Predicting Win Totals for Every NFL Team in 2020
We have every over/under pick for all 32 teams this season. Will the Saints break 10.5 wins? Will the Jets win... any games? Let us escort you through our best picks.
7 Sep, 2020
This preview of the season will give you our takes on which teams are going to outperform the bookmakers’ expectations, and which will underwhelm in 2020.
It’s been a crazy offseason. Tom Brady is with Tampa, Cam Newton with New England. Covid shut the world down, then it reopened, then… well everything went to all hell if we’re honest.
We could really do with some football. Upset Watch is back to guide you through which teams will upset the odds in 2020, in conjunction with our friends at Draftkings, I'll be using their win totals as a guide to the over and under potential plays in the lead up to the season.
I really like the Dolphins this season. Regular readers will know that last year I picked them to upset a number of big teams, including the Patriots. They duly obliged, but the real story is in the turnaround between the beginning and end of the season.
Brian Flores inherited a dysfunctional franchise, he knew that 2019 was going to be difficult, but even after giving up an incredible 163 points in their first 4 games and scoring just 26pts, the Dolphins didn’t tank. Instead, Flores placed his trust in Ryan Fitzpatrick and in the back end of the season, good things happened.
In the final 9 games of the season, Miami went 5-4 and covered the spread in 9 of their final 12 games.
Most importantly, I like their chances with no such ‘tanking’ questions about them in play. Flores has acquired a number of former Patriots in Linebackers Kyle van Noy and Elandon Roberts, as well as Center Ted Karras. That goes with the two highest paid corners in the game, Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, and Shaq Lawson at DE. Can you tell Flores is a defensive coach?
Ultimately the Dolphins may be hindered a little by discussion of their QB situation, with FItzpatrick likely to cede the offense to No.5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa, but the veteran has the advantage and will start first. Fitzmagic can win this team games, he’s shown that with almost no supporting cast. I think the Dolphins win 8 or 9 games this season. I wouldn’t even rule out a playoff run in a weaker division.
The Raiders showed hints of what they could be last season, but went on a few losing runs that curtailed any chances of a playoff run. If they can stop losing to teams like Jacksonville and the Jets, they have every chance to get into the postseason.
Mike Mayock has done a pretty good job with the roster and Jon Gruden… I mean whisper it, but he’s done… ok? I like them to win 9 games this season and finish second in the division. They’re certainly not the finished article, but it’s worth remembering that they swept the Chargers and Broncos last season.
Plus you know… VEGAS!
The Panthers are a team with zero expectations (hence one of the lowest win projections available) heading into 2020. Unlike teams that are tanking, however, they’ve made the big decision (Teddy Bridgewater coming in at QB) and have invested in veteran defensive talent.
The big miss is Luke Kuechly and I suspect that most of the probability on this line is a result of his retirement. It’s a shame, but I don’t think the Panthers are no-hopers and they’ve been remade. I would be less enthused by them if they were still under Ron Rivera - not because I dislike Rivera as a coach, but because sometimes change is needed at the top of an organization for it to truly take hold.
Bridgewater is the right QB at the right time here. He’ll go deep to Robby Anderson a lot, he’ll take some of the glaring pressure off Christian McCaffrey to be the team’s only playmaker and open up the entire field. I am excited for what this Panther team can do without any pressure, I think 8 wins is a distinct possibility.
This is a big number for a team at the end of it’s Super Bowl window. Of course, the end is nigh not just because of talent, but because finances dictate that this is likely the final year in New Orleans for a number of big name players, with the Saints set to be $80m over the cap in 2021 as things stand.
Some of that will be offset by the imminent retirement of Drew Brees, but I think the psychological impact of knowing that for a number of players there is at least a probability that they will be leaving next offseason, coupled with the seismic split between Brees and his teammates on the political issue de jour, will limit how well they can respond to adversity.
I make the Saints the big clunker of the season. They’re probably talented enough to overcome a lot of this, but I think between 6 and 8 wins is a more realistic win total.
NOPE. The Chargers are on the ragged edge as a team and while the decision to move on from Philip Rivers before he actively hurt them more than he did last season was correct, the decision towell… not replace him? That was less correct. You may even call it… INcorrect.
Tyrod Taylor is serviceable. He’s ok. He’s not great. He’s fine if you need a guy to fill in for 3 games as a backup. But as a starter, his style of play and lack of durability make this a finite experiment. He may win a few games, but this will soon be a team QB’s by Justin Herbert (which yes, we should all pronounce like Austin Powers saying SHERRR BERRRT’).
On the other side of the ball everything looks great, but as a team they lack the ability to rush the passer despite having two of the best in the league (Bosa and Ingram) at DE. Last year they finished 26th in sacks and ended up with the 31st worst turnover differential in the entire league.
I think the Chargers will be imploding and finish the season as a contender for first overall pick on 2 or 3 wins.
So just to re-emphasize in case you mistook my slight dig at Rivers for anything else, let me be unequivocal: I think Philip Rovers will hurt the Colts in 2020.
There is a time to let go of things in life, and for Philip Rivers, the time to let go was usually around 1.5 seconds earlier. Rivers had just 6 games last season where he threw more TD’s than INT’s, finishing 23:20. He refuses to run (I am genuinely unsure if he can do more than jog) and it will be a difficult proposition to take the 25th ranked offense in the league much higher than 6 or 7 wins.
Team win total over/under picks for each team
Like Rivers, the Pittsburgh era of erratically just-about-pretty-good play is coming to an end. Can Ben Roethlisberger stay healthy? It definitely matters, as we saw last season, but even when healthy, Ben is a shadow of his former self.
Let’s look at him last season before the injury. He was completing just 56.5% of his passes, had no TD’s and an interception by the time his season ended after 15 passes of the second game of the season. He is a notoriously bad starter, but it’s clear as day that Ben is not himself after his major elbow surgery a year ago.
And the rest of that Steelers roster? Well… it’s ok, but we saw last season what that counts for when Mason Rudolph is taking the snaps. I truly believe this is sadly going to be the year that Rivers and Roethlisberger ride off into the sunset, I just equally think the sunset might be coming to get them regardless of whether they move or not...
Miami OVER 6.5 - The most improved team over the back end of last season has better players, a real roster and no questions about tanking. 9-10 win season inbound.
New England OVER 8.5 Such an interesting year, but I think they’ll just scrape a winning season and be close to Miami by season end. Very excited to watch Cam Newton if he’s healthy, but there’s a chance the wheels fall off if things go wrong.
Buffalo UNDER 8.5 - A very good roster, sure, but they will live and die by Josh Allen’s ability to throw the ball. We know he can run, arguably as well as any QB except Lamar Jackson, but at some point the Bills need to be able to rank higher than 24th on offense to progress… 6 or 7 wins.
NY Jets UNDER 6.5 - Bereft of talent on either side of the ball, with a coach who has no credibility. They’ll grab a couple of wins but not much else.
Kansas City OVER 11.5 - I went back and forth on this because although KC are the best team in football, with a healthy and balanced roster, they’re also saddled with a big expectation and there is not much wiggle room. In the end, you have to believe in this much talent to overcome that.
Las Vegas OVER 7 - A team maturing and in a new stadium, in a new city, they have a chance to leave behind some of the legacy of the last few decades in Oakland. 8 or 9 wins.
Denver OVER 7.5 - This is going to be close. I really like Drew Lock, but the maturity of this offense as a whole is really under scrutiny. They are young at every skill position, which can be good, but do they lack the veterans to get over 8 wins? I think so, but I also think they can get to 8.
LA Chargers UNDER 7.5 - One of our biggest projected clunkers in 2020, this line is way too high. The team is a mess, Anthony Lynn survived the offseason on goodwill and still makes howlers when his team needs good decision-making. An average roster, with an average QB. It’s a recipe for being overrun. At least they’re used to not playing in front of fans.
Baltimore OVER 11 - Ithink this will be bang on, and I wish I had another half point either way. The Ravens have a big potential problem because Lamar Jackson is amazing, but there is little or no way he can stay healthy running the way he does. That said, assuming he’s healthy, they could win 13 or 14 games.
Cincinnati OVER 5.5 - a big surprise? Maybe not, I just think this is a bad division. They could get to 8-8 which would be a relative success, but it’s a learning curve for Burrow (who I think is a legit player) and there’ll be some ups and downs, maybe some momentum early and late in the season that gives people hope. I like them. Outside wild card contender if things come together.
Cleveland UNDER 8.5 - Do I want Cleveland to do well? Yes. Will they. No. 6 or 7 wins maximum, and more questions about Baker Mayfield. I do like the addition of Austin Hooper, but they are still mediocre passing the ball and ultimately, are they a 9 win team? No.
Pittsburgh UNDER 9 - Second biggest ‘shock’ is not really a shock. Ben Roethlisberger has declined and we saw last season that without him, they are not a good team. It’s unlikely he sees the entire season out, but if he does, they’ll still be under 9 wins.
Tennessee - OVER 8.5 - Tennessee profit from being in a bad division. I think they’re better than the other teams here and if they get off to a fast start, I don’t see them getting reeled back in. Tricky first game in Denver which they could lose, but by season end I think they’ll have 10 wins.
Houston OVER 7.5 - A fun line this. The Texans are such an up and down team, but they have some difference makers who can drag them to a winning season. I worry about the offensive skill positions, but they’re good up front on both sides of the ball. I see them as wild card contenders.
Jacksonville OVER 4.5 - Will be better than people think, but that’s not hard. All I will say is that last year, you saw how dangerous it is for teams to psychologically write off teams as ‘tanking’. They will lose a lot of games, but they will win some where teams sleepwalk into it.
Indianapolis UNDER 9 - I think they’ll lose a lot of games. Philip Rivers is shot, they have a team that isn’t actually that good and not really improved enough to overcome poor QB play. Whereas last season they overcame some adversity, this season the expectations may cause more problems than they can handle.
Dallas OVER 9.5 - Let’s be honest, last season the 8-8 Cowboys were an incredible team that should have had 12 wins at least. https://nflpickwatch.com/nfl/team/DAL They were top 5 in many offensive categories and solid on defense. I think they’re the NFC Super Bowl team.
NY Giants OVER 6 - I hate the Giants this year. They will cause some upsets (which I like) but they will assuredly let us down numerous times. They seem a little underwhelming and I worry that coach Joe Judge is already calling out his players for poor preseason habits. Despite this, I think they can make it over 6 wins. Maybe.
Philadelphia UNDER 9 - I think they’ll be victims of the Cowboys and their dominance, but also of the underwhelming season without fans they face due to COVID restrictions. I’ve tried to avoid that factor in our calculations, but I think despite the Philly fans being brutal, they are a huge factor in this team’s general success. The Eagles were as average as it comes in 2019 and scraped their playoff berth by virtue of the Cowboys imploding numerous times.
Washington OVER 5 - They will shock some teams. Last year they couldn’t get off the field on defense and it hurt them, but I think they’ve added some key pieces and moved away from the ‘going through the motions of a rebuild’ dynamic. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is actually a 5 win season. A very good line.
San Francisco OVER 10.5 - The Kyle Shanahan effect. I think they’ll win a lot of games and they’ll dominate a lot of teams on both sides of the ball. I don’t think they’re as complete a team as Dallas, but they’re in the running to go back to the big game.
Seattle OVER 9.5 - The Seahawks haven’t had less than 9 wins since 2011, and they’ve gone under this line just once in that time. It’s also worth noting that they regularly come in second, with double figures, managing this 4 times over the last 8 seasons. The team is good, the coaching as always good, they have a real chance of beating the 49ers if they
Arizona UNDER 7 - a tough one. I think 7 is going to be really close to the line and while I like the addition of DeAndre Hopkins, I have some reservations about Kyler Murray’s ability to make the most out of him, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. That said, the Cards are probably going to improve on defense (hard not to from last in the league) so this could be tight. One to avoid.
LA Rams UNDER 8 - I don’t hate the Rams. This is a strong division and ultimately there is a possibility that each team cancels each other out to some degree. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the division ended up wide open over the last few games because nobody manages to pull away. The Rams, however, are the bottom of the class. They have a QB who looks dangerously close to going the wrong way in his career trajectory, a lack of talent at key positions on offense. I think they’ll be the odd ones out in 2020 and stumble to 5 or 6 wins.
Green Bay OVER 8.5 - Are Green Bay the best of a bad bunch? It’s really the only way I can describe the NFC North these days. As a Bears fan it kills me to say it, but the Packers have a good roster and the best QB (still) in the division. They’re far from perfect, but I sense the gelling of Lafleur and Rodgers may take them to a comfortable division title and 12+ wins.
Detroit OVER 6.5 The Lions are on paper the worst team in the division, but they have the best QB and receiver tandem, a vastly improved defense (like the Dolphins, they’ve subscribed to the ex-Pats) and for once, I like their depth at RB. 9 or 10 wins.
Chicago UNDER 7.5 - I sense a 7-9 season beckons for my beloved Bears. You can’t start a season with Big Mitch and truly believe good things will happen, but I can get behind a weird switch to Nick Foles that galvanizes everyone for roughly 4 or 5 games. Then you add on the garbage games at the end of the season and… this is what you have. 6 or 7 wins.
Minnesota - UNDER 9 - I am terrified by the fact that the Vikings enter 2020 with just 2 Safeties on their roster. That way lies madness, even if both are durable and very good. The problem lies in… well… have you heard of injuries? Remember the Eagles a couple of years back? You can’t afford to run out of DB’s in this game. On top of that, I think the Vikes don’t realize how much they needed the threat of Stefon Diggs to keep that run game ticking over...
Tampa Bay OVER 9.5 - It’s an obvious pick, but that offense is stacked. Apart from that, they’re well coached and the main thing that nobody is talking about, they return most of a defense that ranked 1st against the run, with added help at Safety in the shape of rookie Antoine Winfield Jnr (who we assume will not be as much of a rookie as your average rookie…). A division title beckons. And 12-13 wins.
Atlanta OVER 7.5 - It may not be by much, but the Falcons and Panthers I think will be close this season. Atlanta is coming towards the end of it’s Super Bowl window with Matt Ryan, but they aren’t done yet and there are still some solid years ahead. I think this is just one of those years where they profit from the misery of others and grind their way to an unspectacular winning season. Not much has changed, Gurley replaces Freeman at RB, Hurst replaces Hooper at TE. The world keeps turning and the Falcons keep trundling on to a mediocre - but crucially over 7.5 - win total.
New Orleans UNDER 10.5 wins - Look, you’ve read my pick in the opening section and you probably disagree with the Saints utterly tanking in 2020 and getting 6 to 8 wins, but let’s say you think I’m wrong. Does that mean I’m 10.5 wins wrong? That’s a LOT of wins and only gives this dysfunctional, last throw of the dice team a handful of losses to play with. Take the under and thank me another time.
Carolina OVER 5.5 wins - As you already read, I think the Panthers will sneak up on enough teams to make their season interesting. I was close to making them second favorites for their division, but I think Atlanta just have the edge with their offensive weapons. This is a solid roster however, and most importantly has good role players throughout. If the coaching is good, they will upset a few teams this season.