As the sports world recovers from being blindsided by Andrew Luck’s retirement announcement, NFL bettors are using the shocking development as an opportunity to make wagers on the updated odds in this post-Luck football landscape.
And after Saturday’s news, I was able to identify five NFL teams where there is still an opportunity to bet on or against their current numbers.
Why I’m buying: There might be a negative perception about this year’s Steelers roster considering that running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown have departed. This would seem like a huge personnel loss for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense, but running back James Conner stepped right into Bell’s role last season and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster should replace the production of Brown as a No. 1 target.
Most importantly, the Steelers don’t have to worry about the drama that Bell and Brown previously caused. I think we’ll see a more motivated Roethlisberger want to prove that he’s still a top quarterback even without the two disgruntled stars. Those factors mean that you’ll have a real opportunity to buy low on a team that hasn’t had a losing record in Mike Tomlin’s 12 seasons as head coach.
How to bet on them: The Steelers’ win total at 9 is worth a bet, but it’s not the only way to buy their stock. Because of the hype surrounding the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers aren’t favorites to win the AFC North. I’m not buying the Browns just yet, and I think betting on Pittsburgh to win the division at a price between +160 and +185 provides value.
Why I’m buying: The 2018 Falcons were marred by injuries on defense with safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones both suffering devastating injuries in the same Week 1 matchup. Getting those two back — along with safety Ricardo Allen — will be a huge boost for Atlanta in a year where many say Dan Quinn is on the coaching hot seat.
Remember that the Falcons went through a coaching change on offense as Dirk Koetter returns to Atlanta to coach QB Matt Ryan. The pair worked together from 2012-14, and Koetter will be an upgrade over Steve Sarkisian. A scheduling quirk that benefits the Falcons is that they play 13 of their 16 regular season games indoors. The fast tracks at these stadiums should benefit Atlanta’s offense, and they’ll largely avoid playing in any unfavorable weather conditions.
How to bet on them: The Falcons’ win total at 8.5 is my favorite “over” win total bet in the NFL. I’ll also try to bet on them against the spread in the right spots throughout the season.
Why I’m selling: The Seahawks were a popular under season win total bet in 2018. The win total closed at 7.5 due to the defense losing most of its stars and the offense lacking explosive playmakers. But Seattle greatly exceeded expectations by winning 10 games and earning a playoff berth.
That brings us to 2019, in which the Seahawks are now overvalued due to last year’s squad overachieving. If Seattle’s offense, which became too predictable last season under OC Brian Schottenheimer, fails to play to Pro Bowl QB Russell Wilson’s strengths, the Seahawks will continue to underwhelm.
On the other side of the ball, the pass rush is a huge concern for the Seahawks. They traded away Frank Clark, who had 13 sacks last season, and Jarran Reed (10.5 sacks) will be suspended for the first six games of the season. The schedule is another landmine for Seattle, who have four Eastern Time Zone games scheduled at 1 p.m. and three consecutive primetime games against the Eagles, Vikings and Rams after a late bye in Week 11.
How to bet against them: The opportunities to bet against Seattle might be short-lived once the public realizes that they are overrated, so I would take the Bengals plus the points in their Week 1 matchup. While the Seahawks’ win total was bet down from 9 to 8.5, I still think that you should take the under.
Why I’m selling: The Raiders are going through another rebuilding year, and they have one more season in Oakland before they make the move to Las Vegas. On paper, the Raiders have improved by acquiring Antonio Brown and landing three players in the first round of the draft, but you should be wary of Oakland exceeding expectations on the betting market.
Not only has Brown caused unnecessary distractions during his helmet fiasco, but he’s failed to receive significant practice reps with quarterback Derek Carr. Oakland’s schedule is also tough, as they have six early Sunday afternoon road games in either the Eastern or Central Time Zone. Throw in a “home” game in London, and it’s a grueling travel schedule for Jon Gruden’s team.
How to bet against them: Earlier this summer, you could have found a win total for Oakland at 6.5, but it’s dropped to 6 at most books. Even then, I’d still take the under — I just don’t see the unproven Raiders racking up seven wins in 2019.
Why I’m selling: The Redskins are coming off an extremely misleading 7-9 season in which they won six of their first nine games, but were severely outgained in wins against the Panthers and Buccaneers.
As for 2019, quarterback Alex Smith takes up over $20 million in cap space, but still can’t play because of the horrific ankle injury that he sustained last season. Case Keenum was just named the Week 1 starter at QB, and he’ll have a tough task with games against the Eagles, Cowboys and Bears to the start the season.
If Keenum struggles, then first-round pick Dwayne Haskins will likely take over. Haskins could prove to be the future franchise quarterback of the Redskins, but rolling with the rookie would be an overall downgrade for the team in 2019. Haskins only started 14 games in his college career and will likely struggle with an inexperienced unit of pass catchers.
Another issue facing the Redskins is the holdout of left tackle Trent Williams. The situation has gotten ugly because of his issues with the team’s medical staff, so his future in Washington is uncertain.
How to bet against them: When it comes to Washington’s 6.5 win total, I would take the under as soon as possible. There isn’t much positive attention surrounding this team, so that total could even drop to 6 before Week 1. I’d also look to fade the ‘Skins against the spread when Haskins eventually takes over at quarterback.