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Saturday, August 7, 2010

NFL Season Win Totals: AFC Predictions

  •  Indianapolis Colts 11 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 2 tough matchups: 2-0 record
  • 2010 4 tough (CIN, @NE, SD, DAL), 3 challenging (@HOU, HOU, @PHI)
Peyton Manning could have easily gone for an undefeated season last year with one of the easiest schedules in the league.  This year will be a different story.   The difficulty ramped up a notch as they face a number of teams that could snatch a win from them.  This fact does not seem to scare betters away from playing the OVER on this one and I am in complete agreement.   The Colts have not won 12+ games in six straight years because of a soft schedule.   The only real concern might be on a micro level as Tom Moore has finally moved on and there is a new rule change that might require a strategic change.   The umpires will line up behind the offense this season instead of on the defensive side.  This will make ball placement after a play a little slower as the ref must travel further to retrieve the ball.   This could slow Peyton's hurry up tempo.   However, given Peyton's knowledge of the game, I would not shy away from this one.  Prediction: Bank the OVER.

  • Tennessee Titans 8.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 0-6 record
  • 2010 4 tough (@DAL, @SD, IND, @IND), 2 challenging (@HOU, HOU)
TEN is perhaps one of the most deceiving teams heading into the 2010 season.   They finished the season strong and might have even made the playoffs if Goodell had his 18 games schedule implemented last year.   Yet, they still could not pull out a single win in any of their tough matchups.  Losing Vanden Bosch was a slight setback for their defense and who knows if C Johnson is happy with his contract.   Fisher still knows how to coach his team up as one of the best in the business, but what can he do with V Young?   The jury is out if he will ever be able to develop into a consistent quarterback.   If they were in a weaker division I would shy away from this one, but they will not reach nine wins on the legs of C Johnson alone. Some might like V Young, but I am not one of them.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars 7.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 7 tough matchups: 3-4 record
  • 2010 4 tough (@SD, IND, @IND, @DAL), 3 challenging (@HOU, HOU, PHI)
Jack Del Rio joins the list of coaches in the spotlight this season.   He has always climbed an uphill battle playing in the same division as the Colts, but now the Texans and Titans are both good enough that JAX could be sitting in the cellar this year.   MJD is a stud RB but he wore down towards the end of last year.    Health is also a concern as MJD, Garrard, and Sims-Walker all battled injuries in 2009.    However, what is more concerning about this team is whether or not they can stay consistent.  Last season JAX won games they should not have and lost games they should have won.   The division did not get worse in the offseason - and that is bad news for JAX.   Not only for the team, but for the long-term prospects of this franchise.   LA Jaguars anyone?  Prediction: Bank the UNDER.  

  • New York Jets 9.5 Wins - OVER

  • 2009 5 tough matchups: 2-3 record
  • 2010 7 tough (BAL, NE, @NE, MIN, GB, CIN, @PIT), 1 challenging (HOU)
Does any team have more pressure on it heading into the 2010 season? They have a tough hill to climb given their schedule.   Perhaps the more relevant question is do we buy into the hype?   Many do.  SI Writer Don Banks rated them number one in his preseason power rankings.   That is absurd, but this team should perform well.  They ranked near the top of the league in rushing offense, passing/rushing defense, and went out and added more pieces to the puzzle.  For me, LT is done and will only be inserted to spell Greene.   Edwards and Holmes will be nice receiving options for the Entourage stand-in of Vinny - Mark Sanchez.   Revis will eventually be in camp, create a nice tandem with Cromartie, and solidify a formidable defense.  Coach Ryan will be doing his best to redirect the spotlight onto himself rather than his team.   There is little arguing whether or not this team is poised to win the AFC East and make a run at a Super Bowl, but the biggest road block might be Sanchez.   He was a rookie last year and well, played like one.  Will the NYJ win because of him?  Or in spite of him?   I like the former.  Prediction: Bank the OVER.

  • Miami Dolphins 8.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 11 tough matchups: 3-8 record
  • 2010 8 tough (@MIN, NYJ, @NYJ, NE, @NYJ, @GB, CIN, @BAL), 1 challenging (PIT)
Miami had it bad in 2009.  They did not do well in big games and things do not get any easier in 2010.   The early trends have many people taking the OVER.   They must know something I do not.   The ESPN strength of schedule lists them as having the 16th most difficult schedule.   After my analysis and adjustments, I have them as 27th.   Playing the NYJ and NE twice each is going to be tough.   Henne showed some flashes that he can be a quarterback in the NFL, but MIA is not about to turn into a passing juggernaut anytime soon.  They have a stellar running game and that will continue to be their bread and butter.   Some might say losing Porter and Taylor will not hurt that much, but who will replace them?  Brandon Marshall will help take pressure off Henne and the running game immensely, but to pull out nine wins with that schedule is a daunting task.  I'm not buying into the MIA hype.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER. 

  • Buffalo Bills 5.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 Irrelevant
  • 2010 8 tough (@GB, NE, NE, NYJ, @NYJ, @BAL, @CIN, @MIN),challenging - the rest
One could argue that every game on BUF's schedule will be 'tough' or 'challenging', but this division really has it rough.   BUF is a mess and losing T.O. will be a bigger loss than some might think.   He actually played a lot better than his stats suggested.    Almost every aspect of this franchise is a question mark with the exception of passing defense.   CJ Spiller is not going to be Barry Sanders this year.    No one knows who the future quarterback or offensive tackles will be and no one wants to sign there.   They have not sniffed the playoffs in over a decade.  I could go on but I have more interesting things to write about.  Prediciton: Bank the UNDER. 

  • San Diego Chargers 11 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 6 tough matchups: 4-2 record
  • 2010 3 tough (NE, @IND, @CIN), 1 challenging (@HOU)
This team has the easiest schedule in the whole league according to my analysis.   Turner might be nearing the end of the road as head coach of the Chargers if they cannot make a Super Bowl appearance soon, but they will have an excellent chance at home field advantage in 2010.   Rivers has become a top tier quarterback despite his unorthodox delivery and will finally be the undisputed leader of the team now that L.T. is gone.  Keep an eye on Ryan Mathews as the new era of SD running backs begins behind an offensive line that could go above and beyond after the LT comments.   Ignore the holdouts and the loss of Cromartie.   The Chargers won't have to worry about depth until the post-season.   They might win 12 games with this schedule even without the holdouts.   Prediction: Bank the OVER.

  • Denver Broncos 7.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 9 tough matchups: 4-5 record
  • 2010 5 tough (IND, @BAL, NYJ, @SD, SD), 1 challenging (HOU)
Broncos were flat out horrible after their overachieving 6-0 start in 2009.   Then Marshall left town.   Now Dumerville is out for the year.   That blow speaks for itself.   Elite pass rushers are few and far between.  There is not a lot to like about DEN other than their pass defense.   They shipped out JJ Arrington before the recent rash of injuries to Moreno and Buckhalter.   Orton will play his last year before he is a free agent in 2011.    Broncos are in disarray, but at least they will sell a lot of Tim Tebow jerseys.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER. 

  • Baltimore Ravens 10 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 9 tough matchups: 2-7 record
  • 2010 5 tough (@NYJ, @CIN, @NE, NO, CIN), 3 challenging (PIT, @ATL, @HOU)
Ravens are another trendy pick heading into 2010.   However, a closer look reveals a troubling story.   BAL played in a lot of big games last year, but lost most of them.   Then they went out and got Bulger.   Flacco could be an up and coming quarterback, but I have serious doubts about his consistency.    I am not sure if he will become the 'quarterback of the future' - and neither do the Ravens.   Boldin will help a woeful receiving corps (with all due respect to Mason), but most teams around the league were scared to give him serious money with his injury history.   I too would be surprised if he starts 16 games.   Rice is an amazing talent, and he will be the difference in many games, but can their defense keep up?  Stopping the run is not their issue, but they had big problems in the secondary heading into training camp and then lost Foxworth for the year with a torn ACL.   Ed Reed may never be 100% healthy again and the other DB's are returning from major knee surgery.   Their schedule is too difficult with this cast of characters to reach 11 wins.   Prediction: Bank the UNDER.

  •  Pittsburgh Steelers 8.5 Wins - UNDER
  • 2009 7 tough matchups: 3-4 record
  • 2010 7 tough (BAL, @NO, @CIN, NE, @BAL, CIN, NYJ), 1 challenging (ATL)
Will Big Ben's suspension hurt the Steelers?  Absolutely.   They will need to run the ball 75 times a game to overcome the dismal outlook at quarterback over the first 4-6 weeks.   Losing Holmes will not help this situation.  Will Troy Polamalu stay healthy for 16 games?  Doubtful.   They won four of the five games he started last year.   He only knows how to play full tilt and like Bob Sanders, it is catching up to him.   Have they fixed their offensive line problems?  No.  Even when Ben comes back he will need to take a page out of Aaron Rogers playbook and get rid of the ball earlier.  He will be susceptible to injury - especially with a concussion history.  PIT was not great in big games last year with Ben, and have a tougher schedule this year without him. Tomlin promises a return to smash-mouth Steeler football.   He also said they would "bring the pain" against the Raiders last year.  We all know how that turned out.  Prediction: Bank the UNDER. 

  • Cincinnati Bengals 8 Wins - OVER
  • 2009 8 tough matchups: 5-3 record
  • 2010 9 tough (@NE, BAL, @IND, @NYJ, NO, @PIT, PIT, SD, BAL), 1 challenging (@ATL)
The Bengals have one of the toughest schedules in the league.  So why do I like the OVER?  Simply put, this team is better than most people think.   They rose to the occasion in big games in 2009.   Sure there are questions about Palmer's elbow and Bryant's knee,  but they added T.O., a nice rookie tight end in Gresham, and still have a good run defense (vital playing in this division).   A healthy Odom should help their pass rush.   One would think that coach Lewis is nearing the end of the line in his tenure as coach, but another strong year should solidify his job.   Unlike their rivals BAL and PIT, CIN has enough pieces in place to build on their 2009 season.   Even if they stumble, they will still reach nine wins.   All of this and I still didn't mention Ocho Cinco.  He wouldn't like that, but he'd like my prediction: Bank the OVER.

The remaining teams around the league coming soon...
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