Jeff Baldwin (@JeffBaldwin4) and Jeremy Wardwell (@jdwardwell5) are picking against the spread all season long in Rotoworld's Season Pass, and it’s time for their NFL team Over/Unders. Jeremy and Jeff weigh in on team win totals and related team expectations for the upcoming season.
Cardinals - Over/Under 9.5 wins
Jeff: The Cardinals head into this season coming off a thirteen win campaign while capturing the NFC West. Their season didn't finish as planned as they were blown out in the NFC Championship game against the Panthers. This team returns their offensive arsenal and will look to make another deep run in the playoffs. Led by QB Carson Palmer, this team is loaded with weapons at the wide receiver position as Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown will make this passing attack one of the best again in the NFL. When you factor in their running game featuring RB David Johnson the Cardinals should have no problem moving the football up and down the field regardless of opponent. They also possess excellent depth at the running back position with RB Chris Johnson and RB Andre Ellington. The Cardinals’ offense finished first in the league in yards per game as they averaged 408.3 per game. No reason why they can't mirror that same output again this season. On the defensive side of the ball, they traded for OLB Chandler Jones which will give them a great boost in the pass rush. The Cardinals are expecting DB Tyrann Mathieu back after losing him to a torn ACL late in the regular season last year. The Cardinals also selected DT Robert Nkemdiche in the first round of the draft as he'll help bolster that defensive line. This unit was very opportunistic last season as they finished in the top-four in the league in interceptions and fumble recoveries. Look for them to continue that aggressive style of play. They do catch a break from a scheduling perspective to begin the season as they'll host the Patriots without QB Tom Brady. Over the past three seasons, the Cardinals have finished with double digit wins each year. I expect that trend to continue this season as they'll finish with 10-11 wins. Take OVER 9.5 wins.
Jeremy: 2015 ended with a thud for the Arizona Cardinals as they were throttled 49-15 by the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game. After rolling to a 13-3 regular season record with a high flying offense and a stingy defense that allowed less than 20 PPG, the Cardinals played their worst game of the year at the most inopportune time. Arizona comes into 2016 still loaded on both sides of the ball and with a large chip on their shoulder. QB Carson Palmer has one of the best groups of receivers in the league in Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd who can each put up huge numbers on a weekly basis. In addition Arizona has a stable of talented running backs led by David Johnson (Ranked #1 overall RB by Rotoworld) who asserted himself as the starter after an impressive end to last season in which he gained more than 650 total yards in the last five games of the regular season. In addition to Johnson, the Cardinals also have Andre Ellington who will serve as Johnson's backup and a change of pace back while last year's starter, Chris Johnson, will likely be used in short yardage and goal line situations. The Cardinals added to the league's fifth ranked defense by bringing in DE Chandler Jones in a trade with the Patriots and drafting DT Robert Nkemdiche. As good as their front seven is, the secondary is even better. Tyrann Mathieu returns after shredding his knee in Week 15 and Patrick Peterson remains one of the best cover men in the league. The Cardinals had 33 takeaways last season with Peterson and Mathieu combining for seven interceptions. Overall, the Cardinals are one of the most talented teams in the league and combined with the motivation fueled after last year's unceremonious exit from the playoffs will surpass the posted total of 9.5 wins with relative ease. Take OVER 9.5 wins.
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Giants – Over/Under 8 wins
Jeff: The Giants finished last season with six wins and failed to make the playoffs yet again. As they enter a new season, they'll have a different face at the head coaching position as Tom Coughlin was replaced with Ben McAdoo who had been serving as the offensive coordinator. During the offseason, the Giants were very aggressive in free agency as their main focus was addressing the defensive side of the ball. They were able to sign NT Damon Harrison, DE Olivier Vernon and CB Janoris Jenkins. These additions will definitely help fill some glaring needs. The Giants were also able to re-sign DE Jason Pierre-Paul, and used their first round pick in the draft on CB Eli Apple. Offensively, QB Eli Manning comes off a solid season and will look to build off of that as he will once again turn to one of the best wide receivers in the game in Odell Beckham. The Giants also welcome second round draft pick WR Sterling Shepard who has been getting rave reviews during camp. Shepard is currently slated to start next to Beckham. If he can produce at the level the Giants are hoping, anything they get out of WR Victor Cruz would be a bonus. Cruz is still struggling to get healthy after suffering a major injury a few years back. RB Rashad Jennings has a firm grasp on the starting running back position after shining as the feature back the last four weeks of last season. One area the Giants failed to address during the offseason and draft is the offensive line. The Giants better hope this unit improves and can protect QB Eli Manning so the passing game isn't impacted. The Giants still have some holes on their roster, but this team is clearly better given all of the key additions they have made. Throwing in the fact that they have one of the easiest schedules this season makes me side with their over in wins. I can see the Giants outperforming their win total from a year ago, and finishing with nine wins. Take OVER 8 wins.
Cowboys - Over/Under 9.5 wins
Jeremy: After watching their 2015 season go up in smoke thanks to injuries to QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant (Ranked #4 overall WR by Rotoworld), the Dallas Cowboys are looking to bounce back and return to the playoffs in 2016. Romo and Bryant are expected to be back and healthy for the start of the season and the team added top RB prospect Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th overall pick in the draft. Elliott comes into camp NFL ready and running behind the league's best offensive line, should have a solid year and take some pressure off of Romo. The team also brought in Alfred Morris who will back up Elliott and could step up if the rookie struggles. Romo's return will bring stability to an offense that had four different starters at QB in 2015 and averaged just 17 PPG after averaging nearly 30 in 2014. With the offense expected to be better this year, how the defense performs will determine just how successful Dallas will be this season. Going into last year, the Cowboys’ defense was anticipated to be one of the worst units in the league and while that group certainly didn't remind anyone of the '85 Bears, they were better than expected and finished in the middle of the pack in points allowed with just over 23 PPG. This year's defense faces questions again and will start the season with three of their starting front seven suspended for assorted drug violations. The secondary will get some help as starting CB Orlando Scandrick returns after missing all of 2015 with a knee injury. Fortunately, the Cowboys face one of the weakest schedules in the league and will only face two or three top-level quarterbacks. With the returns of key players at key positions and the addition of Elliott, the offense will be one of the best in the league. If the defense can tread water until DE's Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence return in Week 5, which I think they will, the Cowboys will have 10-12 wins. Take OVER 9.5 wins.
Patriots – Over/Under 10.5 wins
Jeff: The Patriots come off a twelve win season while winning the AFC East yet again. However, their hopes for repeating as Super Bowl Champions were ended by the Broncos. The Broncos’ defense pressured QB Tom Brady all game as a failed two point conversion to tie the game sealed their fate. As the Patriots get ready for the upcoming season, they are dealing with the fact that QB Tom Brady will miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension for his involvement in Deflategate. QB Jimmy Garoppolo will fill in for Brady in his absence. Garoppolo will have plenty of help in both the running and passing game. Both WR Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski are target monsters in this offense and will be leaned on heavily. During the offseason, the Patriots traded for TE Martellus Bennett who will team up with Edelman and Gronkowski making this offense one of the most potent in the league. RB Dion Lewis was having a career year last season until he tore his ACL in Week 9 which ended his season. The Patriots are projecting him back at the start of the season, but will most likely monitor his workload to keep him fresh with a long season ahead. Along with Lewis, RB LeGarrette Blount will return as the power back. His usage is primarily game plan specific. Whenever Blount is called on to carry the load he comes up with a solid effort. Defensively, the Patriots return a solid group that does everything well in all facets of the game. They got an early scare when DL Rob Ninkovich injured his triceps. Fortunately for the Patriots, Ninkovich only tore a muscle, and not a tendon. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks from when the injury occurred back in early August. Even though this total is on the high and Brady is out four weeks, I'm going to side with the over here. After a tough Week 1 opponent on the road in Arizona, the Patriots play three straight winnable home games (Dolphins, Texans and Bills) before Brady returns. This franchise has been a model of consistency as they've tallied twelve wins for four straight seasons. Look for them to finish this season with 11-12 wins yet again as they'll be focused on winning another Super Bowl. Take OVER 10.5 wins.
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49ers - Over/Under 5.5
Jeremy: Coming into 2016, the San Francisco 49ers have a new coach looking to resurrect his image, an unsettled quarterback situation and after a five-win 2015 season, also have one of the least talented rosters in the NFL. Chip Kelly's tenure in Philadelphia ended with him being fired after leading the Eagles to a 6-9 record while leaving the Eagles' roster in shambles following a series of questionable personnel moves. While Kelly won't be “buying the groceries” for the 49ers, he will have to choose between fallen star Colin Kaepernick and mediocre veteran Blaine Gabbert who took over for Kaepernick in Week 10 last year. Regardless of who starts under center, the offense will struggle to move the ball. RB Carlos Hyde (Ranked #19 overall RB by Rotoworld) is the team’s best offensive player and has shown impressive flashes but missed nine games last year with injuries. Hyde's effectiveness will be determined by how well the offensive line performs and his own ability to stay on the field. The receiving corps is in shambles and is led by veteran Torrey Smith who is coming off the worst season of his career with just 33 receptions for 663 yards. On the other side of the ball, San Francisco's clear leader is pro bowl LB Navorro Bowman who made the pro bowl after missing all of 2014 with a broken leg. Bowman and the Niners’ defense will face a gauntlet of elite QB's throughout the regular season and after ending 2015 ranked 29th in total defense, will likely repeat that performance in 2016. In his first year in Philly, Chip Kelly led the Eagles to a 10-6 record and a Wild Card berth but I wouldn't expect that kind of turnaround in San Francisco. That Philly team had far more talent on both sides of the ball. This 49ers team faces the most difficult schedule in the league and will certainly be one of if not the worst teams in the league. With a posted over/under win total of 5.5, look for San Francisco to be worse than last year's 5-11 squad. Take UNDER 5.5 wins.
Buccaneers – Over/Under 7.5 wins
Jeff: The Buccaneers increased their win total four games last season over the previous year. This franchise appears to be headed in the right direction with a strong nucleus of young players at the skill positions including QB Jameis Winston, RB Doug Martin and WR Mike Evans. The Buccaneers will want to once again look to find success running the football after Martin finished second in the league in rushing yards while averaging 4.87 yards/carry. If the Buccaneers have expectations to exceed their win total from last season, they'll need to do a better job scoring points as they finished 20th in the league averaging 21.4 points/game. This may be a tall order considering their strength of schedule is one of the most difficult in the league. Defensively, the Buccaneers made it a point in the offseason to address glaring needs in order to improve this unit. They used their first two draft picks on CB Vernon Hargreaves III and OLB Noah Spence who should both help bolster this defense. The Buccaneers are also hoping the additions of CB Brent Grimes and DE Robert Ayers help a team that gave up 26.1 points/game which ranked toward the bottom of the league. I think the Buccaneers are clearly headed in the right direction, but with an ambitious win total of 7.5, I don't expect to see a two game win total increase from a season ago. Throw in the fact the Buccaneers face tough out of division opponents like the Cardinals, Seahawks, Chiefs, Cowboys and Broncos I think it will be a tall order for this team to get to eight wins. The Buccaneers have lost nine or more games in five straight seasons. Look for that trend to continue this season. Take UNDER 7.5 wins.
Lions - Over/Under 7 wins
Jeremy: Looking back at the second half of last season, the Detroit Lions had reason for optimism as their offense started to click under QB Matthew Stafford and their defense showed signs of life giving up less than 20 PPG over the final eight games. That optimism soon disappeared as the Lions bid farewell to their all-time leading receiver, Calvin Johnson, who decided to hang up his cleats in early March. Johnson grabbed 88 passes for more than 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns last year, and his retirement leaves a gaping hole on offense for a team that ranked 20th overall averaging 22 PPG. Stafford will now look to Golden Tate along with free agent signings Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin as his primary options in the passing game. Jones and Tate will combine to put up solid numbers especially if Stafford (Ranked #18 overall QB by Rotoworld) can stay off his back but Boldin is getting long in the tooth and likely won't be much of a factor. The Lions will lean on RB Ameer Abdullah out of the backfield while Stevan Ridley and Zach Zenner split the remaining carries with Theo Riddick returning as the team's primary 3rd down back. Abdullah will be running behind an offensive line that allowed 44 sacks last year but should be better this season after the team made a concerted effort in the offseason and in the draft to improve the unit. Detroit's defense will be better this year as they will welcome back linebacker DeAndre Levy who missed all of last year with an injury. Led by Ezekiel Ansah's 14.5, the Lions ranked seventh in the league in sacks with 43. Despite being one of the better teams in the league at getting to the quarterback, they struggled to stop the run allowing 113 rushing yards per game. Those numbers were skewed by Levy's absence and will improve with his return. After going 7-9 last year, I find it difficult to see how Detroit improves on that win total. The loss of Johnson is huge, the offensive line is young and will need to improve quickly and the secondary lacks depth. Playing in the NFC North is difficult enough but the Lions will face a relatively difficult schedule outside their division including road games against the Colts and Texans as well as the improved Cowboys and Saints. Look for Detroit to come in at 5-11 and take under seven wins. Take UNDER 7 wins.
Rams – Over/Under 7.5 wins
Jeff: The Rams increased their win total by one game from a season ago as they finished with seven wins. The Rams used the #1 overall pick in the draft on QB Jared Goff from California. It seems fitting as the franchise has moved back to Los Angeles from St. Louis. The Rams are hoping Goff can be their franchise quarterback for years to come. Whether he'll start to open the season remains to be seen as Goff is competing with QB Case Keenum. Whether it is Goff or Keenum, this team still lacks the necessary offensive weapons at the receiver position. WR Tavon Austin comes off a solid season and will once again fill that number one wide receiver position. After Austin there really isn't much to get excited about as WR Kenny Britt, WR Brian Quick and rookie WR Pharoh Cooper round out the receiving corps. The Rams’ pass offense ranked last in the league last season only averaging 175 yards/game. It’s hard not to think this team won't struggle again in this area. Given the lack of a passing game, the Rams will once again use a run-heavy approach this season as RB Todd Gurley will look to improve on his tremendous rookie campaign. The Rams averaged 122 yards/game on the ground last season which ranked them seventh in the league. The Rams’ team strength other than running back is their defensive line. This defense gets after the quarterback effectively as they finished with 41 sacks last season. However, given the offensive woes this team experienced (17.5 points/game), it puts a lot of pressure on the defense to make stops. I don't see how this team got any better from a season ago. Also, similar to my write-up above on the Buccaneers, the Rams’ strength of schedule is one of the toughest in the league. I think the Rams finish the season with 6-7 wins. Take UNDER 7.5 wins.
Raiders - Over/Under 8.5
Jeremy: 2015 was an up and down season for the Oakland Raiders who showed flashes of brilliance but ended the year at 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year. 2016 figures to be a different story as their talented group of young players is joined by a strong cast of free agent veteran signings. Quarterback Derek Carr will have the benefit of playing behind one of the league's most talented offensive lines after the Raiders added Guard Kelechi Osemele to an already stacked unit. Carr had a monster year last season passing for nearly 4,000 yards and 32 touchdowns and should approach or surpass those numbers this year. His favorite target, Amari Cooper, grabbed 72 passes for 1,070 yards while battling a foot injury. One area of concern for Cooper (Ranked #16 overall WR by Rotoworld) is holding onto the ball as the sophomore receiver ranked second in the league in drops with 10. Cooper will be flanked on the other side of the field by WR Michael Crabtree who hauled in 85 passes of his own and continues to be a reliable target for Carr. Perhaps the largest benefactor of the addition of Osemele will be Oakland's ground game which was led by Latavius Murray and his 1,066 yards but lacked any effective alternative to spell Murray. That concern was addressed with the addition of 5th round pick DeAndre Washington who at the very least will be a change of pace back but could push Murray for starting snaps if Murray struggles. Significant changes were also made to a defensive unit that struggled against the pass while allowing 25 PPG. The team brought in CB Sean Smith and safety Reggie Nelson through free agency and drafted safety Karl Joseph in the first round to shore up a secondary that ranked 26th in the league in pass defense. While I don't see Oakland as a Super Bowl contender just yet, I do see them as a solid playoff contender and the additions they made combined with a relatively soft schedule will result in at least two more wins over last year. Take OVER 8.5 wins.
Falcons – Over/Under 7.5 wins
Jeff: The Falcons started last season strong as they won six out of their first seven games. However, a Week 8 loss at home to the Buccaneers spiraled into a six-game losing streak. The Falcons finished the season with eight wins as they missed making the playoffs again. QB Matt Ryan will look to lead this team back to the playoffs after experiencing three disappointing seasons. Ryan has two major players at the skill positions in WR Julio Jones and RB Devonta Freeman. Freeman was a tremendous surprise last season as he excelled as the lead back in this offense. The Falcons did lose WR Roddy White and WR Leonard Hankerson so their targets are up for grabs this season. With the signing of WR Mohamed Sanu, the Falcons are hoping he can be a reliable complement to Jones. The Falcons also drafted TE Austin Hooper from Stanford in the third round as they look to the future at the tight end position. Hooper is a great blocker, and an effective pass catcher who could carve out a role in his rookie season. The Falcons defense’ is a mediocre group that will have their work cut out for them as they face a very daunting schedule this season. Their out of division opponents include the Packers, Seahawks, Broncos and Cardinals. The Falcons’ defense struggled getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season as they were last in the league in sacks with 19. Failure to get pressure on the quarterback in a league dominated by the pass doesn't bode well for success. I can confidently see this team regressing from their eight win season a year ago, especially given their schedule and lack of upgrades on both sides of the ball. Look for the Falcons to finish this season with 6-7 wins as they'll stay under the season win total. Take UNDER 7.5 wins.
Vikings - Over/Under 9.5 wins
Jeremy: The Minnesota Vikings come off an 11 win 2015 season in which they made the playoffs and saw their young quarterback make major strides towards being an upper-level signal caller, their All-Pro running back return to form and their defense turn into one of the best in the league. 2016 should be another playoff season with some even predicting a Super Bowl run which I think is a bit premature. QB Teddy Bridgewater threw for 14 touchdowns for the second straight season and will be expected to carry even more of the load this year. A multi-dimensional player and exceptional athlete, Bridgewater has yet to show the ability to take over a game with his arm, often relying on short passes and his own scrambling ability. The primary focus on offense will continue to be Adrian Peterson (Ranked #3 overall RB by Rotoworld) who led the league in rushing with 1,485 yards. Peterson remains one of the top backs in the league but at 31, father time is creeping up on him and at some point he will start to decline. As insurance against a potential drop off in Peterson's play, the Vikings drafted WR Laquon Treadwell to pair with Stefon Diggs and let Mike Wallace, who was never a great fit with this team, walk. Treadwell will have to perform right away as the team is thin at receiver after the top two and Kyle Rudolph is simply average at tight end. Even with another year of experience for Bridgewater and all of the talent Peterson has, the defense will lead the Vikings. Minnesota had a bend but don't break defense ranking in the middle of the pack in yards allowed but ranked 5th in points allowed with 18 per game. They return virtually the same group but facing a more difficult schedule than last year will likely lead to a drop in those numbers. I'm expecting a slight drop in the win total as well as Bridgewater will struggle early on taking on more of the offensive responsibilities in the passing game and Peterson begins to fade if even just a little bit. I'm looking for a Wild Card berth and nine win season. Take UNDER 9.5 wins.