Like Baby Bash and Akon, we are back mother fuckers.
We were 61-35-4 For the NFL season last year. I play the Vegas Super Contest every year with my dad as my proxy, and trusted voice of reason, which is 5 games of your choice, against the spread. It's regarded as the handicapper contest in the country with some of the biggest sharps in the pool. We've finished in the money 2 out of the last 3 seasons. I blog my picks every Sunday morning here on the blog (Saturdays for Wild Card weekend) so the proof is there. I'm not just making claims on twitter that I hit 62% last season. I actually went on a 62% clip the whole way and if you followed I hope you were positive on the year as well.
Now that the self-fellating is done, let's get to this season shall?
The 2023 campaign officially kicks off with everybody's sweetheart this year, the Detroit Lions, visiting the defending champ Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5).
Even though this is opening week, and between two healthy and fresh teams, I'm not touching that game out of principle, as I almost never play Thursday night games because of all the variables involved (and it's a shit product).
But I am placing some Future Bets on a handful of teams that I think aren't being evaluated correctly and have some real value in them.
Here we go-
Bears OVER 7.5 Wins
The Bears, barring catastrophic injury to QB1, are poised for a breakout season. And I think having their season wins total set at the .500 mark is leaving a lot of value on the table. I'm not saying to pencil them in for 12-13 wins but looking at their schedule its not hard to forecast 10-11. And I'll tell you why.
Last season the Bears struggled in one-score games. To put it lightly. They managed only one victory out of eight such contests.
That's terrible in-game execution, and terrible luck.
They've experienced one of the most dramatic shifts in schedule difficulty, going from having the fifth toughest schedule in 2022 to the ninth easiest one in 2023.
Chicago's acquisition of D.J. Moore marks the first time that Justin Fields will have a legitimate top-tier wide receiver as a target. Laugh all you want but there's no denying the year three breakouts of Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts with Stefon Diggs and A.J. Brown becoming targets of theirs.
Combine that with the facts the Bears have also fortified their offensive line by bringing in Nate Davis and rookie Darnell Wright. On the defensive side, they've made several key additions, including linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards. Additionally, the recent signing of Yannick Ngakoue should provide a boost to their defensive line, which struggled with generating pressure in the previous season. This is a wise investment.
Cowboys UNDER 10.5 Wins
The Cowboys are riding the wave of two back-to-back 12-win seasons, but a heavy dose of reality mixed with regression is headed their way this season. Last year, they sported a 5-3 record in one-score games (making it 10-5 over the last two seasons), which is great for a well-coached team. Except that Dallas is anything but a well-coached team. So this equates to being extremely lucky. (Or getting the non-existent script writers at league HQ to skew things your way). The one area they were extremely well coached they went and fucked up by deciding to boot their offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to the curb, and hand the reigns over to buffoon Mike McCarthy.
Their schedule is also a nightmare, they've gone from the sixth-easiest schedule last year to the 15th toughest this time around.
Vegas and the sportsbooks are treating them like the belle of the ball. Their over/under win total of 9.5- 10.5 is getting more action than a bull in a china shop. This influx of love from the betting crowd has puffed up their total like a balloon at a kid's birthday party. And that, dear friends, is precisely why I'm leaning towards the "under" side of things.
Buccaneers UNDER 7.5 Wins
This team is terrible all around. Most notably now on the line after losing the duo of Donovan Smith and Shaq Mason. Throw in the fact that it'll be either Baker Mayfield or the rookie Kyle Trask conducting the offense and this thing has the potential to get very ugly, very quickly.
I think the Saints are going to surprise a lot of people this year, the Falcons will be better than people think (two plays I don't love but I also don't hate) and that Tampa is going to be the doormat in the south again.
Vikings UNDER 8.5 Wins
The Minnesota Vikings, were the darlings of Lady Luck in the 2022 NFL season. These guys wrapped up their campaign with a stellar 13-4 record, a feat that included an unheard-of 11-0 record in nail-biting one-score games. Lady Luck was certainly smirking in their direction, and fortune was their faithful companion. Even on the injury front, they had the fourth-fewest Adjusted Games Lost, adding another layer to their charmed season.
Despite residing in the relatively weak NFC North, the Vikings are set to embark on a journey through the eleventh-toughest schedule in the entire league. They have match ups with the Eagles, Chargers, Chiefs, 49ers, and Bengals.
This team stinks and if they lose week 1 to Tampa, they will be looking at being 0-6 or 0-7 to start the year.
Texans OVER 5.5 Wins
I'll keep harping on it because it matters for a reason. This team had a 3-6 record in those heart-pounding one-score games last season. They played wayyyyy above their talent level and were in lots of games they shouldn't have been.
They're upgraded big time head coaching wise by bring in DeMeco Ryans, the architect of San Fran's vaunted defenses.
And the Texans might just be cooking up a transformation from a rebuilding team to a bona fide contender over the next couple of seasons. Their secret ingredient? C.J. Stroud, the quarterback sensation scooped up with the second overall pick. Stroud boasts NFL-ready skills, a sniper's precision, and the kind of adaptability that should see him slide seamlessly into the rigors of the NFL. Houston, it seems, may have struck gold.
I liked this team last year and I love them to improve to 6 or 7 wins easily this year.
Patriots UNDER 7.5 Wins
Don't believe the Jerry hype. This team stinks.
Sure, yes, the offense, which took a nosedive during the Matt Patricia debacle of yesteryears, is now in the much steadier hands of Bill O'Brien, the maestro of offensive coordination. But here's the rub: even with this newfound guidance, the Patriots' roster seems to resemble the teams that played at BU Field. There are zero superstars or playmakers on this team on the offensive side of the ball.
The league also didn't do them any favors. The Pats have the unenviable title of having the toughest schedule in the league this season. They're kicking things off with a brutal four-game stretch that's sure to test their mettle: facing off against the Eagles, Dolphins, and the Jets, with a heart-pounding showdown against the Cowboys thrown into the mix. You can all but guarantee the whispers about Mac Jones on the hot seat once again once that happens and we all know he doesn't have the mental fortitude to ignore it and withstand the storm. So once that happens I think it's a wrap.
It's going to be a struggle for this team to win 7 games this year. They're finishing 4th in the east, looking up at the Dolphins, Jets, and Bills for the first time I can remember since before Drew Bledsoe came to town.
See you Sunday with my Week 1 Plums Picks.