The NFL odds don't look too good for teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, but at these prices, the betting public is happily buying the OVER.
Hope springs eternal in the NFL. No matter how poorly a team performed in 2014, its loyal fans can always imagine better things ahead in 2015. So after the win totals were published for the new season, the bulk of the early action was naturally on the OVER – especially for the teams with the most room to improve.
Are they wrong to be so optimistic? Not necessarily. Like we always say, your should buy low and sell high when you're making your football picks. Let's break down the NFL odds and see which of these early risers might be worth an OVER bet, before they get too pricey.
Not all the teams in question were awful last year. The Denver Broncos (12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS) opened with a best OVER price of 10 wins (–120) at Bookmaker; that line has moved all the way to 10.5 wins (–125) at press time. And the Dallas Cowboys (12-4 SU, 10-6 ATS) have steamed all the way from 9.5 (+100) at Heritage to 9.5 (–140). No doubt their fans looked at those football odds and felt slighted after winning 12 games last year.
We've already discussed some of the concerns about Denver's offensive line, but if we had to pick either of these teams to go OVER, it would be the Broncos. We were big on the Cowboys last year, and rightly so; however, now that they've regained some of their glamour, there's no value to be had on a Dallas team that's looking pretty shaky on defense. The Cowboys have the UNDER at 7-2 during the past nine years, by the way.
It's the three teams at the bottom of the pile we're more interested in. The Jaguars have made the biggest splash with OVER bettors, moving from 5.5 wins (–105) to 5.5 (–145) at BetOnline. Fans of the Raiders are also hopeful this year, pushing their total at BetOnline from 5.5 (+125) to 5.5 (+105). And the Titans are looking a bit healthier at JustBet, where they've improved from 5.5 (+110) to 5.5 (–108).
At first blush, it's easy to feel good about Tennessee's chances. The Tennessee Titans cratered at 2-14 (3-12-1 ATS) last year after QB Jake Locker couldn't stay healthy; this year, they've got the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, reigning Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. He's obviously an unknown quantity at the pro level, but Mariota's upside is gargantuan, and he's been nothing but impressive since showing up for offseason workouts.
Forgive us if we're a little less enthusiastic about the other two teams in question. The Jaguars (3-13 SU, 6-9-1 ATS) went UNDER eight times in the past nine seasons, 2010 being the lone exception. They should get things turned around eventually; new-ish owner Shahid Khan is analytics-friendly, and he poured some money into upgrading their stadium – always a good sign. Now it's up to QB Blake Bortles (69.5 passer rating) to show why he was taken third overall in last year's draft.
The Raiders (3-13 SU, 8-8 ATS)? Oy vey. As head-scratching as some of late owner Al Davis' decisions were before he passed away in 2011, he seems like a paragon of football virtue compared to GM Reggie McKenzie, who has been raked over the coals for the choices he's made. But even in the Black Hole, there is hope. QB Derek Carr (76.6 passer rating) is ahead of Bortles at this point. And first-rounder Amari Cooper will give Carr someone talented to throw at. However, is former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio the right man for the job in Oakland? He's got a lot to prove to us before we'll open our wallets.