Record in close games. Turnover ratio. Pythagorean wins. All are key statistical indicators that bettors can use to guide their handicapping of NFL season win totals and help unearth some teams that may either be inflated by the market or, conversely, not getting their due respect.
With that in mind, following is a division-by-division breakdown highlighting a potential value play from each on the Season Win Totals market.
AFC East: Buffalo UNDER 7 (+105)
The Bills went only 6-10 last season but overshot their true win rate by a full victory. Buffalo was the third-healthiest team on offense last year but ranked 30th in scoring, a major red flag. New arrivals Frank Gore and Cole Beasley are unlikely to solve those offensive woes.
AFC North: Pittsburgh OVER 9 (-135)
The Browns have garnered all the headlines in the AFC North — and the league as a whole — providing a rare opportunity to buy a public team like the Steelers at a value price. Pittsburgh had a minus-11 turnover ratio last year, yet still managed to go 9-6-1. With a manageable schedule in 2019, the Steelers should be right in the mix for the AFC North title.
AFC South: Jacksonville OVER 8 (+110)
Boasting an elite defense and a shiny new acquisition at the most key position on the field in quarterback Nick Foles, the Jaguars look primed for a bounce-back season after a disappointing 2018. In addition, three key indicators suggest an improvement on their 5-11 record: they went 2-6 in close games last year, posted a minus-12 turnover differential and suffered a five-win drop from their 10-6 mark from 2017.
AFC West: Kansas City OVER 10.5 (+105)
The Chiefs submitted a historically great offensive campaign in 2018 behind first-year starter Patrick Mahomes. Even with some anticipated regression, this offense is still going to blow most teams away. Combined with a major upgrade to the defensive secondary in safety Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City should reach the 11-win plateau for the fourth time in five years.
NFC East: Dallas UNDER 9 (-115)
The red flags hanging over the Cowboys are far brighter than just Ezekiel Elliott’s current holdout. The Cowboys went 8-2 in close games last year and overshot their true win rate by 1.6 victories, both big indicators of regression.
NFC North: Chicago UNDER 9 (-105)
The Bears were a surprise NFC North juggernaut last year, making a seven-win leap from 2017 en route to running away with the division while leading the league with a 12-4 mark against the spread. The Bears also had a plus-12 turnover ratio. Both are huge indicators of an impending downswing.
NFC South: Carolina OVER 7.5 (-160)
The Panthers have a great chance to not only eclipse their low win total but also make a run at the NFC South, historically one of the most wide-open divisions. The Panthers went 2-7 in close games last year, which contributed to a four-win drop from 2017. As long as Cam Newton’s ankle injury is minor as reported, Carolina appears poised for a rebound season.
NFC West: San Francisco OVER 8 (-130)
Getting Jimmy Garoppolo back to full health represents the 49ers’ first reason for optimism. Flanked by a pair of dynamic additions at the running back position in Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon, the San Francisco offense figures to be reborn. The Niners are also coming off a 2018 campaign in which they had an almost incomprehensible minus-25 turnover ratio. There’s only one direction that can go.