About this time every year as we prepare for the NFL season at the Tuley’s Takes home office, we try to take a closer look at the Over/Under season win totals for all 32 teams.
When we were younger (and I say “we” because I know all of you did this too), our favorite team’s schedule would come out and we’d go through it, saying, “That’s a win, that’s a win, that’s a loss, that’s a coin flip, here’s another coin flip, they’ll split those games, that’s a win, that’s a loss ...” and so on.
The more sophisticated way is when we get the advance lines from the oddsmakers and can really see who is favored to win each game, helping us form a more objective opinion. But then we take it a step further by taking the equivalent win percentage from each game (because there’s no 100% or 0% chance of winning) based on the point spreads and add those to get a truer projection for each team. For instance, a pick-’em game on the moneyline is 50/50, or .500. A 3-point favorite has a 59.4% chance of winning outright, so the favorite gets .594 while the underdog receives .406. A 7-point favorite has a 75.2% change of winning outright, so the fave gets .752 while the dog receives .248. We add those up and get the Money Line Estimate (MLE).
The oddsmakers who set the season win totals have probably done something similar — though they also have to factor in how bettors will bet teams, especially the “public” teams — so a lot of our numbers will be similar. But we still think this is a worthwhile exercise as we can see which totals might be overadjusted or find bets on which we truly believe the worst-case scenario is a push based on the numbers.
In addition, to break some close calls, we like to use the old “that’s a win, that’s a loss” approach, but instead using the oddsmakers’ opinions. We call that the Win-Loss-Tie (W-L-T).
The market has pretty much settled on the NFL Weeks 1-18 advance line, so I’m using DraftKings’ line for my MLEs. As of Tuesday, DraftKings had all but Week 1 games off the board for the Indianapolis Colts, so I used the Westgate SuperBook’s lines for the Colts and all their opponents. I also used Westgate’s Week 18 lines. In the past, sportsbooks usually have avoided the final week of the season because of the uncertainty of which teams would be resting players for the playoffs. But since Westgate has made Week 18 lines, we’ll go with them. (Besides, I can tell they’ve tweaked those numbers a little because of the aforementioned uncertainty.)
Dallas Cowboys (O/U: 9)
Tuley’s Take: The W-L-T is 10-7 with the Cowboys favored in 10 games, but the MLE falls a little short of the Over 9. This is probably because the Cowboys aren’t favored by more than 6 points in any game, while they are 6.5-point underdogs in the opener at Tampa Bay and 7.5 at Kansas City in Week 11. In addition, seven games are lined at less than a field goal, so there are a lot of coin flips in there.
Pick: Lean to Under 9
Washington Football Team (O/U: 8.5)
Tuley’s Take: Washington’s MLE comes in at more than a full game under the posted total, and the clincher is the W-L-T at 4-13 as the Football Team is favored in only four games, none by more than 3.5 points. Meanwhile, Washington is a dog of 6.5 or more points against the Bills, Chiefs, Packers and Buccaneers.
Best Bet: Under 8.5
New York Giants (O/U: 7.5)
Tuley’s Take: The MLE comes to just more than 7, so it’s hard to see the Giants getting the extra win needed to go Over 7.5. They’re favored in only five games, though the eternal optimists can point to the fact that 10 of the Giants’ 17 games have lines of 3 points or less, so the more coin flips they win, the better their chances to get Over the total.
Pick: Lean to Under 7.5
Eagles (O/U: 7)
Tuley’s Take: The Eagles are favored in only three games -- at Detroit in Week 8, at Washington in Week 15 and at the New York Giants in Week 16. So it’s a little surprising to see the MLE get as close to the O/U of 7 as it did. I’m not making this a Best Bet, though I think a push on Under 7 would be the worst-case scenario. But it would take a lot to get to the 8 needed for the Over.
Pick: Lean to Under 7
Packers (O/U: 10.5)
Tuley’s Take: With Aaron Rogers back for one more try, a lot of people are betting the Packers’ Over. Most books are at -120 or -130 on Over 10.5. But it might not be that easy despite Green Bay being favored in 14 games, as the Packers are dogs only on the road at the 49ers in Week 3, Chiefs in Week 9 and Ravens in Week 15. The MLE is right on the number, and six of those favorites’ roles are at -4 or less.
Pick: Lean to Over 10.5, but wouldn’t lay any added juice.
Vikings (O/U: 9)
Tuley’s Take: With the move from a 16- to a 17-game schedule, when we refer to a .500 team, we kind of have to include teams at 9-8 and 8-9 unless we end up with a rare 8-8-1. The Vikings look like a .500 team, as they’re favored in eight of their 17 games and have an MLE of 8.368. That’s not off by enough for me to bet the Under.
Pick: Lean to Under 9
Bears (O/U: 6.5)
Tuley’s Take: The MLE comes in slightly higher than the O/U and well short of the seventh win needed to go Over for betting purposes. Even though I grew up a Bears fan, it’s hard to make a case for the Over when the Bears are favored in only four games -- home against the Bengals, Lions and Giants plus at Detroit.
Pick: Lean to Under 6.5
Lions (O/U: 4.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Lions are projected to be underdogs in all 17 games, with the lowest spreads being as 1-point home dogs vs. the Bengals in Week 6 and Eagles in Week 8. The MLE is right around the low number, but with the W-L-T, it would still need to be Under or pass.
Pick: Lean to Under 4.5
Buccaneers (O/U: 12)
Tuley’s Take: The MLE again comes out right around the total, but this time slightly higher. The defending champions return virtually the same team. The Bucs will obviously have a bull’s-eye on their backs, but they’re projected to be underdogs in just one game this year, at the Rams as 1-point dogs in Week 3.
Pick: Lean to Over 12
Saints (O/U: 9)
Tuley’s Take: Drew Brees is retired, and everyone is waiting to see what Sean Payton does with the Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill combo. The Saints’ O/U is down to 9, despite the addition of a regular-season game, with the MLE coming in slightly higher. The Saints are also favored in nine games, so maybe this comes right in on a push.
Pick: Slightest of leans to Over 9
Falcons (O/U: 7.5)
Tuley’s Take: The MLE is again spot-on at 7.6. The Falcons are favored in seven games, with the pick-’em coming in Week 14 at Carolina. We can’t push on 7.5, so ...
Pick: Slightest of leans to Over 7.5.
Panthers (O/U: 7.5)
Tuley’s Take: I think Sam Darnold could thrive in his new home in Carolina, but the numbers say it might not happen this year, especially since the NFC South is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.
Pick: Lean to Under 7.5
49ers (O/U: 10.5)
Tuley’s Take: Some books have the 49ers favored to win the deep NFC West, while others have the Rams as the chalk. However, more books have the 49ers with a higher O/U win total at 10.5, and that’s backed up by the MLE of 10.984 and the fact the 49ers are underdogs in only three games — at Arizona, at Seattle and at the Rams — and all at a field goal or less.
Pick: Lean to Over 10.5
Rams (O/U: 10)
Tuley’s Take: The MLE comes in nearly half a game Over the win total of 10. This is supported by the Rams being underdogs in only four games — at Seattle, at San Francisco, at Green Bay and at Baltimore — and none by more than a field goal. What makes this a Best Bet compared with the 49ers, who have a higher MLE, is you’re more likely to find Over 10 on the Rams with a push looking like the worst-case scenario or Over 10.5 at plus money.
Best Bet: Over 10
Seahawks (O/U: 10)
Tuley’s Take: Here’s another place where we get mixed signals. The Seahawks are favored in 11 games, yet their MLE comes up short at 9.565. All these NFC West O/Us will come down to the head-to-head results in the division. That’s obviously true of a lot of divisions but looks truer with the NFC West, where three teams have double-digit season win totals.
Pick: Slightest lean to Under 10
Cardinals (O/U: 8.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Cardinals are favored in nine of 17 games, and the MLE comes in right around the total of 8.5 at 8.587. This looks like a coin flip, but I have to side with the Over since I have future-book tickets on the Cardinals. Besides, 9-8 just looks more likely than 8-9 even in a strong division.
Pick: Lean to Over 9
Bills (O/U: 11)
Tuley’s Take: The Bills have been gaining popularity in recent years, and that’s reflected with the high win total at 11. However, it also appears justified and maybe a little short as the MLE comes in at 11.396, and the Bills are favored in all but two games -- at Kansas City in Week 5 and at Tampa Bay in Week 14. We certainly don’t expect them to get to 15 wins, but 12 looks very possible with the safety net of a push if they end up on 11.
Best Bet: Over 11
Patriots (O/U: 9.5)
Tuley’s Take: The narrative out there is that Bill Belichick is out for revenge and the Pats are basically fielding a different team this year after seven starters opted out last season. However, the numbers say it’s not a given that New England gets to the 10 wins needed to go Over its win total, as the Patriots are favored in only eight games and the MLE comes in at 8.565.
Best Bet: Under 9.5
Dolphins (O/U: 9)
Tuley’s Take: The Dolphins are favored in 10 games, though the MLE comes in a tad low of the season win total at 8.875. It looks to us like the Dolphins should have the O/U of 9.5 with the Patriots at 9, so this also makes it a play for us as the push on Over 9 looks like the worst-case scenario, especially if they can win more than their share of the 10 games lined at 3.5 points or less.
Best Bet: Over 9</p>
Jets (O/U: 6)
Tuley’s Take: The MLE once again is spot-on, but the Jets look less than likely to reach their number of 6 as they’re favored only against the Bengals, Texans, Eagles and Jaguars. Even if they were to win all four, it would be a stretch to find three more wins to put them Over the total.
Pick: Lean to Under 6
Ravens (O/U: 11)
Tuley’s Take: Again, even with the high total of 11 wins, the MLE is right there. That’s certainly helped by the Ravens being favored in all but two games — at Kansas City in Week 2 and at Cleveland in Week 14. This is one of those we almost wish we could bet to push. We’d say it’s more likely the Ravens go 12-5 than 10-7, but not enough to make it a Best Bet.
Pick: Lean to Over 11
Browns (O/U: 10.5)
Tuley’s Take: The MLE comes up a little short of the number, though there is hope for Over bettors with the Browns favored in 13 games, plus a pick-’em at Pittsburgh in Week 17. The Browns are favored by 7 or more points in four games and 6.5 in two others, so getting to 10 wins looks like a given. They just need to find another win among their games as short underdogs (or the PK at Pittsburgh) to surpass their total.
Best Bet: Over 10.5.</p>
Steelers (O/U: 8.5)
Tuley’s Take: It’s hard to think of the Steelers as a .500 team after going 12-4 last year, but that’s what the numbers say with the O/U at 8.5, the W-L-T also at .500 at 8-8-1 with the pick-’em vs. Cleveland and the MLE coming in just below those.
Pick: Lean to Under 8.5
Bengals (O/U: 6.5)
Tuley’s Take: Yep, the Bengals seem in perpetual rebuilding mode, and their MLE comes up short of their win total. And there’s not much optimism in getting all the way to seven wins when they’re favored in only two games all season, vs. Jacksonville in Week 4 and at Detroit in Week 6.
Pick: Lean to Under 6.5
Titans (O/U: 9.5)
Tuley’s Take: The MLE comes up well short of the Titans’ win total of 9.5. In addition, they’re favored in only nine games, with five at -3.5 or less. A lot of signs already point to the Titans getting only to nine wins, plus I’m not sure they should be 5.5-point home favorites against the Colts in Week 3 or just 1-point road dogs at Indy in Week 8.
Best Bet: Under 9.5
Colts (O/U: 8.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Colts’ O/U has been dropping with the uncertain status of QB Carson Wentz. Based on the current lines, the play should be to take the Colts Under 8.5 as the MLE comes out really low at 7.371 and they’re favored in only eight games. However, I’m passing since I have futures on the Colts and am more optimistic that Wentz will return, so a lot of the lines will be different when the games take place.
Pick: Lean to Over 8.5
Jaguars (O/U: 6.5)
Tuley’s Take: There’s optimism in Jacksonville with coach Urban Meyer and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, but the MLE still comes to only 6.824. Also working against the Over is that the Jaguars are projected to be favored in only three games -- the opener at Houston, vs. Atlanta in Week 12 and vs. Houston in Week 15. Even if they sweep those, they would need to pull off four upsets.
Pick: Lean to Under 6.5
Texans (O/U: 4)
Tuley’s Take: The Texans join the Lions in the “not favored in any game” club. The MLE does surpass the O/U win total, so there is a glimmer of hope -- but not with my money. Four wins looks like the best-case scenario.
Pick: Lean to Under 4
Chiefs (O/U: 12.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Chiefs are the only team to be favored in all 17 games, so it’s almost a surprise that their MLE adds up to almost exactly the 12.5 win total. In fact, in only two games are the Chiefs not favored by more than a field goal (-1 at Baltimore in Week 2 and -3 at Denver in Week 18, and that’s only -3 because oddsmakers suspect the Chiefs might be resting starters). The Chiefs need to go at least 13-4 to exceed their lofty win total, but that hardly sounds like a reach.
Pick: Lean to Over 12.5
Chargers (O/U: 9.5)
Tuley’s Take: The Chargers surprised a lot of people with the emergence of Justin Herbert last year, and they’re favored in 10 games, but the MLE adds up to only 8.664. In seven of those 10 games, they’re favored by 3 or fewer points, plus they’re underdogs of less than a field goal four other times.
Best Bet: Under 9.5
Broncos (O/U: 8.5)
Tuley’s Take: This is another that looks like it will go just Over the .500 mark at 9-8 or just Under at 8-9. The MLE is again spot-on at just Under the 8.5 win total, while the Broncos are favored in nine games.
Pick: Slightest lean to Over 8.5
Raiders (O/U: 7.5)
Tuley’s Take: Living in Las Vegas, we certainly hear a lot of optimism about the Raiders, especially as they finally get to play in front of fans at Allegiant Stadium for a home-field advantage. However, the Raiders are projected to be favored in only six games, and their MLE comes up short of even seven wins.
Best Bet: Under 7
Best Bets based on our MLE/W-L-T system
Washington Football Team Under 8.5
Rams Over 10
Bills Over 11
Patriots Under 9.5
Dolphins Over 9
Browns Over 10.5
Titans Under 9.5
Chargers Under 9.5
Raiders Under 7