The NFL Draft is over and NFL Commissioner Goodall has done his job “hyping” each club on national television. On paper, every NFL team has a fresh start, several shiny new presents, and a fighting chance. And you better believe that the Vegas oddsmakers were covering every aspect with their billion dollar industry on the line. Not only does every draft pick effect the point spread, but every perception of a new young “star” effects the upcoming point spreads for the new season. If the public thinks that RGIII (Robert Griffin III) will help make the Redskins a winner, then the pointspread value will be inflated. Take a look at the effect of the Denver Broncos signing Peyton Manning, “American’s Quarterback.” Overnight the Broncos’ odds changed from 75-1 to 10-1. So the Vegas oddsmakers made a very special note and will work that public perception into their numbers for Fall.
This 2-part series is a collection of notes that need to be kept and updated by point spread players. So you can avoid the traps of hype and public perception- both of which are usually wrong. Don’t believe me? Ask the buyers of Facebook’s IPO stock.
Many of the over/under predicted win totals below (set by Vegas oddsmakers) take into account the division they play in and the strength of their schedule. For more details check into my web site WinningEDGE.com, where I will be updating each team’s ratings after training camps, final rosters are set, and then looking in detail at the final starting 22 players of each team headed into September, along with crucial special teams ratings. By September 1st, we will be ready for POINTSPREAD WINNERS!!
This article shows what the first initial reaction to the free agent signings and drafts for each NFL team. Oddsmakers set their win totals based on this off season. And I analyze the same factors to beat the oddsmakers!
Below find each NFL team’s projected win totals, to allow for “future” wagering based on whether you want to bet over or under that projected win total. These win totals fluctuate like stocks and commodities on Wall Street. The numbers are constantly adjusting and changing. I have also listed last season’s record for each team, so we don’t forget who was the cream of the crop versus the bottom of the barrel. Good luck & profitable wagering!
1. NY GIANTS—The defending champs needed a running back and got one, just probably not the one they wanted. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals —9.5—2011 Record 9-7. The world champs, led by perennially underrated general manager Jerry Reese, have had a great off season. From trading for linebacker Keith Rivers to signing defensive tackle Shaun Rogers on the eve of the draft, the Giants have not made a big splash, but have rather done their usual stellar job of allowing less-than-key components of the roster to walk (think Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs) and filling those holes with young talent.
2. NEW ENGLAND—The Patriots drafted defense in the first six rounds. Smart move. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals —12—2011 record 13-3. The Patriots got more explosive on the outside with their free-agent acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd and spent the draft getting better on defense. Adding Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, along with defensive end Jake Bequette, should help upgrade a Patriots defense that gave up way too many yards last year. As long as they have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, they remain Super Bowl contenders.
3. GREEN BAY—GM Ted Thompson used a six-pack of defensive draft choices to fix the league’s lowest-rated defense. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals—12— 2011 Record 15-1. When your team sets a franchise record for points scored the same season your team gives up an NFL record for yardage allowed through the air, it’s pretty clear which side of the ball needs work. Thompson dipped his toe into free agency with the signing of defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove and center Jeff Saturday and then spent nearly the entire draft working on their defense. Thompson’s unusual aggressiveness in trading up a couple times on Day two speaks to how badly the Packers felt they needed help on defense.
4. BALTIMORE—The Ravens didn’t need more monsters on defense, but they got another one in LB Courtney Upshaw. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals—10— 2011 Record 12-4. The Ravens made most of their headlines this off season in their contract dealings with their star quarterback and running back. This is a very good team that should pick up where it left off last year, but that might be part of the problem—the fact that the Ravens are a perennial playoff team that can’t ever quite get over the hump.
5. SAN FRANCISCO—Randy Moss reported to camp and said the 49ers are ahead of schedule. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals—10—2011 Record 13-3. This team has the “we have unfinished business” vibe to it. Returning all 11 starters to a defense that dominated nearly every week, head coach Jim Harbaugh has added some weapons to the offensive side of the ball in hopes of scoring a few more points a game. While Randy Moss, Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham grabbed headlines, the thinking here is that former Oregon running back LaMichael James, who the Niners grabbed in the second round of the draft, will turn out to be a key component of the 49ers’ offensive improvement.
6. HOUSTON—They replenished need areas in the draft. If DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin pan out as wide receivers, the options for Matt Schaub could be great across the board. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals—10—2011 Record 10-6. Last season, the Texans withstood an onslaught of injuries to key players that would have sunk lesser teams. Losing your starting quarterback, his backup, and your best pass-rusher all within a few weeks of each other is supposed to kill your season. Not these Texans, who not only got to the playoffs, but actually advanced to the divisional round. While they suffered some losses in free agency, they are still an incredibly talented team that added key pieces to both sides of the ball in the draft in outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and center Ben Jones.
7. PHILADELPHIA—Eagles general manager Howie Roseman liked his draft. He should have. Philadelphia got better on defense. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals—10— 2011 Record 8-8. Andy Reid and company spent the off season of a year ago assembling the ill-fated “Dream Team.” This past off season, they’ve done a perceived 180 by mostly rewarding their own- keeping crucial stars like Trent Cole and DeSean Jackson in the fold with new contracts.The Eagles spent a good part of their draft getting their embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo some help. In the end, however, this team will really rise and fall on the fortunes of quarterback Michael Vick. If (and that’s an enormous “if”) Reid and company can keep Vick upright and on the field, they are as dangerous as any team in the league.
8. PITTSBURGH—The Steelers might have extended QB Ben Roethlisberger’s career a few more years by upgrading their offensive line. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals—10—2011 Record 12-4. Things were a bit different this off season, as the team hired a new offensive coordinator in the volatile Todd Haley to replace “retired” Bruce Arians. The Steelers also bid adieu to a trio of veteran mainstays in Hines Ward, James Farrior and Aaron Smith. Throw in another excellent draft orchestrated by general manager Kevin Colbert, and the Steelers should be right in the thick of the playoff race this December.
9. DETROIT—The Lions’ draft was solid, but they sure have a lot of questions at cornerback. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals—9.5 —2011 Record 10-6. The Lions have done an excellent job of assembling an extremely deep and talented roster. General manager Martin Mayhew has done an excellent job of identifying his core players and getting them locked up- the seven-year contract extension given to Calvin Johnson being the most recent example. Talented head coach Jim Schwartz should show progress getting this talented group deep into the playoffs. One possible fly in the ointment- 3 players arrested for pot possession in the off season.
10. DENVER—They drafted only one additional weapon for Peyton Manning, running back Ronnie Hillman. Will Brock Osweiler pan out as “the project” quarterback? 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 9.5—2011 Record 8-8. This team has been saddled with some extremely big expectations by signing Manning, and while the league’s only four-time MVP could very well end up taking the Broncos to a Super Bowl, the Broncos will be tested right out of the gate, facing the Steelers on Sunday Night Football in front of the entire country. It will be interesting to watch how this team responds to the pressures that landing Manning has brought it.
11. CHICAGO—GM Phil Emery showed a lot of aggressiveness in the draft and free agency. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 8.5— 2011 Record 8-8. Some may be surprised to see the Bears ranked so high but this team probably would have made the playoffs last year if quarterback Jay Cutler hadn’t gotten hurt. Cutler was playing an insane brand of ball before having his season cut short by a thumb injury. While the Matt Forte issue could become a real distraction if both sides dig in for the long haul over the summer, head coach Lovie Smith has done a good job in the past of keeping his team focused in the face of outside distractions. Picking up Brandon Marshall is a big plus for Cutler and the offense, even though he is an oft-troubled receiver. So was getting rid of a complicated offense and the coordinator Mike Martz. This is now Cutler’s team.
12. ATLANTA—Draft class featured no first-round pick, a second-round guard, a third-round tackle and no drama. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 9— 2011 Record 10-6. The Falcons went through some coaching upheaval on both sides of the ball this spring, hiring new offensive and defensive coordinators.On defense, Mike Nolan figures to be an upgrade over the departed Brian VanGorder. On offense, Mike Mularkey left to become head coach of the Jaguars, who turned around and sent Dirk Koetter to run the Falcons offense. Head coach Mike Smith has won a bunch of games during his time in Atlanta, but he has yet to win a playoff game. Can Smith get this team over the hump and deep into the playoffs? Or is he some kind of second coming of Dennis Green or Mike Sherman—coaches who could win plenty of regular season games, but whose teams folded when the spotlight was on them?
13. NEW ORLEANS—The NFL’s delay in announcing bounty punishment for Saints players is punishment in itself. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 10— 2011 Record 13-3. The best thing this team did this off season was hire defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who will be a vast improvement over the departed Gregg Williams. While the Saints have been grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons, from “Bounty Gate” and Mickey Loomis’ alleged wiretapping of opposing teams… to the continued standoff in contract negotiations with their franchise quarterback. It can’t be denied that this is still an extremely talented offense. While Sean Payton’s suspension has the potential to hang like a dark cloud over this team all season, the Saints will still win their fair share if they can maintain composure in the face of distractions.
14. THE COWBOYS— made a huge move by jumping up to get LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne- the best defensive player in the entire draft. But after that, they didn’t get much. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 8.5— 2011 Record 8-8. If Morris Claiborne is as good as the Cowboys think he is, he will form an extremely tough cornerback duo with free-agent acquisition Brandon Carr. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s group should be much more effective when sending pressure than they were last year. Head coach Jason Garrett needs to make the playoffs and probably win a game or two when he gets there, or you can bet Jerry Jones will be looking for his seventh head coach since parting ways with Johnson. And if Romo doesn’t win deep into the Playoffs, expect Jones to be searching for a new Quarterback too. A team with Don Meredith, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman in their “Ring of Honor” cannot accept anything less than championship football.
15. SAN DIEGO—The Chargers look to have had a very solid draft, and I’m expecting a big bounce back from Philip Rivers. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 9— 2011 Record 8-8. Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, despite taking some shots in the media early on, has quietly had a good off season, built around an excellent draft. Landing Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes should go a long way to fixing what ailed the Chargers defense last year. Most teams would probably have moved on from head coach Norv Turner at this point, but Chargers owner Dean Spanos seems to believe Turner is the man to bring a Lombardi Trophy to San Diego. He may be the only one.
16. CINCINNATI—A good draft should keep the young Bengals competitive. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 7.5— 2011 Record 9-7. Mike Brown’s two big hits in last year’s draft, quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green, seem destined to be a lethal duo for the next decade. Now, the Bengals have the look of an ascending team that should build on last year’s success and has a serious chance of challenging the Ravens for the division crown.
PART II……2012 NFL OVER/UNDER WIN TOTALS
These weaker teams below have an opportunity to make huge differences in the outcome of their season win/loss totals. Teams listed in this Part II have many needs to fill and gaps to plug- which can lead to easy pointspread covers…and some of my famous OUTRIGHT UNDERDOG WINNRS!
17. KANSAS CITY—With veterans returning from injury plus a nice draft influx, Romeo Crennel will have a lot of pieces to sort through. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals—8—2011 Record 7-9. New head coach Romeo Crennel did an admirable job last year when thrust into the role of interim head coach, bringing stability and clarity to what had become close a NFL joke. This team will probably win a few more games just by virtue of being healthy this year, starting with getting its quarterback Matt Cassel back under center and the dynamic presence of running back Jamaal Charles, who is returning from an ACL injury.
18. TENNESSEE—They added a receiver and a tight end who can expand the passing offense, but they didn’t do much to address interior line questions, or the pass rush. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 7— 2011 Record 9-7. This team needs to find out sooner rather than later if quarterback Jake Locker is the long-term answer. The other pressing issue for the Titans is getting a more productive season out of running back Chris Johnson. After an extremely disappointing season coming on the heels of signing a huge contract extension, Johnson will be scrutinized heavily all year and needs to provide the spark on offense that the Titans had come to expect during his first three years in the league. Getting past the Texans and winning the division could be a tall order.
19. ARIZONA—The Cardinals drafted three offensive linemen and a wide receiver to help out their quarterbacks. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 7— 2011 Record 8-8. Larry Fitzgerald wanted the Cardinals to draft Michael Floyd, and they got him. While the pairing of Fitzgerald and Floyd is exciting, it doesn’t fix the dilemma the team faces at the quarterback position, where it used a great deal of resources to bring in Kevin Kolb, only to watch him struggle through inconsistent play and injury, and finally be outplayed by Fordham’s John Skelton.
20. NY JETS—The boom-or-bust potential of DE Quinton Coples and WR Stephen Hill will determine this draft class. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 8.5— 2011 Record 8-8. Expect Rex Ryan’s group to surprise many of us and win a decent number of games. The spotlight will be trained on quarterback Mark Sanchez in a way that we hadn’t thought imaginable prior to Tim Tebow coming to town, and every incompletion, every turnover, will be blown up into a back-page drama in the New York newspapers. It will be fun to watch- if you’re not a Jets fan. My prediction? Tebow takes New York by force. He’ll be starting by mid season and as usual- pulling off miracles…but this time on the Great White Way. Which means the Jets have their first star caliber QB since Broadway Joe!
21. CAROLINA—Cam Newton recently purchased a $1.6 million condo in Charlotte. He’ll own the town eventually. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 7.5—2011 Record 6-10. Carolina did re-sign Steve Smith to a long term deal, ensuring he will be around for the foreseeable future. The Panthers did go and get bruising fullback Mike Tolbert in free agency and still boast a serious one-two punch at tailback in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. General manager Marty Hurney spent the draft getting his defense some help, led by the selection of linebacker Luke Kuechly, who should be the cornerstone of the Panthers defense for years to come. The Panthers have a tough row to hoe in the NFC South, but Newton is a special talent…and with this bruising running game, upsets should come in bunches.
22. SEATTLE—Already strong on defense, the Seahawks drafted a league-high five players for their front seven. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 7— 2011 Record 7-9. From signing quarterback Matt Flynn and defensive lineman Jason Jones in free agency to re-signing running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive lineman Red Bryant, Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were busy as usual this off season. This team will play a tough brand of defense and try to pound the football and work Flynn (or possibly Tarvaris Jackson, if you believe the line Carroll is selling about a training camp quarterback competition) and the passing game off play-action with more traditional West Coast offensive sets. While the 49ers are the presumptive favorites, the Seahawks could surprise with a real challenge for the division crown. They also have that natural travel advantage- teams flying into Seattle are so exhausted and jet-lagged, they literally lay down for Seattle at home.
23. BUFFALO—The Bills have “sleeper” potential. They plugged two big holes at cornerback (Stephon Gilmore) and left tackle (Cordy Glenn) in the draft. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 7— 2011 Record 6-10. General manager Buddy Nix went out and got a premier pass-rusher in Mario Williams in free agency, but he didn’t stop there. Nix also inked former Patriot Mark Anderson to a free-agent contract. New defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt brings his—let’s be honest now—somewhat outdated defensive scheme to Buffalo. In the end, this team’s fortunes will most likely rise and fall with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who looked fantastic last year before signing a new contract. Why does any team give players a new contract in the middle of a season? It never works out for the best.
24. TAMPA BAY—The Bucs used four of their first five draft choices to address a defense that ranked last in yards allowed per play. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 6—2011 Record 4-12. New head coach Greg Schiano hasn’t wasted any time putting his stamp on his new team. Reports from the team’s first organized activity, prior to the draft, had Schiano yelling at his squad for how they began a certain drill, which drew more than a few raised eyebrows. This certainly isn’t the player-friendly atmosphere fostered by Raheem Morris. As all bad teams do, the Bucs had to go out and overpay in free agency just to raise the talent level of their team, landing receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks, and cornerback Eric Wright. Throw in the drafting of Alabama safety Mark Barron and running back Doug Martin, and the Bucs at least upgraded talent to take the field in September. The big question mark for the Buccaneers, however, remains quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman looked to be a bright young star on the rise his first two seasons, only to crash back down to earth in 2011.
25. WASHINGTON—Finally, a legitimate franchise quarterback in Washington. Welcome, Robert Griffin III. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 6.5—2011 Record 5-11. RGIII is in the fold. The excitement surrounding Griffin is understandable, but this team is far from ready to start putting up huge numbers on offense. While head coach Mike Shanahan surprisingly spent a valuable draft pick on another quarterback in Kirk Cousins, the idea of developing two young, talented signal-callers is not as crazy as some would have you believe. With a defense that is actually quite good, the Redskins offense should feature a heavy dose of Roy Helu banging out yards and RGIII running heavy boot-action throwing to tight end Fred Davis. The offense doesn’t need to be spectacular in 2012…it just needs to keep the ball safe and score just enough to keep give the underrated defense a lead to protect.
26. OAKLAND—Without a first or second round pick, the Raiders got to sit and contemplate life under Dennis Allen. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 7— 2011 Record 8-8. New GM Reggie McKenzie spent nearly 20 years learning from Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson. The Raiders are in good hands. Much like Thompson hiring the relatively unknown Mike McCarthy, McKenzie tabbed Dennis Allen, with all of one year’s experience as a defensive coordinator and no head coaching experience whatsoever, to be his head coach. Allen, Carson Palmer and this young team will work together to bring the Raiders back to their former glory- but it’s going to take a while.
27. MIAMI—The Dolphins are excited about QB Ryan Tannehill. But he won’t help the team this year. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 7.5— 2011 Record 6-10. The Dolphins wasted little time putting their first choice in the 2012 draft to work, sending out a voice mail to season ticket holders from new quarterback Ryan Tannehill, exclaiming how excited he is to be the Dolphins’ new quarterback. New head coach Joe Philbin has talent to work with on the offensive side of the ball, especially at running back, with veteran holdover Reggie Bush, and fourth-round pick Lamar Miller. The question will be how long it takes to get Tannehill up to speed and if he is able to transition to the pro game.
28. JACKSONVILLE—Attention from NFL draft experts over the third-round pick of a punter overshadowed a solid one-two punch of receiver Justin Blackmon and defensive end Andre Branch. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 5.5— 2011 Record 5-11.The Jaguars landed Justin Blackmon in the draft, to pair with free-agent acquisition Laurent Robinson, in an attempt to give beleaguered second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert some help in the passing game. This is a team that had a championship-caliber defense last year and an offense that was painful to watch. If Mularkey can get even an iota of watchable football out of Gabbert and company, it will be a minor victory.
29. ST LOUIS—The Rams loaded up, taking an NFL-high six players among the top 96 overall selections in draft. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 6— 2011 Record 2-14. Fisher was wise to stick with quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford has the talent to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league. He just needs a little bit of help. From cornerback Cortland Finnegan and first-round pick Michael Brockers on the defensive side of the ball, to center Scott Wells, and second-round pick Isaiah Pead on the offensive side, the Rams badly needed an infusion of overall talent, and they seem to have done well in that respect.
30. CLEVELAND—The Colt McCoy era was a quick one. Now, Cleveland’s hopes rest on 28-year-old rookie QB Brandon Weeden. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 5.5—2011 Record 4-12. The Browns got their man in the draft in running back Trent Richardson, who should become an instant fan favorite in Cleveland. One of the bigger surprises of the draft was the Browns’ selection of Weeden, effectively ending the Colt McCoy era before it started. This NFL is a tough league!
31. MINNESOTA—GM Rick Spielman should enter world championship poker tournaments after bluffing the Browns in a draft trade. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 6—2011 Record 3-13. A few short weeks after reports surfaced that owner Zygi Wilf had offered Bill Parcells complete control of the team earlier this off season, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman absolutely crushed the draft. Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder will need running back Adrian Peterson to come back healthy from a torn ACL suffered in Week 16 last year.
32. INDIANAPOLIS—They surrounded Andrew Luck with weapons, but the Colts are really thin at cornerback, and the transition to a 3-4 will require a lot more talent on defense. 2012 NFL Season Win Totals 5.5—2011 Record 2-14. Landing Andrew Luck is obviously a nice start for the Colts, and it’s clear that the team plans on building up its offense around its franchise quarterback. One of the bigger surprises of the off season was the return of wide receiver Reggie Wayne to the Colts.
Keep this article bookmarked and be sure to check in to winningedge.com for articles like this all off season long, as we prepare for the winningest NFL pointspread season ever! This is the difference between professional and the amateur when it comes to proper preparation. If you want to WIN, it all starts months before “any given Sunday.” And once the season begins, it starts each Monday at WinningEDGE.com.