With so much action coming in on both sides of these bets, it’s quite difficult to find edges. Some things that I believe are incorrectly valued are preseason injuries (undervalued), offensive line evaluations (underrated), media hype (overrated), advanced analytics (underrated), regression (underrated), strength of schedule analytics (underrated), running backs (overrated), and recency bias. As you’ll see below, John Daigle (@notJDaigle) and I (@HaydenWinks) use a lot of these themes in our reasonings why we are on the under or over. For more analysis, be sure to read our in-depth team previews and Draft Guide.
49ers - Under 8.0 Wins (+105)
Hayden: The 49ers offense may be useful for fantasy purposes thanks to Kyle Shanahan, but the team outlook in terms of wins and losses is mediocre at best. The Niners have gone 6-10 and 4-12 under Shanahan the last two years, and they have the largest jump from last year’s wins (4) to this year’s win total (8) in the league, which is odd since the 49ers are projected to be better than their opponent six times this season. They also enter 2019 with one of the longest injury reports in the league. Many of their best defensive players (Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, Kwon Alexander, Jimmie Ward) have missed a chunk of the offseason with serious injuries, and small-sample size QB Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t looked too great this training camp and preseason. It’s fair to project Garoppolo for inconsistent play as he works back into things, especially behind a forgettable offensive line. Football Outsiders’ models agree that this total is too high (projected for 7.7 wins) and we’re catching positive odds with the under. To me, the 49ers look like a team that should win six to eight games.
Raiders - Under 6.0 Wins (-110)
John: Typically capturing the confidence of bettors when featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the Raiders have done everything but this year, showcasing the same circus we’ve come to expect from the once proud franchise only 19 months into Jon Gruden’s 10-year tenure. Chucky has pounded the table for Derek Carr to go deep this season (and, in his defense, brought on the personnel to do so between prized trade acquisition Antonio Brown and high-aDOT burner Tyrell Williams), but the 28-year-old has merely connected on 39-of-106 (36.7%) pass attempts 20-plus yards downfield for nine touchdowns and 10 picks — including a horrendous 50.5 passer rating under pressure — since returning from a fractured back injury in Week 6 of the 2017 season. The team’s record in one-score games (4-3) in spite of their 31st-ranked average scoring margin (-11.1) in ‘18 begs to bet the Under on what should be a 4-5 win season. I'd feel confident going Under with a reduced Alternate Win Total, too.
Chargers - Under 9.5 Wins (+130)
Hayden: Last year, the Chargers won more games (12) than what was expected given their point differential (10.6), but the real problems with the Bolts in 2019 are the injuries. Derwin James, PFF’s No. 5 safety of 2019, is headed for the injured reserve with the troublesome Jones fracture in his foot, so we’ll see a limited version of James sometime around Thanksgiving. The Chargers also are ironing out OT Russell Okung’s serious “pulmonary embolism” condition, which is very troubling considering the rest of the Chargers offensive line, which finished 31st in team pass-blocking (per PFF) after missing a pass block once every 7.2 pass plays (per Football Outsiders). If the Chargers were to exceed this 9.5 win total, Philip Rivers is going to have to have an MVP runner-up caliber season at 38 years old and will need his skill-position players to stay healthy, something Keenan Allen (knee, ankle), Hunter Henry (ankle), Mike Williams (back), and Melvin Gordon (knee, holdout) haven’t done the last few seasons. The Chargers’ complete lack of an analytics department is also something I’m willing to bet against to top it off. I see the Chargers as an eight to 10 win team, so there’s value here at +130.
Lions - Under 6.5 Wins (+100)
John: Detroit’s influx of talent this offseason was nothing more than an elaborate (albeit transparent) blueprint to continue establishing the run in coach Matt Patricia’s second year at the helm. The additions of TEs Jesse James and No. 8 overall pick T.J. Hockenson undoubtedly spell more 12 personnel for the Lions despite the team’s poor 3.6 yard per carry average on the 10th-highest rate of two-tight end sets just last year. Theo Riddick’s release unlocked the potential for second-year specimen Kerryon Johnson to explode following a season-ending knee injury in Week 11, but OC Darrell Bevell and Patricia have both laid the groundwork to limit their best player on offense to ensure he’s healthy for Detroit’s hypothetical playoff berth. The Lions’ median schedule based purely on Opponent Win Totals is one that I project the team underachieving if only for the hierarchy in place.
Eagles - Over 9.5 Wins (-176)
Hayden: The Eagles have the deepest roster in the NFL heading in 2019, partially because of how much backups had to play last year when Philly finished dead last in Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost due to injury metric. Both the offensive and defensive lines go two-deep with talent, and Carson Wentz has one of the best’s skill-position groups in the league. His receivers have been upgraded (DeSean Jackson, JJ Arcega-Whiteside) and his tight end combo is the best in the NFL. All we need is Wentz to stay healthy. He’s fully recovered from his previous injuries, and he noticeably changed his body this offseason to handle the struggles of the NFL. When we saw Wentz fully healthy in 2017, the Eagles were 11-2, and I believe this roster is actually better. With the Eagles favorites in 14-of-16 regular-season games, I like the odds of the Eagles winning double-digit games. Let’s just pray Wentz can play a full season, so we can take advantage of the Eagles’ third-easiest schedule.
Redskins - Under 6.5 Wins (+100)
John: The Redskins are fully prepared to open the year without Hall of Fame-caliber LT Trent Williams (holdout), locking in 36-year-old Raiders castoff Donald Penn and perennial bust OL Ereck Flowers as day one starters on the left side of Washington’s line. With arguably the shakiest receiving corps in the league, Case Keenum’s hideous 16.7 percent completion rate under pressure from last year won’t cut it. Washington’s run-first approach will only lead to an incredulous rate of second-and-long’s against what's projected as the fourth-toughest slate of run defenses on tap, forcing No. 15 overall pick Dwayne Haskins onto the field for developmental reps sooner than not. This is a bet against the franchise’s ongoing trend of having miraculously beaten their 2019 Win Total (6.5) in four consecutive seasons.