NFL over and under season-win total picks for 2023
After a month-plus of NFL prep, looking at several different offseason factors that drive my thinking, I am now prepared to unveil the season-win total prop wagers that I will be investing in this season.
Hopefully, you’ve been following along as since about six weeks ago, I’ve taken a close look at these variables:
- Different changeover systems using teams’ game results from the prior season
- Changeover systems analyzing teams’ key statistics from the prior campaign
- How teams’ drafts can help them instantly turn things around
- The impact new head coaches have on teams’ fortunes
- The release of the schedule and who plays the toughest/easiest schedules, and how my updated power ratings project each team’s record in 2023
After reviewing all of the materials this weekend, I’ve come up with eight different season-win total wagers I will be making. Four of them are OVERs, four of them are UNDERs. However, before I unveil them, I want to share that last year, when I went 4-4 with these, following a 4-3-1 record in 2021:
Teams I expect to go OVER their season win totals (team totals courtesy of DraftKings):
Denver OVER 8.5 wins
I had fairly high hopes for the Broncos a year ago upon the arrival of QB Russell Wilson, as I felt he was the only thing the team was missing in terms of being a division title/playoff contender. Obviously, things didn’t go as planned for Denver in his first season with the franchise, as the offense started very slowly and didn’t really show signs of breaking out until December. For me, that is a key, as they scored 24 points or more in four of their last five games after failing to do so in any of the first 12. In other words, the Wilson-Broncos marriage started to work. Now, they move on with a major upgrade at head coach, bringing on Sean Payton. I would expect Wilson and Payton to do fairly well together, seeing as how Payton enjoyed incredible success with diminutive quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans. Now, in terms of trends I like for this team, consider that since ’98, 34 teams have lost 8+ games in “close loss” format, that being one possession or less (8 pts). Their combined average improvement the next season was a hefty 3.56 wins per season with 30 of them improving. Denver fits this fill after a 5-12 season that could have easily been much better.
Indianapolis OVER 6.5 wins
At one point in the 2022 season, the Colts were 3-2-1 and in contention in the AFC South race. The rest of the season resulted in a 1-10 record. What went wrong for a franchise that had previously gone under-.500 just three times in the prior 19 seasons? Well, for one, investing in quarterback Matt Ryan turned out to be an awful move. He was the third straight different veteran QB that the team turned to on a short-term basis. He endured his worst season ever. The offensive line also struggled with both injury and re-tooling moves.
What makes me think this franchise will be better in both those areas in 2023? For one, they have gone a different direction on both fronts, going a little younger. Assuming #4 draft pick Anthony Richardson doesn’t take over the top spot at quarterback, the job now belongs to Gardner Minshew, who has been a winner and underrated at every stop he has made. The line almost certainly will be better after giving up 60 sacks last year, and the Colts still boast one of the league’s top running backs in Jonathan Taylor. In fact, this team’s skill position group is very respectable.
On the other side of the ball, the defense put up very good numbers in the season’s first three months before the towel was thrown in with the move to hire Jeff Saturday as interim coach. Of course, the Colts also suffered from the league’s worst turnover differential in 2022. Teams like that usually rebound. New Head Coach Shane Steichen (last Philly OC) brings in new enthusiasm, and I believe this team could improve greatly in the weak AFC South.
NY Jets OVER 9.5 wins
It’s no secret that I put a lot of stock into the quarterback position in the NFL. Most bettors do. The amount of bad play and inconsistency the Jets have endured in recent years at the NFL’s most important position has been absurd. Last season may have been rock bottom for that storyline as far as the franchise was concerned, as most experts believed that HC Robert Saleh’s team had enough everywhere else to be a contender.
How much difference will adding one of the league’s best-ever players at the position, albeit an aging one, make this season? In my opinion, night and day. Aaron Rodgers may not have been at his best in 2022, but there were other circumstances involved, and he is still just two years removed from his most recent MVP season. In New York, Rodgers will be backed by elite young skill position talent and a defense that allowed over 20 points just twice in its last 14 games to close last season. Nearly 70% of teams that allow fewer than 23 PPG and won seven or fewer games in a season have improved by over 3.5 wins per season.
I also conducted a study earlier that showed that veteran QBs that were winners at their last stop and now moving on to new teams generally improve their new teams’ winning percentage by about 23% in their first year. Rodgers can and will be the difference in improving on a 7-10 record. I expect this Jets team to be a playoff contender, at the least.
New Orleans OVER 9.5 wins
I sometimes feel that the odds makers in Vegas pave the road for bettors on some of these season-win total wagers. After a rough 7-10 season a year ago, the experts have pegged the Saints for 9.5 this year? To me, the reasons are many. For one, the acquisition of QB Derek Carr from Las Vegas immediately patches a hole this franchise has been suffering from since Drew Brees retired. He can put up big numbers with a very talented receiving corps and win games. Second, the Saints' defense was very good last year, particularly in the last six games, when it allowed just 13 PPG. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the NFC South is an absolute mess right now, with the Bucs certain to drop after losing QB Tom Brady and several other key veterans, the Falcons not ready to be a playoff contender just yet, and the Panthers looking like a better down-the-road option with new Head Coach Frank Reich and rookie QB Bryce Young. To me, there is only one talent with the roster and pedigree to win the division, New Orleans. If you need one more piece of evidence to push you over the edge, consider this season changeover system: All 10 teams since 2000 that had won fewer games than the prior season in three straight seasons have improved their won-lost record, by an average of 4.8 wins per season! New Orleans qualifies (13-12-9-7).
Teams I expect to go UNDER their season win totals:
LA Chargers UNDER 9.5 wins
The Chargers were 10-7 this past season and were very fortunate to close the season with what may have been the league’s easiest last seven-week schedule. They were 5-2 in that span, improving their 5-5 record after 10 games. For 2023, the schedule doesn’t look quite as favorable for Head Coach Brandon Staley’s club as it ranks third in the league in difficulty on paper. Sometimes these things can be overrated, but for a club like the Chargers, who are coming off a brutal playoff loss in which they surrendered a huge lead to Jacksonville, a tough slate might prove to be another hurdle to overcome.
I believed that this team was trending upward by finally making the postseason in 2022. Now look at this ominous trend facing QB Justin Herbert & Co.: Since 2002, only one of the 17 teams that had recorded improved records in three straight seasons continued that trend. The average drop for the declining group was 4.5 wins per season, with an average season win total of 6.4. L.A. is one of two teams affected in 2023. With Denver and Las Vegas both potentially improved teams this fall, one of the AFC West teams has to take a hit. Tough to point to Kansas City. In my mind, it’s L.A.
Minnesota UNDER 8.5 wins
Strange to see a team that won 13 games in one season and not really lose all that much in the offseason be projected to win 4.5 fewer games. However, nothing about the Vikings’ divisional title season of ’22 made sense statistically. Opponents outscored them, they allowed 30+ points in six of their final 10 games, and they were below-.500 against the spread. Add to that the fact they enjoyed a positive turnover differential, and you have all the makings of a team ready to make as big of a fall as the climb they made from ’21 to ’22. Admittedly, the NFC North Division is not great and could be up for grabs in ’23. However, I think oddsmakers are telling you that it won’t be Minnesota.
Of the many trends I possess indicating the Vikings are due for a fall, this is perhaps my favorite: Since ’00, there have been 21 double-digit win teams that suffered at least four of their losses by double-digit margins. More than half of those teams dropped dramatically the next season by at least three wins and by an average of 4.8 wins per season. Minnesota is the only team that qualifies. Last year’s great season ended with a thud, and there isn’t much reason for optimism this time around.
New York Giants UNDER 7.5 wins
If any of you read this particular column last year, you might recall how much I liked the Giants heading into the ’23 season. I loved the coaching staff they put together, I thought they made some savvy and underrated personnel moves in the offseason, and I thought their poor ’21 season was made much worse than it should have been thanks to turnovers and injuries. That recipe usually adds up to improvement the next season. And while the Giants did improve greatly in the standings, I’m not sure I saw enough to believe that it is a lasting change we are looking at.
The fact that New York won a lot of close games doesn’t bode well for matching last year’s win total: Over the last 31 seasons, the 33 teams that managed 8+ close wins combined for an average decline of 2.9 wins per season. This impacts Head Coach Brian Daboll’s club. After being routed twice by Philadelphia, the Giants are clearly not division-crown-ready. Dallas remains in the hunt, and you can always count on Washington to be competitive under Ron Rivera; With a schedule that ranks fourth toughest in the NFL, I don’t expect New York to be in the hunt again.
Tampa Bay UNDER 6.5 wins
While Tom Brady was not at his absolute best last season, he still gave the Bucs a reasonable shot to win in any given game. It’s a stretch to say the same thing can be said with the mix of Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask battling it out to be Brady’s replacement in ’23. With as tough as it was to watch Tampa Bay’s offense struggle to score touchdowns consistently last season, Brady still put up big numbers and was very good between the 20s. I don’t see either one of this year’s options improving the red zone efficiency.
If this year does turn out to be as tough as oddsmakers are projecting for the Bucs, it doesn’t take away anything from what was a huge experimental success in bringing over the league’s all-time best quarterback. The franchise made the playoffs all three years and won a Super Bowl from it. However, it appears to be time to pay the piper, and the rest of the NFC South Division will be ecstatic to get a chance to avenge the past three years of Tampa’s reign. Teams that win a lot of close games in one year tend to drop off the next by around wins per season. Tampa Bay won six games by eight points or fewer. That average drop-off doesn’t include losing the GOAT. The Bucs were 8-9 last year. Even a minimal two-game decline would send this win total UNDER.
If you missed any of the NFL offseason preparation pieces along the way, I encourage you to go back into your VSiN account and look under my author link for those articles. Otherwise, they will all be re-run in VSiN’s special 2023 NFL Betting Guide, due out at the end of June. Now, it’s time for me to get up to speed on everything going on in college football this offseason!