NFL
September 8, 2021

2021 NFL Win Totals: AFC Betting Guide

The 2021 NFL season kicks off at the same place it ended in 2020, Tampa Bay, Florida, as the reigning Super Bowl champions Buccaneers will face the Dallas Cowboys on "Thursday Night Football."

To help add some fuel to the excitement, we will take a look at each AFC team's win totals (via the FanDuel Sportsbook) and I will give my predictions on how to bet each team's totals. Keep in mind that win totals vary between books and you should always look for the best value. FanDuel typically has the best odds.

One more thing to think about is that the numbers are going to be inflated this year more than in previous seasons. This is because of the added game to every team's schedules. Just remember that NFL is playing 17 games this season. 

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Win Total: 11

Over (-120)

Under(+100)

One important thing to note about the Bills is they are retaining both offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. I am a big believer in keeping a consistent coaching staff when you have a team this young, and this talented.

While they will have to make road trips to Kansas City, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee this season, the duo of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs should prove to be lethal once more in 2021. 

Prediction: Over 11 (-120)

New England Patriots

Win Total: 9.5

Over: (+100)

Under: (-120)

This one is tricky. On one hand, Mac Jones took over the starting spot from the now-released Cam Newton with a very impressive preseason and seems to be the next franchise quarterback.  On the other hand, this team doesn't really have "that guy." 

What I mean by that is there is not one skill player on this offense that you can trust to just force-feed the ball. Under Tom Brady, the Patriots had Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, and even Julian Edelman. While the Patriots went out and signed Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith in free agency, they don't really move this team into contention.

The Pats will float around .500 this season and then take off next year after Jones gets a year under his belt. 

Prediction: Under 9.5 (-120)

Miami Dolphins

Win Total 9.5

Over: (+125)

Under: (-145)

The Dolphins are a good football team. However, they have a bad quarterback. If they traded for Deshaun Watson like it's been rumored, this would have been a sneaky Super Bowl selection. 

While Tua Tagovailoa showed promise, he just didn't have "it" last season. He still can prove it this year, but I will believe it when I see it. Now, not all of his struggles are his fault. The Dolphins' offensive line is very inexperienced and very young. With Tagovailoa coming off a major hip injury at Alabama in 2019, I am willing to not fully declare him a bust yet. But with his below-average rookie season, injury history, and a shaky offensive line, the under of 9.5 wins is the play here.

Prediction: Under 9.5 (-145)

New York Jets

Win Total: 6

Over: (-115)

Under: (-105

The Jets are absolutely on the right path. A new, energetic head coach, a shiny-new quarterback, and a roster full of athletes. Not to mention, they are a big free-agency destination.

However, the offense has not played a real game together and the defensive secondary is, well, pretty awful. They were able to add some pretty big names in free agency with Corey Davis and Carl Lawson to help fill in the cracks, but with the loss of Lawson due to an Achilles tear and the fact that Davis has seriously underperformed as a very high draft pick is cause for concern. 

Zach Wilson should be great, he has all the tools. The problem is, he is a rookie, and taking the over on the win total for a team with a rookie quarterback is very risky and is just not worth it.

Prediction: Under 6 (-105)

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Win Total: 11

Over: (+100)

Under: (-120)

The Ravens are a Super Bowl contender when they're at full strength. The problem is, they're not even close to being at full strength to start the campaign with a lot of their offensive weapons injured.

Second-year running back J.K. Dobbins is out for the year with a torn ACL and Justice Hill also will be shelved for the season with a torn Achilles. While Gus Edwards has proven in the past to be a very reliable option in the backfield, the Ravens thrive on their ability to just pump out great runners. 

At the end of the day, Lamar Jackson and this loaded defense will carry the team to playoff contention, but with a tough schedule and surging competitors in the division, the under makes the most sense. 

Prediction: Lean Under 11 (-120)

Cleveland Browns

Win Total: 10.5

Over: (-115)

Under: (-105)

It is weird to say it, but the Browns are legit Super Bowl contenders. I personally have them losing to the Chiefs in the AFC championship, but this team has had a phenomenal offseason.

Obviously, there is no such thing as a lock in the NFL and the Browns winning 11 games with a -11 point differential in 2020 is puzzling. While most of that was due to a poor defensive secondary, they have added John Johnson III and Troy Hill from the Rams via free agency and will be getting the first game reps for 2019 second-round pick Grant Delpit.

Bringing back the highest-rated offensive line and a two-headed monster of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield is what will take this team over the top of the AFC North. The question is, how far will Baker Mayfield take this team, and how much will Odell Beckham Jr. bring to a team that already took new heights? If it is the Mayfield who was the highest-rated deep-ball passer in the NFL, then the Browns are ready to rock and roll. 

Prediction: Over 10.5 (-115)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Win Total: 8.5

Over: (+110)

Under: (-130)

This offensive line flat-out stinks. And with a banged-up and at the end of his rope Ben Roethlisberger, there really is not a lot to be thankful for with this offense.

The defense is another story, they rock and will carry this team to some wins that they have no business having. The T.J. Watt holdout rumors are concerning and are definitely something to look out for, but the defense is still good enough to keep this team semi-relevant.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool make up a strong trio of pass-catchers and the addition of Alabama running back Najee Harris will help improve a mediocre rushing attack. At the end of the day, they are severely limited with this offensive line and aging quarterback. 

Prediction: Under 8.5 (-130)

Cincinnati Bengals

Win Total: 6.5

Over: (+100)

Under: (-120)

I do not believe that the Bengals are as bad as people think. Although, I will believe that this offensive line is as bad as people think.

Joe Burrow was starting to settle in comfortably as a rookie quarterback before his poor offensive line allowed him to get beat up so bad that he ripped up his knee and had to miss the majority of his rookie season. 

While I see the vision with drafted Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth pick in the draft, they made a massive mistake not taking an offensive lineman to help protect their franchise quarterback. Yes, Burrow and Chase combined to produce the best offense in college football history at LSU in 2019, they had a competent offensive line on that team. 

The defense is sneaky good with the addition of Trey Hendrickson and the emergence of Vonn Bell, but they have to prove it. 

Simply put, this team screams under, but I really do think they are more talented than that. 

Prediction: Stay away (lean under 6.5)

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs

Win Total: 12.5

Over: (+120)

Under: (-140)

Now do not yell at me when I say that the Chiefs are very good at football. I am also going to go out on a limb here and say that Patrick Mahomes is very good at football. Again, don't yell at me.

While they were not overly dominant last season, they improved that offensive line that got humiliated in the Super Bowl by adding veterans Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney. I am not sure if a better offensive line would have meant a Chiefs repeat, but they would not have gotten embarrassed by the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.

This is an easy over. And at +120 value, we are looking at a good payout. 

Prediction: Over 12.5 (+120)

Los Angeles Chargers

Win Total 9.5

Over: (+110)

Under: (-135)

Justin Herbert proved to be the right selection for the Chargers. Los Angeles went 7-9 but it always felt like they lost games in hilarious fashion. This year, though, they are not playing around.

The Chargers beefed up their offensive line by adding veterans Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler and then drafting Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater with the 13th pick. This is how you build off a great rookie quarterback. If this offensive line lives up to its full potential, the Chargers will have a shot to win a lot of ball games. 

New head coach Brandon Stanley has been labeled a "defensive genius" and should help what was a very average defense. While they are not ready to dethrone the Chiefs or even compete for an AFC championship, they are well on their way.

Prediction: Over 9.5 (+110)

Las Vegas Raiders

Win Total 7

Over: (-110)

Under: (-110)

The Raiders are going to be trotting out a much-improved defense this season. Free-agency additions Yannick Ngakoue and Casey Hayward will help fill out some holes on the defense, but it probably won't be enough to move this team into contention. 

While the offense has a few solid pieces in Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller, the receiving core headlined by Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards leave a bit to be desired. Derek Carr will keep the Raiders in ball games, but he will not give Las Vegas anything more than that. 

Prediction: Under 7 (-110)

Denver Broncos

Win Total: 8.5

Over: (-130)

Under: (+105)

Much like the Dolphins, the Broncos are a very good football team without a quarterback. While I do trust Teddy Bridgewater to go out there and keep the Broncos alive in any game, he is very limited. If the Broncos went out and drafted Justin Fields instead of Patrick Surtain II with the ninth overall pick, this team would be lethal. That is not a shot at Surtain who already looks like a potential shutdown corner. 

If this team had, say, Aaron Rodgers, they'd be a Super Bowl contender. But, as of right now, they are looking like a six-to-eight-win team. However, they are very much on the right track. 

My advice is to stay away from this number.

Prediction: Stay away (lean Under 8.5)

AFC South

Tennesse Titans

Win Total: 9

Over: (-165)

Under: (+140)

The Titans are going to win the AFC South again, and they will probably hover around 11 wins in the process of doing that. When I look at the Titans, I see an already proven version of the Browns. A game-manager quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, a great skill room headlined by Derrick Henry, and they added a veteran wide receiver in Julio Jones (much like the Browns did with Beckham in 2019.)

The defense still has some questions but the additions of Bud Dupree from the Steelers and first-round rookie cornerback Caleb Farley give this defense a much-needed transplant of youth and talent. 

This should be an easy over as they have all the right pieces to make another deep playoff run. 

Prediction: Stay away (lean over 9)

Indianapolis Colts

Win Total: 9

Over: (-110)

Under: (-110)

The Colts are another example of a complete roster that has some questions around the quarterback room. 

While a fresh start is exactly what Carson Wentz needs to get back to his 2017 form where he probably would have been the MVP had he not suffered a season-ending injury against the Rams, it's unlikely he can lead a team to the promised land. 

The skill room is loaded with talent, headlined by second-year running back Jonathan Taylor. He is such a threat in the passing game that it should help Michael Pittman get open and confuse defenses. 

The defense will help pick up the slack if Wentz is not healthy or performing and this team should once again prove to be a contender in the AFC. 

Prediction: Over 9 (-110)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Win Total: 6.5

Over: (+125)

Under: (-145)

While the Jaguars were bad enough to secure the No. 1 pick last season, they were pretty unlucky. They played in six one-score games and went 1-5 in those contests. Their unluckiness was not for nothing as they were able to secure generational talent Trevor Lawrence to be the franchise's quarterback of the future. 

The thing about the Jaguars is that new coach Urban Meyer has zero experience in the NFL and is now tasked to lead a team at the highest stage. Meyer is about to realize how massive the gap between college football and the NFL really is. 

This is an easy pass for me. I need a year to see what this team actually is. 

Prediction: Stay away (lean under 6.5)

Houston Texans

Win Total: 4

Over: (-120)

Under: (+100)

The Texans won four games last season with Deshaun Watson as their starting quarterback. When looking at this team, they did nothing to help the team win more without him.

To be honest, there is really no hope for this team. Whether it is trading away a top receiver for nothing, letting star pass rusher J.J. Watt walk away or having a young, super talented quarterback demand a trade, it is all bad for the Texans. 

While Watson would not have played either way because of his off-the-field issues, the Texans are in a bad place. Tyrod Taylor will be taking the snaps this season and that is fine if you have a semi-decent team. The Texans are not that team.

The Texans are a serious candidate to be the first-ever 0-17 team. They will most likely be looking ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft. The under is the very easy play.

Prediction: Under 4 (+100)

Photo: Getty Images