NFL season win totals dropped way back in March (what a time to be alive!), and I went through every single division then, looking at my favorite immediate bets. There's a lot more clarity now with offseason roster moves largely done and contracts mostly signed. We know what we're getting ... at least until we don't after the season starts.
There's a pick for every single team, plus a look at our SportsLine projection model simulations, but if I actually believe a team is worth betting on I'll include a note.
You canhere and . The AFC East and AFC West are below. Let's get to it.
(All lines courtesy Caesars Sportsbook)
Over 10.5 (-165)/Under 10.5 (+140)
- SportsLine Projection Model: 10.6 wins
This price has creeped up substantially over the course of the offseason in terms of juice, but it's still one of my favorite bets of the offseason (along with the Bills to win the AFC East at plus-money). Buffalo has one of the best rosters in the NFL, one of the three best quarterbacks in the NFL in Josh Allen, an elite wide receiver in Stefon Diggs and an elite coach in Sean McDermott. The heat he and Brandon Beane are getting this offseason is just weird.
Since McDermott took over, the Bills have won less than nine games just once, during Allen's rookie season. The loss of Brian Daboll still lingers, but Ken Dorsey should be much more comfortable in his second year as offensive coordinator. McDermott should be quite comfortable calling defensive plays, and I'd bet anything the Bills feel like no one believes in them after another team in the division hogged the spotlight all offseason.
Brinson's pick: Bills over 10.5 (-165)**
**Best bet but get better juice obviously
Over 9.5 (-125)/Under 9.5 (+105)
- SportsLine Projection Model: 9.6 wins
Talk about suspicious: the Jets over/under hasn't BUDGED since they traded for Aaron Rodgers. How is that even possible? They've been a non-stop hype train this offseason, with "Hard Knocks" only amplifying things even more as everything seems to be going right for Gang Green. Everyone *wants* the Jets to be good this year, people have been betting on the Jets, and somehow the line hasn't moved for their win total. It's pretty wild.
There's a ton to like about the Jets, but there's also two pretty big red flags. First up, the offensive line. Everyone's made this point, but it matters, a lot. If the Jets offensive line doesn't protect Rodgers or successfully run block for Dalvin Cook/Breece Hall, then this offense will probably be mediocre, like it was last year, when they finished 7-10. Even if the upgrade to Rodgers counters some of that, it's not unreasonable to expect some slight defensive dropoff.
Brinson's pick: Jets under 9.5 (+105)
Over 9.5 (-105)/Under 9.5 (-115)
- SportsLine Projection Model: 8.5 wins
The Dolphins are a lot like the Jets ... only with a bigger question at quarterback? The question mark isn't an accident: I think you can make the case Tua Tagovailoa is a safer bet than Aaron Rodgers with everything factored into the equation. Tua has better pass-catchers (no shade to Garrett Wilson whatsoever) and more consistency in terms of coaching and protection. But like Rodgers, Tua needs his offensive line to do their part for the Dolphins to hit this over. And like the Jets, it's so odd the Dolphins haven't ticked up.
Someone on ESPN (apologies, I don't remember, best guess is Ryan Clark on SVP MNF pregame) pointed out Tua's offseason regime was keeping him from letting his head hit the ground when he took hits in the pocket. That's a HUGE DEAL! Multiple Tua concussions last season caused the NFL to change its in-game policy midstream (without telling anyone, of course). The updated decision-making was better for players, but it kept anyone who suffered "concussion-like symptoms" out for the game. Tua can't know if he's playing 17 games, so you can't know if Tua's playing 17 games. Vic Fangio will turn this defense up a notch and Mike McDaniel is that rare dude who somehow is smarter than he looks on offense. I won't fade the Dolphins, but Tua is a wild card.
Brinson's pick: Dolphins over 9.5 wins (-105)
Over 7.5 (+115)/Under 7.5 (-135)
- SportsLine Projection Model: 7.8 wins
The Bill Belichick-led Patriots and the Josh McDaniels-led Raiders (we'll get to them shortly) have the same win total, just like your uncle predicted at Thanksgiving 2020. Don't deep dive his other thoughts -- Belichick hasn't been great since Tom Brady left. That's a fact. And if Bill wants to yell at me -- or you or anyone else -- for saying that, "offensive coordinator Matt Patricia" is a pretty good four-word retort until you catch a six-ring slap upside the head.
New England was dead last in red-zone offense last year and bottom-five in third-down conversion rate; simply not doing that will automatically make them better. The defense has enough to be a top-five unit if everything hits. What is the upside for the offense? 10 years ago Belichick signs Ezekiel Elliott and the entire world giggles when Zeke scores 15 touchdowns. There's *enough* there offensively for me to buy in, and I can't demand we give Trevor Lawrence a second chance if we won't give my man Ryan Wilson's guy Mac Jones a second chance, too, after the Patricia debacle. Bill O'Brien didn't win a Super Bowl with the Pats, but he coordinated his way to one under Belichick and this is a prime redemption tour for everyone involved. *HERE WE GO AGAIN DOT JPG*
Brinson's pick: Patriots over 7.5 (+115)
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Over 11.5 (-135)/Under 11.5 (+105)
- SportsLine Projection Model: 11.3 wins
This is a huge number, but you're a fool to bet the under: Andy Reid has only not hit the over once since he came to Kansas City, and he pushed on 12 that year. He has Patrick Mahomes, I don't know if you've heard or not. It's a huge number, of course; 11.5 and heavily juiced. But the Chiefs are going to win 10 games if Mahomes exists on planet earth, and if you want to bet against Mahomes and Reid winning 12 games after they went 14, 12, 14, 12, 12 the last five years, go right ahead. Sorry, it's just that simple.
Brinson's pick: Chiefs over 11.5 (-135)**
Over 9.5 (-145)/Under 9.5 (+125)
- SportsLine Projection Model: 8.2
The SportsLine model actually shocked me here: a full 1.3 wins below the Vegas number is a ton for any model running that many simulations. But it's not that crazy -- the Chargers have a loaded roster and annually underperform, mostly due to coaching or "random" injury issues. If Joey Bosa and Derwin James are both healthy, this is a loaded defense. Rashawn Slater got well-deserved votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year for his protection of Justin Herbert, but his health is an issue this year. Quentin Johnston is good protection against a Keenan Allen and/or Mike Williams injury ... but he's a rookie.
This may come down to your feelings about the Broncos and Sean Payton/Russell Wilson -- who gets more out of their quarterback and their roster this year between Payton and Staley? I've long been a Chargers stan but I'm going to pass this year, even though I think Herbert could throw for 5,500 yards.
Brinson's pick: Chargers under 9.5 (+125)
Over 8.5 (-105)/Under 8.5 (-115)
- SportsLine Projection Model: 7.9 wins
See: above. I'm going to regret this I think, but I'm just not willing to fade Sean Payton. He's one of the two best offensive minds of the last 20 years (Andy Reid being the other, sucks he's in the same division, Sean...) and even if the offensive line isn't great he should be able to manipulate Russell Wilson schematically enough for the Broncos to be above average on offense. If they're dead-ass average last year, Nate Hackett is probably in the playoffs. Defensively this is not the same team, but they're still very good. The offensive line is my biggest concern. Again, I'm blindly backing Sean Payton here and trusting him to coach a bad offense into a top-15 offense. If that happens the Broncos are a playoff team. This number drifted down off of reasonable preseason concerns, with the Broncos struggling on offense. I'll buy low and take the L if I'm wrong here.
Brinson's pick: Over 8.5 wins (-105)
Las Vegas Raiders
Over 6.5 (+110)/Under 6.5 (-130)
- SportsLine Projection Model: 7.7 wins
Massive difference here for the SportsLine projection model, which has the Raiders clearing the Vegas total by 1.2 wins. It's a contrarian stance for sure -- the general populous is fading Las Vegas. Hence the juice. Jimmy Garoppolo is an upgrade over Derek Carr ... in a Josh McDaniels system ... in theory. It's hard to sell yourself on this defense even in the most optimistic situations, and I'm a BIG Drake Thomas fan. Josh Jacobs is a stud, but he's running on spite fumes at this point looking for a big deal. Davante Adams is as elite as they come. The division is just impossible. I don't hate the over at plus money but until we know the quarterback situation is resolved, I don't see how we can go over here.
Brinson's pick: Under 6.5 wins (-130)