Las Vegas isn’t in the business of losing money. It sets odds for a simple reason…to get those of us willing to bet against them to put up some hard-earned money. In many ways it’s a fool’s game.
That doesn’t stop us from handing over hundreds of millions in sports betting each year. So when Vegas comes up with odds, it makes sense to listen. Not from a betting aspect, but more from a general analyzing aspect.
On that note, Bovada released its win-loss projectsions for all 32 NFL teams (h/t Business Insider).
The top-nine teams in terms of win projectsions are coming off playoff appearances. The two defending conference champions, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, are projected to win 11-plus games with the New England Patriots coming in at 11 themselves.
The San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints are at 10.5 right now. They are considered the top contenders to dethrone Seattle as NFC champions. Outside of New England, it doesn’t appear that Vegas has any realistic expectations of any team contending with Denver in the AFC.
How many of these teams listed above will win 10-plus games? That’s the interesting thing to look at.
San Francisco and Seattle play in the most difficult division in football. Each has to also face three playoff teams from the AFC West in 2014. It’s not likely that either team will match its win total from the 2013 campaign. But at this point it does seem to be safe bet that both will earn a playoff spot and win double-digit games.
New Orleans at 10.5 wins is interesting. It is coming off a solid 2013 season, but there remain issues along the offensive line and on defense. In addition to this, both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons (two bottom feeders from a season ago) seem to have improved a great deal in the offseason. Expecting the Saints to match their 11-win total from a season ago, especially as they play a second-place schedule, seems like a less-than-safe bet.
Outside of the top-four teams in the NFC, it appears that Vegas is betting on the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons to challenge for playoff spots.
It’s no less convoluted in the AFC. According to Bovada, six teams are projected to win between eight and 9.5 games with the Indianapolis Colts topping that list. This tells us a story of a conference that seems to be much more top-heavy with Denver and New England than the vastly superior NFC is with the four teams atop Vegas’ odds.
In less-than-surprising fashion, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders are expected to win the fewest games in the NFL. While both appear to be improved from a season ago, they’re nowhere near the talent level of the top teams in their divisions.
Of the teams expected to finish below .500, I would say it’s safe to bank on the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins to surprise Vegas. Arizona is coming off a 10-win season and boasts one of the most-talented rosters from any non-playoff team from a season ago. Meanwhile, Washington is coming off a disastrous 2013 campaign. But it has the talent in place to surprise a ton of people.
Photo: SF Gate