NFL Best Bets
I was looking at win totals for the 2023 NFL season and curiosity got the better of me. I compared my final 2022 NFL Power Ratings and my early preseason 2023 Power Ratings to identify the teams that made significant strides and those that faced setbacks during the offseason. I cross-referenced these findings with the sportsbooks’ win totals, searching for any potential opportunities to capitalize on. I uncovered some interesting insights, culminating in my Best Bets for 2023 win totals.
- New York Jets – The Jets are the most improved team over last year when comparing my preseason ratings to last season’s final rating.
- Chicago Bears – The Bears are expected to be the most improved team in the league, according to oddsmakers. Their over/under is set at 7.5 games, a 4.5 game improvement over last year’s win total.
- Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins win total remains the same as last year, 9.5, but after Chicago and the Jets, they are the most improved team coming into the season.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Buccaneers, by far, had the biggest drop from last season in my Power Rankings. They were already a team on the decline before Tom Brady’s retirement.
- Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals were bad last year, but will probably be even worse this season after releasing DeAndre Hopkins. Kyler Murray could possibly miss the first half of the season, which also hurts them. To add to that, they have the 11th hardest schedule for 2023.
- Green Bay Packers– Losing a 4-time MVP at quarterback would hurt any team, but surprisingly, Green Bay’s win total is 7.5, just a half game under last season’s total. However, the Packers are benefiting from a much easier schedule. The absence of Aaron Rodgers hurts the Packers in the Power Rankings, but they still have a chance to compete for a winning season.
Arizona Cardinals +100 (over 4.5 wins)
I just wrote that the Cardinals were one of the teams that dropped the most in my rankings. They’re a mess, for sure. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t win more games this year. The Cardinals had only four wins last season, but that was with the sixth toughest schedule in the league. Their schedule is more accommodating this season. Of the four teams that won fewer than five games last year, the Cardinals are the only team with a win total projected under five this season.
I like this bet because at +100 because it’s essentially a coin-flip. Vegas doesn’t feel strongly about the total, so you’ve a 50/50 chance to double your money. On top of that, I have the Cardinals slightly over the win total in my projections, so I’m willing to make this bet.
Denver Broncos -110 (under 8.5 wins)
The Broncos will be an improved team, but I think they’re still unlikely to win over 8.5 games this year. Last season, they managed to win five games with a favorable schedule, but this year’s schedule is considerably tougher. The arrival of Sean Payton brings legitimacy to the coaching staff, and there is hope that Russell Wilson could bounce back. However, Wilson’s struggles from last year could also continue to affect the team’s performance this year.
Denver has one of the worst defenses in the league and the Broncos’ offensive line is ranked #30 by PFF. Wilson could spend much time running for life again this season. Lingering injury issues at RB and WR could also impact the team early on.
I’ve got the Broncos at 19 in my rankings, winning between seven and eight games. The combination of a tougher schedule, weak defense, offensive line issues, and injuries make it unlikely for the Broncos to do any better than that.
Carolina Panthers -120 (over 7.5 wins)
The Bryce Young era has started in Carolina. As a Panthers fan, I try hard not to let my biases influence my takes about the team. As much as I want them to hit the over on their win total, I wouldn’t suggest this bet if I didn’t believe there’s a good chance of it happening. The NFC South is the weakest division in the NFL. The 2022 Panthers were able to win seven games with an assortment of journeymen quarterbacks and backup running backs. Their strength of schedule this season is largely unchanged from last year.
Their offense could see a vast improvement this year, even after trading stars Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore. The Panthers finished 10th in rushing yards last season, but 29th in passing. If Young can set in and be an average quarterback, at worst, the Panthers should score more points.
The Colts, Ravens and Panthers have the best chance at hitting their win totals, according to my system, but the -120 odds on the Panthers make them the most attractive bet of those three.