This is one of my favorite times of the year - at least from an NFL betting perspective. The first meaningful NFL season win totals of the year were posted last week, so we have a chance to look at them, see if there are any nice opportunities for value - which is very doubtful - and generally analyze them to death. It's the most interesting football analysis we have gotten to do in a long time. When you look at the win totals, there inevitably some bets that stand out as clear and obvious sucker bets. Here are five ( All odds are from Bovada):
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Cleveland Browns ("over/under" 4.5 wins): I shouldn't have to say anything here. I mean, you can't seriously be considering betting on the Browns right now, can you? On one hand they are the Browns, and that means that they are the least competent franchise in sports. A long history of underwhelm. On the other hand, though, they not only have a new coach but the most competent coach they have had in a long time. He, in turn, has a new quarterback to work with. It has become fashionable to mock Robert Griffin III for the trajectory his career has followed. He was very strong as a rookie, though, and he's smart enough to know that this is the last chance he's going to get in this league. The talent gaps on this team could mean that they could lose 15 games and we wouldn't be surprised. Bad teams can win five games if they play like their best selves, though. There is just no way to confidently assess where this team is at - at least in terms of this number.
Denver Broncos (o/u 9 wins): Teams coming off of Super Bowl wins can look good again - or they can struggle. Teams losing their star starting quarterback can struggle to find a new identity - especially when they also lose the heir apparent at the position, and they have a ridiculously poor situation at the position right now. The defense is very strong, but is it enough? I just don't see how you can bet on this team - either way - with the information we have right now.
L.A. Rams (o/u 7.5 wins): Excitement is high for this team right now - at least in some areas. There is a lot of uncertainty here, though, They have a coach who has struggled and who could very quickly become an obvious lame duck. They don't really have a quarterback. They are going to be faced with less-than-ideal playing conditions - neither their home field nor their practice facilities will feel truly like home. They don't have an ideal QB situation - they'll be relying on a rookie, and if he falters for some reason there isn't much to love behind him. There is some decent talent here, so it's not impossible to see this team going .500 or better and paying off on the over here. It also wouldn't be tough to imagine them really struggling. I just don't see any good reason to speculate about a team in such a unique and difficult situation.
New England Patriots (o/u 10.5 wins): Above all else, you just need to ask one question here - how many games is Tom Brady going to play this year? At this point it could be 16 if his case still is working through the system or if he somehow wins again. Or it could be 12 if he has to serve his four-game suspension. Or it could be somewhere in between in the unlikely event that there is a settlement of some sort. We just don't know. And we can't have any real idea of how ready his backup will be if he isn't ready. The over is a very strong favorite here, but given the uncertainty we just can't take the over. It's the ultimate sucker bet. What is Brady worth compared to a likely replacement? Two wins, maybe? More? Less? It's quite possible that that difference would be the difference between an over and an under. Terrible bet.
Tennessee Titans (o/u 5.5 wins): They are just begging you to take the over here - it sits at -115 and yet they have not moved the number. Don't fall for it - this is not a team worth betting on. Mike Mularkey was somehow named head coach after his stint as interim coach last year. It's a bad idea - he's just 18-39 in time at the helm for three teams over his career, and was a truly pathetic 2-14 in his one year at the helm in his last job in Jacksonville. Hard to believe that he is the guy to make a quantum leap forward this year - and he at least needs to double the team's win total from last year to go over here. They are going to be relying on a rookie in a key offensive line position, and they have to figure out how to keep both Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry happy running behind that line. They could be much better than last year. Or they could be the same old mess. We won't know until we see them play meaningful games, so betting on them right now would be just insane.
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