The NFL season is nowhere near starting. The only news in the summer offseason is mainly bad news of player arrests or statements fueled by delusions of grandeur.
Luckily there’s some real NFL news this week that can help you prepare for the upcoming season.
Bovada.lv, one of the largest online sportsbooks, released their betting lines for win totals for all 32 teams.
These lines show how the real NFL experts perceive the 2016 regular season is going. You can listen to ESPN Radio daily or download an NFL Network podcast every day until the first preseason kickoff. But if you want solid knowledge about The League, then Vegas is the place to turn.
These guys set the lines on individual games and have an uncanny ability to predict the point differential in the contests more times than not. That’s what makes betting on NFL games with the spread so damn hard. The bookmakers know what they’re doing.
They’re not just filling up the airwaves to accommodate the 24-hour news cycle.
Bookmakers lose money if they don’t set the lines properly. If Colin Cowherd makes a bad prediction on the opening weekend, he still gets paid the same to spit into his mic on Monday morning.
What can the average fan do with this betting knowledge?
First off you can brace yourself for a dismal year if your team is predicted to win under seven games. That would include the 49ers, Titans, and of course, the Browns whose over and under for wins is dead last at 4.5.
I’ll take the under!
10.5 games is the high water mark for wins. The Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks are at the top of the heap with that number of predicted wins. So those fan bases can go ahead and shop for hotel rooms for the playoffs.
Though there is a chance that one of those teams regresses in 2016. If forced to go with the under, I would pick Carolina and Pittsburgh to not live up to expectations. No way the Panthers duplicate what they did last year with near perfection in the regular season.
And Pittsburgh has a rough go of it when Big Ben is out, which is happening more each year.
As for the other 24 teams in the middle of the betting pack, there are a few surprises. Dallas is expected to bounce way back to top form with Romo back to 100 percent to start the year. Their over / under is at 9.5 wins.
My Falcons are certainly no Vegas favorite. They’re right in the middle of the mediocrity with 7.5 wins predicted. Sounds about right.
The Redskins aren’t getting much respect from the Vegas experts after having a very nice year and apparently finding their franchise quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The Skins are right there at 7.5 wins along with Detroit and the Bears.
Not exactly great company when comparing win totals.
The Colts got lots of love from Vegas with their O/U at 9.5 wins. Andrew Luck will be back next year, but I can see this team struggling once again with the lack of weapons on offense and a soft defense.
Don’t think these betting lines are just for the degenerate gamblers out there either. This data can and will be used by fantasy footballers like myself.
Daily fantasy players can use the predicted win totals to lean in the right direction each week. A team picked to win 10.5 games is sure to score a lot of points in an offensive focused league. So drafting from those top five teams mentioned earlier would be a step in the right direction.
The same goes for year long fantasy leagues where these betting lines are even more critical.
Trades don’t usually win season long leagues, so draft night is crucial to avoiding last place and becoming the laughing stock of your fantasy league. You may get lucky with a player on a losing team like the Eagles or Saints, but the safer picks will be on teams not expected to finish at around .500.
These predictions aren’t fool-proof of course. Anything can happen once the games actually begin. An injury to a key player can make even the bookmakers look foolish in the end.
That said, these betting lines provide solid info that can be acted upon whether you are a gambler, fantasy player, or just want to improve your NFL knowledge.
If nothing else these lines provide NFL water cooler talk that doesn’t involve Johnny Manziel or DeflateGate.