<
>

# Predicting 2018 Vegas win totals for all 32 NFL teams

With the NFL down to its final four, 28 of the league's 32 teams are already thinking about next season. That also means 28 of the league's 32 fan bases are focusing on the offseason to come and what to expect from their team in 2018.

Of course, it's too early to have a strong sense about what each team's roster construction will look like. We don't know who will retire, where players will end up in free agency or who will end up drafting who when. All of that is true, but it doesn't make guessing or projecting any less fun.

So let's do that. I'm going to run through each team and project what I think their over/under will be in Las Vegas for the 2018 season. To do this, I'm using their performance from the 2017 season (and years past), applying whatever I learned from living in Las Vegas for a year and talking to bookmakers during my time at Grantland and making various assumptions about what each team will do during the offseason. These aren't the numbers I would project for each organization in 2018, but instead my guess as to what the actual lines might be come April.

For the uninitiated, an over/under bet on a team's win total is a bet on whether a team will finish with more wins than the listed total. The Patriots, for example, were posted with a 12.5-win total in 2017. An over bet would have required them to win 13 games, which they successfully accomplished. An under bet would have won if the Patriots had won 12 or fewer games.

Games that end in a tie count as losses.

If a team matches its over/under (as the Titans did by going 9-7 with a nine-win over/under), the bettor is returned whatever he/she bet without any profit or loss.

The typical bet is -110, meaning bettors need to bet \$110 on either side of the over/under to win \$100. That will be the default line for the bets listed below, but a few bets will have juice weighted toward one side of the line or the other. The 2017 Patriots, for example, were listed as even money over 12.5 wins and -120 on the under. That means a \$120 bet on the over would have paid \$120, while a \$120 bet on the under would only have paid \$100 if it won.

Let's get to the teams, in order from lowest projected over/under to highest. You won't be surprised with where we start or end.

ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN | CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAC | KC | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | OAK | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WAS

## Cleveland Browns

Projected 2018 over/under: 4.5 wins (Under -130, Over +110)

The Browns' total for 2017 was 4.5 wins, and you know how that one went. Why would they go up again at 4.5 wins for 2018, then? Sheer regression toward the mean. Most teams as bad as the Browns -- although clearly not all -- bounce back some after seasons as bad as the one we saw from Cleveland in 2017. The Browns will almost surely make an upgrade at quarterback this offseason, including the possibility of acquiring a veteran and drafting a passer with the first overall pick. I suspect this one would still probably require some juice on the under.

## New York Jets

Projected 2018 over/under: 5 wins

As bad as the Browns were, they weren't the team that headed into 2017 with the lowest expected over/under total. The Jets eventually fell all the way to a 3.5-win expectation, and while they made it to four wins by Week 9, Todd Bowles' team won just one of its final seven games as the schedule stiffened. Gang Green exceeded expectations, but their quarterback situation still consists of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, whose existence the Jets actively disavow. Unless the Jets make a major upgrade under center, they're still going to have one of the league's worst projections.

## Indianapolis Colts

Projected 2018 over/under: 5.5 wins

A bet on the Colts is a bet for or against Andrew Luck, who seems no nearer a return than he did at this time last year. If the rumors are true and Indy brings in Josh McDaniels, they'll be gaining a coach with a brilliant offensive mind; but years of bad drafts have left the Colts a ways away from competing in a suddenly difficult AFC South. Concrete news on Luck would shift this line by a win in either direction.

## New York Giants

Projected 2018 over/under: 6 wins

The most popular organizations in the league -- teams such as the Cowboys, Giants and Steelers -- often will have inflated totals in Vegas because the books know that their fans are more likely to bet the over. If the Giants had the same talent but wore the Bills' uniforms, they would hit the board at 5.5 wins. Big Blue only posted 4.1 Pythagorean wins this past season, and while they probably won't suffer as many injuries as they did during a snakebit 2017 campaign, it's unclear who will actually be playing quarterback in 2018. If new general manager Dave Gettleman uses the second overall pick on a passer, the Giants will probably be using 2018 to rebuild and retool.

## Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Projected 2018 over/under: 6.5 wins

The Bucs underachieved in 2017, in part because they went 3-7 in games decided by a touchdown or less, including four such losses to playoff teams. Numbers suggest the Bucs should improve, but it's difficult to see a high ceiling for Tampa Bay when it is bringing back frustrating coach Dirk Koetter and is still stuck in a division with three stacked teams in Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans. A healthy season from Jameis Winston -- who posted the league's seventh-best passer rating after returning from injury in Week 13 -- would help.

## Chicago Bears

Projected 2018 over/under: 6.5 wins (Over -130, Under +110)

The Bears will be a sleeper pick in plenty of places, and indeed, people who didn't catch onto the 2017 Rams until it was too late will look at Chicago as the team most similarly constructed to Los Angeles. It could very easily work out that way, but it would be aggressive to look at Jared Goff, a quarterback who was a mess in Year 1 and a franchise quarterback in Year 2, and assume Mitchell Trubisky will make the same sort of drastic strides forward in his sophomore campaign. Most teams that go 0-6 in their division improve the following season, but the Bears will still be up against the NFC North. This one would go up with juice on the over.

## Arizona Cardinals

Projected 2018 over/under: 7 wins

It's almost impossible to project the Cardinals, given that they don't have a head coach or an obvious choice at quarterback. If general manager Steve Keim opts to go for a veteran and trades for Alex Smith, this number will be higher, even if the Cardinals performed far worse than their 8-8 record this past season. And likewise, if Arizona settles for a stopgap such as Josh McCown and drafts a quarterback 15th overall, this number might fall below six in a division that already has three franchise quarterbacks.

## Denver Broncos

Projected 2018 over/under: 7 wins

Everyone suspects the Broncos are going to make an addition at quarterback, but it's not yet clear whether their decision will dramatically move the needle. The Broncos' defense hasn't declined as much as the raw totals suggest; it fell from fourth to 22nd in points allowed but was still the 10th-best defense by DVOA after leading the league in 2016. But Denver could cut Aqib Talib. And it is feeling the effects of what look to be middling drafts in 2015 and 2016.

## Miami Dolphins

Projected 2018 over/under: 7 wins

You suspect the Dolphins might want to chalk up 2017 as a lost season after Ryan Tannehill went down with a torn ACL in preseason, but their 28th-ranked defense (by DVOA) is a bigger concern. Miami likely will hit the free-agent market yet again to try to plug holes, even if it means moving on from Jarvis Landry and cutting Ndamukong Suh, who might have worn out his welcome. Questionable contracts from years past might prevent Miami from importing as much new talent as it might like.

## Washington

Projected 2018 over/under: 7 wins

Arguably the most injury-hit team in football, Jay Gruden's team will hope to get more games -- if not full seasons -- out of impact contributors such as Chris Thompson, Jordan Reed and Trent Williams in 2018. Of course, Washington might be coming back with a totally different team, given that it could move on from Kirk Cousins and cut cornerback Josh Norman, which would slice its most expensive offensive and defensive players off the roster. This total assumes both players stay while Washington allows Bashaud Breeland and Zach Brown to leave in free agency, but much is up in the air.

## Buffalo Bills

Projected 2018 over/under: 7 wins

While the Bills shocked the world and made it to the playoffs at 9-7, their Pythagorean expectation was for a 6.4-win team, suggesting they're extremely likely to decline in 2018. If they decide to turn the quarterback position over to Nathan Peterman, seven wins might be a tall order. My best guess is that the Bills will use their two first-round picks to trade up and grab a passer; but unless the incoming signal-caller plays like a superstar and props up the rest of the team, Sean McDermott's squad might take a step backward before it takes a step forward.

## Cincinnati Bengals

Projected 2018 over/under: 7.5 wins

Cincinnati's motto for 2018 might as well be "Run It Back," given that it re-signed coach Marvin Lewis and will return most of its starters from 2017. Most teams would look at how badly they got their offensive line choices wrong and go into free agency to try to invest in replacements. But with the Bengals treating the market as if it were lava, Cincinnati is going to have to hope for a healthier season and further development from would-be contributors such as Cedric Ogbuehi and John Ross.

## Oakland Raiders

Projected 2018 over/under: 7.5 wins (Over -140, Under +120)

The second-most difficult number on this board was Oakland. Do you believe in Jon Gruden and a talented core that went 12-4 as recently as 2016? Or do you see a Raiders team that went 6-10 with the Pythagorean expectation of a 6.0-win team last season and one that hasn't topped 8.7 expected wins under Derek Carr's stewardship? I'd put heavy juice on the over, because it's hardly out of the question that Gruden turns the offense around quickly, but defensive struggles might hold back the Raiders in a difficult AFC West.

## San Francisco 49ers

Projected 2018 over/under: 7.5 wins (Over -130, Under +110)

And this was the toughest number to peg, if only because the Niners looked like a totally different animal while going 5-0 under Jimmy Garoppolo. Kyle Shanahan's team isn't going to go undefeated in 2018 with its new quarterback, but the 49ers are going to return Jimmy GQ and a defense with as many as six first-round picks. And they should have something in the range of \$100 million to work with in free agency. They could get good in a hurry. San Francisco also is in a tough division, and the NFC West has to face off against the NFC North and AFC West next year. The Niners' road schedule includes six teams that were .500 or better this past season, along with a game at Lambeau Field against the Packers.

## Tennessee Titans

Projected 2018 over/under: 7.5 wins

The Titans won a playoff game and still managed to fire Mike Mularkey, which might have been the best possible outcome for Tennessee fans. It's possible that Marcus Mariota takes a leap forward underneath a new offensive coordinator, but the Titans were 18th in DVOA and had the Pythagorean expectation of a 7.5-win team this past season. With the Colts likely getting back Andrew Luck and the Texans expecting longer campaigns from Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt, the Titans might get squeezed by their division.

## Detroit Lions

Projected 2018 over/under: 8 wins

The Lions were actually a better team in 2017 than they were in 2016, according to both point differential and DVOA, but their record suffered by virtue of falling from 8-5 in one-score games to 3-4, which brought an end to Jim Caldwell's time as coach. Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is expected to take over, but will the Lions ever develop a running game or a secondary pass rush behind franchise-tag candidate Ezekiel Ansah? Detroit also has to face a second-place schedule in the NFC, which means games against the Cowboys, Panthers and Seahawks.

## Houston Texans

Projected 2018 over/under: 8 wins

Nobody doubts how brilliant Deshaun Watson played during his six-game stint as Houston's starter last season, but the Texans were also 3-3 in those games. Granted, their losses over that stretch were to the Chiefs, Patriots and Seahawks by a combined 14 points, but it's fair to point out that they might not become a Super Bowl contender solely by virtue of getting back Watson. They are certainly likely to improve, though, and while J.J. Watt is hardly guaranteed to return to his previous form after missing 24 of the past 32 games thanks to injury, if he does come back as his old self that defense will be scary.

## Los Angeles Chargers

Projected 2018 over/under: 8 wins (Over -130, Under +110)

The league's most perennially frustrating team did just enough to get into playoff contention, only for the Bills to keep the Chargers from the postseason with a win in Week 17. Los Angeles's biggest problem -- kicker -- is fixable this offseason, but this might be the best version of the Chargers we'll see for a while. Outside of Denzel Perryman and Jason Verrett, virtually every one of Los Angeles' core talents stayed healthy this past season. Philip Rivers also posted the lowest interception rate of his career, a trick that isn't likely to stick around in 2017.

## Jacksonville Jaguars

Projected 2018 over/under: 8.5 wins (Over -130, Under +110)

New England's opponent in the AFC Championship Game could hit the board with a higher total if it upgrades at quarterback. This line assumes the Jaguars come back with Blake Bortles for 2018 on his fifth-year option. Jacksonville's defense should still be legit in 2018, but it can't be as healthy as it was this season, when the Jags' 11 starters missed a combined three games. The returns of Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson also make the AFC South a much tougher proposition, given that the Jags went 4-0 against the Colts and Texans while outscoring them 131-24 this season.

## Atlanta Falcons

Projected 2018 over/under: 9 wins

The Falcons brought back virtually their entire personnel core, but they didn't get remotely similar results with a revamped staff of assistants; after outscoring teams by 8.4 points per game in 2016, they only topped their opposition by an average of 2.4 points in 2017. They only hit 10 wins by virtue of a pair of breathless last-second victories in September, including a drop in the end zone by the Bears in Week 1 and the Golden Tate 10-second runoff play in Week 3. Atlanta's ninth-ranked offense by DVOA was unfairly blamed for the struggles of a defense that finished 22nd, so if the offense does play as poorly in 2018 as people perceived it to perform in 2017, things could get worse.

## Baltimore Ravens

Projected 2018 over/under: 9 wins

Nine wins weren't enough to get the 2017 Ravens into the playoffs, with a 1-4 record in games decided by seven points or less keeping out the league's seventh-best team by DVOA. Baltimore's 10.4-win Pythagorean expectation suggests it is likely to improve in 2018, but can a defense still stocked with post-peak players force 34 takeaways again? The Ravens also caught an easy schedule in 2017 with the AFC South and an Aaron Rodgers-less NFC North; they get the AFC West and the NFC South next season.

## Carolina Panthers

Projected 2018 over/under: 9 wins (Over -120, Under Even)

The Panthers enter an uncertain offseason as Jerry Richardson prepares to sell the team, which might impact their ability to upgrade during the spring. It would be nice to bring back Julius Peppers, who might retire after an 11-sack season, but it seems likely Carolina will lose star guard Andrew Norwell to free agency after signing fellow guard Trai Turner to an extension in July. Carolina drove to that 11-5 record with a 7-1 mark in close games, and that sort of dramatic performance in one-score games drove precipitous declines for the Panthers in 2014 and 2016.

## Dallas Cowboys

Projected 2018 over/under: 9 wins (Over -130, Under +110)

No number is more likely to be inflated in Vegas than that of America's Team. The Cowboys should get a full season from Ezekiel Elliott, after their star running back was suspended for six games, but Zeke also lost a full yard per carry from his 2016 averages. They'll have to hope for healthier seasons from Dan Bailey, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith, but there are still major questions at receiver, along the defensive line and in the secondary. With \$8.9 million still on the cap for Tony Romo and most of their available cap space likely going to an extension for Zack Martin and a franchise tag for DeMarcus Lawrence, do the Cowboys get aggressive and cut Dez Bryant?

## Kansas City Chiefs

Projected 2018 over/under: 9 wins

The Chiefs have posted winning records in each of their five seasons with coach Andy Reid, which would make this nine-win line conservative if it weren't for the likelihood of Alex Smith being traded. Kansas City will turn over its offense to Patrick Mahomes, which should be exciting -- and occasionally terrifying -- based on what we saw in Week 17. The defense might improve with the returns from injuries of Eric Berry and Dee Ford, but the Chiefs still have holes they'll have to cover up and will likely move on from longtime contributors Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson for cap reasons.

## Los Angeles Rams

Projected 2018 over/under:9.5 wins

If your friend tells you that they knew the Rams were going to break out in 2017, keep in mind that their Vegas over/under before Week 1 was at six wins with heavy juice (-160) on the under. Very few people saw this year's 11-5 breakout coming, and while the Rams are returning many of their big names, their secondary will be a question mark if they can't resign Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner. The Rams also have to figure out whether to retain Sammy Watkins, who was their fourth target in the passing game this past season, and they are missing their second-round pick in the draft. Sean McVay's team improved by seven wins over their 2016 total; since 1989, teams that have jumped by seven or more wins in a given year declined by nearly four wins the following season.

## Minnesota Vikings

Projected 2018 over/under: 9.5 wins (Over -120, Under even)

The Vikings are one win away from a home Super Bowl, have \$60 million in cap space waiting for this offseason and should return the core of a team that won 13 games. So why would their win total be at 9.5 wins? It's because of the quarterback position, as all three of the passers on the roster are due to become unrestricted free agents this offseason, with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur likely leaving town for a head-coaching gig. The Vikings have the financial flexibility to do whatever they want, so they could franchise Case Keenum and re-sign Teddy Bridgewater, but can Keenum's breakout continue without his offensive coordinator? Alternately, if they sign Kirk Cousins, this Vikings line would leap toward 10.5.

## New Orleans Saints

Projected 2018 over/under: 9.5 wins (Over even, Under -120)

The Saints' defense came to life in 2017, and young stars such as Marshon Lattimore and Sheldon Rankins should continue to improve in 2018, but it's hard to believe it will remain a top-10 unit. Teams that improve as much as the Saints did -- they jumped from 31st to eighth in defensive DVOA -- often decline the following season. It's difficult to imagine Alvin Kamara being as productive as he was on a per-touch basis next season, and Drew Brees will be 39 years old. Age gets every quarterback eventually, and Brees threw shorter passes and relied more heavily on his receivers in 2017 than ever before. The Saints should still be good, but there's certainly risk here.

## Seattle Seahawks

Projected 2018 over/under: 9.5 wins

The Seahawks we saw roll off five consecutive double-digit win seasons from 2012 to 2016 might not resemble the team we see in 2018. Even getting beyond Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor possibly retiring and Jimmy Graham leaving in free agency, Seattle could choose to cut ties with the likes of Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman as it transitions to a new core of talent. Coach Pete Carroll also has replaced both coordinators, and the hires -- Brian Schottenheimer and Ken Norton Jr. -- aren't exactly slam dunks. The floor for a team with Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas is pretty high, but this roster could look very different by the time we get to September.

## Green Bay Packers

Projected 2018 over/under: 10 wins

Likewise, will the Packers change their slow-and-steady philosophy after replacing general manager Ted Thompson with Brian Gutekunst? They'll probably get more than seven games out of Aaron Rodgers in 2018, and they've won an average of 10.6 games out of every 16 contests with Rodgers in the lineup. There's a chance that Rodgers declines a bit as he hits age 35, but the Packers should have a healthier offensive line and can bring back eight defenders who were taken in the top two rounds of the draft.

Projected 2018 over/under: 10.5 wins

The Eagles should be able to return 19 of 22 starters after re-signing Alshon Jeffery and Tim Jernigan in midseason; they'll likely decline Torrey Smith's option and lose Nigel Bradham and Patrick Robinson. Getting Carson Wentz back will obviously be their biggest addition, although Wentz might not be 100 percent in his return from a torn ACL, especially early in the season. Thirteen wins might be a tough feat to repeat, but Philadelphia is going to be one of the best teams in football over the foreseeable future.

## Pittsburgh Steelers

Projected 2018 over/under: 10.5 wins (Over Even, Under -120)

Will the Steelers bring back Le'Veon Bell? My guess is yes. But what are the chances that Pittsburgh gets healthy seasons from both Bell (who touched the ball 406 times) and Ben Roethlisberger in 2018, given their injury history? Steelers fans are excited to see coordinator Todd Haley leave, but the offense probably can't improve much, given that it finished third in DVOA this past season. An 8-2 record in one-score games suggests the Steelers are likely to decline next season, although they should still be favored to win the AFC North.

## New England Patriots

Projected 2018 over/under: 12 wins (Over -130, Under +110)

And there are the Patriots, who are on another level entirely. Consider that the Patriots have won 12 or more games for the eighth consecutive season, which is an NFL record. The Colts won 12-plus games seven times from 2003 to 2009, and no other team has done it any longer than four seasons in a row. The scary thing is that the Patriots might even be better next year, given that they'll return Julian Edelman and might only end up losing Malcolm Butler, who has struggled this season.

Tom Brady is in uncharted territory as a quarterback playing well into his 40s, and the bottom could drop out, but the Jimmy Garoppolo trade tells you what coach Bill Belichick thinks about Brady's future. Until Brady or Belichick leave the building in Foxborough, it's difficult to put the Patriots any lower than 12 wins.