NFL Countdown to Kickoff: Season Win Totals Value Picks
by Dave Schwab - 5/26/2014
The majority of the big-name free agents have either resigned with their original team or found a new place to call home, and this year's crop of top college prospects are with their new team via the recent draft. Even though the first regular-season game is still over three months away, this is traditionally the time of the year where oddsmakers release a host of team and player prop odds as well as their futures odds for a number of different categories.
One of my personal favorites is projected win totals, along with a moneyline for "under" or "over" the set number. Using Sportsbook.ag's betting odds as my guide, the following is a look at a few of my top value picks for these futures.
Houston Texans: Over 7.5 (-160)
Houston brings a 14-game losing streak into the 2014 regular season after imploding to a 2-14 record last season. Everything that could go wrong did in one of the most dramatic falls from grace in recent memory. Looking back at the Texans' track record before this incredible slide, they won 10 games in 2011, and they went 12-4 in 2012, so they are not that far removed from remembering how to win.
Former quarterback Matt Schaub caught most of the blame for last year's woes on offense, and the once-feared defense fell to 25th in the NFL in points allowed. There are still some major question marks at the quarterback position, but the addition of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick in the draft will immediately make this defense better. With much of the talent still in place from 2012, this unit can easily rise right back up to the top of the rankings in 2014, which should work to get Houston back to .500 at the very least.
San Francisco 49ers: Under 10.5 (+110)
The 49ers have enjoyed a very high level of success over the past three seasons with Jim Harbaugh at the helm as head coach, but they have also endured quite a bit of frustration with two losses in the NFC Championship Game sandwiched around a loss in Super Bowl XLVII. It is hard to maintain such high level for this long of a run, and San Francisco could be in for a step backwards this season.
I am still not sold on Colin Kaepernick as a top franchise quarterback in the NFL, and Frank Gore heading into his 10th season is starting to get a bit too old to carry this offense on the ground. My biggest concern would be the state of mind of Harbaugh himself, after rumblings that he might be on his way out. This team should still win nine or 10 games this season, but getting to 11 could easily turn out to be a real chore.
Cincinnati Bengals: Under 9 (+110)
The Bengals are coming off an 11-5 campaign in 2013 after winning 10 games in 2012. They have actually won nine or more games in four of their last five seasons. However, three straight losses in the Wild-Card Round of the playoffs have brought out the rumblings against both Marvin Lewis as a long-time veteran head coach and fourth-year player Andy Dalton as a legitimate franchise quarterback in this league. The pot got stirred a bit more when Cincinnati decided to draft former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron in the fifth round.
There is still quite a bit of talent on both sides of the ball for the Bengals, and the addition of cornerback Darqueze Dennard and running back Jeremy Hill through the draft were both solid picks. My question with the Bengals' ability to get to 10 wins this upcoming season has more to do with Pittsburgh and/or Baltimore. Both teams are coming off tough seasons, but both franchises, along with their head coaches, have already proven that they know how to turn things around in a hurry. It is going to be tough for Cincinnati just to maintain the 3-3 record it had against the rest of the AFC North last year. It is also very difficult to go 8-0 at home to make up for a 3-5 record on the road.
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