With the NFL season just a week away, it’s time to lock in your prop bets. Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a look at quarterbacks (overs and unders), running backs (overs and unders), and wide receivers (overs and unders).
With individual players complete, we now turn our attention to team win totals.
First, let’s consider which teams are a good bet to go OVER their win total prop for the 2021 NFL season.
Why You Should Bet the OVER on the San Francisco 49ers Win Total Prop
- 49ers have one of the easiest schedules, especially on the road
- Expected to face significantly worse pass defenses
Betting on a team without knowing their quarterback situation can be risky, but we should feel confident in either Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance leading the 49ers to hit the over on these numbers:
- 10.5 wins on FanDuel (+100)
- 10.5 wins on BetMGM (-105)
- 10.5 wins on DraftKings (-115)
Given the competition in the NFC West, it’s understandable to be drawn towards the under for those teams, but San Francisco makes up for it with arguably the easiest non-division schedule in the league.
The 49ers non-division road schedule is especially favorable:
Week 1 – at Lions
Week 2 – at Eagles
Week 8 – at Bears
Week 11 – at Jaguars
Week 14 – at Bengals
Week 16 – at Titans
If the 49ers can go 5-1 in that selection of games, to hit the over they need to finish just 6-5 in non-division home games (GB, IND, MIN, ATL, HOU) and against the division.
An easier schedule should also improve production for the 49ers passing game. In 2020, San Francisco faced the fifth-most difficult schedule based on pass efficiency defense. This year, they’re expected to face the seventh-easiest slate.
With a productive defense mostly returning intact and expectations of a much-improved offense, San Francisco is a good bet to hit the over on its win total prop.
Why You Should Bet the OVER on the Denver Broncos Win Total Prop
- Expected to have a better team identity based on run game and defense
- Improved injury luck
- Improved turnover luck
Coming off a 5-11 season, the Denver Broncos have an opportunity to be among the most improved teams in the league, and will hit the over on their win total prop if they finish with a winning record.
- Over 8.5 wins on FanDuel (-110)
- Over 8.5 wins on BetMGM (-115)
- Over 8.5 wins on DraftKings (-120)
The offseason transactions of new GM George Paton appear to have a specific vision for this roster. By overhauling the secondary, drafting running back Javonte Williams, and adding veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Denver’s roster appears built for ball control and defense.
According to Sports Info Solutions, Denver generated positive EPA on just 33.9% of its first down rush attempts, the third-worst rate in the league in 2020. Williams, who generated positive EPA on 51.3% of his first down carries at North Carolina, should help in that area.
With Williams leading the way, this offense appears better suited to keep moving the chains, which pairs well with what should be one of the league’s most improved defenses.
One of the reasons the defense is expected to take a step forward is the return of Von Miller, who missed the entire 2020 season. Injuries hit Denver hard, with Miller and Courtland Sutton being the two biggest losses.
Accounting for both turnovers gained and lost, no team in the NFL lost more EPA on turnovers than Denver. Turnovers aren’t entirely luck 一 Drew Lock’s unwillingness to protect the ball was certainly a factor 一 but there isn’t much consistency in turnover numbers from year to year.
Especially with a better ball-protector taking over at quarterback, it’s reasonable to assume Denver won’t land at the very bottom of this category in 2021, likely improving its ability to win close games.
Why You Should Bet the OVER on the Carolina Panthers Win Total Prop
- Matt Rhule’s track record of Year 2 success
- Defensive personnel allows for more flexibility
- Favorable early schedule
Matt Rhule’s first year with the Carolina Panthers wasn’t a complete disaster, but clearly, there were issues on both sides of the ball. With the coaching staff now having its first uninterrupted offseason to work with the team, a three-win improvement seems realistic and would allow Carolina to hit the over on their win total prop bets:
- Over 7.5 wins on FanDuel (+100)
- Over 7.5 wins on BetMGM (-110)
- Over 7.5 wins on DraftKings (-115)
College success often doesn’t translate to the pros, but Matt Rhule went through two rebuilding processes at Temple and Baylor and saw improvements of four and six wins in his second year on the job.
His rebuilding success was part of the reason Carolina found him attractive, and nothing we’ve seen so far would indicate he’s unfit for the job at the pro level.
Part of Rhule’s success in rebuilding has been a knack for finding the right players for his scheme. First-round draft selection, cornerback Jaycee Horn, could be one of those key additions who helps turn things around.
According to Sports Info Solutions, no team played zone coverage at a higher rate than Carolina in 2020. And while their zone was relatively productive, there’s value in being versatile.
Enter Horn, who excels as a physical outside corner and will likely be used in that role at a much higher rate than Carolina’s corners last season. In 2020 at South Carolina, Horn held opponents to -0.349 EPA per target in man coverage.
Of course, we can’t discuss Carolina without mentioning the Sam Darnold reclamation projection.
It’s tough to have too much faith in Darnold just yet, but Carolina’s early season schedule bodes well for him getting off to a solid start:
Week 1 – Jets
Week 2 – Saints
Week 3 – at Texans
Week 4 – at Cowboys
Week 5 – Eagles
After the mess Darnold endured in New York, rebuilding his confidence is likely part of the challenge Carolina’s coaching staff faces. A strong start against some of the weakest defenses in the league could allow him to elevate his play later in the season as the schedule gets more difficult.