2005 NFL Predictions Season Team Previews and Over/Under Picks
Over/Under Predictions Season Totals Picks
After evaluating all of the team total for the season, there are five that stick out as good bets in my book:
Philadelphia Eagles UNDER 11.5 Wins
Three main reasons I like the under here. One, the public is on the OVER. This team nearly won the Super Bowl and many thought they should have. The public and media are convinced they can get back. Two, they've been to the NFC Championship four times in a row. I view this as a reason to go UNDER, not OVER. Teams simply cannot stay on top forever. They will eventually slide backwards and this is a likely year for the Eagles. Third, T.O. Whether he plays or not, there's been too much bad blood. This is a MAJOR distraction for the Eagles, despite what anyone admits. Andy Reid has spent too much time dealing with this. Owens and McNabb are not on speaking terms (what, is this high-school?!?). No matter how you slice it, it's bad. It's gotten past the point of no return and he'll either sit or continue to be a major distraction. It all adds up to a dissapointing year for the Eagles. Everyone's on the OVER here so we'll go UNDER this total.
Buffalo Bills OVER 8 Wins
This one seems easy to me. Buffalo won 9 games last year and finished the regular season on a tear yet they are only expected to win 8 games in 2005? My power ratings had this team as the strongest in the league at the end of the regualr season - better than Philly and better than New England. Their defense was incredible in 2004 and once they got their offense on track, they were one of the best teams in the league. Willis McGahee emerged last year as a great back and this team has a slew of very good receivers. The big loss was at Quarterback as Drew Bledsoe fled for Dallas. Rookie JP Losman takes the reigns and this is the reason this total is so low. A rookie QB teamed with a great defense didn't stop the Steelers from putting up 15 wins last year. For the Bills, it all comes back to the defense. This defense is as good as they come and will keep the Bills in every single game. Their schedule includes five road games against teams that had losing records last year. I think they win more than 8.
Atlanta UNDER 9.5 Wins
Along with the St. Louis Rams, this team was one of the two pretenders in the 2004 playoffs. Neither of the two teams should have been there. As you'll see below, I almost took the Rams UNDER this year but their number moved the wrong way for me (dropping from 9 to 8.5). With the Falcons, though, we get 9.5 which is just too high. Atlanta had the second easiest schedule of any NFL team (#31) last year which masked their true identity. They only outscored their opponents last year by three total points (340 to 337). Vick is an awesome spectacle and this team has the best running game in the league. But, they don't have a receiving corp and their defense is not good enough to support 10 wins. And, while Vick is a good quarterback for fantasy leagues that award a lot of points for runnning, and he's as fun as they come to watch, he's not yet a very good passer. He completed only 56% of his passes in 2004 and that doesn't cut it. Their schedule will be a lot tougher this year including games against New England and Philadelphia, both of which they will lose. Opposing defenses will adjust from last year and load up the line to stop the run. I believe Atlanta should have won about 9 games last year, not 11. Go UNDER here.
Kansas City OVER 9 Wins
This offense is as good as they come. Last year they put up over 30 points per game. If they can just play some defense, they can be a real contender. Can they do it? I think their defense will be improved this year, one year later than most thought it would. I was vocal about KC's defense stinking it up yet again last year. You simply cannot turn things around that quickly by just replacing your defensive coordinator. But, now Gunther Cunningham has a year under his belt and has added some horses on the field with the addition of Kendrell Bell, Sammy Knight and Patrick Surtain. They also drafted Derrick Johnson in the first round who may contribute. They are coming off a very tough schedule last year which doesn't get a lot easier this year in the tough AFC West but it does get easier. With Dick Vermeil at the helm at this offense, these guys can easily reach or exceed 9 wins. Go OVER.
Tampa Bay OVER 7.5 Wins
After two rough years, it's almost hard to remember the mystique that surrounded John Gruden after the 2002 Super Bowl win. This guy won in Oakland and then took the Bucs to the Super Bowl immediately, defeating his old team as a big underdog. Has he forgotten how to coach? I don't think so. Granted, they had an easy schedule and the ball bounced their way in 2002 (+17 on turnovers). I don't think they'll be making the Super Bowl this year. But, there are some positive changes for the Bucs. Brian Griese emerged as a very good quarterback in the Gruden system last year. He didn't play the first four games, all Bucs losses. They are a good team with him at the helm. They also had a bad turnover year last year at -9 which contributed to their 5-11 record. Several of those losses came late in the season after they packed things in, unable to recover from their bad start. Thanks to a solid defense (#5 last year), they actually outgained their opponents by an average of 25 yards per game in 2004 and scored as many points as their opponents. All of this indicates they were better than a 5-11 team last year and should get to .500 or better this season. Go OVER 7.5 wins here.
San Diego OVER 8.5 Wins - Last year not a fluke.
Minnesota UNDER 9.5 Wins - No Randy and not sold on Tice.
Jacksonville UNDER 8.5 Wins - Offense is just average. But, easy schedule.
Dallas UNDER 8.5 Wins - Hard to go against Parcells but this team has issues.
Oakland UNDER 8 Wins - Randy Moss is the X factor but these guys aren't that good.
Denver OVER 8.5 Wins - Team is solid on both sides of the ball. But, tough schedule. Can easily get 9+ wins in regular season. Getting a win in the playoffs? That's another story.
St. Louis UNDER 8.5 Wins - Would have loved this at opening line of 9. Martz too pass-oriented. But, very easy schedule might get them over this total.