After picking six teams I’m looking to bet against, I’ll be more positive in this article and recommend teams I’m looking to bet on. I’ll look to back these teams in individual games rather than win totals in most cases. There’s a risk betting over a team’s win total because an injury can impact everything about a team’s success. Also these win totals have been out for months so there isn’t much value left in August. Instead of waiting four months to learn the result of your bet, I prefer betting on the teams I like early in the season.
I have four teams I like but want to mention two before diving in. The Rams and Chargers are two teams I like a lot but so do a lot of people. The Rams win total is 10 and they are in a loaded NFC. It’s asking a lot of them to win 11 games. Instead of going over their win total, I tweeted that I bet them to win the NFC West at -135 because I’m down on the 49ers and Seahawks, who are the other two teams that could realistically win the division.
The Chargers win total is at 9.5 but they sit at +155 to win the AFC West. I wrote about betting against the Chiefs and Raiders so I’m considering a division bet on the Chargers. I’m interested in taking them -3 in Week 1 against the Chiefs too. I’ll tweet out whatever I end up doing with the Chargers.
Falcons- It would’ve been a very predictable outcome if the 2017 Falcons didn’t meet expectations after one of the worst Super Bowl losses in NFL history. Their play was up and down but they ended up going over a win total of 9.5 with a victory in Week 17. They were able to make the playoffs, upset the Rams and had a great chance of beating the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles in Philadelphia. I think the Falcons’ offense will see positive regression in offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s second season in charge. I expect a strong year from the defense as Dan Quinn continues to develop players that fit his system. A win total at 9 seems a touch low and it’s tempting to take the Falcons in a Week 1 revenge game against the Eagles on the first Thursday night of the season.
Verdict: There are several ways to bet on the Falcons this season so I’m going to look to find spots early in the season to back them.
Cowboys- The national perception is negative towards the Cowboys for football and non-football reasons right now. The 2017 season didn’t end well in Dallas and they released Dez Bryant this offseason. I think the Cowboys are a buy low team because of negativity about the team. They were in a similar position two years ago when Dak Prescott needed to start in the place of an injured Tony Romo, and no one gave them a chance to do well. The Cowboys still have a strong offensive line, and Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee are two stars at their respective positions. I would recommend staying away from betting on the win total of 8.5 because an injury to Elliott, Lee or star left tackle Tyron Smith could totally change the outlook of the team like it did last season. But as long as everyone is healthy, look to bet on the Cowboys in at least the first few weeks of the season.
Verdict: Look to bet on the Cowboys early when the national perception is down on them and while they are at full health.
Bears- It’s no surprise that the Bears are getting a lot of positive buzz this summer with a new head coach and an overhaul in receiving options. With a second-year quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, there have been a lot of comparisons to the 2017 Rams. However, Trubisky is still unproven and the NFC North is one of the best in the NFL. So I would be unsure about betting over 6.5 for a season win total. Chicago has six winnable games in the first half of their schedule. They face the Seahawks, Cardinals, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Jets and Bills in their first eight games. If they can’t win four of those games, then the path to seven wins will be very difficult. I also think there could be value on the Bears as over a touchdown underdog at the Packers in Week 1.
Verdict: The Bears have winnable games early so bet them in those matchups instead of taking a shot at the season win total.
Buccaneers- The Buccaneers weren’t on my radar as a team to be on until Jameis Winston received a three-game suspension. The drop off between Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick might not be that much especially since Fitzpatrick knows he will be starting the first three games and will be able to practice with the first string offense. Tampa Bay greatly improved their defensive line in the offseason, and also got better on the offensive line and at running back. They will be big underdogs against the Saints, Eagles and Steelers in the first three weeks but can see them covering spreads if Winston’s suspension is overvalued in the line.
Verdict: The difference between Winston and Fitzpatrick shouldn’t be more than two points and the Buccaneers improved enough in the offseason to keep games close.
Two teams with low win totals that just missed my list are the Colts and Dolphins. The Colts lost a lot of close games last season with Jacoby Brissett under center and it looks like Andrew Luck is going to be ready for Week 1. They also hired Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who should be a huge upgrade over Chuck Pagano. Over 6.5 wins was even odds in late May and now you have to lay -200 to go over that number so the value is gone there. They also opened as a one-point favorite in Week 1 against the Bengals and now that line is Colts -3 with the news that Luck has progressed throughout the summer. I would’ve been very interested in the Colts as under a field goal favorite there so I would have to pass for now.
I think the Dolphins will be better with a healthy Ryan Tannehill instead of Jay Cutler and I still believe that Adam Gase is a good coach. The win total has been bet up after opening at 6 and now over 6.5 is -150. The Dolphins are 1.5-point home underdogs against the Titans in Week 1. I’m curious to see if Miami ends up being a favorite in that game by kickoff.