(Image credit: Luke Easterling/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
It is almost time for kickoff of the 2021 NFL Regular Season. My favorite part is predicting the division winners and whether the win totals will be over or under for each NFL Team. For this article, it will be focused on my prediction for NFC teams win total and division winners. The win total odd numbers are the ones that were recently placed on the Vegas Insider website.
Dallas Cowboys (Win total odd: 9)
Yeah, this is way too many wins for the team to have during the season. This is a clear under for this team's win total. I think Mike McCarthy is the worst coach in this division, possibly the entire conference. He refuses to use analytics at all and it has hurt this team. I also watched HBO’s Hard Knocks that features the Dallas Cowboys and you can tell that these players don’t like McCarthey at all. I don't even know how healthy Prescott is or if he will be 100% week 1 vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ezekiel Elliot is on a decline and I do like Tony Pollard as a cuff option in fantasy. The Cowboys do have receivers for Prescott to throw the ball to but this Cowboys O-line is not what it was during the Romo years and Prescott’s rookie season in the NFL. The Cowboys' defense as always is a disaster. Excluding Demarcus Lawrence, I can't name another good player on this defense. Hopefully, Micah Parsons will be one as he will be replacing Sean Lee on this defense.
New York Giants (Win total odd: 7)
This is Daniel Jones’s last chance. He has as many weapons for him to utilize this season. He has Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker at running back. Kenny Golliday, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, and Darius Slayton are at wide receiver. Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph are at tight end. If Daniel Jones does not show consistency or bring this team to the playoffs then the Giants will find a new quarterback next year. I don't think their offensive line is that good, but I do like Will Hernandez and I have hope Andrew Thomas will improve. This defense is solid especially with the depth they have at defensive line and secondary. I am not a big fan of the linebackers, but I think Blake Martenez and maybe Azeez Ojulari are good. I am concerned with how the culture currently is in the locker room. The Giants had four different players retire due to the toxic coaching style and culture set by Joe Judge. That is not what you want to hear when it comes to an organization's culture. I do think this number is about right but I am going to take the slight under as I am not too confident with the coaching.
Philadelphia Eagles (Win total odd: 6.5)
I don’t really know what to think of the Eagles. I am glad that they got rid of Doug Pederson as head coach after the nonsense he pulled week 17 that completely destroyed the locker room to no return. Their new head coach is Nick Sirianni who is a disciple of Frank Reich’s coaching tree. I think the Eagles offensive line is solid and I do like the tight Ends as both Goedert and Ertz are still on this team. Except for Devonta Smith, I am not confident with other receivers on this team. I have a lot of hope with Jalen Hurts but he needs to have a strong season to solidify his starting role for the 2022 season. The big issue with the Eagles is on defense as their secondary and linebacker core is brutal this season. I do love their defensive line but I am not confident with how well the Eagles defense will do this season. I think that this year will be a rebuilding season so I will go with the under here for the win totals.
Washington Football Team (Win total odd: 8.5)
I really like the Washington Football Team this season. They have good offensive weapons like Terry Mclaurin, Logan Thomas, rookie Dymani Brown, and Antonio Gibson. The offensive line is still good for the team. The biggest question mark on this offense is the quarterback as it doesn’t seem that any on the roster is the long term answer. Their offense is solid but on defense is the main reason why I like the team as they easily have a top 5 defense. With how many successful picks this team has made on the defense it is scary how young and good this team is. Remember in the playoffs how dominant the defense was against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They almost advanced in the playoffs due to how talented their defense is. If they can keep their performance up from last year which I think they will then I believe that they can take the over with the win total.
NFC East Division Winner: Washington Football Team
The division can go either or but I think Washington will take this division as they have one of the best defenses in the league.
Chicago Bears (Win total odd: 7.5)
This was one I debated. There is no question how talented this team is on defense with there strong D-line, strong pass rushers, good linebackers, and strong secondary. The problem with the Bears is their offense and oh boy there are some issues. First, this offensive line is absolutely terrible. One of the worst o-lines in the league in my opinion. Their o-line is so bad that they had to sign Jason Peters as their blindside tackle. Peters is past his prime and has never been the same player since his knee injury. Except for Cody Whitehair I am not confident in this o-line. Teven Jenkins, one of their draft picks who was projected to start at tackle is out for the season due to a back injury. Now I do like their running back core in David Montgomery, Damien Williams (The real Super Bowl 54 MVP in my opinion) and Tarik Cohen. Now the Bears do have receivers to throw the football in Allen Robinson, Jimmy Graham, and Cole Kmet. The Bears have chosen to start Andy Dalton at QB. Now listen I like Andy Dalton but he is not mobile enough to work through this terrible offensive line. Who has that mobility, Justin Fields. I doubt that Dalton will be the starter for the entire season. I think Fields will definitely get a chance this season. But I am not confident with Matt Nagy as the head coach of this team. I do think that he could be on the hot seat this season. I am going to go with the slight over here. I see the Bears getting around 8 wins but I am not confident with it.
Detroit Lions (Win total odd: 4.5)
Not going to go on long here. I don’t think that Detroit is good at all, easily the worst team in the conference. They're going to need another year, maybe two, if they are going to be competitive. One thing I will say is I think Dan Campbell is a better coach than Matt Patricia will be. I think the Detroit O-line will be good but I do not think that Jared Goff is good at all. This defense is going to be brutal this season especially as this secondary is terrible. Hopefully Jeff Okudah gets better this year as he did not play well last season. I have no clue what the Lions will do at kicker as they cut Randy Bullock and Zane Gonzalez. Apparently Austin Seibert will be the kicker but we will see how he performs. I am going to go with the under here and I will be shocked if the Detroit Lions win more than 5 games this season.
Green Bay Packers (Win total odd: 10)
This is the last chance for Green Bay to win another Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers will play for the team this season but it will be his last season with the Green Bay Packers as they will move onto Jordan Love next season. The Packers have a ton of targets for Rodgers to throw the ball to with Davante Adams, Robert Tonyan, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Aaron Jones, AJ Dillion and Kylin Hill are good running backs to have in the backfield. The offensive line is still good for the Packers and their defense is solid as well. They have a strong defensive line especially with Kenny Clark who has a ton of depth at linebacker. They did a good job bolstering the secondary by selecting Eric Stokes in the first round and acquiring Issac Yiadom via trade during the preseason. Any team that has Aaron Rodgers will get at least 11 wins in my opinion so I will go over for the Packers projected win total.
Minnesota Vikings (Win total odd: 9)
I think the Vikings are a decent team. They are solid on offense with great talents like Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen. I think their offensive line is solid as they have spent high draft capital to restructure it. The team did lose Irv Smith Jr for the season due to an injury and had to go trade for Chris Herndon. All I got to say to the Vikings is good luck with Chris Herndon, he is terrible. I am not a big fan of Minnesota’s defense as last season they did not perform well. Their defensive line is solid with players like Danielle Hunter, Michael Pierce, Dalvin Tomlinson and Sheldon Richardson. They even brought Everson Griffin back even though he has suffered through a ton of regression last year with the Cowboys and Lions. The Vikings do not have a strong secondary. Except for Harrison Smith I don’t have a lot of confidence with the rest of the secondary. They did bring in Patrick Peterson for the secondary but he is past his prime and did not perform well last season with the Cardinals. I think the Vikings will win around 9 games but I am leaning with a slight under with the Vikings
NFC North Division Winners: Green Bay Packers
No question here as I am not sold on the Chicago Bears yet, the Minnesota Vikings will regress especially on defense, and the Detroit Lions are terrible.
Atlanta Falcons (Win total odd: 7.5)
Atlanta needed to blow it up and start their rebuild as last season was a literal disasterpiece for them as they continued to choke winnable games. They started by firing former head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff in the middle of the season and continued in the offseason trading WR Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for draft capital. The team hired Arthur Smith to be the head coach for this team. This team is entering a rebuild and my advice for this season is to take a look at which young players perform well and which don't. I do like the offensive lineman on the team but I think that the team will get under 7.5 wins. I just hate that Matt Ryan is going to waste this season with the Falcons but the team can't trade or cut him due to his contract.
Carolina Panthers (Win total odd: 7.5)
I don’t know what to think of the Panthers. I feel that they are a below-average to mediocre team. It is all going to come down to how Sam Darnold will perform for this team. Can Matt Rhule fix him after the New York Jets and Adam Gase ruined him? I honestly hope so because he deserved a lot better as he never had a good o-line and receivers and in Carolina he has actual receivers and running backs to throw and give the ball to. I question the offensive line as they did overpay for Cam Irving and Pat Elflein during free agency. The defense is meh for me, but they do have solid edge rushers and linebackers but the question is how good the secondary will be. Especially Jaycee Horn as they drafted him in the first round. Special teams will be interesting to watch as they traded for Ryan Santoso and cut kicker, Joey Slye. This team has a lot of potential this season and I am going to go for the over here. I have a lot of hope for the Panthers this season and as of now, I like Matt Rhule as the head coach.
New Orleans Saints (Win total odd: 9)
The Saints are a very interesting team to watch for. Especially at quarterback as Drew Brees during the offseason announced his retirement from football. The question is at QB and the Saints current QB’s are Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, and Ian Book. I am not a big fan of Ian Book and I think he will mainly develop during his rookie year. I think If I'm the Saints I would start Jamies even though the Saints gave a 100 million dollar contract to Taysom Hill. Besides the questions at QB, I really like this team. Their offensive line is full of talent and Alvin Kamara is easily a Top 5 running back in the NFL. While Michael Thomas is hurt, I really like Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway even shined during the preseason. This defense is still pretty good even though they lost Trey Hendrickson and Sheldon Rankins. No special teams could be an issue due to Will Lutz suffering an injury that will take him out for half the season. I see the Saints winning 9 games this season. But I am going to go with the over here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Win total odd: 12)
I got to admit I was completely wrong about the Buccaneers last season. I thought this team was going to be overrated as they kept making the same mistake of bringing in too many former Patriots and cancers to the locker room. But boy did they prove me wrong. Brady still has plenty of gas left in the tank for another superbowl run (as long as it is not New England I am completely fine with it). This is the best running back core currently in the NFL with Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, Gio Bernard (Now on a real team that can properly use him), and Ke'Shawn Vaughn who has shown a ton of flashes during his time with the team. The receiving talent is fantastic with Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, and rookie Jaleon Darden. To make this even interesting they did not lose one starting player from the Super Bowl squad. Especially on defense and even added to it by drafting Joe Tyron in the first round. I think 12 wins is about right but I am going to lean the under as excluding the Falcons this division will be competitive and I can see tight division games this season. But I'm going to say this now: The Buccaneers are my pick to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 56.
NFC South Division Winner: Buccaneers
No question with this one. With the amount of talent that Tampa Bay has they should easily win this division.
Arizona Cardinals (Win total odd: 8.5)
I definitely think Kingsbury and Steve Keim are definitely on the hot seat if the team does not make the playoffs. I love Kyler Murray and they made the right choice in choosing him as their quarterback. James Connor or Chase Edmonds as the starting running backs are ok. They stole Deandre Hopkins from the Houston Texans (Thank you Bill O’Brien). But besides him I am not confident with AJ Green, Andy Isabella, or Christian Kirk. I doubt Larry Fitzgerald comes back and plays as he remains a free agent. Their defense is okay, I think the secondary is decent but is it really a good idea to have Watt and Jones who are past their prime as edge rushers on the team? I am going to take the under as this is easily the toughest and best division in football and I don't see the Cardinals being better than the Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks.
Los Angeles Rams (Win total odd: 10.5)
I am going to easily bet the over here. I think the Rams upgraded at quarterback a ton. Goff is extremely inconsistent and I was never a big fan of him. He was fine with the Rams but I would not have called Goff a top 10 QB in the NFL. Not at the salary he was being paid at so they had to attach two 1st round picks in order for the Lions to take his large salary. I am glad Stafford is free from Detroit as the Lions completely wasted him during his time with the team. He finally gets what he never got in Detroit which is a good offensive line and a good running game. Even though Cam Akers won’t play due to injury, Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel are good options. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee are good targets for Stafford to throw to. The Rams defense is one of the Top 10 defenses in the NFL. Aaron Donald is to me one of the best players that I have ever seen on defense in football as he can make a tremendous impact as a pass rusher and run stopper. The secondary is solid even though the team lost John Johnson. The special teams are also solid as they have the best punter in the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers (Win total odd: 10.5)
Last year was an extremely unlucky season for the 49ers as almost every starter was injured for the entire season. Even their MRI truck was injured week 2 against the New York Jets. Also remember the 49ers did not have a true home game as due to the pandemic, they had to play the rest of their games in Arizona. Want to know the most impressive part of last season? With all those injuries the 49ers won six games. It goes to show how good the coaching is and how much depth the 49ers have on their team. It is clear that Garoppolo won't be the long term answer as they selected Trey Lance 3rd overall during the 2021 NFL Draft. This team, if healthy, has the ability to win a lot of games but I am going to go with the slight under due to the injury risk and how tough the division is.
Seattle Seahawks (Win total odd: 10)
There were a ton of rumors that the Seahawks could potentially trade QB Russell Wilson. Teams like the Chicago Bears were rumored to have offered a trade for Wilson where they reportedly offered Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks, three first round picks and a third round pick. When they turned that deal down I knew Russell Wilson was not going anywhere. Pete Carroll is still the head coach for the Seahawks and I wonder how long he will be around as he is turning 70 in September. This offense is solid with a decent running back, and has good receivers to throw to. This o-line is not that good but they did bring in Gabe Jackson that will help protect Wilson and help open holes for running backs. Their defense is solid especially with their pass rushers and run stoppers. I do question the secondary as except for Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams the rest of the secondary is not that good. The Seahawks special teams is strong with Michael Dickson as the best punter in the NFL not named Johnny Hekker and kicker Jason Myers (Who still should be on the Jets roster). I am confident with choosing the over for the win total odd here as Russell Wilson is still the quarterback on this team
NFC West Division Winner: Los Angeles Rams
I heavily debated this as both the Rams and Seahawks have a strong chance of winning the division. But I am going to lean towards the better team and I think the Rams are in a better position than the Seahawks are.