There is no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to sports gambling. After sorting through a decade of U/O win data, though, we have a few that are as close as you’ll get. First, it’s important to point out that the biggest choice you face for the 2018 NFL season isn’t what to bet, it’s which to bet.
By that, we mean to say that identifying the few teams you think are most likely to either go over or under their win projection is the most efficient way to go. Don’t bet on every single team. If you try to guess the U/O on all 32 NFL teams this season, you’d be lucky to break even.
However, if you educate yourself on the select few teams you’re really confident in, you could make out quite nicely. After combing through teams who, over the last 10 seasons, have over or underachieved consistently, we have a few bets that make the most sense in 2018. We in fact, have just four “best bets” for U/O win totals in the 2018 NFL season.
Our best bets to exceed their win projections are:
Atlanta Falcons – 9
Denver Broncos – 7
Our best bets to fall below their win projections are:
Los Angeles Chargers – 9.5
New York Giants – 7
If you’ve read our other two articles talking about the biggest over and underachievers in the NFL over the last 10 seasons, you’ll remember the Falcons and Broncos consistently outperform their projections. There’s reason to believe they’ll do so again this season.
Over: Atlanta – 9
Atlanta plays in a tough division, so getting to nine wins won’t be easy, but their divisional foes face a tougher road. The division-rival Saints have the second-toughest schedule in football based on 2017 team records. Tampa Bay, who will be without QB Jameis Winston for the first four games of the regular season, has the fourth toughest road.
The Panthers and Falcons have equally tough schedules, ranking No. 12 and 13 respectively. A key reason the win total of nine provides great value is that the Falcons could finish at 9-7 and push (earning you your money back). It’s hard to imagine a world where Atlanta finishes with just eight wins unless a key player suffers a major injury.
Over: Denver – 7
Denver seems like an even better bet than the Falcons for a couple reasons. To start, their status as an overachiever was diminished by the fact they greatly underachieved last season. Without 2017 in the 10-year data set, they would have been among the top three overachieving teams in all of football.
Why did they underachieve last year? The simple answer is quarterback play. This offseason,
they acquired Case Keenum, who helped lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game last
year. He is not an All-Pro, but he is a significant upgrade over Brock Osweiler/Trevor Siemian at the most important position in sports.
Denver has a defense strong enough to keep them in most games and now they have a gunslinger
who can help them win a few close games they didn’t a season ago.
Add to that the fact the Chiefs will be playing with a rookie quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and
the Raiders will be adjusting to life under new head coach Jon Gruden, and there’s reason to
believe the Broncos may reign supreme in the AFC West once again. The one team standing in their way is Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Speaking of them…
Under: Chargers – 9.5
Oddsmakers love the Chargers this season. They have the Chargers at a 9.5 win projection, which seems high, especially given their 10-year trend of underachieving relative to their win projections.
The Chargers haven’t won more than nine games since 2009 when they won the AFC West with 13 victories. However, they’ve won exactly nine games four times in that span, including last year.
The Chargers were one of the hottest teams in football to end the season, but we’ve seen this
from them before. They’re a team that starts incredibly slow and finishes strong. With an
improved Broncos team in the division, it’s just hard to bank on L.A. winning 10 games this year.
Under: Giants – 7
Finally, there are the Giants, the perennial beneficiaries of East Coast bias. Somehow, this team
that went 3-13 and didn’t significantly improve, is projected at seven wins. Yes, they added
Saquon Barkley to their backfield and Odell Beckham will be back from injury, but Eli Manning struggled mightily last year so Barkley could face a lot of eight-man fronts. Remember when that happened to Todd Gurley in his sophomore NFL campaign? He really struggled.
In a division that generally feasts on itself and, at times, has featured four teams in the 6-9 win
range, the Giants seem to be the worst team of the four. They also have the eighth hardest
schedule in football and it really is hard to see them going at least 8-8 to win you an overbet.
Just like the Falcons are good value, because they can earn you your money back with a 9-7 season, the Giants are good value because they can overachieve at 7-9 and you would still only
push. If they play anything below that level, which is very possible, then you’re in the green.