This week will feature the second in a two-part series looking at the over/under win totals for each NFL team this season. This time around, we'll take a look at the NFC.
Here's a link with the over/under totals for each team:
New York Giants, 2011 record: 9-7, over 9.5 (-110), under 9.5 (-120)
This is still one of the toughest divisions in football and the Giants went 5-1 last season in games decided by four points or less. Besides the tough divisional schedule, they have @SF, PIT, @CIN, GB, NO, @ATL and @BAL on tap. I think this line is driven by the Super Bowl win and the Hakeem Nicks injury is cause for concern. I'll back the under here.
Philadelphia Eagles, 2011 record: 8-8, over 10 wins (-135), under 10 wins (+105)
Not only is this a big line considering the two-win jump, but the Eagles are favored to win the division this year. Andy Reid remains one of the better coaches in the game as far as X's and O's and the team features one of the best offenses in the NFL, when its key players are healthy. That said, the schedule again doesn't look easy and I'm not sure Michael Vick lasts the whole season without getting hurt. This looks like an easy under call, which makes me a tad suspicious, but that's what I'm taking.
Dallas Cowboys, 2011 record: 8-8, over 8.5 wins (-125), under 8.5 wins (-105)
Is it a given that Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Miles Austin will play all 16 games completely healthy? Probably not, but if they do this looks like an easy over. The Cowboys went out and drafted Morris Claiborne to be a shutdown corner, an invaluable component on any competitive defense in this division. I'll go over here with the idea that this team is healthier (and can stay that way) this season.
Washington Redskins, 2011 record: 5-11, over 6.5 wins (even), under 6.5 wins (-130)
This line is entirely tied into whether or not you think Robert Griffin III is the real deal. College quarterbacks are now more ready than ever for the pro game, which makes me lean toward the over. Fred Davis has quietly become an elite tight end, while Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss and Josh Morgan could be an underrated group of wide receivers. The backfield has potential as well and I'm inclined to go over here.
Green Bay Packers, 2011 record: 15-1, over 12 wins (-125), under 12 wins (-105)
The only way I can see the under coming in on this one is if somehow Aaron Rodgers misses a significant amount of time. While I could see splits with the Bears and Lions, the rest of the schedule is a mixed bag. NO, @HOU, @NYG, SF is no picnic, but STL, IND, JAX, ARI, TEN all seem like wins. Can you really see the Packers dropping all the way to 11-5, by losing four wins from last season's mark? I can't, so go over.
Detroit Lions, 2011 record: 10-6, over 9.5 wins (+105), under 9.5 wins (-135)
Assuming Matthew Stafford can stay healthy, the Lions remain a squad capable of hanging 30 points on any NFL defense on any given Sunday. They should have a healthier backfield as well and provided the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley can stay out of trouble going forward, the defense has a lot of talent. This is one of the few lines that moved minimally from last season's record and I don't feel great about it, but I'd lean over.
Chicago Bears, 2011 record: 8-8, over 8.5 wins (-135), under 8.5 wins (+105)
If it were possible (maybe it is), I'd parlay this over with Buffalo, making the Bears/over my favorite pick in the NFC. They lost Jay Cutler for the last six games of the 2011 season and Matt Forte for the last four. So what was their record over the final six games? 1-5. Think they missed Cutler? I'm on board with the idea that Mike Martz hurt the offense more than he helped it and now that he's gone, things should be better with Mike Tice. Brandon Marshall is back with Cutler and provided he doesn't have any more off-field issues, he could be a top-5 wide receiver. While the division is tough, I think someone screwed up here by only going to 8.5; the over is definitely the play here.
Minnesota Vikings, 2011 record: 3-13, over 6 wins (even) under 6 wins (-130)
A three-win increase is a big jump in my eyes for the weakest team in one of the tougher divisions in football. I can't forget how badly Tim Tebow and company torched them in the passing game last year, in Minnesota. On the plus side, I have a hard time betting against Adrian Peterson and last season we all saw the playmaking ability that Percy Harvin possesses . Moreover, Kyle Rudolph is a solid sleeper at tight end and Christian Ponder could advance to another level in his sophomore season. That being said, the Vikings have six games against tough divisional opponents, which means I can't see them mustering a 7-9 season. Go under.
New Orleans Saints, 2011 record: 13-3, over 10 wins (-125), under 10 (-105)
I'm lost here outside of the possibility that Drew Brees is seriously considering not playing this season. I know the loss of Sean Payton means something, but three wins? I don't see it. The schedule could shape up to be really easy or really bad, but the Saints haven't been below 11 wins in the last three seasons. Over is the play here.
Atlanta Falcons, 2011 record: 10-6, over 9 wins (+105), under 9 wins (-135)
One has to wonder if this is Mike Smith's “make or break" season considering his 0-3 playoff record. The Falcons did little in the way of free agency during the offseason and their schedule is something of a mixed bag. The first half of the schedule is pretty easy before a three-game stretch against PHI, DAL and NO. The offense should again be potent, especially at home, and the key could be getting Julio Jones to stay healthy for a full season. It's not the toughest division, but I can't see another 10-win season; 8-8 sounds about right to me.
Carolina Panthers, 2011 record: 6-10, over 7.5 wins (-115), under 7.5 wins (-115)
The initial reaction here is to like the over, given the potential of Cam Newton in his second season and the backfield trio of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. Steve Smith had a resurgent year, but his production tailed off over the second half of last season. The defense, outside of the linebackers, is the glaring weakness of this team, which is why I'll go under here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2011 record: 4-12, over 6 wins (-110), under 6 wins (-120)
Does a new coaching staff, plus adding an elite receiver in Vincent Jackson compute to two more wins for a team that was 4-12? I think it does. This is a team that two seasons ago went 10-6, led by the likes of LaGarrette Blount, Mike Williams and Josh Freeman. However, it'll be on the Bucs' defense to win games, given that it gave up an average of 34.9 points over their final 11 games in 2011, all losses. However, the free agent signing of Eric Wright should help and their draft mainly focused on that side of the ball. I'm on the over here.
San Francisco 49ers, 2011 record: 13-3, over 10 wins, (+105), under 10 wins (-135)
The 49ers have one of the best defenses in football and the division doesn't look too daunting. Aldon Smith is downright scary and re-signing Carlos Rodgers will keep the defense intact. On the offensive side of the ball, there's a ton of depth at running back and the additions of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss could pay big dividends. I can't see any reason why they can't be as successful as last season, especially given an easy schedule. Over it is.
Arizona Cardinals, 2011 record: 8-8, over 7 wins (-110), under 7 wins (-120)
The line smells like a trap given that the Cardinals should be much healthier on offense. I'm not going to write off Kevin Kolb yet, Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells should both be healthier and Michael Floyd should make an immediate impact in the passing game. Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett should anchor the defensive line, while Patrick Peterson has already shown big-play ability. Again, this seems like a trap and I'll take the bait. Over seven wins is the call.
Seattle Seahawks, 2011 record: 7-9, over 7 wins, (-110), under seven wins (-120)
Let's not kid ourselves: provided he's healthy, Matt Flynn will be the team's starter come Week 1. This is a good upgrade for the Seahawks, who also locked up Marshawn Lynch with a long-term deal during the offseason. The wide receivers as a group should be healthier and the addition of TE Kellen Winslow can't hurt the passing game. The defense was surprisingly solid last season and the Bruce Irvin pick will either make the front office look very smart or very dumb. The upgrades on offense are enough here to take the over.
St. Louis Rams, 2011 record: 2-14, over 6 wins (-110), under 6 wins (-120)
Now here's an interesting line, considering that to win the over the Rams would have to increase their win total by five from last season. Under Jeff Fisher, that wouldn't surprise me at all. Cortland Finnegan was a good signing and the roster is loaded with young potential. However, I'm not sure this is the season that potential comes to fruition and there's a lot of question marks at wide receiver. I'll go under here and this is partly due to me taking the over with the other three teams in the division.