Good, Meh & Ugly: NFL Win Totals Update
Every new NFL season brings new changes to the league. The first few weeks are usually bonkers; teams we thought would excel struggle out of the gate, and teams that were supposed to be tanking end up winning. At least that’s the way it seems when you look at the major storylines through the first four games of the 2018 campaign. In reality, about half of the NFL’s 32 clubs are performing pretty close to expectation. It’s a normal distribution; only the outliers make the news.
To demonstrate this, let’s put the following baker’s dozen of non-newsworthy teams into three buckets: the Good, the Meh and the Ugly. Then we’ll compare their records thus far to the opening win totals on the NFL odds board. Four games is a small sample size, of course, and anything can happen between now and January, but for now – to quote the late Dennis Green – they are what we thought they were.
Carolina Panthers (2-1 SU and ATS): After winning 11 games last year, the Panthers had an over/under of nine for the 2018 campaign, and they’re well on their way to another NFC Wild Card berth.
Green Bay Packers (2-1-1 SU, 2-2 ATS): Hopes are high in Wisconsin with QB Aaron Rodgers back and relatively healthy. The Packers are just about on pace to meet their win-loss total of 10.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1 SU and ATS): They can still play lockdown defense, and QB Blake Bortles is once again acceptably average. Nine wins seems like a perfectly reasonable target.
Los Angeles Rams (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS): After loading up with talent in the offseason, the Rams rolled into September with an over/under of 10 wins. So far, so good.
New Orleans Saints (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS): Their defense is still suspect, but the Sean Payton-Drew Brees regime continues to move the sticks. The Saints will probably finish close to their 9.5-win total for 2018.
Dallas Cowboys (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS): Mediocrity, thy name is Cowboys. Injuries on the offensive line will probably keep Dallas somewhere around their total of 8.5 wins.
Denver Broncos (2-2 SU, 0-3-1 ATS): QB Case Keenum hasn’t moved the needle quite as much as the Broncos hoped when they signed him in March, but at least they’ll slide OVER 7.5 wins at this rate.
Seattle Seahawks (2-2 SU, 1-2-1 ATS): The Seahawks had an over/under of eight wins for 2018, so they’re on course, but losing safety Earl Thomas to a broken ankle might knock Seattle off their trajectory.
Arizona Cardinals (0-4 SU, 2-2 ATS): It’s a shame about QB Sam Bradford’s knees. Josh Rosen looks like he can handle the starting gig, and Arizona has a decent defense so their total of five wins is well within reach.
Buffalo Bills (1-3 SU and ATS): Like the Cardinals, the Bills are pairing their adequate defense with a rookie QB in Josh Allen. They even trounced the Minnesota Vikings (!) in Week 3. But six wins is about as good as it will get in Buffalo.
Cleveland Browns (1-2-1 SU, 3-1 ATS): To be fair, the Browns are a dubious official replay from taking a winning record into Week 5. But there are enough problems with this team to keep them pointed at 5.5 wins.
Indianapolis Colts (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS): This might be the hidden gem among these 13 clubs. Indianapolis only had a total of 6.5 wins during the offseason, but a near-healthy Andrew Luck and some quality youngsters could rally the Colts to greater things.
New York Jets (1-3 SU and ATS): The Jets aren’t far from getting it right. QB Sam Darnold has shown flashes of potential, but his lack of consistency has Gang Green on the road to six wins and an early trip to the golf course, as expected.