Welcome to the dead period of the NFL offseason.
With free agency drying up and the 2021 NFL Draft in the rearview, it's time to look toward next season.
And with the NFL schedule dropping recently, sportsbooks have released their initial win totals for the 2021 campaign.
This year, there’s the added twist of a 17-game schedule, which will make win total bets even more interesting. Of course, it’s best to be judicious when it comes to placing win-total bets.
To help you out, here are 10 win total bets that are worth considering during the 2021 NFL season.
*All odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of May 21
Baltimore Ravens: Over 11, +100
It’s a little easy to doubt the Ravens after they won 11 games last season and enter the 2021 season with the second-toughest schedule in the NFL. But keep in mind they won 14 games two years ago when Lamar Jackson was crowned MVP. There’s nothing stopping Jackson from regaining his MVP form. In fact, the supporting cast around him is better with Sammy Watkins and first-round pick Rashod Bateman, plus shifty running back J.K. Dobbins will likely get an increased role.
Granted, the teams in the AFC North are better than they were two years ago. But the Ravens have an MVP candidate under center and a solid defense that added a couple of early-round picks from this year’s draft. With 17 games, finishing 12-5 feels like a good projection for the Ravens.
New England Patriots: Under 9, +100
For what it’s worth, the Patriots had a nice offseason with all of the money they had to spend. In theory, they should be able to improve upon their seven wins in 2020. But the QB situation remains uncertain.
Cam Newton didn’t play well last season and Mac Jones doesn’t have a particularly high ceiling. Also, the Pats spent money on two tight ends but didn’t upgrade at wide receiver that much with Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Neither is a No. 1 receiver. Just because Tom Brady was able to get by with his best receivers being tight ends doesn’t mean Newton or Jones will be able to do the same, which makes winning more than nine games a stretch in what should be a much improved AFC East.
Cincinnati Bengals: Over 6.5, +120
The Bengals got all the way to four wins last season, and that was with Joe Burrow missing the end of the season due to injury. Burrow should be healthy for the start of 2021 and have old friend Ja’Marr Chase as a pass-catcher alongside Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.
If his young offensive line can take a step forward, Burrow and the Bengals could be flirting with a top-five offense this season. The Bengals also made some upgrades defensively, and so a three-win improvement from last year isn’t unreasonable, at least if they can keep Burrow healthy for the entire campaign.
New Orleans Saints: Under 9, -105
We’ve seen Taysom Hill in small doses, but can he really be a full-time starter on a playoff team? We’ve also seen Jameis Winston throw 30 interceptions in a season, so what makes the Saints think he’ll be their answer at QB?
Despite winning 12 games last season, New Orleans could be due for a big step backward this year without Drew Brees and a talent-depleted defense. Keep in mind they still don’t have a second receiver to complement Michael Thomas.
More importantly, going 6-0 inside the NFC South probably isn’t in the cards, either. The Saints could easily go 3-3 inside the division, giving them little margin for error if they want to win at least nine games.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Over 6.5, -110
In one sense, a six-win improvement from one year to the next is a lot. But the Jags lost a handful of games last year by four points or less, so at least a couple of those are bound to turn into wins this season. Plus, nobody is doubting that Trevor Lawrence is an NFL-ready quarterback or that he has some nice weapons with Marvin Jones, D.J. Chark, and former Clemson teammate Travis Etienne and James Robinson, who rushed for 1,000 yards as an undrafted rookie last year.
Keep in mind, the Jags play in what could be the worst division in football where there are probably no guaranteed losses. To be fair, if you don’t buy Urban Meyer as an NFL coach, you won’t have faith in Jacksonville getting to at least seven wins. But Meyer and Lawrence could both be difference-makers who help make the Jaguars a respectable team in 2021.
Washington Football Team: Under 8, +110
Is Ryan Fitzpatrick really the QB to help Washington take the next step? To be fair, they won the NFC East last year but did so with just seven wins. The division is extremely underrated with all four teams equipped with talent on both sides of the ball, which makes WFT's run a little tougher this year.
Admittedly, the Washington defense is solid and scary good along the defensive line. But is that going to be enough to top eight wins? It’s fair to be a little skeptical of that.
Miami Dolphins: Over 9.5, +115
Admittedly, taking the Dolphins to win at least 10 games means taking a leap of faith in Tua Tagovailoa. But Miami has given him a talented group of wide receivers around him, which should help him take a step forward.
Coach Brian Flores put together one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, helping lead the Dolphins to 10 wins. With one extra game on the schedule, all the Dolphins have to do is match last year’s win total, which is why this is one of our favorite win total bets this year.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Under 8.5, -115
Let’s be honest, the Steelers in 2021 will be a lot closer to the team that went 1-4 down the stretch and then lost a home playoff game than the team that started the year 11-0.
While Pittsburgh’s wide receivers came on strong last season, Ben Roethlisberger looks like he’s over the hill and is a good candidate to get hurt. With two other playoff teams in the division and an improved Cincinnati squad, the NFC North will be tough to navigate.
In fact, the Steelers have the toughest schedule heading into the season. There are a lot of signs pointing to a down year for Pittsburgh, which could result in a losing record.
New York Giants: Over 7, -120
Not a lot went right for the G-Men last year, but Joe Judge was still able to find six wins in his first year as an NFL head coach. While we remain skeptical of Daniel Jones at QB, there should be no question that he has enough skill players around him with the addition of Kenny Golladay and the return of Saquon Barkley from injury.
That should be enough to add a couple of wins to New York’s record, getting the Giants over their projection of seven wins.
San Francisco 49ers: Under 10.5, -130
Even with a lot going wrong for San Francisco last year, are we sure that the 49ers will bounce back and once again become a contender in the NFC? The 49ers play in arguably the best division in the NFL, so improving upon their 3-3 record inside the division doesn’t seem likely.
Jimmy Garoppolo is still an injury-prone quarterback and rookie Trey Lance may not be ready to play right away if called upon. While the San Francisco defense is still in good shape, that unit isn’t at the same level as two years ago.
With all of that in mind, it’s hard to believe the 49ers can improve their win total by five games in 2021.
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