With the 2021 NFL win totals being released, the time to strike on the best prices is now.
Some squads are being massively overvalued like the new-look Carson Wentz-led Colts, and other teams like Washington are just being flat-out disrespected. Sharp money should hit these teams soon, and the books will be quick to adjust their prices as a result.
With this in mind, these are the teams whose prices still hold value.
*Odds Via DraftKings Sportsbook
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 11.5 Wins
Despite being 43, Tom Brady showed no signs of slowing down, he threw for 40 TDs and more than 4,000 passing yards, finishing the year as a top-three QB by most metrics. This should be concerning to the rest of the league because this Bucs team is basically the same as last year’s. Vital guys like Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette are all returning, and their path to a title might be even easier than last year’s.
The Bucs will face the fourth-weakest schedule in the league this year. Outside of their conference opponents, they have the privilege of playing both the AFC and NFC East, which feature bottom-of-the-barrel teams like the Jets, Giants, and Eagles.
Considering last year’s Bucs managed to post an 11-5 record against tougher competition in Brady’s first year with the team, there’s no reason to think they won’t improve upon that performance.
The Play: Over 11.5 Wins
Indianapolis Colts: 10 Wins
For whatever reason, people seem to think that Wentz going to the Colts is going to be a flawless transition that results in a career renaissance for the quarterback. While Frank Reich has established himself as a QB whisperer of sorts, this version of Wentz is a far cry from the one that lit the league on fire in 2017.
The bottom line is that the MVP-caliber Wentz of 2017 is never coming back.
The best-case scenario for this Colts team is that Wentz returns to his 2018 form, which by all metrics is still not great. More importantly, there will certainly be a dip in production at the position relative to what they got from Philip Rivers last year. The roster also got weaker on the defensive side of the ball with the loss of key defensive contributors Denico Autry and Anthony Miller.
The Colts are expected to repeat last year’s impressive showing despite getting significantly worse on paper. Bet against the Colts, but more importantly, bet against Wentz.
The Play: Under 10 Wins
New England Patriots: 9.5 Wins
The Patriots have more or less owned the free-agency headlines, which seemed like an inevitability after last year’s 7-9 showing. Spending big in free agency is by no means, "Classic Belichick," but it was expected he would do all that he could to get this team back to a contender.
Spending the sixth-most guaranteed money in league history was probably a good first step. In exchange for all that cash, the Pats added edge rusher Matthew Judon, cornerback Jalen Mills, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, among others. It’s fair to criticize the Pats spending decisions at WR, especially when comparing the contracts Nelson Algoholor and Kendrick Bourne signed with the rest of the market. Corey Davis, Curtis Samuel, and Will Fuller all probably could’ve been had for the same or less. Either way, the bottom line is the Pats added a ton of talent all over their roster.
It’s not an oversimplification to say that spending $160 million in free agency makes this year’s Patriots squad at least two wins better than last year’s. While it may be true that you can’t buy your way to a championship, you can certainly buy your way to improvement. Look no further than the Pats’ own AFC East, where organizations like Miami and Buffalo were top-five spenders in free agency over the last two seasons.
Miami improved their win total by five games finishing 10-6 last year, while Buffalo improved their record by three games finishing 13-3. The moral of the story is that while haters may love to bash big free-agency spending, when good teams spend money good things happen.
The Play: Over 9.5 Wins
Chicago Bears: 7 Wins
Bears fans may have had the most disappointing offseason of anybody in the league. Between free agency and the draft, it seemed like they’d surely be able to secure their quarterback of the future, at one point it seemed like they may even be candidates to win the Russell Wilson Sweepstakes. All of those hopes and dreams started heading for the door with the signing of Andy Dalton, and they left for good when the team announced him officially as their QB1.
Please note that there is zero personal bias here (the writer of this article is a Patriots fan), GM Ryan Pace should be fired. Not only for failing to land a legit QB1 but also for his decision-making at multiple other positions on the roster. He let defensive cornerstone Kyle Fuller walk in favor of extending aging tight end Jimmy Graham, and waiting to tag Allen Robinson instead of extending him last season has hamstrung their ability to improve other areas of their roster. Don’t be surprised to see the Bears clean house after another dreadful season against the fourth toughest schedule in the league.
The Play: Under 7 Wins
Cleveland Browns 9.5 Wins
Last year, the Cleveland Browns went 11-5 en route to earning their first playoff victory in over 20 years. At first glance, this 9.5 line doesn’t make much sense, considering the Browns are a team on the rise with a significantly improved roster this offseason.
Further examination would show this lesser number is the result of the Browns schedule flipping from being one of the easiest last year to one of the toughest this season. While that may scare some bettors, especially because the juice on this line makes it far from sexy, the strength of schedule rankings for AFC North teams should be taken with a grain of salt.
This is because last season the top-three teams in the AFC North went 12-4, 11-5, and 11-5, respectively. No other division in the NFL had a third-place team finish with double-digit wins.
With the Steelers primed to take a step back this season, it seems like this price may be a little lower than it should be.
The Play: Over 9.5 Wins
Las Vegas Raiders 7.5 Wins
No one expected the Las Vegas Raiders to make a run at the division last year, the AFC West still belongs to the Chiefs, but some did have Wildcard playoff hopes for this Raiders team.
It feels like the Raiders have struggled to fulfill their potential for the last two seasons, and Jon Gruden deserves no small part of the blame for this. When Gruden first took control of the team, there was concern that the offensive savant would prioritize the fun parts of the game, and overlook the things that are crucial to building a winning team. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case. Over the last few seasons, Gruden has worked to build up Las Vegas' offensive line. This offseason he’s appeared to throw that all away.
Offensive lineman Trent Brown, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson are all headed to different teams, and the Raiders don’t seem to have a clear replacement plan in place for any of them. Worse still, rather than address the obvious holes on the roster, the Raiders spent money in places they didn’t need to, like signing running back Kenyan Drake.
This team took a big step back this offseason. Expect to see at least a slight drop in the Raiders' performance this year, and potentially a substantial one.
The Play: Under 7.5 Wins
Tennessee Titans: 9.5 Wins
The Titans lost key offensive contributors in Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith, but they more than made up for it on the defensive side of the ball by adding Bud Dupree and Denico Autry. While this team may no longer be the Super Bowl contenders they were just two seasons ago, they’re still the best team in an AFC South that’s full of uncertainty.
It’s not an overestimation to say that of the four games the Titans will play against the Jags and Texans, at least three should be certain wins. If the Titans can do what they’re expected to within their division and beat some of the non-divisional opponents on their slate like the Jets, Dolphins, and Steelers, they should be able to get to the 10 wins needed to cover this number.
The Play: Tennessee Titans Over 9.5 Wins +123
Pittsburgh Steelers: 8.5 Wins
The Steelers entered this offseason with serious cap concerns, and they couldn’t have come at a worse time. After starting last year on a tear, the Steelers skidded the last five weeks of the season to a 12-4 record, revealing this Pittsburgh team has more significant problems than JuJu Smith-Schuster’s TikTok habit. The last thing they needed was to lose significant pieces like Dupree, Mike Hilton, Tyson Alualu, and Vance Williams.
The Steelers have glaring holes in their secondary, they need help on their offensive line, and they don’t appear to be nearly as concerned about Ben Roethlisberger as they should be. At 38, the veteran QB posted some of the lowest numbers of his career last season and repeatedly showed concerns that his deep ball may be fading.
There’s no reason to believe that Roethlisberger’s downward spiral will magically reverse itself. Assuming his performance will continue to dwindle while the Steelers are grappling with significant roster turnover and it’s hard to imagine this team going above .500 against the toughest schedule in the league.
The Play: Under 8.5 Wins
Washington Football Team: 8 Wins
The Washington Football team won the NFC East last year despite relying on a rotation of four quarterbacks that included the likes of Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke. While they certainly haven’t found their quarterback of the future in Fitzpatrick, he’s a significant upgrade from the platoon of undesirables the Football Team counted on last year.
Last year Washington finished the season with the 28th ranked team passer rating in the league. In nine games with the Dolphins last season, Fitzpatrick maintained a 95.6 passer rating, good for 17th in the league.
This Washington team has a top-five defense that’s one of the youngest in the league, and only getting better. They didn’t lose any key contributors in free agency, and they added the dynamic Curtis Samuel.
This bet boils down to whether or not Fitzpatrick’s signing makes a one-game difference in the win column, and all signs indicate it should.
The Play: Washington Football Team Over 8 Wins -110
New Orleans Saints: 9 Wins
Sean Payton is one of the best coaches in the NFL, and much like Belichick’s team in New England, as long Payton is at the helm, the Saints must be taken seriously.
While the Saints shouldn’t be expected to drop off a cliff, we saw what happened last year in New England when a legendary coach had to move on from a future Hall-of-Fame QB. Some may say that DrewBrees hung around too long, and that may be true, but Brees one year past his expiration date is preferable to both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill in their current forms.
Saints believers will argue that the future is not that dark, pointing to New Orleans’ 3-1 record in the four games. Hill started under center, but any football fan knows that stat is not a solid indication of how he projects as a 17-game starter. Hill was serviceable in limited duration because Payton was able to scheme the hell out of his matchups and implement unique looks.
While Payton is still as sharp as ever, game-planning to cover Hill’s weaknesses every week is just not a sustainable plan. Don’t be surprised to see Winston end up winning this starting job, and leading the Saints to a .500 or worse record.
The Play: Under 9 Wins
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