New England Patriots (O/U 9.5 Wins)
One off-season move can change a franchise’s fortune. I was all but ready to pass the AFC East torch to the Buffalo Bills. I thought Coach Bill Belichick was folding up the tents and making a critical error in allowing Jarrett Stidham to takeover the QB position. Just like that, the Patriots sign Cam Newton, and I have a much rosier outlook for New England. I believe that Cam Newton will provide the Patriots with an interesting, multi-talented QB that they haven’t had…EVER! I think the Patriots have been keeping an eye on what the Ravens are doing with Lamar Jackson, and are salivating over the possibilities of what they can do with Cam. A balanced offense, with that defense, and the greatest coach ever, I’ll keep rolling with the Patriots.
PREDICTION: OVER 9.5
Buffalo Bills (O/U 9 Wins)
If there is one team that appears poised to wrestle the AFC East away from the New England Patriots, it is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills from top to bottom are one of the most complete teams in the NFL. Adding Stefon Diggs and Zack Moss to the offense, and A.J. Epenesa and Mario Addison to the defense, the Bills seem like a team ready to take the next step. It certainly comes down to the play under center, here’s looking at you Josh Allen. Allen has been erratic in his young career, but the Bills solid play everywhere else has masked the fact the best they can. I remain on the fence as it relates to Josh Allen, but for the Bills win total to decrease from 2019 to 2020—something had to have gone horribly wrong. I believe the Bills fall just short of the AFC East title, but a 9 win season is certainly in play.
PREDICTION: OVER 9
New York Jets (O/U 7 Wins)
Some NFL franchises leave you with a weary feeling—the New York Jets franchise is categorically one of those teams. The Jets made a ton of additions to their offensive line this off-season, I just question how much of a difference these moves will have on the teams’ overall production. I do expect Sam Darnold to take another step forward, but temper expectations to a degree, Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, and a rookie Denzel Mims is only going to pack so much of a punch. This feels like a team in limbo to me, and with Adam Gase potentially being a lame duck Head Coach, this may be a season teetering on the brink.
PREDICTION: UNDER 7
Miami Dolphins (O/U 6 Wins)
I have been highly critical of the Miami Dolphins franchise over recent seasons, but I will give credit where credit is due, this is an organization with a plan. Now, that being said, I disagree with some of their draft selections, but still, I believe it is without question that they have a vastly improved roster. I don’t know how much of Tua Tagovailoa that we are going to see in 2019 and I’m just not sure that it matters. This team is closer to competing for a playoff spot that many give them credit for. An improved defense led by an excellent secondary and a vastly improved running game, I am pouncing on this one.
PREDICTION: OVER 6
Baltimore Ravens (O/U 11.5 Wins)
For starters, this is a lofty win total. We expect some regression as it relates to the performance of Lamar Jackson. Even given that context, how confident are you that the Ravens, who were 14-2 a season ago, are going to drop 3 wins? I know looking at last season’s win total and moving it forward is a fruitless venture. I also know that the 14-2 record was no fluke as the Ravens were thoroughly dominant throughout 2019. As wild as it is to believe, I think the Ravens take a step forward and will be an even better, more explosive, complete football team in 2020. With weapons like Mark Andrews, ‘Hollywood’ Brown, and J.K. Dobbins just scratching the surface, the Ravens are going to be a nightmare. Let’s just throw in a difference making LB like Patrick Queen into the mix. Most ‘Experts’ will tell you to take the under, but I’m going the opposite direction here.
PREDICTION: OVER 11.5
Pittsburgh Steelers (O/U 9.5 Wins)
The Pittsburgh Steelers season all but ended in 2019 when Big Ben went down in Week #2. Surprisingly, the Steelers rebounded mid-season and made a run to get back to 8-8, even with some of the worst QB play in the league with Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges behind center. From all accounts, Big Ben is making good progress on his recovery, but lingering concerns remain about a 38-year old QB coming off elbow surgery. 9.5 feels like a big number here for a team with more questions than answers. If you guaranteed me that Big Ben would play all 16 games, I would begrudgingly take the over, but I just don’t know if we can count on that anymore, so I will sleep much better if I lean the other direction.
PREDICTION: UNDER 9.5
Cleveland Browns (O/U 8 Wins)
This time last year the 2019 version of the Cleveland Browns were everyone’s upstart darling. That came to a crashing halt. The Browns were held back by a suspect offensive line and injuries to their skill position players, not to mention a Head Coach who was clearly in over his head. Enter in Kevin Stefanski, who I believe will bring some stability to the Browns Franchise. I also am a big fan of the moves the Browns made this off-season to address their offensive line. Signing Jack Conklin from the Tennessee Titans, and then doubling down by drafting Jedrick Wills in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft should give the Browns a tremendous 1-2 punch. I also believe that Stefanski can get the best out of 3rd year Quarterback Baker Mayfield. The 8-win line seems reasonable to me, and I’ll predict the Browns get their first winning season in quite some time.
PREDICTION: OVER 8
Cincinnati Bengals (O/U 5.5 Wins)
The Cincinnati Bengals are a franchise that finally have a future! Drafting Joe Burrow #1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft signals a rebirth for the Bengals. The cupboard is far from bare in Cincinnati for Joe Burrow. Joe Mixon, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and throw in 2020 2nd round pick Tee Higgins. The issue with the Bengals won’t be on the offensive side of the ball; Cincinnati could potentially have the worst defense in the NFL in 2020. With a rookie signal-caller, who, no matter how good he is, will make rookie mistakes combined with a suspect defense, I’m not expecting a large leap forward from Cincinnati in 2020, so continue to roll against them.
PREDICTION: UNDER 5.5