Best bets on 2021 NFL season win totals


The NFL draft is right on the corner, and betting opportunities are already here for the upcoming season.

Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill released its win totals for all 32 NFL teams, providing an opportunity to get a head start on the 2021 campaign.

Our analysts -- Doug Kezirian, Joe Fortenbaugh, Tyler Fulghum, Mike Clay, Anita Marks and Seth Walder -- offer their best bets on the numbers they like.

Over/under win totals

Atlanta Falcons over 7 (-115)

Marks: Matt Ryan is not chopped liver, folks. He might be in his mid-30s, but he can still sling it. I'm excited to see what new head coach Arthur Smith is going to create around a very explosive offense, especially if the Falcons add Florida TE Kyle Pitts to the mix. Seriously, no one will be able to stop Pitts, playing alongside Julio Jones and Hayden Hurst in the red zone. Dean Pees takes over an Atlanta defense that played better at the end of the season. Many are underestimating the Falcons. If they draft Pitts, watch out!

Carolina Panthers over 7.5 (+110)

Marks: The question is, do you believe Sam Darnold is an upgrade at quarterback over Teddy Bridegwater? If you do, then the over is the play. I am a believer in Darnold. He was sold a bag of lemons with the Jets and never had a fair shot at success. This is a new beginning for Darnold, who will be working with an excellent head coach in Matt Rhule and a good coordinator in Joe Brady.

The Panthers won five games last season, and five of their losses were by five points or less. I expect Christian McCaffrey to play more than three games this year, the wide receiving corps is a huge upgrade for Darnold, and the Panthers should address their offensive line in the draft with the eighth pick.
Dallas Cowboys under 9.5 (-130)

Kezirian: The only positive vibe is that QB Dak Prescott returns from injury. While that will obviously improve the offense, this is still a subpar team. The defense ranked in the bottom third in numerous categories, and I doubt that changing defensive coordinators will solve all those problems. Additionally, I think Mike McCarthy is one of the league's worst coaches. Since Green Bay fired him, the Packers have posted consecutive 13-3 records. That says a lot and his performance last season did nothing to soften my opinion.

While the NFC East was a punchline last season, I think it will be significantly better this season, as both Washington and the Giants appear as though they've improved. I believe either could win the division, along with Dallas. Plus, the schedule-makers did Dallas no favors. Outside of their division, the Cowboys must hit the road to face the Bucs, Chiefs, Saints, Vikings, Patriots and Chargers. Would you be that surprised if they lost all six of those road games?

Marks: The wrong team is favored to win the NFC East this season. Washington should be favored, not the Cowboys. Prescott is coming off a severe ankle injury, so I don't expect him to be as mobile as in years past. The offensive line is not what it once was -- Tyron Smith and Zack Martin both will turn 31 this year -- and there is not a lot of depth at the position. After signing Prescott to a monster deal, there was very little cap space for the Cowboys to do much elsewhere, and they have a lot of needs, especially on defense. I'm not a huge believer in McCarthy, and if Jerry Jones mortgages the farm to jump up to No. 4 to grab TE Kyle Pitts, ignoring other areas of concern, I like the under even more.
Denver Broncos under 7.5 (-125)

Kezirian: Drew Lock operated one of the more pedestrian offenses in 2020 and ranked 29th in Total QBR. That means he was worse that Carson Wentz, who led the NFL in interceptions in only 12 games. Vic Fangio often appears lost in several situations where he must manage his timeouts effectively. The defense had its moments, but the unit only ranked in the middle of the pack of most categories. Obviously Von Miller's return from injury will help, but there is only so much the defense can do to offset such a weak offense. Simply, there isn't much to like about this team.
Jacksonville Jaguars over 6 (-120)

Marks: Trevor Lawrence, who expected to be the top pick in the draft and start for the Jags right away, is one of the most pro ready quarterbacks coming out of college. He is also blessed to align himself with Urban Meyer, who will be a huge upgrade in the coaching department. Lawrence will also be coached by Darrell Bevell, who is credited to helping Russell Wilson find quick success in Seattle.

The division doesn't scare anyone, with the Titans taking a hit on the defensive side of the ball in their secondary and the Texans being a dumpster fire. I like Jacksonville's additions of WR Marvin Jones Jr. and CB Shaquill Griffin in free agency. With the Jets and Bengals on the schedule, I can see the Jags winning seven games.
Las Vegas Raiders under 8 (+115)

Fortenbaugh: Sin City's newest residents went 8-8 last season despite a -44 point differential, which is more indicative of a seven-win club than an eight-win club. So it's more than possible that the Raiders are headed for some regression in 2021. What makes matters worse is that this is currently a franchise known very well for two things: late season collapses and an inability to get after the opposing quarterback. The Raiders turned a 6-3 start last season into a 2-5 finish one year after turning a 6-4 start into a 1-5 finish.

Further, the Silver & Black have ranked 25th or worse in sacks in each of the last two seasons. Throw in the odd decision to dismantle one of the NFL's best offensive lines and you're left with more questions than answers in a crowded AFC West.

Miami Dolphins under 9 (+115)

Clay: Miami won 10 games in a breakout 2020 season, but only one of those wins came against a team with a winning record (Rams). As impressive a job as coach Brian Flores did turning the team around, I don't see enough proven talent to feel optimistic about this team in 2020. Defensively, the cornerback room is terrific. LB Benardrick McKinney was a nice addition and DE Christian Wilkins and NT Raekwon Davis are emerging, high-pedigree players up front, but depth is lacking and the unit lacks firepower elsewhere.

On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins have a decent group of pass-catchers, but the offensive line remains a major work in progress and Ryan Fitzpatrick is no longer around to sub in for Tua Tagovailoa if he doesn't make a second-year leap. If you're in on Miami, you're betting on that leap, as well as progression from several of the other team's recent Day 1-2 picks and on Brian Flores' coaching prowess. Perhaps it will all work out, but I'm at 7.6 projected wins, so all we need is them to fall just short of .500 in order to hit at +115.
Minnesota Vikings over 8.5 (-115)

Fortenbaugh: Minnesota went 7-9 last season despite a defense that head coach Mike Zimmer referred to as "the worst one I've ever had." That quote speaks volumes, considering Zimmer has been coaching defense in the NFL since 1994. In an effort to rectify the problem, the Vikings signed cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander this offseason, as well as defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and safety Xavier Woods.

On the other side of the ball, the bulk of the production returns from a unit that ranked fourth in total offense in 2020. I believe Minnesota stands to benefit greatly from the return of fans to stadiums in 2021, as the Vikings boasted one of the game's most dominant home-field advantages prior to the pandemic. Case in point: Kirk Cousins and company went 6-2 at home two years ago but just 3-5 last season with no spectators.
New England Patriots under 9 (+105)

Marks: The Patriots were active in free agency this season, but not a lot of moves really wowed me. Many of the players they added have had injury issues or were role players -- not consistent playmakers. I'm still not sold on Cam Newton (I believe he will struggle again this season), and the AFC East is a more competitive division now than ever before.
New York Giants over 7 (-110)

Marks: The biggest move for the Giants this offseason might have been the signing of free agent WR Kenny Golladay, who gives Daniel Jones and this offense a downfield threat. I was impressed with defensive coordinator Patrick Graham's unit this past season. DE Leonard Williams balled out with 11.5 sacks, and the Giants improved an already good secondary by adding CB Adoree Jackson to play opposite James Bradberry. This is no sleeping Giant, and I expect more than seven wins this season.
New York Jets over 6 (-130)

Kezirian: A warm body would be an upgrade over Adam Gase, but Robert Saleh sure seems like exactly what this organization needs. He comes across as a man with transparency, integrity and likeability. The San Francisco defense responded well to him, and that figures to make the trip east. Now, the question is how will the Jets fare with what figures to be a rookie QB. I feel like Sam Darnold got a raw deal, but I also believe he has a low ceiling. BYU's Kyle Wilson is expected to be the heir apparent and drafted second overall, and I expect him to be a serviceable signal-caller out of the gates.

The schedule does provide winnable games. The Jets host the Jaguars, Bengals and Eagles, while visiting the Texans, Panthers and Broncos. Of course they still have 11 other games. I am optimistic this team can scratch out seven victories.

Walder: Gase and Darnold -- who finished last in QBR in 2020 -- are gone. No matter how you want to divide the blame between them, their departures are upgrades for the Jets, particularly when we know a high draft pick (likely Zach Wilson) is coming in to replace Darnold.

There's a young core that has either already played well or flashed serious potential, including DL Quinnen Williams, S Marcus Maye, WR Denzel Mims and LT Mekhi Becton. WR Corey Davis and DE Carl Lawson only add upside. And they've got a second first-round pick coming in thanks to their swindling of Seattle in the Jamal Adams trade. Don't get me wrong; it's an unproven team with an offensive line remains a serious concern. But beating six wins in a 17-game regular season doesn't seem like too much to ask.
San Francisco 49ers under 10 (+120)

Walder: I don't think Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be on the 49ers by the time Week 1 rolls around. If he is, that means the 49ers used three first-round picks (the two they traded plus the No. 3 overall) on a player that they aren't even going to play this season? I don't buy that, especially because of the $25 million the 49ers would save if they cut him -- money they'll need next year or the year after, when they'll need to spend on talent to replace the first-rounders they lost.

Working off that take, is a team with a rookie presumably starting the majority of the season worth a 10-win line with plus money on the under? I don't think so. Kyle Shanahan is an excellent coach, but rookies invite variance and downside, so I like plus money on the under.

Clay: Only three of the 64 possible win total bets are giving +120 juice, and one of them is shockingly the 49ers' under. This is a team that won six games in 2020 and has reached double-digit wins once over the past seven seasons. Yes, the 49ers were overwhelmed with injuries and are a logical rebound team in 2021, but they're also a team with a major question mark at the all-important quarterback position. It's almost unheard of for a team to select a quarterback with an early first-round pick who doesn't go on to play significant snaps as a rookie. With the 49ers' trading up to third overall, their first-round investment figures to be busy out of the gate, and you rarely want to be on the over in that circumstance.

The 49ers have a below average offense and a good defense and will be playing in a division with three other legitimate playoff contenders. My early projection for the 49ers is 9.5 wins, which makes the under 10.0 at +120 very attractive.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers under 11.5 (-120)

Marks: Tampa was one of the luckiest teams in the NFL last season, winning games in the postseason they should not have (vs. the Packers and Saints) and being one of the healthiest teams, especially in regard to their starters. We see it every season; there is always that one team that avoids the injury bug and wins games without having to tap into their reserves. I don't expect that to happen again this season. The Bucs were able to retain all of their marquee players, and they plan to run it back with the same core group.

But this will be a much more competitive division than most think. Don't sleep on the Falcons, the Saints aren't going anywhere (even if it is Taysom Hill starting at QB), and the Panthers are going to make some noise.
Washington Football Team over 8 (-105)

Marks: Washington hands down has the best defense in the NFC East and probably a top-five unit in the NFL. I like what the team did in free agency by signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to compete for the starting quarterback job, a job I believe he wins. FitzMagic will give Washington the best opportunity to win games; he plays smart and will get the ball into his playmakers' hands -- and Washington has several. The addition of WR Curtis Samuel to play opposite Terry McLaurin will limit the shadowing McLaurin had to deal with all last season. Washington could add another star defensive player to the mix (perhaps Penn State LB Micah Parsons) with the 18th pick, which could make the defense even more frightening.