If you're like me, you're always intrigued to see what what Vegas thinks. If you're like me, you're also surprised by some of the outcomes week in and week out. While picking games successfully against the spread can be challenging, season totals can be a little bit more forgiving.
I'm going to give a brief description of each team and which teams I think are worth taking a chance on. You can choose to go heavy on one of the teams or spread it out. It's up to you. There's an argument to be said for either way. The odds are from Matchbook.com. I'll rank each team on a one through five scale, with a one being a bet you should pass on and a five being a must play.
Baltimore: O/U 10 Wins, Projected Wins: 12-14
Now Baltimore has some obvious issues in their secondary, but they also have an offense that can keep pace with anyone. I like the Ravens to win at least 12 games. This is a pretty decent bet because I could easily see the Ravens winning 14 games.
If you bet on the Ravens, you'll expect them to win 12 games giving you a two-game cushion for a push. Should the Ravens win the NFC North like most are expecting them to (me included), 11 wins should be attainable making this an attractive bet.
Ravens and the over bet strength: 4 out 5
Buffalo: O/U 5 Wins, Projected Wins: 2-5
There's not a lot I like about Buffalo and I'm only projecting them to win four games. Now that's pretty damn awful, but even if you think it's four, the Bills have to play as bad as I think, just to cover. Meaning that if they play better than I expect, then they could easily hit five wins resulting in a push or even worse, six games resulting in a loss.
I definitely wouldn't take the over and if you look at the Bills schedule and think they are closer to the two-win area, then take this bet. This team may pack it in early to win the Jake Locker Bowl. That's doubtful, but you can never trust bad teams.
Bills and the under bet strength: 3 out of 5
Cincinnati: O/U 8 Wins, Projected Wins: 8-10
The oddsmakers have this one right. While I project the Bengals to win 10 games, I was pretty damn generous in some of the games I gave them the W in. This team will be boom or bust. They have a good defense, but they also have two of the biggest prima donnas on the offensive side of the ball and a roster sprinkled with shady characters.
The Bengals may have been a team that overachieved last year and may not be able to handle the pressure in 2010. Being a week away from implosion every week, this will be a team I stay away from. If you take this bet, you'll likely feel uneasy as it's likely to be a rollercoaster.
Bengals and the over bet strength: 1 out of 5
Cleveland: O/U 5 Wins, Projected Wins: 2-3
I don't like the Browns, but they do have a good offensive line. This team is a bit of a wildcard. I don't trust them in any fashion. I have them only winning two games, giving them a nice cushion of two additional wins to win this bet.
Even if the Browns win five, that's a three-game cushion for the push. The Browns did win four down the stretch last year and I trust Holmgren a lot more than I do Mangini, but I'm going to stay away from this one although it's not a bad play at all.
Browns and the under bet strength: 3 out of 5
Denver: O/U 7.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 4-6
This team go 7-9?! I highly doubt that! Orton did get an extension recently and he does give them a better chance to win, but they could go Tebow at any time. Moreno is dinged up and they have a who's who of crap behind him. A young offensive line and a D without their best player means I have ZERO confidence in the Broncos this year.
I have the Broncos winning five games this year giving you a nice three-game cushion in this one. If the Broncos do manage to find a way to go 7-9, then you still win. This team would have to go .500 for you to lose. With the Chiefs and Raiders improved and the Chargers still better than them, that won't be easy.
Broncos and the under bet strength: 4 out of 5
Houston: O/U 8 Wins, Projected Wins: 6-9
Which Texans team will we see week in and week out? I'm not sure. They have a lot of firepower on O but that D is shaky. It took everything they had to go 9-7 last year and I don't think they're much better than the team that they had in '09.
In order to win this bet, you'll need the Texans to play the best ball they've ever had or at least equal last year's effort. I'm not very confident in either side of this bet, so I'll be taking a pass on this one as well.
Texans and the over and/or the under bet strength: 1 out of 5
Indianapolis: O/U 11 Wins, Projected Wins: 12-14
I was pretty liberal on this one and have the Colts at 12 wins. This should be a pretty safe bet, but 11 wins is asking a lot. However, if anyone is able to do that, it'd be the Colts. There will be a team to have a Super Bowl hangover, but I don't see that being the Colts. Some will stay away from this bet because of the Colts notoriety to rest their starters late in the season.
If that happens, then you'll likely have won this bet already as the Colts will be in the 13-14 win range. The Colts haven't finished with less than 12 wins since 2002 and I don't see 2010 being a year where they don't win at least 12 again. This is one of the best bets in the AFC.
Colts and the over bet strength: 5 out of 5
Jacksonville: O/U 7.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 4-6
Jacksonville to go .500 this year? I don't really think so. Their offense doesn't have much firepower after MJD and MSW. I like this team a lot more with McCown, but Jack Del Rio is an awful coach and will roll with Garrard until it's too late for this team. The good news for you is this team could have six losses by then.
Even if McCown comes in and gives this team some life, they could only be looking at seven wins and that would be a winner, winner, chicken dinner here. I'd be hard pressed seeing this team winning more than six games giving you almost a two-game cushion. If you think their ceiling is four wins, then the under is an even more attractive bet. This could go down as a great value with the Jags likely to disappoint in 2010.
Jaguars and the under bet sterngth: 4 out of 5
Kansas City: O/U 6.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 8-10
Asking the Chiefs to win seven games seems like a lot to ask, especially if you consider that they've been averaging about four wins a year the last four years. However, this offense is built to move. Their D is also a little bit better. Every year there are teams that turn a significant corner and it could be the Chiefs in 2010.
I expect Charlie Weis to get the most out of their offense and their D to play well enough to sneak out some close ones. The oddsmakers are begging the public to take the under, but I'll take the over as I don't think there are a lot of offenses that will be able to keep pace with the Chiefs this year. If the Chiefs can win every other game this year, you'll be money. If they can go one game under .500, you still win.
Chiefs and the over bet strength: 4 out of 5
Miami: O/U 8.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 8-9
The Dolphins may be a victim of circumstance this year. With at least two teams projected to make the playoffs from the AFC East, the Phish could be the odd team out. I do like what they've done, but I still think the Pats to win this division and I like the Jets just a little bit more than I like the Dolphins.
The Dolphins will have to play very well to hit 10 wins so this bet doesn't leave you a lot of breathing room and I don't like betting on totals where I don't have at least a two-game cushion based on my own projections.
With the line trickily set at 8.5, the Dolphins would have to project to win 11 games to have a two-game cushion on the over and win only six games to have a two-game cushion on the under. Neither seems likely and this number is set right. I'll be avoiding this one.
Dolphins and the over and/or the under bet strength: 1 out of 5
New England: O/U 9.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 12-14
Without looking at the Patriots' schedule, if I asked you, "Will the Patriots win 10 games this year?' your answer would be, "Oh hell yeah, easily!" (unless you're name is Rex Ryan, of course). This team is not getting the proper love this year and you can really cash in here. Brady will have the best weapons he's ever had and their D although not great, is solid.
They do have a difficult schedule, but the Patriots will have an advantage in almost every game they play in with their superior quarterback and coach. This team is better than the team that ran the table in 2007 so 14 wins doesn't seem out of the question.
If you think that's a crazy statement, you will admit that this team is better than the team that won 10 games last year. With that in mind, 12 wins is likely giving the Pats a nice two-game cushion to cover at least 10 wins. As long as it's business as usual for Brady & Co., this should be a profitable investment in 2010.
Patriots and the over bet strength: 5 out of 5
New York: O/U 9.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 9-11
I'm probably the biggest Jets doubter out there, but even I think this team can win 10 games. However, I'm not that confident in them either way as this is basically a team that was 7-7 with two weeks to go before the Bengals and Colts rolled over for them the last two weeks of the season. I could also see this team winning nine games again and that would be a loss.
The point is, I'm not confident in this team as Rex is talking a big game and I don't know if his team can cash the checks his ass is writing. This team wasn't that good or consistent last year. This may look like easy money, but buyer beware.
Jets and the over bet strength: 1 out of 5
Oakland: O/U 5.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 6-8
The oddsmakers know the Raiders have a new quarterback, right? I have the Raiders winning at least eight and wouldn't be surprised if they got hot and ended up winning even more and making a playoff run. While that may be a bit ambitious, this team should be much improved. Their D is supremely underrated and Campbell should do enough to keep their offense moving.
In order to hit on this one, the Raiders will have to win about one out of every three games. The Raiders should be able to go 5-3 at home and no worse than 4-4 meaning that worst case scenario (4-4 at home), the Raiders would only have to win two on the road and with winnable matchups at Arizona, Denver, Jacksonville, and Kansas City, their other two wins are extremely likely.
The Raiders may have this one locked up with six games to play, making it a very attractive bet.
Raiders and the over bet strength: 4 out of 5
Pittsburgh: O/U 8.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 7-9
Without Big Ben, it's a very real possibility that the Steelers start the year off 0-4. If they can do better than that, then the very ambitious odds of 8.5 wins, could be easier than one would think.
However, I have no confidence in Byron Leftwich and unless Dennis Dixon gets the start, I'll want no part of this bet. Asking Big Ben to go 9-3 or 8-4 after a possible 0-4 or 1-3 start without him just doesn't seem likely. The under is mighty attractive because there's no way this team wins nine games.
Steelers and the under bet strength: 4 out of 5
San Diego: O/U 10.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 8-10
The Chargers could be in for some shell shock this year. The AFC West isn't a given with the improved Chiefs and Raiders. However, both teams are probably another year away from dethroning the Chargers.
With that in mind, 11 wins may be the Chargers absolute best play ceiling, so if they struggle at all, they may be looking at 10 wins and that ain't gonna cut it chief. I don't really care for the guy, but without VJack, there are some major question marks for this offense and outside of Rivers and Gates. This one is too close to call for me so I'm going to stay away.
Chargers and the over and/or under bet strength: 1 out of 5
Tennessee: O/U 8.5 Wins, Projected Wins: 8-10
This is a team I am having a hard time reading. One year they overachieve and win 13 games, the next they open up the year 0-6. I could see the Titans pushing for a wildcard spot and finishing with nine to 10 wins. Neither is enough of a cushion to give me the confidence I'd need to bet on them so I'll take a pass on this one. If you're convinced that the Titans will win nine games and you don't care about the cushion, then go ahead and take them.
Titans and the over bet strength: 3 out of 5