The NFL draft was an emotional roller coaster for me. The Bengals drafted Ja’Marr Chase and I had no idea how to feel. Should I preemptively mourn the loss of Joe Burrow to another injury this season? Should I get ready to take Chase in the 4th round of my fantasy football draft? And should I just let it slide that Terry told me in confidence that Trevor Lawrence will be a bust? The answer to all of these questions, is yes. But anyways, the draft has inevitably changed my opinion on some win total bets. So obviously, I am here to tell you what those new opinions are.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 8.5 Wins (Over)
The Steelers won 12 games last year. Yes, they played above their skill level, but 12 games is still a lot more than 8.5. What killed this team last year was the running game. They averaged the worst rushing yards per game and yards per rush in the entire league. Their leading rusher, James Conner, notched only 721 yards on the ground. This forced them to throw a league-leading 42.6 passes per game, despite having one of the best defenses in football.
They solved this problem by drafting Najee Harris in the first round. I hear you Mel Kiper, “never draft an RB in the first round!” Whatever. This team desperately needed one and Harris is the real deal. He will run you over and then juke you out the next play while gimpy Ben Roethlisberger rests his ancient throwing arm. And like I said, the defense is one of the best in the league, ranking top-5 in PPG allowed, yards allowed, and takeaways. Put all that together and you have a likely playoff contender, despite playing in a brutal AFC North. I’m taking the over on their win total.
Denver Broncos: 8.5 Wins (Under)
Let me preface this by saying everything changes if the Broncos get Aaron Rodgers. Everything. But as it stands, I can’t see this team winning 9+ games. They went 5-11 last year, and despite some solid offseason moves, I think they will struggle offensively. Drew Lock has only 18 NFL games under his belt. In that time, he has 23 TDs and 18 INTs with an average QBR of 49.5. Guys have been LOCKing him down his entire career (quote of the year). This is all despite playing behind a solid offensive line with talented weapons around him. It’s hard for me to give up on him now, but we just haven’t seen him put it together yet.
The defense will get back Von Miller and add Pat Surtain and Kyle Fuller to the secondary. Those additions should improve their 25th ranked defense from last year (PPG allowed). Drafting Javonte Williams confused me given the presence of Melvin Gordon. But, giving a strong 1-2 punch on the ground to Drew Lock could help take the pressure off of him, so I don’t hate it. But, passing on Justin Fields at 9 will prove to be a mistake. I think Lock will continue to struggle this year and produce a mediocre season in the brutal AFC West. I expect them to win anywhere between 6-8 games, but no more. That 8.5 win total is too high.
Los Angeles Chargers: 9 Wins (Over)
Speaking of the brutal AFC West, it’s time to stop sleeping on the Chargers. Despite suffering from some of the worst special teams play and coaching decisions I’ve ever seen, this team went 7-9 last year with a rookie QB. In summary, Justin Herbert is a stud. He had the greatest season by a rookie QB of all time and is undoubtedly going to improve on it next year. His weapons are elite. His offensive line now has Corey Linsley and 1st round draft pick Rashawn Slater (an awesome prospect). He will be protected much more than he was last year.
The Chargers also added Asante Samuel Jr. (an immediately capable starting CB) and Chris Rumph (a talented pass-rusher) through the draft. They also get back Derwin James, a 2018 All-Pro who has missed the past two seasons. These additions will improve their 23rd ranked defense from last season (opponent PPG). The Chargers have quietly assembled one of the most talented rosters in the league. They will get to show off this roster in brand new SoFi Stadium in front of their hundreds of fans. Seriously though, who the hell in LA is a Chargers fan? Probably a lot of people after they go over 9 this season with their win total.
Cincinnati Bengals: 6.5 Wins (Under)
I don’t love the Ja’Marr Chase pick. And it’s not because I think it’s a bad pick, it’s not. Chase is a terrific receiver that will be a pro bowler with former teammate Joe Burrow throwing him the ball. But they needed to take an offensive tackle, and Penei Sewell was there. And if you didn’t take Sewell, you needed to take an OT in the 2nd round. They passed on Teven Jenkins (an elite OT prospect) to trade back and reach on a guard. What? It doesn’t make sense to me and I think these moves will hurt them in the short-run.
In the long-run, Jonah Williams could become the player they drafted and the offensive line could improve through future drafts and free agency. But that’s a big if, and Joe Burrow’s knee is not interested in if’s. This team needs so much more help. They need linebackers, they need a new CB1 after William Jackson left, and they need pass-rushers. I think Burrow gets hit a lot and the defense is bottom-10 this year. I expect another top-5 pick for the Bengals next year.
New York Giants: 7 Wins (Over)
I really like the way the Giants drafted and conducted free agency. They went out and got Kenny Golladay (an elite WR1) to catch passes from Daniel Jones. Then New York drafted do-it-all receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round. Then they stole Azeez Ojulari in the second round to boost the defense and provide even more pass-rushing capability. The Giants already top-10 defense from 2020 now looks poised to be even better in 2021.
The X-factor is obviously Daniel Jones, and this is the make-or-break year for him. After a great rookie season in which he tossed 24 TDs and only 10 INTs, he played terribly in 2020. In his defense, injuries plagued the Giants offense last year and he wasn’t given a fair chance to prove himself. I expect his third year to be a Josh Allen-esque breakout. He now has a great group of weapons with the offseason additions and Saquon returning. The offensive line is still weak, but should improve given its youth. The defense will give him much needed support. And oh yeah, the NFC East is still the JV version of the NFL (except the Cowboys, who are still going over 9.5 wins).
So there you have it, five more NFL win total bets I am taking after the draft. Who knows, maybe I will have all 32 teams done by the time the season rolls around. Spoiler alert: I will. It’s officially Summer for your boy which means I have too much time on my hands and too much love for sports to not be writing about them. NBA playoffs are almost upon us, the fantasy football preseason is in full swing, and Terry is still saying absurd things on Twitter. I’m looking forward to a fun next couple months of content and I hope you are too. #CowboysOver9.5, #Kyler4MVP, #IToldYouTheSteelersWereTakingNajee