In Tuesday’s Bet Smart, we took a look at teams that are good bets to go over their season win total in 2020. Here are the teams I figure will Under-achieve:
Buffalo Bills (Under 8¹/₂)
I can’t get over the fact that the Bills won 10 games while scoring fewer than 20 ppg. The average next-season drop for teams that do this is about 3.6 wins. Until a consistent downfield passing attack is developed, I can’t back Buffalo.
Houston Texans (Under 7¹/₂)
My feelings about Houston taking a big step back go beyond the ludicrous trade of WR DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans won 10 games despite being outscored last season, and their eight close wins are a telltale sign of a team headed for a decline. Let’s not forget, the last time this team took the field, it was outscored 51-10 in a three-quarter span by the Chiefs, a potentially sobering hangover effect.
Las Vegas Raiders (Under 7¹/₂)
A lot of cool things are going on with the Raiders as they venture into their first season in Las Vegas, but I don’t see a honeymoon similar to the one the NHL’s Golden Knights got in their first year in Sin City. The Raiders were outscored by 106 points last year and didn’t win a single game by double digits. They suffered only a minus-2 turnover differential for the season. They were fortunate to win seven games, and now the win total is even higher. Reasonable upgrades were made to the defense in the offseason, but the offense was virtually ignored beyond the signing of QB Marcus Mariota. And that unit averaged less than 20 ppg.
Los Angeles Rams (Under 8¹/₂)
I believe this team is clearly headed in the wrong direction, and it seemed to start with the 2019 Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, in which Bill Belichick seemingly left a blueprint for the rest of the league to follow in controlling coach Sean McVay’s offense. Making matters worse, the Rams lost a lot on defense in the offseason.
Seattle Seahawks (Under 9¹/₂)
Since winning the Super Bowl in Pete Carroll’s fourth year, the Seahawks have battled the problem most champions face — holding on to their players. Every year this team seems to get ravaged in free agency, though this year’s losses were minimal. Even so, Seattle was very fortunate to win 11 games last year, outscoring opponents by only seven points. The Seahawks enjoyed a +12 turnover differential and set a 28-year record for most close wins with 10 by eight or fewer points. This team has a glowing résumé of one ready for a fall.
Washington Football Team (Under 5)
Historically, one of the worst combinations a team can have in moving to the next season is a positive turnover ratio and brutal results. It’s the true definition of a bad team. Washington had a +1 turnover differential in 2019 yet was outscored by 169 points in going 3-13. New coach Ron Rivera has inherited a mess, and it’s hard to find a worse team in the league right now. In what I think will be an improved NFC East, Washington has little to no shot of competing.