NFL Win Props: How Teams Have Done Against Vegas Expectations

When TheSportsNotebook did its preseason previews in the NFL, a focal point was noting what Las Vegas pegged as each team’s Over/Under number on win totals. With one game to go, it’s time for a review of those numbers. The review serves a dual purpose—to see who were the biggest surprises and disappointments in the eyes of those who put their money behind their opinions—and to put TheSportsNoteook’s prognostication competence on the line, since these are the picks I take the most seriously. So it’s with anticipation and trepidation that we review the NFL win props.

We’ve got a landscape where 23 of the 32 teams have already clinched their number, for better or for worse. We’ll start with those teams. Next to each team in parentheses is each team’s win prop, with the number they’ve exceeded it by in parentheses.

Indianapolis (5, +5)
Atlanta (9, +4)
Denver (8.5, +3.5)
Washington (6, +3)
Seattle (7.5, +2.5)
Houston (9.5, +2.5)
Cincinnati (8, +1)
St. Louis (6, +1)
San Francisco (9.5, +0.5)
TheSportsNotebook Record: I went 7-2 on these picks, with St. Louis and Indianapolis being the ones where I’ve missed. As you can see, the Colts are the league’s biggest surprise, something that certainly comes as no surprise, and is yet another reason for interim coach Bruce Arians to be named Coach of the Year

Late Editor’s Note: After this published, I realized I left out Minnesota, who opened with a number of 6 and already has nine wins. This is also a loss for yours truly, as I had the Vikes going Under.

Philadelphia (10, -6)
Kansas City (8, -6)
Detroit (9, -5)
Oakland (7.5, -3.5)
Pittsburgh (10, -3)
Jacksonville (5, -3)
San Diego (9, -3)
New Orleans (9.5, -2.5)
Tennessee (7.5, -2.5)
NY Jets (8.5, -2.5)
Buffalo (7.5, -2.5)
Carolina (7.5, -1.5)
Arizona (6.5, -1.5)
New England (12.5, -1.5)
TheSportsNotebook Record: I split out on these fourteen teams going 7-7, which include my two worst picks—I had the Chiefs making the playoffs and the Eagles getting to the NFC Championship Game. I feel somewhat better in that both teams lead the way in performing below everyone else’s expectations. If you’re going to miss the boat, it’s nice to have company. On the positive side, take note of New England going Under. Even though I like the Patriots and believed this would be an AFC finalist, I also believe you never, ever, ever, take an over when a team has to win 13 games. Even if you believe that team will go 13-3, there’s just no maneuvering room. New England will beat Miami on Sunday, go 12-4 and wrap up a great regular season. And if you were in Vegas and bought an Over ticket, you’ve already torn it up.

Of the teams who are in the books, I’m 14-9 14-10, which has me feeling good. But if this were a political campaign, exit pollsters would tell me to hold my fire, because more can go wrong than right, when it comes to the nine eight teams still on the board.

Tampa Bay (6)
Miami (7)
Baltimore (10)
Cleveland (5)
TheSportsNotebook Outlook: All of these teams cannot go Under, and can still reward their believers with a win on Sunday. I’m playing defense here, as Tampa Bay’s the only team I had the Over on. The other three teams can all hand me an “L”.

NY Giants (9)
Green Bay (12)
TheSportsNotebook Outlook: If you bought an Over ticket on the Packers and Giants, don’t tear it up, but the most you can hope for is to get your original bet back. I can win the Green Bay bet, where I went Under for the reasons outlined above in regards to New England. I’m done on the Giants and can only avoid a loss.

Dallas (8.5)
Chicago (9.5)
TheSportsNotebook Outlook: These are the big ones—the Cowboys and Bears are playing to win or lose on their number.  I took Dallas to go over and Chicago to go under. The oddsmakers are saying I’ll end up with two more losses, and as a Redskins fan I’m more than happy to take the first of those. So for Dallas fans who bet on their team this summer this is the ultimate winner-take-all game—for the NFC East and for the Over. Chicago backers can hope for the playoffs if they win at Detroit, but at minimum they can cash the Over.

Beating the number is tough, and frankly I’ll be more than happy if I can just scrape out a winning record. I made it to 16-14 in baseball, and I’d settle for a similar narrow win in the NFL on Sunday. If you’ve never messed around with NFL win props, think about this—doesn’t it make more games meaningful in the final week of the season?