Believe it or not, it’s just about go time in the NFL.
Given the unpredictable nature of football in general, paired with the COVID-19 pandemic and all the changes it necessitates, it should be a wild season in the NFL.
Handicapping the NFL, at least to start the season, might be difficult. With these three teams, however, we think there could be some season-long value in their current win total odds.
Los Angeles Chargers over 7.5 wins
The Chargers have so much talent on the defensive side of the ball, but they did have the 25th-ranked DVOA rushing defense. They went out of their way to address that issue in the offseason, drafting Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray and also signing former Vikings D-lineman Linval Joseph. While this doesn’t really mean much to the run defense, the Chargers also added a division rival by signing ex-Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. It could be one of the best defenses in the NFL. The offense should be better, too. Assuming Tyrod Taylor gets the starting job, he’s one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the league. Taylor threw just 16 interceptions in 43 starts with the Bills; Phillip Rivers threw 20 picks last season. Taylor should help to reverse LA’s minus-17 turnover ratio, which was tied for the worst in the NFL. The Chargers also beefed up the offensive line with two dependable veterans in Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga.
Arizona Cardinals over 7 wins
The 2019 season unsurprisingly was a learning experience for Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals. Really, it comes down to can Arizona limit the turnovers? The Cardinals went 1-7-1 in games they committed a turnover last season; they went 4-3 when they were clean. Even when they turned it over five times against the Los Angeles Rams, they lost by just a touchdown — the same as when they coughed it up three times vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. There should be some obvious improvement for the coach-QB combination, especially if Arizona can keep Murray upright. After Murray was sacked 48 times in his rookie season, the Cardinals took tackle Josh Jones in the third round, a player seen as a steal by some. The offense came on down the stretch (the seventh-best weighted offensive DVOA to end the year), and they made arguably the move of the offseason by acquiring all-everything wideout DeAndre Hopkins from Houston.
Dallas Cowboys over 9.5 wins
It’s a total square pick, and the juice is on the over across the board, but the Cowboys have had an abundance of talent for a while — and now they have a Super Bowl-winning head coach leading the way. Mike McCarthy’s run in Green Bay ended ugly, but he’s still a terrific football mind. He should be able to straighten out some things, and his players typically play hard for him. A change of scenery should do him wonders, and a new voice should do the same for Dallas. Perhaps more importantly, the players are still very good. Dak Prescott’s play might not match his contract demands, but he’s still among the league’s better signal-callers. Talk about weapons, too. Ezekiel Elliott is one of the NFL’s top running backs, and the same could be said for Amari Cooper at the receiver position. Dallas also made a great move in the first round of the draft, nabbing CeeDee Lamb out of Oklahoma. The Cowboys are going to score points in bunches. On the other side of the ball, Mike Nolan’s first year with the Cowboys should be helped by the additions of players like Everson Griffin and Aldon Smith. Anything less than 10 wins should be considered a disappointment.