For the moment, we still don’t know when games will be played. Not just because of the uncertain fate of the entirety of the 2020 NFL season, but because the league hasn’t even announced the schedules yet, which they are expected to do, weeks after they normally would, next week.
Nevertheless, betting lines and win-loss projections are already out, as are opinion pieces about whether or not bettors should take the over or under on said betting lines. Pro Football Focus is the latest to take a stab at this, and interestingly, they have everybody in the AFC North short of the Cincinnati Bengals coming in under their projected win totals.
This is Steelers Depot, so we might as well start with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who rest at an over/under of 9.5 wins after going 8-8 last season without the services of Ben Roethlisberger for 14 games. “Big Ben returns to a team that won eight games without him a season ago, so it’s pretty easy to see the Steelers winning 10 games”, the piece reads. “However, the Ravens are one of the league’s best teams, while Cleveland and Cincinnati should be improved as well. I’m going to pass on this one”.
Both the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs are projected at 11.5 wins. While they really like both teams, they argue that any projection system spitting out 12 or more wins for a team is pretty unlikely.
“It’s very, very hard for a projection system to spit out 12 or more wins for a team going into a season, so the only supportable play here is the UNDER”, they write. “That said, it’s tough to bet against John Harbaugh, Lamar Jackson and that defense”.
Then there are the Cleveland Browns. After the promise of Baker Mayfield’s rookie season, in which they very nearly posted a winning record, finishing 7-8-1, they fell backward to 8-8 in 2019. As of now, they have a betting-line win total of 8.5 games—it’s been well over a decade since they’ve even hit .500.
“I’m a fan of Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry, and there’s a real chance they improve now that there’s more competence up top. However, to ask a Cleveland Browns team to win more than eight games for the first time since 2007 is a leap of faith I’m not willing to make. Pass for me”.
As for the Bengals, they only have a projection line of 5.5 wins. While they only won two games last year, it was the first time since 2010, the year before they drafted Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, that they failed to win at least six games.
“Joe Burrow is about a 1- to 1.5-win upgrade over what the Bengals did a season ago, which would mean 3 or 3.5 from their unadjusted record of 2-14 last year”, the article reads. “That being said, if you adjust their win total for close games, they were more like a six-win team last year, so OVER is a good play in my opinion”.
While we don’t know the breakdown of the schedule yet, we do know who is going to play whom. So I ask you, which of the overs would you take based on these betting lines? What do you project each team’s win-loss record to be?