Obviously, in wagering, there's no such thing as a completely safe bet. Everything comes with risk, it's just that some risks come in different packages. Some of us enjoy the night to night, week to week thrill of betting on individual NFL games. LOTS and LOTS of individual NFL games. It's fun, it's exhilarating, and at times infuriating.
However, that stress is not for everybody. Some of you want the thrill (and financial windfall) of victory without having to go through the weekly exercise of placing individual game bets. You're the same people who prefer a good mutual fund over day trading, and that's OK! In fact, some would say it's advisable. For you, the conservative bettor, we have the season win total bets, in which you plunk down your money on whether a team goes over or under a posted season win total, and let the chips fall over the next four months.
To that end, if you're the latter type of bettor, here are five season win totals that I am placing my own money on this season. (Let the record reflect that, of the individual game bettor and the season win total bettor, I am both of them.)
Bills UNDER 6 -150
I actually got in on the UNDER for the Bills back when it was 6.5, and it's only gone down over this preseason. This is a Bills team that went 9-7 last season with Tyrod Taylor as their starter for most of the year. The one game Taylor didn't start, Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in a half. Peterman is now their starter, and he's backed up by rookie Josh Allen, who is to pinpoint accuracy what a porn star is to celibacy. The Bills had a +10 turnover differential which led to them winning nine games, despite a -57 pint differential. I say all of this to say that the Bills could end up being the worst team in football this season, Cleveland included.
Raiders UNDER 8 -150
This is another one that I bet a month or so ago, right after I heard that Jon Gruden hadn't even made contact with Khalil Mack. I had no idea that Gruden would end up trading Mack for assets that will not help the Raiders until 2019 at the earliest. The Raiders have the oldest roster in the league, as well, and not in a good, "cagey veteran winner" kind of way. More like a "broken down, overpriced castoff galore" kind of way. The Gruden Era is going to be a spectacular flameout, so you may as well climb on board and profit from it.
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Texans OVER 8.5 -140
There are just way too many areas of this team that are highly improved over last season to be scared off from this OVER play. Helaht is obviously the big variable, as it is with any OVER bet, but let's presume decent health for a minute. The front seven should be the most fearsome in the league, and that should help a secondary, which got a major upgrade at safety with the signing of Tyrann Mathieu. Then there's the prospect of a full season of Deshaun Watson, who averaged well over 30 points of offense per start in 2017. Finally, the schedule is super friendly, as we outlined yesterday — the prime time games are all at home, and the quarterback slate is very beatable.
Cardinals OVER 6 -135
The same argument that I applied to taking the UNDER on the Bills, negative point differential for an above .500 team in 2017, should also apply to the Cardinals, who were -66 and managed to grab an 8-8 record. However, this Cardinals team should be significantly upgraded in a couple of key spots. First, Sam Bradford, if healthy, should be better than anything the Cardinals put out there at QB in 2017. And importantly, the leading rusher for the Cards in 2017 was Adrian Peterson with 448 yards. Now, they'll have one of the best three down backs in the league, David Johnson, returned fully healthy.
Titans UNDER 8 +110
The Titans were 9-7 in 2017 with a -22 point differential, so we start there. Mike Vrabel is in his first year as a head coach at any level, and there's a decent chance he may not even be coordinator material, as his only defense he's ever coordinated was last in points allowed, and looked confused all season long in Houston last season. Both the Texans and Colts, with healthy quarterbacks, should be much improved and represent a quarter of the Titans' schedule. Finally, there's a good chance Marcus Mariota gets injured at some point, at least for a week or tow, and if that happens, Blaine Gabbert is the backup. As a point of reference, the Texans went 1-9 in games Deshaun Watson did not start in 2017 — the one win? Arizona, with Gabbert.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.