left guard this season. Michael Crabtree had a major down year last season, posting 58 catches for 618 yards, though he did have 8 touchdowns. John Brown certainly has the talent to stretch the field for Joe Flacco, but he is very injury prone.
Defensively, I have major question marks about their pass rush. Terrell Suggs led the team with 11 sacks last season, but he is getting older and his best years are probably behind him. Matt Judon added 8 sacks as well. The question is whether or not they can get pressure up the middle. Jimmy Smith is a very good starting cornerback, and Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson are still a playmakers at the safety position when they are healthy.
Overall, with the AFC North getting better, I could see the Ravens taking a step back this year. They also have some tough road games against the Panthers, Falcons, Chiefs, and Chargers. I have them slated at 7–9, which was just slightly below their over under number of 8.5 wins. If Lamar Jackson is able to establish himself as a starting quarterback at some point this season, that will be huge for the future of the organization.
Cincinnati Bengals — 5.5 Wins
The Cincinnati Bengals will enter the season without making any significant improvements to their roster. They did address needs throughout the draft, but until we see their 2018 class on the field, we won’t know if they will have an immediate impact on their team. Their season is dependent on the growth of Joe Mixon and John Ross. They need their 1st and 2nd round picks from the 2017 NFL Draft to step up to help give a boost to their offense and take eyes of AJ Green. Until proven differently, the AFC North belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Baltimore will continue to be a problem for them and the Cleveland has improved its roster this offseason. If I was a betting man, I would take the under because I see the Bengals struggling in 2018.
Cleveland Browns — 4.5 Wins
I am fairly shocked that the Browns’ over/under win total is only 4.5 games. If you only took a look at their roster and not the team name, you could see them being competitive for a playoff spot in the AFC. Offensively, they have a quarterback with starting playoff experience in Tyrod Taylor. If they choose to go in another direction at signal caller, the Browns could go with Baker Mayfield, the number one overall pick in the draft. At running back, they will have a two headed monster of Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb. Both have the ability to be 1,000 yard rushers in this league, though obviously not in the same season. They also have one of the best receiving backs in the league in Duke Johnson. With Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, and Antonio Callaway at the wide receiver position, there are some serious threats on the outside as well. Finally, tight end David Njoku will be entering his second season in the league. They will have to replace their franchise left tackle Joe Thomas, but their offensive line as a whole should be above average as well.
Defensively, they will need to improve on their secondary play from last season if they want to be competitive. The fact that they added Damarious Randall, Denzel Ward, T.J. Carrie, and Terrance Mitchell will certainly help. Their linebacking corps of Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and Joe Schobert is solid, and they just added Mychal Kendricks to bolster the interior linebacking spot. The defensive line is loaded with young talent in Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Larry Ogunjobi. Last season their offense forced this unit to be on the field way too often. With an improved secondary and offense, I look for their defense to be much more effective this season.
Overall, I expect the Browns to be much better this year than they have been over the past decade. Look at their roster and not their team name. I believe they will finish around .500, which would certainly blow past their expected win total of 4.5 wins this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers — 10.5 Wins
I’m a diehard Steelers fan so this prediction may look biased to some. However, it’s actually very realistic. Although the Steelers lost a key piece to their offense in Martavis Bryant and the face of their defense is still unable to play (Ryan Shazier), they still have a ton of upside! I look for second round pick, James Washington, to fill the void that left by Bryant and be a very reliable third option behind Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster. I also see tight end Vance McDonald having a breakout season. Add those four players to the best running back in the league in Le’Veon Bell and future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and you have an extremely dangerous offense
The Steelers also improved on the defensive side of the ball. They added some much needed help in the secondary as they signed safety Morgan Burnett and drafted safeties Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen. Edmunds and Allen can both play all over the field, so they may also be able to help at other positions. The Steelers also signed inside linebacker Jon Bostic. Although he is nowhere near the level of Shazier, he will be help Vince Williams fill the void.
When looking at their schedule, the only games that the Steelers may struggle in are away games in Jacksonville, Denver, and New Orleans, along with a matchup at home with the Patriots. I predict that they sweep the division once again and finish with a record of 14–2 on their way to the Super Bowl.