In all aspects of American sports culture, the NFL is the top dog. The NFL encompasses the richest franchises in all of sports and receives the most coverage from major sports media, so it comes as no surprise that they also dominate the sports gambling market. An estimated $120 billion in bets annually are placed on NFL games and props. Any bettor’s start to the NFL season begins with, at minimum, a casual look over each team’s win total, or, at most, having a go at all 32 totals with their hard earned funds. Today, we’ll be taking more of a middle ground approach, exploring some locks that will easily smash Vegas’s numbers.
Kansas City Chiefs (12.5)
Such a low number almost seems like a trap, since the Chiefs are coming off the back of a stellar 14-2 season, which likely would’ve been a 15-1 season if their final game was meaningful. It makes some sense; the AFC West has supposedly improved (I really only see improvement for the Chargers) and the Chiefs face an imposing schedule, with games against the Bills, Ravens, and Browns. However, Kansas City has retained their entire core on both sides of the ball, and with the best quarterback in the league, there’s no reason the Chiefs can’t make it back to the big game. Mahomes received a massive boost at offensive line, most notably with the additions of Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, and LSU’s Creed Humphrey. With an extra game added to the schedule, Kansas City will easily surpass their win total.
Carolina Panthers (7.5)
2020 may appear as another bleak Panthers season on the surface, but despite finishing 5-11, optimism is sky high in Carolina under coach Matt Rhule. The Panthers put up plenty of solid performances but finished 3-8 in one score games. The arrival of Sam Darnold and return of Christian McCaffrey address two major position liabilities in 2020. On defense, the Panthers have a mix of promising young talent and reputable veterans, a group that showed steady improvement in 2020. 8th Overall pick Jaycee Horn might be the final piece for a solid unit that looks to enjoy a rapid rise using a formula similar to that of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unlike their division rivals, I don’t think the Panthers will advance anywhere near the Super Bowl, but a solid 10 win season is a realistic ceiling.
Buffalo Bills (11)
If not for a Deandre Hopkins miracle, the Bills would have finished the 2020 season with a record of 14-2, a quite uncharacteristic feat for the Bills of the last decade. Don’t be fooled by previous connotations of the franchise; Brandon Beane has built a contender for years to come. The acquisition of Stefon Diggs has paid out well so far and the defense seems to be stabilizing after a shaky campaign. If the Bills can find consistency at the running back position they could easily make a repeat trip to the AFC chip. 2021 might not be Buffalo’s year, but I’d be surprised if rough riding Josh Allen doesn’t lead this very talented unit to at least 12 wins.