With the NFL season kicking off Thursday night with Green Bay visiting Seattle, it's time to take a final look at which three win totals you should jump heavy on the 'over' as well as three on the 'under' for NFL odds.
Houston Texans: 'Over' 7.5 (-150)
I was very much on the fence about Houston at this number all preseason. Then two things happened: Jadeveon Clowney showed flashes of being a total beast on defense, and Houston acquired quarterback Ryan Mallett from Houston to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick. There's a reason the Pats kept Mallett for so long; he must have talent, and if you saw him at Arkansas he has a cannon. Now when Fitzpatrick inevitably struggles, I feel better about Houston's chances with Mallett than Case Keenum, who has since been cut. In fact, I think Mallett will end up starting by midseason at the latest. ESPN's Texans blogger predicted 8-8. That sounds about right. Likely wins: Week 1 vs. Redskins, Week 2 at Raiders, Week 4 vs. Bills, Week 6 vs. Colts, Week 8 at Titans, Week 13 vs. Titans, Week 17 vs. Jaguars. Then Houston will either also win at Browns or at Jaguars at a minimum.
Philadelphia Eagles: 'Over' 9 wins (-140)
I somewhat feel better about QB Nick Foles possibly getting injured with how good Mark Sanchez looked in the preseason as his backup. This offense will score with just about anyone under center -- think of the quarterbacks Chip Kelly made into stars at Oregon. In addition, the NFC East looks really mediocre under Philly so it could get halfway to 10 victories just in the division. ESPN's Eagles blogger has them at 11-5. Not sure I'm that high but I see 10 again. Likely wins: Week 1 vs. Jaguars, Week 3 vs. Redskins, Week 5 vs. Rams, Week 6 vs. Giants, Week 8 at Cardinals, Week 10 vs. Panthers, Week 12 vs. Titans, Week 13 at Cowboys, Week 15 vs. Cowboys. Then either Week 16 at Redskins or Week 17 at Giants.
Seattle Seahawks: 'Over' 11 wins (-140)
This will look bad immediately should Seattle lose Thursday night, but the NFC West suddenly doesn't look so difficult with the 49ers' struggles and defensive losses, as well as the Rams losing Sam Bradford for the season. For example, I expected the Seahawks to split with St. Louis. Now I don't. They still might with the Niners. I trust SI.com writer Peter King as well as anyone and he says the Seahawks were clearly the best team he has seen. ESPN has Seattle finishing 13-3. I'd lean 12-4, but 13 is not impossible. Likely wins: Every home game, at Rams, at Redskins, at Chiefs, at Cardinals.
Arizona Cardinals: 'Under' 7.5 (+125)
The Cardinals' NFL Nation blogger on ESPN.com projected a 9-7 record for Arizona this season. He also had the Cards beating both San Francisco and Seattle when they visit the desert. Uh, no. There are some nice offensive weapons here in running back Andre Ellington and receivers Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. I have little faith in QB Carson Palmer, who threw 22 interceptions last year. The offensive line was a disaster in 2013 and is only a bit better. The defense will be worse after losing tackle Darnell Dockett and linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington. I see six likely wins: Week 1 vs. Chargers, Week 6 vs. Redskins, Week 7 at Oakland, Week 10 vs. St. Louis, Week 11 vs. Detroit, Week 14 vs. Kansas City. Maybe the Cards steal one at Dallas or St. Louis but not both.
Cleveland Browns: 'Under' 6.5 (-130)
No team is taking a bigger amount of money on the 'under' at Bovada than Cleveland, and this is by far my top 'under' choice. Funny how all that Johnny Manziel excitement dissipated quickly, isn't it? At one point he was that site's Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite but now has dropped to a co-eighth favorite at 14/1. Did the performance of Texas A&M sophomore Kenny Hill in the Aggies' season opener at South Carolina also deflate some expectations of Manziel? The Browns' defense shouldn't be awful, but the offense looks that way with less skill position talent -- now that Josh Gordon is out -- than probably any other club. The ESPN blogger for Cleveland picked a 6-10 record. That seems high. The likely wins: Week 8 vs. Raiders, Week 11 vs. Texans (maybe), Week 13 at Bills (maybe).
Dallas Cowboys: 'Under' 7.5 (-175)
The Cowboys set a franchise record for yards allowed in 2013 and this preseason Dallas allowed 116 points, the second most in the NFL. Two of their cornerbacks are suspended the first four games of the season. I don't think adding Michael Sam to the practice squad is the answer. Predictably, the ESPN blogger has Dallas finishing 8-8 for the record fourth straight season. The Cowboys opened at 8 wins on this prop but have dropped with heavy 'under' action. The likely wins: Week 2 at Titans, Week 5 vs. Texans, Week 7 vs. Giants, Week 8 vs. Redskins, Week 9 vs. Cardinals, Week 10 at Jaguars. So, yes a possible four-game winning streak and then that's potentially it after Week 10.