Ed Williams III

The Over/Under

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2012's Winning Solution

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Last season, Ed Williams and Jeff Baldwin picked against the spread all season long in Rotoworld's award-winning Season Pass. They kicked things off last year with a sneak peak column where they picked over/unders on win totals for six teams before kickoff, and they're back at it again this season. Once the season starts, Ed will try to exact revenge on Jeff for last year's beating as they'll pick their top five games and one over/under in the Season Pass. You can also check out Jeff on Twitter @jeffbaldwin4 for his daily picks. Without further ado, here are the over/unders.

Tampa Buccaneers – Over/Under 5.5

Ed: Last year, the Tampa Buccaneers severely underperformed, and Raheem Morris lost his job as head coach as a result. Now no-nonsense Greg Schiano from Rutgers is at the helm, and he won’t put up with the effort the Bucs put forth on the field last season. They drafted Doug Martin in the first round of the draft, and he’s already leapt ahead of LeGarrette Blount on the depth chart and will be starting in Week 1. An improved running game should help Josh Freeman get back on track, and with his ability to scramble, he should be a dangerous weapon. They’ll be playing the NFC East and the AFC West this season, but they’re other two non-division games on the schedule are very winnable as they’ll play the Vikings and Rams. There aren’t a lot of cupcakes on the schedule, but there are plenty of winnable games, and the addition of Schiano as the head coach should result in at least a couple of extra wins, which would put them at six, which is good enough to hit the over.
Pick: Over 5.5 wins

Buffalo Bills - Over/Under 7.5
Jeff: The Bills significantly upgraded their defense with the signing of DE Mario Williams and drafting CB Stephen Gilmore in the first round. Williams will provide pressure on the opposing quarterback which has been lacking for quite some time in Buffalo. Gilmore looks like the real deal and worthy of a first round selection. He is projected to start Week 1 against the Jets. Offensively, a healthy, underrated Fred Jackson returns after an injury ended his season a year ago. C.J. Spiller will also be in the mix for carries as he came on strong last year when Jackson went down. Ryan Fitzpatrick will rely heavily on Stevie Johnson through the air. I think the Bills take great strides this year and surprise some people.
Pick: Over 7.5 wins

Cincinnati Bengals – Over/Under 8
Ed: While the Bucs underperformed last season, the Bengals shocked everyone by going 9-7 and making the playoffs. This year, they won’t be sneaking up on anyone. Andy Dalton exceeded everyone’s expectations at quarterback, but don’t be surprised to see him endure a sophomore slump. He still has the uber-talented A.J. Green to chuck the ball to, but after that his options are limited. Jermaine Gresham can be productive at tight end, but after that, it’s a bunch of question marks. The Bengals let Cedric Benson go, and now have a tandem of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott in the backfield, which won’t instill fear into very many opponents. The defense should be very good once again, but the struggle to score will do this squad in. The Bengals need to feast on a fairly easy early schedule because things get very tough as the season wears on. They’re final five games will all be very tough as they’ll be at San Diego, vs. Dallas, at Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh and vs. Baltimore. If the Bengals stumble early, there’s not chance they’ll hit eight wins.
Pick: Under 8 wins

Houston Texans - Over/Under 9.5
Jeff: The Texans were on their way to making a Super Bowl run last year until Matt Schaub went down with a season-ending injury. To their credit, the Texans still won a home playoff game with their third-string quarterback, but only to come up short at Baltimore a week later. This season, Schaub is back along with one of the best running backs in the league in Arian Foster. Also, the Texans have been taking it easy with WR Andre Johnson throughout the preseason, but all signs point to him being ready for Week 1. The Texans' defense, led by J.J. Watt, looks to build off its impressive performance last season. This could be the year the Texans make it to the Super Bowl if they can stay healthy. Going against the 29th easiest strength of schedule in the league, look for them to get about 11 wins on the year.
Pick: Over 9.5 wins

Seattle Seahawks – Over/Under 7.5
Ed: Injuries were a major issue for the Seahawks last season, and the quarterback situation was one of the worst in the league. While the offseason solved much of the health issues, quarterback is still a question mark. Unlike last season, though, there’s plenty of upside this year. After dazzling everyone in the preseason, rookie Russell Wilson won the starting job over free agent acquisition Matt Flynn. The dynamic Wilson will keep defenses guessing with his ability to run, and he’ll also have Sidney Rice back on the field. Marshawn Lynch signed a brand new contract, so he’s the primary focus in the backfield, which should give the offense plenty of stability. The Seahawks have been building a young but very talented defense over the last couple of seasons, and the strategy looks to be paying off. Look for continued improvement by that unit. The Seahawks have to play the tough NFC North, but they also drew the relatively weak AFC East, so in addition to getting four games against the Rams and Cardinals, Seattle should be able to get over 7.5 wins fairly easily.
Pick: Over 7.5 wins

San Francisco 49ers - Over/Under 9
Jeff: The 49ers were one game away from making it to the Super Bowl a year ago. Their offseason priority was to get QB Alex Smith more offensive weapons. The additions of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James fit that need and will give this offense more versatility and explosiveness. Smith will look to build off a productive 2011 and lead his team back to a NFC West title and a deep playoff run. Defensively, there are not many teams out there better than the 49ers. Led by Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, I see this unit only getting better, as scary as that sounds.  The 49ers do have some tough road games this season, including visits to the Packers, Saints and the Patriots. Matching their 13 win total from a year ago will be very tough, but I still think the 49ers will get to 10 or 11 wins for the year.
Pick: Over 9 wins

Houston Texans – Over/Under 9.5
Ed: The Texans finished last season with a 10-6 record, and that’s with them losing their last three games after losing Matt Schaub to injury. Schaub will be back under center when the Texans kick off Sunday, but more importantly Arian Foster will be leading the way in the backfield once again. Foster has become one of the most feared running backs in the game, and with the zone-blocking scheme of the offensive line, it’s almost impossible to stop him. And even if Foster gets dinged up, Ben Tate has proven to be one of the most talented backups in the league. Andre Johnson is back at full strength at wide receiver, although at this point of his career, he’s a constant injury risk. Despite trading away linebacker DeMeco Ryans, Houston should remain a solid defensive team as well. Houston will play the competitive NFC South and AFC North, but their two extra games are very winnable against the Dolphins and Raiders. If Houston can feast on their own division, which shouldn’t be too much to ask, the Texans should get to at least 10 wins again this season.
Pick: Over 9.5 wins

San Diego Chargers - Over/Under 9
Jeff: The 2011 Chargers were a major disappointment finishing at 8-8. I just don't see how this team finishes any better this year. Philip Rivers' performance a year ago, including a career-high 20 interceptions, has to be concerning. Plus, I'm seeing much of the same from him in this year's preseason games. It doesn't appear that his arm strength is what it used to be. In addition, throw in the loss of his favorite target WR Vincent Jackson and injuries to WR Vincent Brown and RB Ryan Mathews, and there is a lot for this team to overcome before the season has even started. On a positive note, TE Antonio Gates has declared himself in the best shape of his career. He will be a target machine this year. With the Broncos and Chiefs getting more competitive in the AFC West, and matchups with the Saints, Ravens and Steelers, look for the Chargers only to manage 7 or 8 wins on the 2012 season.
Pick: Under 9 wins

Kansas City Chiefs – Over/Under 8
Ed: Originally, I was thinking eight wins would be a lot to expect from the Chiefs. But after examining the schedule, and looking more closely at the roster, especially the returning players, the Chiefs could be sneaking up on a lot of people this year. Running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry will both be back after ACL injuries, and the Chiefs went out and got tackle Eric Winston to bolster the offensive line and bruising running back Peyton Hillis to play behind Charles. Hillis’ presence will allow Charles to work his way back to full speed at his own pace and also prevent him from getting worn down. The explosive Dexter McCluster will likely see time at both running back and wide receiver, and QB Matt Cassel has Dwayne Bowe back after holding out for much of the preseason. From Week 11 on, the Chiefs have very winnable games against the Bengals, Broncos, Panthers, Browns, Raiders, Colts and Broncos again. Look for the Chiefs to win at least five of those seven, which means they’ll need just four more wins to hit the over.
Pick: Over 8 wins

Miami Dolphins - Over/Under 7
Jeff: I took under in wins in this column a season ago with the Dolphins. I think it is going to be very difficult for them to match their 6-win total from 2011. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has been named the starter. Tannehill will be a solid professional QB at some point, but I think this year he will struggle due to the lack of playmakers at the WR position, and the fact that he is a rookie. The departure of both Brandon Marshall and Chad Johnson has left this offense in shambles. Tough not to think opposing defenses won't lock down on RB Reggie Bush as he seems to be the lone playmaker in this offense. The defense was actually solid finishing 6th in the NFL a year ago in points allowed at 19.6. The Dolphins' lack of offense should put a tremendous amount of pressure on their defense. I think it is going to be another long season in South Beach.
Pick: Under 7 wins

Oakland Raiders – Over/Under 7.5
Ed: Some people are high on the Raiders this year, and there are reasons for some optimism. Darren McFadden, when healthy, is one of the top running backs in the league. The only problem with that is the fact that he hasn’t made it through a full season without sustaining an injury yet. The Raiders also have some young talent at wide receiver with Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, but they’re relatively unproven and have the aging Carson Palmer throwing them the ball. Palmer put up decent fantasy numbers in the second half of last season, but I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest to see a regression this year. If a team like the Chiefs takes a step up like I’m predicting, then it’s only natural another AFC West team will take a step back. Look for that to be the Raiders, as they’ll be under 7.5 wins.
Pick: Under 7.5 wins

New York Jets - Over/Under 8.5
Jeff: The Jets didn't address their glaring needs in the offseason. Shonn Greene isn't the answer at running back, the offensive line could have been bolstered, and the wide receiver position lacks depth after Santonio Holmes. Instead, they trade for QB Tim Tebow after re-signing their starting QB Mark Sanchez. It is hard not to think this season won't be an adventure for the Jets. It is going to be very difficult for the Jets to succeed this year with the limited offensive playmakers on their team. On the other side of the ball, the defense will be solid. However, I don't think they are as good as previous years, and their offense could put a lot of pressure on them to keep them in games. The beginning of the 2012 schedule is very difficult, which includes playing the likes of the Steelers, 49ers and Texans. I don't see this team winning 9 games.
Pick: Under 8.5 wins

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