With the preseason mercifully over, it’s time for the real games to begin. Each and every year, Vegas posts over/under win totals for teams. For example, the hometown Falcons are eight and a half. We’ll get back to talking fantasy next week, but for now here are my top five over/under picks for the 2014 season. What are some of yours?
NUMBER 1 – New Orleans Saints OVER 10 1/2
The Saints have reloaded on both sides of the ball to give star QB Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton another legitimate shot at a Super Bowl. First, to the offense, where they jettisoned Darren Sproles to the Eagles and replaced that playmaker with a younger one in Brandin Cooks, a rookie wideout from Oregon State. The first rounder is expected to come in and contribute immediately, and I would not be surprised if he challenged for offensive rookie of the year. On defense, they bring in Jairus Byrd among others to retool a secondary that had trouble stopping teams last season. This is a division with a couple of middling teams in Atlanta and Tampa Bay and a team in Carolina that brings its bigtime defense back but offensively they will have trouble keeping up with a team like New Orleans. I see this as a 12-4 team and one who’ll get a bye in the NFC playoffs.
NUMBER 2 – New York Jets OVER 7
Questions have surrounded the offense for the past few years for the Jets, but things seemed to have stabilized with Eric Decker and Chris Johnson brought in to contribute. Geno Smith looks like a different QB in year two, while the running game seems to have gotten on track in the preseason. The front seven on the defensive side of the ball is as good as any in the conference, and while the secondary has issues, they can be masked with good strong play up front. This is a .500 team at minimum, and the number is seven.
NUMBER 3 – Tennessee Titans UNDER 7
The Titans are going to heavily rely on a QB who has yet to prove he can stay healthy in Jake Locker, a rookie running back who has promise but again, is a rookie in Bishop Sankey, and a defense that was a sieve a year ago. I think Houston, by default, will be improved, and Jacksonville is not the pushover they once were. Indianapolis has played Tennessee very tough the past few years, so that’s no walk in the park either. I don’t like the defense and I’ve never been a believer in Jake Locker. 5-11, maybe 6-10 but no higher.
NUMBER 4 – Houston Texans UNDER 7.5
I get the addition of Clowney on defense but what else has this team done to improve its defense? It’s a good unit, but I’m not sure it has improved enough to be a .500 team. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starter, and he was up and down in Buffalo. Andre Johnson wanted to be trade, DeAndre Hopkins is a wild card in year two in the league and Arian Foster can never stay healthy. This one will go under, but not by much.
NUMBER 5 – New England Patriots UNDER 11
I’m sorry, but I can’t go into the season believing this Patriots team is a 12 win team. This is a division that’ll be won by someone with 10 wins, because I think the Jets will be more competitive as I stated above, plus the Dolphins if they can get their offensive line issues worked out should be a force in the division as well. The Pats still have Tom Brady under center, so that gives them a chance to win anytime they step on the field. Shane Vereen is a player to watch for you fantasy players out there, as he should get the bulk of the production from behind the line of scrimmage on screens and outside runs. Even with Brady and with Vereen, I see this as a 9-10 win team. Not 11.