We are still months away from the 2017 NFL regular season, but the majority of the moves have taken place. Now is the time when teams have their minicamps, OTAs and various other workouts. It's also the time when Vegas releases their win totals for people to gorge on.
The schedules are out and as I said the rosters are pretty much in place. I usually preach not tying up your money with wagers that won't cash for a few months, but sometimes there is some value tied to teams that you just have to capitalize on. Depending upon where you look, New England either has the highest preseason win total in history or is tied for the most at 12.
Note: Odds courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook
Atlanta Falcons (Under 9.5 wins EVEN)
2017 Strength of Schedule: .521 (13th)
The defending NFC champions may fall victim to the post-Super Bowl issues that some teams have had. The addition of defensive tackle Dontari Poe will help alleviate the pressure on Vic Beasley Jr. and could lead to the Falcons’ top pass rusher seeing fewer double teams. Offensively, it’ll be hard for Matt Ryan to match the awesome numbers he put up (38 TDs, 7 INTs) in his MVP campaign. Atlanta plays at New England, the Jets, Carolina and Seattle over a five-week span with a home date against Dallas sprinkled in for good measure. Yes, the Falcons follow that up with three straight home games against the Buccaneers, Vikings and Saints, but who knows about the team's health and mind set by then? They also have an early bye in Week 5 before embarking on that brutal road stretch. I think Atlanta ends up with eight or nine wins.
Chicago Bears (Under 5.5 wins -130)
2017 Strength of Schedule: .479 (19th)
It's going to be a long season for the Bears, who will be either breaking in rookie Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback or relying on largely unproven Mike Glennon. There is a realistic shot that Chicago's first win may not come for a while next year. The Bears open against Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Minnesota, Baltimore, Carolina and New Orleans before their bye in Week 9. Realistically, they'll probably win one or two of those home divisional games and should beat San Francisco and Cleveland, but I don't know where else you can find a win. The defense is very shaky and outside of running back Jordan Howard, who scares you on offense? This one is an under.
Dallas Cowboys (Under 9.5 wins +120)
2017 Strength of Schedule: .531 (T-10th)
Pardon me if I don't want to drink the Kool Aid for Dallas this coming season. There has to be some sort of sophomore slump for Dak Prescott and/or Ezekiel Elliott. The offense will be formidable, but the defense was gashed with losses. The majority of the secondary departed and the team can only hope some veteran castoffs and rookies can fill the holes. The schedule is very difficult with road trips to Denver, Atlanta and Oakland. As for NFC East play, I think the Giants are very capable of taking both meetings while the Eagles and Redskins should get at least a split. Home contests against Seattle, Green Bay and Kansas City are tough as well. I think Dallas takes a step back.
Los Angeles Chargers (Under 7.5 wins -110)
2017 Strength of Schedule: .568 (3rd)
It's going to be a weird year for the Chargers, who will play their games at StubHub Center in Carson, California, in front of a smaller crowd than usual for a football game. An aging Philip Rivers leads the offense that has mediocre weapons around him. What we do know is that Los Angeles will likely be in a number of close games with a chance to win late. The defense is nothing spectacular either so this number is a bit surprising. Getting the improved NFC East in crossover play means that wins from the other conference will be tough to come by especially since the Redskins’ and Eagles’ fans will make it feel like a road game for the Chargers.
New York Jets (Under 5 wins -110)
2017 Strength of Schedule: .535 (T-8th)
When I do this exercise before the season, you simply run down the schedule and add up the wins and losses. Sometimes I like to stretch in certain areas even in best- and worst-case scenarios. The Jets don't really know who is going to play quarterback, have an awful wide receiver corps and an aging defense in certain areas. The team hasn't made too many moves to improve these holes and is seemingly positioning itself to have a shot at drafting USC quarterback Sam Darnold in 2018. To me, this is a team that when it gets tough late, will roll over instead of putting up a fight and things are only going to get worse. The Jets do play Cleveland as well as the Chargers at home, but this is just a three- or four-win team in my eyes.
— As I noted above, I'm only tying up my money on bets I really like. I went into looking at the Cardinals’ slate wanting to take the under, but things line up properly for them to potentially go over the eight-win total. My problem is that I don't think 37-year-old quarterback Carson Palmer makes it all year long and there's nothing behind him that gives me confidence that the success will continue.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.