After outlining the NFL teams undervalued by odds makers, this handicapper now pinpoints teams likely to be overvalued and overrated, leading to bloated betting lines.
This is the companion article to the one I previously authored on 2015 NFL UNDERRATED teams. It follows an article of a similar ilk on 2015 Overrated College Football teams and the Underrated 2015 CFB teams.
One major caveat for this article; this regards the regular season of NFL, and as such its intent is NOT to be used for preseason NFL picks. For, that is an animal unto itself. Neither does this article include the many changes that could happen during preseason, including injuries of key players. With that rejoinder, let’s take a look at 5 teams, in alphabetical order, that I believe may be OVERRATED by the linemaker as we enter the 2015 season. Criterion for the list includes:
1. Personnel, including coaching changes made in the offseason.
2. The results from last season compared to previous years.
3. The season-ending momentum of the team, good or bad, and how it may impact this year’s team.
With the above as a background, I present a thumbnail sketch of 5 teams, who I believe will underperform expectations in 2015.
Arizona Cardinals – HC Bruce Arians (3rd year)
Whoa! Talk about overheated. In 2 years under HC Arians, the Cards have gone 21-12 SU, 22-11 ATS. This includes a 2015 season when they went 11-6 SA despite being outgained 369-305 per contest and being outrushed 113/4.4 to 78/3.2. Scoring was even with the opposition at 19 PPG. Combined with the fact that the Cardinals might be wearing a bit of a target on their back, this team is due for a tumble. Either that or Arians is the greatest coach in the NFL?! Remember, last year, he led his team to a playoff berth while using a 3rd string QB. And that comes in a division that features Seattle and San Francisco! Even with No. 1 QB Palmer now healthy, must feel that Arizona will certainly be overrated. It does not hurt our cause that Arizona is playing one of the hardest schedules in the NFL and enters the season with QB Palmer just 15-28 ATS as home chalk.
Cincinnati Bengals – HC Marvin Lewis (12th year)
Injuries to QB Andy Dalton, along with multiple injuries to the receiving corps, limited the Bengals’ offense to just 22 PPG on 343 YPG LY. However, that was meaningfully less than the 22/366 that the Bengals allowed. With such a lack of statistical dominance, it is a bit head-scratching that the Bengals had a 10-6-1 SU record and playoff berth. Again this season, at the bequest of OC Hue Jackson, the Bengals should ground and pound. A now healthy Dalton and receiving corps should have players running to the betting window to back this team. But 4 consecutive winning seasons (all of which resulted in playoff invitations), but not a single playoff victory, provides a definite SELL sign for NFL picks on a team who should be getting a lot of love from the public and linemaker. Back the Bengals with caution, with the realization they may well be playing the NFL’s toughest schedule!
Dallas Cowboys – HC Jason Garrett (5th year)
Everyone will be in love with America’s team since they broke their 8-8 SU mold (no playoff tickets) with a 13-5 SU, 10-8 ATS season of last. That resulted in their first playoff victory in over a decade (24-20 over Detroit) before losing at Green Bay (26-21). No doubt, there is plenty of pop in an offense, who behind QB Romo (No. 1 in passing ratings LY), scored 28 PPG on 375 YPG, while outrushing their foes 143/4.6 to 103/4.2. And then there’s the defense who improved markedly from last season by 5 points and 54 yards. Plus, they have shored up a once weak LB corps with numerous offseason acquisitions. No wonder this team will quickly become a fan favorite, translating to extra points in the betting line! That over-ration is only enhanced by the fact the Cowboys will play one of the weaker schedules in the NFL this season. With such being the case, must figure the Cowboys will be favored in the majority of their games. If they are indeed OVERRATED, and that is the fact, consider the record of HC Garrett which shows him 15-27 ATS as chalk, as well as QB Romo who is 22-36 ATS as home chalk. Cowboy backers beware!
Detroit Lions – HC Jim Caldwell (2nd year)
After 2012 and 2013 seasons, in which the Lions went 11-21 SU ATS, the big Cats responded with an 11-6 SU season of 2014. It culminated with a playoff invitation (only their 2nd in the last 10 years) and a (24-20) post-season loss at Dallas. Winning teams normally draw support the following season. But, a closer inspection of the fundamentals behind Detroit’s successful defensive season, in which they allowed just 18 PPG, 302 YPG and 70/3.2 overland, give clues for the concern. For, it was that defense that led the charge with Suh and Fairley making it virtually impossible for other teams to run the ball. But those two defensive gems have departed for bigger bucks, leaving the Cats vulnerable at a position that was once a strength. As a result, if their pop-gun offense that averaged just 20 PPG does not evolve behind QB Stafford, it could be back to sub .500 seasons for the Lions once again. And, Stafford is clearly not to be trusted with your money, considering his 31-45 ATS record as NFL starter.
Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll (6th year)
Can one play change a franchise? Maybe so, if it is a HC who calls a pass (that was intercepted) with the Super Bowl on the line, when you have a RB which was the odds-on choice to score from the 1 yard line. That mistaken call by Carroll handed New England the Super Bowl and prevented the Seahawks from consecutive titles. To reach the pinnacle once again for a 3rd season would be highly improbable. That is especially true with the realization that what goes up, must come down in the NFL. In the last 3 seasons (which include 8 playoff games), the Seahawks are a mind-boggling 42-14 SU, 37-19 ATS. Expect greatly inflated NFL odds betting lines on the Seahawks this season with little to show for it. Throw in the fact that the Seahawks will be playing one of the toughest schedules in the NFL this season, with no fewer than 6 road games at least 2 time zones east, and you have the makings of a potential disaster for a team who’s psyche must be a bit questionable to begin with.