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)
Atlanta Falcons — 9.5 Wins
Dan Quinn’s team finished 10–6 in 2017, good enough for only 3rd in the NFC South Division but enough to make the 2nd wild card spot. The offense took a pretty significant step back under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, ranking only 15th in total offense after ranking 1st by a long shot in 2016. They added a dynamic playmaker in the draft with Calvin Ridley and improved their defense, so I expect them to be more cohesive team in 2018. However, the Falcons do play in the toughest division in football. They’ll twice face a New Orleans Saints team that was a miracle play away from the NFC Championship game last year, in addition to the Carolina Panthers and a much improved Tampa Bay Bucs team. In addition, they will play the difficult NFC East in 2018, to go along with games at Green Bay and Pittsburgh. I expect enough improvement to the point that the team will exceed the 9.5 win mark, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they falter in the tough games either.
Carolina Panthers — 8.5 Wins
Being in the strongest division in all of football sure doesn’t help the Panthers. Three of the teams in their division, including themselves, made the 2017 playoffs. Although they did lose in the wild-card round, the Panthers are still poised to surpass their 8.5 win total set by Vegas oddsmakers. There’s a lot to like on the Panthers defense. With Luke Kuechly still manning the middle as the game’s best linebacker, Kawann Short as the elite interior disrupter, and Shaq Thompson poised to finally break out, this side of the ball has plenty of upside. Yes, they have deficiencies in the defensive backfield and could use a bit more talent but nothing to worry too much about.
The offense is another story. The team revamped this unit with 1st round WR D.J. Moore and free agent RB C.J. Anderson to complement Christian McCaffrey. But they have significant issues along the offensive line, having lost the uber-talented Andrew Norwell to free agency and finding no real replacement. The Panthers are now being led by long-time and profoundly respected OC Norv Turner, whose offense is predicated on deep drops by the quarterback. This is a scary proposition for a team whose biggest weakness right now is protecting the Cam Newton. With all that being said, this team should still get over the projected 9 wins Vegas has allocated for them. Yes, their division is tight, and they have weak offensive line play, but this team will still manage.
New Orleans Saints — 8.5 Wins
The Saints can again depend on an explosive and dynamic offense to win games in 2018. Although they will be without Mark Ingram for the first four games of the season, it’s not as bad as it seems. Three of their first four games are against the Buccaneers at home, Browns at home, and Giants on the road. Their week 3 contest against the Falcons (away) could be the game where they feel Ingram’s suspension the most. With that said, the Saints should start the season at 3–1 during Ingram’s suspension. The Saints then play at home in week 5 against the Redskins (a team that placed 21st in defense last year) before going into a bye week.
The schedule gets a lot tougher after their week 6 bye, with road games against the Ravens, Vikings, and Bengals. With a home game against the Rams in week 9, the Saints should be able to win two games out of this stretch, likely against the Bengals and Rams. I have them going into week 11 with 6 wins.
This is where their schedule gets really daunting. Their next 7 games include the Eagles, Falcons, Cowboys, Panthers, and Steelers. The only team they face during that stretch that didn’t finish last season with a top 10 defense is the Buccaneers. If they can beat the Bucs and split the Panthers games, they’ll be at 8 wins for the season. With the Eagles, Falcons, and Steelers all coming to the Dome, it’s a safe bet that the Saints will be able to win one of those games and finish the season with at least 9 wins to beat the over.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 6.5 Wins
The Buccaneers had an issue “eating” wins last year, resulting in only five victories in the very tough NFC South. I unfortunately, don’t see much of a change from that win total come 2018. The team struggled massively on the ground last year and cut ties with volatile rusher Doug Martin. The team also had trouble creating a pass rush and ranked dead last in the league with only 22 sacks. Lastly, franchise quarterback Jameis Winston still struggled heavily with turnovers and has not taken the next step that the team needs from him. Are they ready to make the leap?
They drafted the explosive Ronald Jones who has plenty of skill to replace Martin, but can he handle the load and help the Bucs stabilize their rushing attack? On the other side of the ball, the team added sack-artist Captain Hook, A.K.A. Jason Pierre-Paul, to their squad and drafted Vita Vea to help alleviate the pressure off of Gerald McCoy. As for Winston, it all lies on his shoulders. Can he finally overcome the turnovers that have plagued him his whole career? Will all of these moves actually make a difference? If the answer to these two questions is yes, then the Bucs will undoubtedly win more than the 6.5 games that Vegas has them taking. If all of these things do not change, then they will continue to struggle in their incredibly tough division and will not manage making the playoffs.