Eagles Season Win Total Pick

I don’t think it’s a secret that the Philadelphia Eagles are going to struggle to win games in 2016. There has been nothing but negative press about the team since they hired Doug Pederson, whose only previous head coaching experience was on the high school level. Pederson played and was an assistant in Philadelphia, and comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree. He followed Reid to Kansas City and served as the offensive coordinator for a unit known for their methodical play. The Chiefs were second to last in offensive plays per game in 2015. Pederson inherits a mess left by Chip Kelly and takes over an offense that ran the second most plays last year.

I outlined the Eagles quarterback situation in my Week 1 preseason predictions. Since that game, Carson Wentz suffered broken ribs but hopes to return before the preseason is over.

The Eagles are thin at skill positions on offense. Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles were two players that Kelly brought in at running back and remain on the roster. Mathews is injury prone and Sproles is a situational back. Wide receiver is another area that is lacking in skill on the depth chart. Jordan Matthews isn’t a No. 1 receiver yet and there’s a lot of question marks after that. Kelly drafted and signed his own players who are used to playing in a high-tempo offense. It will be hard for the current players on the roster to adjust to how slow the Eagles will play.

The Eagles took another blow when offensive lineman Lane Johnson was suspended 10-games for a failed PED test. I watched the Eagles first preseason game and they couldn’t keep Chase Daniel or Wentz up right. It’s a bad offensive line and even worse if Johnson’s suspension is upheld.

My prediction for the Eagles season is they start 2-6 or worse. Sam Bradford will fail to play well and the Eagles fans will call for Wentz to start. Eventually Pederson will cave in and bench Bradford for the rookie. When Wentz is in it will be a downgrade at the quarterback position. The team will have less of a chance to win games but it will benefit them in the future. However, this bet is for this season and I don’t see a way the Eagles win eight or more games. Take the under on their season win total because I think they will finish with one of the worst records in the NFL.

Pick: Eagles under 7 (-165)

Ravens Season Win Total Pick

Season win totals in the NFL are one of my favorite ways to attack the season. Last year I went 5-0 with season win totals involving the Vikings, Saints, Buccaneers, Steelers and Browns. There’s a lot of value in these long-term props. The only issue is waiting until December and January to know if you cashed a winner.

My favorite season win total for the 2016 NFL season is over 8 (-135) on the Baltimore Ravens, which is a team I identified back in January. After all the injuries, I was confident that Baltimore would bounce back after a 5-11 season.

Baltimore has been one of the most consistent NFL teams since John Harbaugh took over in 2008. The Ravens have made the playoff six times in that span and the only time they finished with a losing record was last season.

I would throw everything about the 2015 campaign out the window. The team was ravaged by injuries. Quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett, wide receiver Steve Smith and linebacker Terrell Suggs all suffered season-ending blows. Those key players will be back for this season. Another player who got injured before the season was wide receiver Breshad Perriman. The rookie didn’t play a snap last season and is expected to give a big boost to the Ravens offense.

Because the Ravens struggled last season, they are being priced as an average team. The bias from last year is where value is created. The Ravens would have to go under .500 for me to lose this bet and that has been a rarity in the Harbaugh era. Well-coached teams off a down year are usually a good bet to go over their win total. I’m picking the Ravens as the season win total bet I’m most confident in.

Pick: Ravens over 8 (-135)

NFL: Preseason Week 1 Handicapping Preview

Some see the NFL preseason as bad football but I see it as great opportunities to find point spread value. Unlike the regular season, coaches usually open up about their game plan. If you read articles and tweets from beat writers, you will find out how many snaps the starters will play and how the team will approach the game.

It’s too early in the week to know about how teams will approach these games but I have found three contests in Week 1 of preseason where I think I have a strong angle.

One thing I look for when picking preseason games is quarterback competitions. There are several teams with two of more quarterbacks that still think they will win the job and will be giving their maximum effort when they get an opportunity. I also looked at teams with new coaches. The best way to win over a fan base and impress the local media is to win in your home debut. There a several of those cases right off the bat.

Buccaneers at Eagles (-3) 

The Eagles haven’t played a game under Doug Pederson but the pressure is already on the first-time head coach. It started when the team re-signed Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel followed Pederson from Kansas City to Philadelphia. It looked like those two would battle for the starting quarterback job until a third player entered the picture. The Eagles traded a package of draft picks for FCS star Carson Wentz. It looks like Bradford is the favorite to start in Week 1 of the regular season but it can’t help his confidence that his coach wanted a player from North Dakota State so desperately that they traded valuable assets for him.

Philadelphia is a market that wants to win now and the media isn’t shy to share their honest opinions about the team. Because of that I think Pederson will want to make a statement in his first home game in charge, even if it doesn’t count in the standings. Quieting the media and satisfying the fans early should be motivation for the Eagles to want to win the game.

As mentioned before, the quarterback competition for the Eagles is still up for grabs so we should see four quarters of play from three motivated players who think they can win the job. Chase Daniel is familiar preseason situations from his days with the Saints and Chiefs so this pick is partly on him to play well. The motivation for the new coach and quarterback competition leads me to taking the Eagles.

Pick: Eagles (-3) over Buccaneers

Cowboys at Rams (-3.5)

The NFL is back in Los Angeles and the Rams open their preseason schedule at home against the Cowboys. A few factors have me favoring the Rams against the spread in this game even though they are giving more than a field goal. Motivation is the first reason as the Rams will want to put on a show for their new fan base and collect a win.

The Rams are another team with a quarterback competition. Case Keenum is listed as the starter for now but rookie Jared Goff has to believe he can win the job, and St. Louis might leave the first team offense out so the first overall pick gets a fair shot.

This pick is also a play against the Cowboys. Dallas was plagued by injuries last season and it’s already beginning in training camp. Backup quarterback Kellen Moore broke his ankle and running back Ezekiel Elliott has been banged up. The Cowboys main priority is to get out of the preseason without anymore injuries, so I’m guessing Tony Romo and the starters will only see one series if they suit up.

The Moore injury really hampers the Cowboys in this game as rookie Dak Prescott is now the backup. Jameill Showers is Dallas’ other option. I’ll take the Rams here as they have a huge edge when it comes to the quarterback position and the motivation angle.

Pick: Rams (-3.5) over Cowboys

Texans at 49ers (-3)

The biggest takeaway from the 2015 preseason was that Chip Kelly wants to win and isn’t afraid to run up the score. Philadelphia finished the month 3-1 with a point differential of +56. Kelly showed off his hand-picked offensive offensive weapons and the buzz was so great that the Eagles became a Super Bowl favorite because of their exhibition game play.

Things didn’t work out in Philly and now Kelly is back on the west coast with the 49ers. He faces a huge challenge as he tries to resurrect the career of Colin Kaepernick and attempts to get the most out of Blaine Gabbert. It doesn’t look pretty but these two players will be looking to impress their new coach and win the starting job. Kelly will let both play and he’s a coach you want to back in preseason based off his track record.

The Texans have a new quarterback and running back this season but here’s another team that just needs to get out of the preseason without anymore injuries. Most notably, J.J. Watt is in danger of missing the start of the regular season after undergoing back surgery. Houston will want Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller to get used to the new offense but I’m going to predict Houston will wait until the second or third game of preseason to put them on display. The 49ers are a bad team but I feel comfortable in supporting Chip Kelly in this spot.

Pick: 49ers (-3) over Texans