By Nico Laveris, PSO Asst. Director of Sports Operations
Aug 20, 2019

Football is back… As the pre-season thickens, everyone’s anticipation around the country is growing for the NFL’s 100th season to kick off between the Chicago Bears and rival Green Bay Packers on Thursday, September 5th. This year, there is an extra kick of excitement for football fans considering it is after the first full offseason since the U.S. Supreme court struck down the federal ban against sports betting, meaning individual states can now legalize if they please. Sports gambling is on the cusp of becoming legal in 44 states and has truly become a growing phenomenon across the country. 

Betting on sports can be difficult because there is never a definitive outcome, no matter how great the odds may appear. However, with the right facts and information, there is smart money to be made. This is essentially the smart guide for the best future and prop bets for all 32 teams in the NFL. Choose wisely! 

Recommendation Scale =  A+  to  C-

A+: Bet the house on it

C-: Best bet is usually to stay away

(All odds are set online at Caesars Sports Book out of Las Vegas and New Jersey)     

BEST BET: Kyler Murray Over 475.5 Rushing Yards (-120)

Recommendation Scale: A+

 

When looking at the college stats and accomplishments, it was no question why Kyler Murray became the winner of the 2018 Heisman Trophy and the 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick, yet going into his rookie year there are concerns over his size, durability, and mechanical instabilities. But some undoubtable factors that give Kyler Murray an edge as a quarterback are his quickness, athleticism, and open field speed. He has been closely compared to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has rushed for over 475.5 yards (Murray’s over/under mark set by Caesars) in 5 of his 7 seasons in the NFL, including his rookie year. 

Murray’s unique speed and agility with the football has also drawn smaller sized comparisons to Baltimore Ravens dual threat quarterback Lamar Jackson, who’s over/under rushing yards for this upcoming season has been set by Caesars at 849.5. Also keep in mind that Murray, who rushed for 1001 yards in his final collegiate season, will have the green light to run as he pleases under what will be a fast-pace Kliff Kingsbury offense, designed specifically to work with Murray’s unique scrambling ability and versatile skill-set. If Murray can stay healthy and translate even just 50% of his collegiate game to the NFL, do not be surprised if he has multiple games with over 100 yards on the ground and goes over 475.5 rushing yards with ease. Even if the Cardinals end up going 0-16, this is one of the best player prop bets to take this year. The only concern would be if Murray gets hurt, but that applies to pretty much every future bet out there.     

BEST BET: Julio Jones Over 1535.5 Receiving Yards (-110)

Recommendation Scale: B

 

Since his rookie season in 2011, Falcons star receiver Julio Jones has racked up over 10,730 yards on 698 receptions in 111 career games. In 2015, Jones made All-Pro 1st Team after leading the NFL in receiving yards as well as receptions, and last season, he was once again the NFL’s most productive receiver with 113 receptions, 1677 yards, and 8 touchdowns. With just 133 more receiving yards, Jones will surpass Roddy White to become the Falcons all-time receiving leader. 

This season the Falcons are looking to bounce back after going 7-9 and missing the playoffs, and it’s obvious to anyone with some football knowledge that Julio Jones will be a major part of their game-plan. The speedy emergence of Jones’ fellow Alabama product Calvin Ridley at the other WR position gives the Falcons’ veteran quarterback Matt Ryan multiple offensive weapons other than Jones, including WR Muhammed Sanu, RB Devonta Freeman, and TE Austin Hooper. This allows for more offensive parity and defensive confusion, which creates more opportunities for Jones to explode for monster yardage games as he usually does. If the offensive core of the Falcons can stay healthy, Julio Jones will get far more than his fair share of targets from Ryan and will likely reach the benchmark of 1535 yards.

BEST BET: Under 8.5 Total Wins (-150)

Recommendation Scale: C

 

The 2018 season was one full of change for the Baltimore Ravens. Behind the number 1 ranked defense in the NFL and switching from franchise quarterback Joe Flacco to rookie phenom Lamar Jackson, the Ravens won the AFC North for the first time since 2012. 2019 has already brought more change to the Ravens, and more importantly, the AFC North as a whole. The division is up for grabs and the Ravens are still in contention due to the quality offseason additions of S Earl Thomas, RB Mark Ingram, and 1st round pick WR Marquise Brown, but their number 1 defense has dwindled after losing EDGE Terrell Suggs, LB CJ Mosley, and S Eric Weddle. 

2019 will be Lamar Jackson’s first full season, and it is one filled with question marks. For wagerers, the safest move is to stay away from the Ravens until there is a clear understanding regarding the many variables to consider. If one must make a Ravens wager, the best bet would be to assume a slip this year because of what will surely be a defensive decline. Nonetheless, nine wins is a reachable number for the Ravens assuming Lamar Jackson improves, Mark Ingram has a great year, and their defense plays above and beyond, despite the key offseason losses. This could go either way.

BEST BET: Over 6.5 Total Team Wins (-200) 

Recommendation Scale: A

 

The Buffalo Bills haven’t won a division title since 1995, and for 10 consecutive years the New England Patriots have been the lone champions of the AFC East. In 2019, expect a lot of the same out of this division as once again the Patriots are the favorites to come out victorious with Belichick & Brady leading the way. Luckily, Caesars sports book has set the Bills win total at a mere 6.5, and they don’t need to win the AFC East to accomplish that. Last year, the Bills struggled finishing 6-10, but the offseason has brought them some good fortune. 

Offensively, they’ve added prominent skill players Cole Beasley, Tj Yeldon, and Frank Gore that along with receivers John Brown and the up and coming Zay Jones, will provide the quickly improving Bills quarterback Josh Allen with some weapons. Also, the Bills have the 9th easiest schedule in the NFL (based on CBS’s SOS), meaning 7 wins is not a long-shot. Buffalo probably won’t be the best team in the AFC East, but don’t be surprised if the Bills can string together 8 or 9 wins to finish 2nd.                 

BEST BET: Christian McCaffrey Over 1049.5 Rushing Yards (-115)

Recommendation Scale: A

 

Following an average 2017 rookie season where most of his production came in the Carolina short passing game, running back Christian McCaffrey had a breakout 2018 season. Over a full 16 games, he rushed for 1,098 yards and 7 touchdowns in 219 touches. McCaffrey also caught 124 passes for 867 yards and 6 touchdowns. Going into McCaffrey’s third season, the Panthers find themselves being a dark horse team that can either be preparing for the playoffs or fighting for their lives by Week 12. The best bet here is to stay away from any team wagers on the Panthers due to their unpredictability in recent years.

Based off an evaluation of the Panthers roster, Ron Rivera will be relying on Christian Mcaffery to be the main source of production next to a healthy Cam Newton. Expect McCaffrey to have a better 2019 than 2018, but don’t necessarily expect too much from the panthers themselves.

BEST BET: Yes to make playoffs (-140)

Recommendation Scale: A+

 

In 2018, the Chicago Bears won the NFC North division for the first time in 8 years, and were carried by their number 3 ranked defense. In former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack’s inaugural season as a Bear, he proved to be the difference maker and ultimately the missing piece to an already established defensive unit that has only improved in 2019. The Bears have also improved offensively this off-season by drafting Iowa State running back David Montgomery (R3, pick 73) to play alongside up-and-coming QB Mitchell Trubisky. 

The NFC North has always been a tough division with Rodgers and Stafford leading their teams to recent playoff runs, and the Vikings defense just as scary as Chicago’s. However, the addition of safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, a former Pro Bowler and 2x National Champion at Alabama, gives Chicago no more holes on the offense or defensive side of the ball, and makes them the favorite to repeat as champions in 2019. Check out the Chicago Bears Team Outlook here. Even if they don’t happen to win the NFC North, the Bears’ smothering championship-caliber defense is strong enough on all 3 levels to get them a wild card spot. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra on this one.          

BEST BET: Under 6 Total Team Wins (-150)

Recommendation Scale: B

 

The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t had a winning season since 2015, and in 2019 they will have a Head Coach not named Marvin Lewis for the first time in 16 years. Zac Taylor will be the man in charge of trying to redirect the Bengals back to their winning ways, and even though they are tied for the second easiest schedule in the NFL (based on CBS’s SOS), it will be a year-long battle.

Offensively, the Bengals will have their struggles, especially early on the season. Star receiver AJ Green underwent ankle surgery on July 30th and will miss multiple games, leaving the Bengals with big holes to fill right from the start. Also, the Bengals have the 27th ranked offensive line (via PFF) going into 2019, and will need to make massive strides up front if they want to contend in the NFL. Combining a new head coach with a mediocre O-Line, and an injury to the best player on the roster is not something people want to bet on. The Bengals could find themselves having a top-3 draft pick in 2020, and right in the middle of the Tua sweepstakes.

BEST BET: Over 9 Win Total (-120) 

Recommendation Scale: A-

 

The Cleveland Browns have been the most talked about team going into the 2019 season for good reason. The obvious fan attraction to the Browns is the shocking fact that the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to date (16 years) has a real possibility to end. The AFC North is finally up for grabs and although there are doubters, the Browns are the real deal and can win the division. Personnel wise, the Browns have improved on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the addition of All-Pro Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will provide the Browns with offensive versatility that few teams in the NFL can match. The Browns also added running back Kareem Hunt, who will serve an 8-game suspension and join the Browns right in time for a playoff push. With young players Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and David Njoku on the rise, and the electrifying duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on the outside, this team has an opportunity to be an offensive juggernaut if they are able to play to their full ability. 

Defensively, the Browns are no slouches either. Adding veterans Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon up front as well as rookie from LSU Greedy Williams to the secondary provides depth and experience to an already talented defensive unit. On top of a large roster upgrade, the Browns also have the 10th weakest schedule in 2019 based on SOS (strength of schedule). After week 8, upon Kareem Hunt’s return to football, the Browns play 9 teams lower than themselves (16th) on the pre-season power rankings list, meaning they’re all winnable games. All in all, the script is written and the hype is real. The Browns have the largest chip on their shoulders, and a roster with the ability to win 10 games this season which could give them a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.                 

BEST BET: Dallas to make the playoffs (-120)

Recommendation Scale: B

 

Last Year, the Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East division with a 10-6 record only to lose in the divisional round to the soon to be NFC Champions Los Angeles Rams. This season, the Cowboys are looking to get back into the playoffs behind their preseason number 2 ranked defense and preseason number 2 ranked offensive line. Dallas is a sleeper team to win the Super Bowl this year, considering their roster as a whole and the changes they have made offensively this offseason. Acquiring WR Randall Cobb and getting TE Jason Witten back from retirement are two huge additions to what is already a dangerous team on both sides of the ball, and this will open up the flood gates for Dak Prescott to have a monster year. 

But things have changed as of August. With Ezekiel Elliot holding out due to a contract dispute, everything can change for the Cowboys if he doesn’t get paid. Zeke has a debate to be considered the best RB in the game, and if the holdout extends for too long and he doesn’t end up playing, it could be detrimental to their championship hopes and every fan who bets on them. Keep an eye on Zeke’s contract dispute as the x-factor on this one.

BEST BET: Under 7.5 Total Wins (+125)

Recommendation Scale: A+ 

 

Out of all the 32 teams win totals, the Denver Broncos’ is the most out of reach. They’ve improved at the quarterback position by acquiring seasoned veteran Joe Flacco, and Phillip Lyndsay is coming off an outstanding rookie campaign. Defensively they’ll still be carried on the backs of Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. as they’ve made no outside moves to see short-term improvement.

The tipping point for the Broncos this season is their entirely new coaching staff led by 1st year Head Coach Vic Fangio and their second ranked hardest schedule (based on CBS’s SoS). Any team with a new head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, quarterback, and the second most difficult schedule in the league is going to see their fair share of bumps in the road. Joe Flacco has also shown he is well past his peak as his numbers have diminished yearly. 8 wins will be a tough task for this years Broncos squad, take the under without much hesitation.

BEST BET: Over 6.5 Total Wins (-125)

Recommendation Scale: C

 

In 2018 under first year Head Coach Matt Patricia, the Detroit Lions finished last in the NFC North with a 6-10 record. This year, many are projecting a lot of the same for the Lions within their division, but they’ve improved slightly, which could buy them a couple more wins. Defensively, they have solidified themselves up front with the addition of EDGE Trey Flowers, while their secondary still relies on CB Darius Slay to do most of the heavy lifting. Offensively, the Lions have been running in circles for a few seasons now trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. QB Matthew Stafford’s numbers took a dip last year, but he didn’t have too much to work with.

This offseason, Detroit went out and got TE Jesse James as well as WR Danny Amendolla, who will try to provide some spark to a dwindling offense. The running game is still up in the air and depends on how well 2018 second round pick Kerryon Johnson can take his game to the next level after a solid, yet unspectacular rookie season. All in all, the Lions will most likely have an average season at best. That being said, it might be best to STAY AWAY from any wagers on the Lions, but the best bet would be to take the over considering they have shown some improvement and Matt Patricia now has a full season as Head Coach under his belt.         

BEST BET: Under 9.5 (-150)

Recommendation ScaleC

 

The Green Bay Packers are a sleeper pick to do well this season in the public eye. Green Bay was 7-9 in 2017, and 6-9-1 in 2018 amid firing Mike McCarthy (13 seasons) after week 13, then firing his replacement Joe Philbin immediately after the season ended. The Packers are suffering an identity crisis going into 2019, and it can go either one of two ways. One being that 1st year Head Coach Matt LaFluer can figure out how to get the absolute best out of his young players in order to help Rodgers offensively and benefit from weapons other than Davante Adams. The other being that the Packers finish slightly better than last year but still seem to be too young and the level of leadership is not enough for Aaron Rodgers at this point in his career. 

As a wagerer, the smartest move is to STAY AWAY from any Packers bets. 2019 is the first full season without Mike McCarthy running the show since 2006, therefore there are too many question marks in the air. The Packers are a sound defensive football team that got younger this offseason, but lost many key players from last year such as Clay Matthews and Haha Clinton-Dix. Offensively, Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery are no longer on the roster, and Jimmy Graham, who had only 2 touchdowns in 16 games last season, will be the starting TE. Rodgers’ 2nd and 3rd options this season will be Marquez Valdes-Scanling and Geronimo Allison. The Packers do NOT have a 10 win roster, therefore the best bet would be the under, but it is always tough to bet against a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers because any game can change in a second with him touching the ball.           

BEST BET: Deshaun Watson Over 26.5 Total Passing Touchdowns

Recommendation Scale: B

 

The Texans offensive line is awful. Even after spending their first and second round draft picks on offensive linemen Tytus Howard and Max Scharping, then signing Matt Kalil to play left tackle, Houston still has the 31st ranked offensive line in the NFL (Via PFF). So why bet on the quarterback who’s life depends on is his offensive line? Because the quarterback is Deshaun Watson, and he’s done it before, just last year as a matter of fact. With the same level of skill on his line in 2018, Deshaun Watson threw for 4165 yards, 26 touchdowns, and made the Pro Bowl without his number 2 receiver Will Fuller. 

This year with Fuller expected to be back in good health, and a new offensive coordinator Tim Kelly (former Texans TE coach) who is expected to run more of an air raid system, Watson has the perfect opportunity for an even more prolific season than the last.      

BEST BET: Over 10 wins (+130)

Recommendation ScaleB

 

11 wins is a steep number, but very reachable for the 2019 Indianapolis Colts. Top to bottom, their roster does not have many holes. Offensively, the Colts have improved their receiving core by adding Devin Funchess from the Carolina Panthers and using their second round draft pick on Ohio State WR Parris Campbell, who should have an impact right away as Andrew Luck’s third option. Marlon Mack and Eric Ebron solidify the Colts offense as security blankets for Luck, and speaking of security, the Colts also have the 5th ranked offensive line in the NFL.

     On top of this potent offense, the Colts also added to their 11th ranked 2018 defense this offseason by adding veteran EDGE Justin Houston and drafting stud CB Rock Ya-Sin out of Temple. Overall, the Colts have one of the most well put together rosters in the league and should reap the rewards this season. As long as Andrew Luck can get past these minor ankle issues, 12-4 and even 13-3 are reachable records for the Colts this season.  

BEST BET: Over 8 Total Wins (-105)

Recommendation Scale: A-

 

After winning the AFC South with a 10-6 record in 2017, the Jaguars experienced a down year in 2018 finishing in last place with a 5-11 record. This off-season, GM David Caldwell decided it was time to make some changes, and did so for the better. Although their offensive line needs some improvement, the Jags upgraded at quarterback from the struggling Blake Bortles to Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory in 2017, and back to the playoffs again in 2018. This allows for receivers Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook to potentially have breakout years. Foles is not just an upgrade at quarterback, but he is a winner, and that is just what Jacksonville needs after a season of distress.

Another winner that Jacksonville added to their roster this offseason is EDGE Josh Allen out of Kentucky, who was a captain and the top defensive asset on the best team in school history, and led the Wild Cats to their first bowl win in 10 years. Allen rounds up what is the 4th ranked defense going into the 2019 season. If Foles can play up to his potential, and RB Leonard Fournette can get back to his 2017 self, the Jaguars can ride their defense right back into the playoffs. 

BEST BET: Patrick Mahomes Over 36.5 Touchdown Passes (-125)

Recommendation Scale: A

 

The 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes was only the 3rd quarterback in NFL history to throw 50 touchdowns in a season, and the other two are Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, two future first-ballot hall of famers. Both Manning and Brady followed up their 50 touchdown seasons with 39 touchdowns, and it should be no different for Mahomes. As the MVP favorite going into the 2019 season, on a team that is destined to have a great year, even if for some reason Mohomes shows regression, 37 touchdowns is still a reachable benchmark. He is that good.   

BEST BET: Over 9.5 Total Team Wins (-140)

Recommendation Scale: A 

 

The Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 went 12-4 earning them their first playoff appearance since 2013, and it was no fluke. The Chargers have a potent offense thats ranked 4th in the NFL coming into this year. Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams are their main playmakers, but they have plenty of weapons behind that trio for Phillip Rivers to utilize, as well as a strong offensive line.

 Los Angeles also has a defensive unit that is stout on all three levels. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Denzell Perryman, Casey Heyward, Desmond King, and Derwin James are just some of the great players that make up the preseason #1 ranked chargers defense. With the #1 defense and #4 offense, expect big things from the Chargers this year and lock in the over.          

BEST BET: Jared Goff Over 27.5 Total Touchdown Passes (-125)

Recommendation Scale: B+

 

All the media attention this offseason regarding the Los Angeles Rams has leaned towards Todd Gurley’s injury and their potential to slip. But Gurley’s injury does not change the fact that in Jared Goff’s first two full seasons he threw for 28 and 30 touchdowns, made the Pro Bowl in both years, and led the Rams to a Super Bowl. Going into 2019, the Rams have the #3 ranked offense with the same receiving core as last year led by the speedy Brandin Cooks, and have improved defensively by adding Pro Bowl-caliber veterans Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle.

Even if Todd Gurley’s injury does impact his playing time, backup RB Derrell Henderson is no scrub, and the other-worldly offensive mind of Head Coach Sean McVay will still find a way to put numbers on the board. All in all, the Rams are still in contention for a Super Bowl and Jared Goff is the guy who glues all the pieces together. With or without Gurley, 28 touchdown passes is a reachable number for the 25 year-old Pro Bowler.          

BEST BET: Regular Season Worst Team (+175)

Recommendation Scale: B-

 

In 2018, the Miami Dolphins had a losing record of 7-9 and still finished second in the AFC East. This year, with newly acquired second year quarterback Josh Rosen and veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, head coach Adam Gase will have a lot on his plate. The Dolphins have the worst ranked offense behind the worst ranked offensive line in the league, a defense that will surely give up points, and an offense that will struggle to put up points. That being said, you should expect very little from the Dolphins this season, and +175 is not a bad wager to put down on them having the first pick in the 2020 draft. 

BEST BET: Stefon Diggs Over 994.5 Total Receiving Yards (-120) 

Recommendation Scale: C+

 

Stefon Diggs is coming off a career season in which he had 102 receptions on 149 targets with 1,021 yards and 9 touchdowns (all career highs). The Vikings are returning the majority of their starting offense from last year and are looking to get back to their winning ways after a 8-7-1 season. 2018 was offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s first time on the job after a midseason promotion, and there is a direct correlation between his hire and Diggs having his best year yet. Dalvin Cook and Ameer Abdullah make up the Vikings running game, therefore it is no question that the Vikings will use Diggs and Thielen as much as possible this coming year. Expect the 25-year-old Diggs to match or pass his numbers from last season.    

BEST BET: Over 11.5 Total Team Wins (-140)

Recommendation Scale: A-

 

The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have not had a season with under 11 wins since 2010. In 2019, the anomaly duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will return for their 19th season together and attempt to make the super bowl for the fourth year in a row. The Patriots have the second easiest regular season schedule in the league (based on SOS) and still sit in one of the weakest divisions in the league. 

Although 12 wins is a steep number as a wagerer, the Patriots should handle their business this year and end up in a position that has become very familiar to them: division champions. 13-3 is a reachable record for the reigning champs, If there’s one rule to being a successful NFL gambler in today’s game, it’s never bet against the Patriots.  

BEST BET: Over 10.5 Team Total Wins (+110)

Recommendation Scale: B+

 

The New Orleans Saints were a penalty flag away from playing in the Superbowl last season. Coming into this season with a vengeance, the Saints maintain a very similar offensive look and still have the preseason number 5 ranked offense in the league. The addition of TE Jared Cook gives Drew Brees yet another short yardage red zone target, and Sean Peyton more options when it comes to play-calling. Also, after losing Mark Ingram, the Saints made a big move by signing Latavius Murray, which gives them even more versatility out of the backfield as if they didn’t have enough with Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill when needed.

New Orleans has had at least 11 wins in the past 2 seasons and has enough offensive firepower again this year to get the job done. 11 wins is a high number and could scare away some wagerers, but the Saints have the 10th easiest schedule in the league (based on CBS’s SoS) and will be playing with a chip on their shoulders like never before.       

BEST BET: Saquon Barkley Over 1899.5 Total Yards from Scrimmage (-115)

Recommendation Scale: A

 

19 times in NFL history, running backs that have had over 2000 total yards in a season have repeated this feat the very next season. In 2018, Saquan Barkley became the third rookie in NFL history to ever reach 2000 total yards, and he has quickly elevated into a category among the best running backs in the league.

This year, the Giants will rely on Barkley to carry most of the workload, and even though opposing defenses will be focusing in on trying to stop Barkley, he is good enough to avoid a decrease in production. Betting on the Giants team totals this year would be risky, but Caesars line of 1900 yards from scrimmage for Saquon Barkley is a great bet to take.       

BEST BET: Under 7.5 Total Team Wins (+100)

Recommendation Scale:  B+

 

The New York Jets have had one of the more intriguing off-seasons with the acquisition of Le’Veon Bell. Before taking a year away from the game over a contract dispute, Bell was a 1st team All-Pro and had a league-high 321 carries for Pittsburgh. Although some people are high on the Jets this season, there are many question marks surrounding their potential. 

The Jets have a below-average receiving core and offensive line in front of quarterback Sam Darnold, who has yet to prove himself. Defensively the Jets improved up front by drafting defensive linemen Quentin Williams, and acquiring linebacker C.J. Mosley from the Ravens. Overall, the Jets are a young team with a solid defensive identity that are relying on Le’veon Bell, who has not played since 2017, to lead their offensive productivity. This means there will be growing pains, and a 7-9 season or worse seems to be a solid prediction.    

BEST BET: Over 5.5 Total Team Wins (-110)

Recommendation Scale: B+

 

The Oakland Raiders Over/Under Line before the premier of HBO’s Hard Knocks was set by Caesars sports book at 6. Now, just 2 weeks in, the line has dropped to 5.5. For non-bettors, this means the public believes that the Raiders chances of achieving 6 wins this season are diminishing slightly. The popular wager on the Raiders going into 2019 is the Under, and it’s easy to see why. Oakland has the hardest schedule in the league (based on CBS’s SoS), and is taking a lot of scrutiny based off of Antonio Browns foot injury and helmet antics. It’s important to not let the media’s information and portrayal of a team blind a wagerer of what is really important: the actual potential of the team.

The Raiders roster is a very interesting one sprinkled with an abundance of veterans and rookies on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Derek Carr now has Antonio Brown, one of the most valuable receivers in the NFL because he has the ability to change the game with one play any time he touches the ball. In other terms, he can do things other receivers flat out can’t do. Rookie WR Hunter Renfrow is a player to watch out for because, just like Brown, he is undersized yet knows how to use his strengths to his advantage. Expect rookie RB Josh Jacobs to also contribute to the Raiders offense right away, after thriving in Alabama’s pro-style offense. Defensively, the Raiders have improved by drafting EDGE Clelin Ferrell and S Johnathan Abram, then signing S Lamarcus Joyner and LB Vontaze Burfict. Will Oakland be a playoff team? Probably not, but the Raiders are building something special and have the ability to see improvement if some rookies can play up to their potential. 6 wins is very possible for this team.   

BEST BET: Carson Wentz Under 30.5 Total Passing Touchdowns (-110)

Recommendation Scale: B-

 

In 2017, Carson Wentz played 13 games before tearing his ACL. He was on his way towards a career season with 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns already, and watched from the sidelines as his backup Nick Foles led the Eagles to a Super Bowl title. In 2018, Wentz played 11 games and saw his numbers slip to 3,074 yards with only 21 touchdowns. This year, the Eagles have made it clear to Wentz that he is their quarterback of the future by letting Foles walk (to the Jaguars) and handing Wentz a monster contract extension.

Any successful wagerer will pay attention to history before making a bet, and recent history shows that Wentz struggles to stay healthy. Even if Wentz was never injured, he would’ve only reached the 30 touchdown mark once in his 3-year career. That being said, Wentz has a lot to prove this coming season, but even if he can manage to stay healthy and play all 16 games, 31 touchdowns is a lofty bet for a quarterback who’s main objective this season is to avoid injuries. The Eagles may have a great year, but Wentz needs to have an MVP year for the over to be relevant. 

BEST BET: Over 9.5 Total Team Wins (-115)

Recommendation Scale: B-

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers will experience something they haven’t since 2009, and that is a season without star WR Antonio Brown. What the Steelers still do have is the #3 ranked offensive line in the league to protect their franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a receiving core led by Juju Smith-Schuster, and a sturdy defensive unit at all 3 levels, with their first round draft pick Devin Bush stepping in at MLB.

Last year, Ben Roethlisberger led all quarterbacks in completions, attempts, yards, yards per game, and interceptions. Without Brown, his production may go down slightly, but the Steelers are still in contention for the AFC North title and will have to win 10 or more games to keep up with the revamped Cleveland Browns.  

BEST BET: Over 8.5 Total Team Wins (-130)

Recommendation Scale: B+

 

In 2019, the Seattle Seahawks have the 8th easiest schedule in the league (based on CBS’s SoS). The Seahawks have also had at least 9 wins for 7 seasons in a row, and have made the playoffs 6 times in that stretch. The 3 main considerations for betting on Seattle: consistent on field success with Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll at the helm, their front offices’ ability to surround Wilson with solid players that always seem to over achieve, and their ability to maintain a massive home field advantage at Century Link Field. A playoff quality team that can get 9 wins is almost inevitable for the Seahawks in this decade, and the smart thing to do is not bet against the historical facts.             

BEST BET: 49ers to Make the Playoffs (+250) 

Recommendation ScaleC+

 

After losing newly acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the year due to injury in Week 2, the San Fransisco 49ers 2018 season was destined to be a disappointing one. With Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard swapping back and forth for playing time at the quarterback position, the 49ers quickly turned their attention towards the NFL draft, where an opportunity to draft a star with a high draft pick arose. With the number 2 overall pick they did just that by drafting Nick Bosa, an Edge Rusher from Ohio State who is the favorite for many to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Bosa adds onto what could be one of the most disruptive defensive fronts in the league as he and new acquisition Dee Ford team up with established front-seven studs Deforest Buckner and Arik Armstead. The 49ers also added hard hitting linebacker Kwon Alexander and cornerback Jason Verrett, rounding out a very talented defensive unit on all three levels. 

Offensively, 2018 wasn’t a complete dud for San Fransisco. TE George Kittle broke the single-season TE record by racking up 1,377 yards (to go along with 88 receptions & 5 touchdowns). The blatant x-factor for the 49ers is Garoppolo’s ability to perform. If Jimmy G can come back at full strength, the niners have a good enough offense to ride their top notch defense from the bottom to the top. +250 is great odds to bet on this years 49ers squad.     

BEST BET: Jameis Winston Under 4,407.5 yards (-115)

Recommendation ScaleA+

 

There is no player in the NFL entering a contract year with more pressure on their shoulders than Jameis Winston. After being drafted by the Buccaneers 1st overall in 2015, Winston put up 2 seasons of fantastic production including slightly over 4,000 yards, and 3,500 yards in his 3rd year. Then on June 21st, 2018, the NFL suspended Winston 3 games for violating the leagues personal conduct policy.

In order for Jameis Winston to reach the mark set by Vegas at 4,407.5 yards, he will need to have the best year of his career, by far. The skill and potential to be a star has always been there, but the decision making on the field has led to inconsistencies in his game, and the decision making off the field has kept him from having the NFL’s most valuable ability – availability. The Buccaneers do have quality players around Winston, but 4,407 yards is a very steep number, and the odds that he wont reach it are too good to look over.  

BEST BET: Over 8 Total Team Wins (+120)

Recommendation Scale: C 

 

The Tennessee Titans have had a 9-7 record for the past 3 seasons, making the playoffs once in that stretch of time. 9-7 is a very average record, which is the perfect word to describe the Titans going into 2019. Defensively, the Titans strong-suit is their secondary with corners Adoree’ Jackson and Malcom Butler, and safeties Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro. Offensively the tandem of QB Marcus Mariota and RB Derrick Henry will be playing on the last year of their respective contracts behind an improved offensive line ranked 4th going into the 2019 season. 

Even though the Titans do have some established weapons personnel wise, they are faced with the 9th toughest schedule in the league (based on CBS’s SoS) and could see some bumps along the way this season. The best bet might be to STAY AWAY from the Titans wager considering 8 wins seems to nail the projected number right on the head, but to choose a real ‘Best Bet’ for this article’s sake, take the +120 line and hope the Titans can get 9 wins for the 4th consecutive season. 

BEST BET: Under 5.5 Total Team Wins (-140)

Recommendation Scale: A-

 

In 2019, the Washington Redskins have the easiest schedule in the league (based on CBS’s SoS), but this will be a non-factor considering they have what could very well be the worst collective roster in the league as well. Their receiving core is led by Josh Doctson, and their top RB will be future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, who is way past his hay-day.

Washington has young talent in RB Darrius Guise and QB Dwayne Haskins, who should be the Week 1 starter with a massive chip on his shoulder. Haskins could be a very good player one day, but with a subpar offense and a defense not even worth mentioning yet, the Redskins will see the majority of their growing pains exploited this season. 

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