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).
Earlier this week we analyzed three teams likely to hit the OVER on their win totals.
Now, let’s consider which teams are a good bet to go UNDER their win total prop for the 2021 NFL season.
Why You Should Bet the UNDER on the New Orleans Saints Win Total Prop
- Downgrade at quarterback from Drew Brees to Jameis Winston
- Loss of pass-rush production
- Challenging schedule
The loss of Drew Brees is an obvious reason to expect the New Orleans Saints to take a step back in 2021, but it’s certainly not the only reason they’re a good bet to hit the under on these win total prop bets:
- 8.5 wins on BetMGM (+125)
- 9 wins on DraftKings (-120)
- 9 wins on FanDuel (-130)
- 9.5 wins on BetMGM (-165)
Jameis Winston has been named the starting quarterback, and it was a wise decision to take him over Taysom Hill. However, unless Winston emerges as a drastically improved decision-maker since his days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he will be a significant downgrade from Brees.
While Winston should improve the Saints’ deep passing game, he will also greatly increase the negative plays produced on offense. In his final season in Tampa, Winston averaged a sack or interception once every 9.2 dropbacks, more than twice as often as Brees’s rate in 2020 (once every 21.3 dropbacks).
Winston vs Brees Sack and INT Rates
|Quarterback||Dropbacks per Sack||Dropbacks per INT||Dropbacks Per INT vs Pressure|
In addition to the downgrade at quarterback, New Orleans’s pass rush could suffer from the loss of edge-rusher Trey Hendrickson and the six-game suspension of defensive tackle David Onyemata.
According to Sports Info Solutions, that duo led the Saints in pressure rate: Hendrickson at 17.1% and Onyemata at 12.0%.
Defensive ends Marcus Davenport and Cameron Jordan both return, but the depth will be lacking, especially when Onyemata is out.
New Orleans also draws a tough schedule, especially in its non-division home games. While the Saints usually maintain a strong home-field advantage at the Superdome, only one of those five non-division home games (Giants) looks like an easy victory.
New Orleans Saints Non-Division Schedule
|Non-Division Home Games||Non-Division Road Games|
|Week 1 - Packers||Week 3 - Patriots|
|Week 2 - Giants||Week 5 - Washington|
|Week 12 - Bills||Week 7 - Seahawks|
|Week 13 - Cowboys||Week 10 - Titans|
|Week 16 - Dolphins||Week 11 - Eagles|
|Week 14 - Jets|
With a number of factors stacked against the Saints this year, betting the under on their win total prop looks like a smart move in their first post-Brees campaign.
Why You Should Bet the UNDER on the Cincinnati Bengals Win Total Prop
- Joe Burrow recovering from injury
- Poor offensive line play
- Possible in-season coaching change
There’s still plenty of reason to be excited about Joe Burrow’s career, but if he doesn’t make substantial strides this season, it’s difficult to envision him carrying the Cincinnati Bengals to hit the over on these win total props:
- 6.5 wins on BetMGM (-110)
- 6.5 wins on DraftKings (-115)
- 6.5 wins on FanDuel (-120)
Recent reports out of training camp indicate Burrow has shown improvement since his early struggles, but it’s still unlikely he’s back to 100% health following his season-ending knee injury.
If he’s limited early in the year, Cincinnati may struggle during what should otherwise be the easy part of their season. Through these first six games, the Bengals likely need to pull off three victories to have a shot at the over:
Week 1 – Vikings
Week 2 – at Bears
Week 3 – at Steelers
Week 4 – Jaguars (Thurs)
Week 5 – Packers
Week 6 – at Lions
With a healthy Burrow, a 3-3 start sounds plausible, but we probably can’t rely on him being at the top of his game during this key stretch.
Unfortunately for Burrow, he’ll once again have to deal with a weak offensive line. In 2020, Burrow was sacked 7.3% of the time when the defense brought four or fewer pass-rushers, third-worst in the league according to Sports Info Solutions.
Riley Reiff might provide some veteran help at right tackle, but he likely isn’t the substantial upgrade this unit needed.
With just six wins through his first two seasons, Zac Taylor is on the hot seat. Cincinnati has every reason to believe Burrow can be the long-term answer at quarterback, but Taylor needs to quickly prove he’s the guy who can help Burrow get there.
If things go South early, there could be some turmoil in Cincinnati leading to a coaching change. And that may make an already difficult end-of-season schedule more challenging if some players start to mentally check out early.
Why You Should Bet the UNDER on the Houston Texans Win Total Prop
- Tyrod Taylor is the wrong QB for a bad team
- Inexperienced head coach David Culley
- Difficult end-of-season schedule
The Houston Texans have the lowest win total prop available and yet it still looks too high, possibly because sportsbooks are concerned setting it any lower would be risky in the event Deshaun Watson unexpectedly returns at some point this season.
- 4 wins on FanDuel (+100)
- 4 wins on DraftKings (-110)
- 4.5 wins on BetMGM (-150)
Houston will be starting the year with veteran Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. And while Taylor has some serviceable game-manager skills, that isn’t useful on a team expected to be playing from behind on a regular basis.
During Taylor’s last full season as a starter in 2017 with the Buffalo Bills, he averaged a dismal 4.8 net yards per attempt when trailing in the second half.
Taylor’s struggles are partially due to an unwillingness and/or inability to throw downfield. In 2017, only 32.4% of his throws traveled 10 yards downfield (of which he completed just 42.6%).
A savvy coaching staff might be able to put together game plans to squeeze a few extra wins out of this roster, but we have no reason to believe 65-year-old David Culley is that guy.
Lastly, if Watson did unexpectedly return to the field for Houston, even he would struggle to string together victories late in the season. Following the Texans’ Week 10 bye, only the New York Jets (Week 12) and Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 15) look like beatable opponents down the stretch.