While it can be easy to pinpoint a few serious contenders for the Super Bowl, as well as a few serious disasters for the top pick in the NFL Draft, the league typically features a decent amount of turnover from year to year.
Last year, for example, we saw the defending Super Bowl champion L.A. Rams plummet from 12 to five wins, while the rebuild was ahead of schedule in both Jacksonville and Detroit, with the Jags and Lions each getting to nine wins after just three the season before.
Jared Goff was the QB7 in 2018.— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) July 19, 2023
Is he a QB1 in 2023? pic.twitter.com/CkLXhAs0qd
With that theme of risers and sliders in mind, here’s my list of teams who I think will rise above expectations set by NFL odds makers and go Over their NFL win totals odds, along with teams I think will disappoint and easily slide Under their number.
Best Over win totals bets for 2023
Titans Over 7.5 wins
While they had plenty of reasons to go into a rebuild, we got all the proof we needed that the Tennessee Titans aren’t ready to pull the plug when they outbid several other teams for DeAndre Hopkins, who should still have plenty in the tank at 31 years old. Hopkins adds a little bit of sexiness to an otherwise ugly roster, but the Titans have made a habit out of winning ugly under Mike Vrabel, and I think they could be a sneaky team in 2023.
Tennessee fell off a cliff last season when it lost seven straight games to close out the year after a 5-3 start that included road losses to the Bills and Chiefs. It was 6-6 in games Ryan Tannehill played in, and while many will scoff at the idea of Tannehill once again becoming a competent quarterback, we have seen him bounce back before in his career. While the offensive line stinks, being able to hand off to Derrick Henry and throw to Hopkins, and the emerging Treylon Burks, will give him the ability to reach his ceiling.
The Titans will also benefit from playing one of the NFL’s easiest schedules. Going 4-2 in the division shouldn’t be ruled out, then they play the ultra-light NFC South along with games vs. other middling squads in the Browns and Steelers. They also have a tendency to win plenty of games that they shouldn’t, posting an impressive 12-10 outright record as an underdog since the start of the 2020 season.
It won’t be pretty, but don’t be surprised to see the Titans flirt with posting a winning record this season.
Pick: Titans Over 7.5 wins (+105 at bet365)
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Rams Over 6.5 wins
The Los Angeles Rams were by far the biggest disappointment in the NFL last season. After winning the Super Bowl the year prior, the wheels quickly fell off — and stayed off for the entirety of the season. As a result, they come into the 2023 season with one of the lowest win totals of the year... but I think a mini bounce-back could be in store for a team that’s been a perennial contender since Sean McVay took over.
Still just 37 years old, and maybe with his prime still ahead of him, this is pretty much a bet on McVay. It’s been shoved down our throats for the entirety of his career that he’s already a legend and on his way to the Hall of Fame, and it’s probably true.
Coaches of this stature just don’t lay down and accept being awful in consecutive seasons. After having a long offseason, which hasn’t been typical for a team that's grown accustomed to making deep playoff runs, McVay has had plenty of time to connect some dots and get this roster in the best possible position to compete. Let’s also consider that McVay could have easily walked for a cushy TV job, but he’s running into this challenge instead of away from it.
Also looking to bounce back are Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, who each had their seasons cut short due to injuries last season. Let’s not forget that they’re not far removed from a 2021 season where they set the league on fire by both having career years. That potential, combined with McVay’s leadership, makes the Rams worthy of a plus-money bet to get to seven wins.
Pick: Rams Over 6.5 wins (+110 at FanDuel)
Panthers Over 7.5
When a quarterback is selected first overall, he typically enters a team full of holes and red flags — see Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville — but this isn’t the case for Bryce Young after the Carolina Panthers traded up from ninth overall to select him at the top of the draft. Young will be set up to succeed by playing behind an offensive line that allowed the sixth-lowest pressure percentage, while also being surrounded by veteran playmakers who should help with his transition to the pros.
Bryce Young says the first step of setting the tone at training camp is admitting it’s going to be tough and they need to hold each other to a standard and take ownership.— Will Kunkel (@WillKunkelFOX) July 25, 2023
Young will not be a rah rah leader but he will be a lead by example quarterback. pic.twitter.com/lIcahNwNN5
It also looks like a strong QB and head coach pairing, as Young will be mentored by the once highly-regarded Frank Reich, who will get a second chance as head coach after getting canned by the Colts nine games into the 2022 season. While he had his faults when running the show in Indy, it didn’t help matters that he had a revolving door of past-their-prime veteran QBs following Andrew Luck’s unexpected retirement. This time around, he has a handpicked, highly-talented signal caller who should excel in his RPO-heavy offensive scheme.
Carolina would have hit the Over on this number last season if it wasn’t for DJ Moore stupidly ripping off his helmet to celebrate a touchdown that resulted in a penalty vs the Falcons. Given their wide-open division, an extremely easy schedule that features just two opponents in the Top 10 in Super Bowl futures (Dallas and Detroit), and upside on offense, expect the Panthers to take a step in the right direction this season.
Pick: Panthers Over 7.5 (-120 at DraftKings)
Best Under win totals bets for 2023
Browns Under 8.5 wins
While many are inclined to give Deshaun Watson a pass after an extremely poor start to his tenure with the Cleveland Browns, I think there’s a good possibility that his best years might be behind him.
Watson produced numbers that were worse than Russell Wilson’s last season and while Wilson got absolutely roasted week in and week out, Watson’s performance was excused due to rust, which doesn’t add up to me. Plenty of athletes spend extended time in inactivity for a variety of reasons and quickly bounce back into action without much of a feeling-out process, so let’s not let Watson off the hook so easily.
Given his possible decline and a division highlighted by high-level defenses, it’s completely possible that Cleveland will have both the worst quarterback and worst defense in the AFC North. The Browns ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in both points allowed and yards per play allowed last season — while the pass rush should be strong, there are a lot of question marks in the secondary, so I don’t see much improvement from this defense.
While they have a few bottom feeders on their schedule in the Cardinals and Texans, getting to .500 in their six divisional games will be a challenge, while a poor start has the potential to set the tone for their season. Their first five games of the season come against the Bengals, Steelers, Titans, Ravens, and 49ers — while they don’t have the toughest schedule in the NFL, they play in one of its toughest divisions. Getting to nine wins for just the third time in 21 seasons will be too much to ask.
Pick: Browns Under 8.5 wins (+150 at bet365)
Buccaneers Under 6.5 wins
I can understand how a casual bettor won’t be interested in tying up their money in a season-long wager at -140 odds, but I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have one of the biggest falloffs in the NFL after stumbling to eight wins in 2022.
Make no mistake about it — despite earning a trip to the playoffs last season, the Bucs were awful... and they’ll be even worse this season.
I won’t pretend Tom Brady had a marvelous season in 2022, but this might be one of the most depressing quarterback drop-offs in the history of the league, going from one of the greatest winners in the history of team sports to journeyman punching bag Baker Mayfield.
This aging roster has plenty of flaws and not a lot of upside. Many will point to the defense as the strength of the team, but they took a step back last year from the previous two seasons, which is surprising considering supposed defensive mastermind Todd Bowles was running the show and they played a cupcake schedule of opposing QBs. Some coaches are meant to be coordinators, and Bowles is among them.
Tampa was a beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time when Brady was choosing a new team. He brought them to new heights, but his departure, combined with the factors above, will put the Bucs in a severe decline as they plummet toward the bottom of the NFL.
Pick: Buccaneers Under 6.5 wins (-140 at DraftKings)
Jets Under 9.5 wins
Let my preseason bashing of the New York Jets continue, as this bet is simply too hard to pass up, especially at plus-money odds. While many are happy to simply dismiss the overflowing red flags, I’m happy to point them out and cash in on the public narratives created by the team’s acquisition of Aaron Rodgers.
It’s as if a wave of amnesia has taken over many popular NFL broadcasting personalities as they casually predict that the Jets will win the NFL’s toughest division... AND make some noise come playoff time. Everyone has an incredibly short memory regarding Rodgers and the decline he showed last season, where he ranked 26th in QBR — behind the likes of Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, and Kyler Murray.
Some will point to Rodgers battling nagging injuries throughout the season, which is a fair excuse for the drop-off, but also a significant concern as the wear and tear of another season will likely result in more injuries for the soon-to-be 40-year-old.
Many will point to the Jets defense and label them as one of the best in the NFL based on last season’s results, but competition matters, and the offensive competition they faced last season was extremely light. Dig into it a little bit and it’s hardly an impressive list of QBs they beat: Games against Jacoby Brissett, Kenny Pickett, Skylar Thompson, Aaron Rodgers (ironically enough), Russell Wilson, and Trevor Siemian accounted for six of their seven wins.
I’m not blind to the fact that the Jets have some serious talent on both sides of the ball, I just don’t think a significant improvement is in the cards. Many spent the entirety of last season making excuses for Rodgers (those damn young receivers in Green Bay!), but if he doesn’t bounce back to MVP form or ends up beaten down behind that below-average offensive line, the Jets will be much closer to last season’s seven wins as opposed to contending for a Super Bowl.
Pick: Jets Under 9.5 wins (+110 at bet365)
Best of luck with your NFL futures bets this season — unless of course, you’re fading my bets above. Hit me up on social media and let me know what you’re on, or why you agree/disagree with my win total bets. Be sure to shop around from sportsbook to sportsbook to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck!