Every summer, the past three seasons, Xavier Cromartie and R.C. Fischer name and discuss their top 3 summer NFL over/under season win total best bets. And for the purposes of tracking they have a fictitious $1,000 budget to spend.
Below is their informal email chat discussion on their bets and comments on each other’s bets. Prior to the transcript of the discussion you will see the over/under options and odds they had to choose from and after that display you will see their records the past three years.
Mid-June 2019 NFL over/under win total odds:
Over 5 Wins -110
Under 5 Wins -110
Over 9 Wins +110
Under 9 Wins -130
Over 8 Wins -130
Under 8 Wins +110
Over 7 Wins -125
Under 7 Wins +105
Over 7½ Wins -115
Under 7½ Wins -105
Over 9½ Wins +105
Under 9½ Wins -125
Over 6 Wins -125
Under 6 Wins +105
Over 9 Wins -130
Under 9 Wins +110
Over 8½ Wins -160
Under 8½ Wins +140
Over 7 Wins -110
Under 7 Wins -110
Over 7 Wins +120
Under 7 Wins -140
Green Bay Packers
Over 9½ Wins +110
Under 9½ Wins -130
Over 8½ Wins +120
Under 8½ Wins -140
Over 9½ Wins -150
Under 9½ Wins +130
Over 8 Wins +100
Under 8 Wins -120
Kansas City Chiefs
Over 10 Wins +100
Under 10 Wins -120
Los Angeles Chargers
Over 9½ Wins -150
Under 9½ Wins +130
Los Angeles Rams
Over 10½ Wins +110
Under 10½ Wins -130
Over 5 Wins +120
Under 5 Wins -140
Over 9 Wins -120
Under 9 Wins +100
New England Patriots
Over 11 Wins -130
Under 11 Wins +110
New Orleans Saints
Over 10½ Wins +110
Under 10½ Wins -130
New York Giants
Over 6 Wins +115
Under 6 Wins -135
New York Jets
Over 7 Wins -145
Under 7 Wins +125
Over 9½ Wins -175
Under 9½ Wins +155
Over 6½ Wins +120
Under 6½ Wins -140
San Francisco 49ers
Over 8 Wins -120
Under 8 Wins +100
Over 8½ Wins -120
Under 8½ Wins +100
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over 6½ Wins +115
Under 6½ Wins -135
Over 8½ Wins +120
Under 8½ Wins -140
Over 6 Wins -120
Under 6 Wins +100
Here are their results from previous years:
(2-1) Xavier Cromartie [Bet / Payout]
1 MIN Over 9.5 (+100) L [$380 / $0]
2 KC Over 9.5 (-135) W [$320 / $557]
3 NYJ Under 8 (-115) W [$300 / $561]
Total $1,118 (+$118)
(2-1) RC Fischer [Bet / Payout]
1 NYJ Under 8 (-115) W [$755 / $1,411]
2 NE Over 10.5 (-115) W [$115 / $215]
3 MIA Under 8 (-130) L [$130 / $0]
Total $1,626 (+$626)
(1-1-1) Xavier Cromartie [Bet / Payout]
1 SEA Over 10.5 (-145) L [$350 / $0]
2 NYJ Under 5 (-140) P [$340 / $340]
3 OAK Under 9.5 (+105) W [$310 / $636]
Previous winnings $118
Total $1,094 (-$24)
(3-1-1) RC Fischer [Bet / Payout]
1 PHI Under 8 (-105) L [$500 / $0]
2 CIN Under 8.5 (-135) W [$135 / $235]
3 CHI Over 5 (-110) P [$165 / $165]
4 LAR Over 5.5 (-115) W [$100 / $187]
5 JAX Over 6 (-150) W [$100 / $167]
Previous winnings $626
Total $1,380 (-$246)
(3-0) Xavier Cromartie [Bet / Payout]
1 SEA Over 8 (+130) W [$350 / $805]
2 LAC Over 9.5 (-115) W [$325 / $608]
3 NO Over 9.5 (-125) W [$325 / $585]
Previous winnings $94
Total $2,092 (+$998)
(2-1) RC Fischer [Bet / Payout]
1 CHI Over 6.5 (-165) W [$495 / $795]
2 CIN Over 6.5 (-150) L [$300 / $0]
3 NO Over 9.5 (-125) W [$205 / $369]
Previous winnings $380
Total $1,544 (+$164)
Xavier: 6-2-1 record, +$1092 net, +36%
RC: 7-3-1 record, +544 net, +18%
When they agree: 1-0 (Saints 2018)
2019 Early Summer Best Bets and Discussion…
RC: My top over/under is Jacksonville 'over' 8.0 wins (+100). Even though I see 7.5 all over now, which I am playing hard in reality -- but the house we used for lines has 8.0, and I'll still take it.
My favorite O/U bets in the summer are on 'overs' (not unders) where, obviously, my data is showing a drastic difference in the projected win totals. I see 10-11 wins for the Jags with a downside of 8-9. I like the 'overs' like this IN COMBINATION with a team that has a backup QB that I trust to not be a disaster if I lose my starting QB. Last year, I was rolling with my Cincy 'over' and then Dalton got hurt mid-season and that cost me that extra win I needed by the end, as they bombed the second-half.
I will sound like a loon for saying this, to the mainstream, but obviously I trust Nick Foles as the tip of the spear here...but I also think Gardner Minshew is a very capable QB as a backup. He could integrate instantly and be capable/not-hurting of the offense. Kinda like a Dak shocker if pushed in to the NFL. The new breed of QBs, if they are talented, are utterly unfazed by the NFL transition -- and think Minshew is a generic brand Baker Mayfield.
I get a Jacksonville team with a 2017 top O-Line back to health from the 2018 MASH unit. I get Fournette back. I get the top defense in the NFL the past two years combined. I get the team more like the 2017 one that almost went to the Super Bowl with Blake Bortles, which means it's a helluva team and decent enough coach if they can pull that off. The one problem they've had, Bortles, is upgraded to a 'winner', a real leader. I almost think this is free money.
I am putting $600 of my $1K on the Jags.
I suspect you will not have Jacksonville among your top 3, but gun to your head do you go over/under 8.0?
XC: I favor the Jags to go Over 8 more than Under 8, but I'm not enthusiastic about it. I projected them 8-8. I'll start with a summary of the main points I made in the AFC South discussion. The defense is still good, but it's dangerous to expect the ultra-elite level of 2017. They were a top defense last year and it didn't help them win. Bortles and the offense were abnormally good in 2017. This "almost Super Bowl" team went only 10-6 with a lot of good fortune.
I like Nick Foles as a good person. If I look at his career numbers and I generously omit his bad year with the Rams, then the current starting QB who he is most similar to statistically is Matt Ryan. But those numbers are based on the equivalent of only two full seasons starting. About one-third of it comes the 2013 Chip Kelly magic season. He won't have the Eagles' supporting cast. The Eagles had both a great o-line to protect him and great receiving options. The Jags' offense is a downgrade everywhere. I don't expect Josh Oliver to make much of a rookie contribution at TE because San Jose State didn't prepare him properly for the pros. I think that Foles will be more Derek Carr-like in this offense.
Foles has also never started more than 11 games through seven seasons, and so we do have to look at Gardner Minshew. Compared to the other QBs from this draft class (except Kyler Murray), Minshew holds up a little better against pressure. His accuracy was good in the Washington State offense, which is a lot of short throws. Very smart guy with a 42 Wonderlic. But you won't find a single pro scout that likes him. He's below Ryan Finley and Jarrett Stidham. No one believes that he can make the real throws. It doesn't matter because if he has to come in, like Cody Kessler last season, they'll try to call 30+ rushing plays.
XC: My first over/under bet is Arizona Cardinals Over 5 (-110). Typically, I've spread my three bets out pretty evenly. But this one looks almost unbelievable. I also don't like any of the other lines a lot, and I could lose my whole $1,000 limit and still be above my initial $1,000. And so I'm going to bet $681 (to pay out $1300) on the Cardinals. You can't get a better deal; expected wins rarely go below 5 or above 11 for any team. The Cardinals' awful team last season was priced at Over 5.5 (-160). Do people think that the current Cardinals team looks worse than it did at this time last offseason? I doubt it. The numbers are heavily based on how each team performed last season. Last season, the Colts were set at only 6.5 wins despite getting Andrew Luck back, but the (-160) odds made it not worth betting. The Cardinals are totally different this year compared to last year.
To lose money on this bet, the Cardinals have to go 4-12. Before 2018, the last time the Cardinals didn't win at least five games was 2003, when they were dead last in both offense and defense. They were consistently in the playoff race most seasons with both Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians as head coach. It's clear that Wilks & Rosen derailed an otherwise solid organization.
Teams with really bad records typically have offenses that rank at the bottom of the league. In recent years, they've been the kinds of teams that start guys like Tom Savage, DeShone Kizer, or Josh Rosen. That's why QBs so commonly are the top draft picks. But the Cardinals don't need a QB anymore. All of Kyler Murray's comparisons are to Baker Mayfield and Russell Wilson. Every metric other than height says that he'll be phenomenal, and he's in the ideal offense for him. Murray led Oklahoma to a 12-2 record last season. No one stopped their offense, not even Alabama. The three WRs that the Cardinals drafted were all in the top-8 in receiving yards in college football last season, with Andy Isabella #1. There is no way that this offense is going to be 32nd again. QB and WRs win games, and the Cardinals have completely, radically changed what they have there. I don't see how they can fail so badly that they win only 4-5 games when they look like they can win 8-10. I don't see any rational argument for Under 5 wins.
RC: I won't argue it...Arizona is my #2 pick, and I'm going to go $450 on them and change my Jags bet to $450 as well (leaving $100 left because I don't love many of the lines this summer either -- besides my #1-2). The more we talk about the Arizona Cardinals, and I look at the roster overhaul, and the favorable early schedule -- I think we have to take this free money. Arizona may have 'pushed' the 5 wins by Week 7.
We better get our 6th win by Week 11, because their final five games are deadly.
The hidden value in Arizona's tougher 2nd-half schedule...Weeks 13-14-15 LAR, PIT, CLE are all at home, in the favorable offensive conditions. The way their schedule lays out, they may not play a frigid game at all in 2019.
XC: For Arizona, playing @LAR in week 17 is the best possible scenario. That's the only possible week that the Rams could rest starters if they've clinched their playoff seed, allowing the Cardinals to steal a meaningless game. The Steelers and Browns are good but not intimidating like the Patriots would be. The setup through week 11 is good. The only game that is almost a sure loss is @NO. And playing zero cold weather games is indeed another important factor supporting the pro-Cards argument.
XC: My second over/under bet is San Francisco 49ers Under 8 (+100), betting $202 to pay out $404. The 49ers have to win 9 games for me to lose money. The last time they won at least 9 games was 2013 with coach Jim Harbaugh. They've won 17 games total over the last four seasons. They just had the second pick in the draft. Kyle Shanahan has a 10-22 record as head coach.
But Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be the savior who fixes everything? He is still living off of the magic 5-0 streak in 2017. Let's review those games. They beat the Bears by kicking five field goals (zero touchdowns). They beat the mighty Texans' QB combo of Tom Savage and TJ Yates. They kicked six field goals to beat the Titans. They beat the Jags, who were completely confused on defense that week. And then they beat Sean Mannion, since the Rams were resting all of their starters in week 17. It was not at all an impressive streak. Then Garoppolo went 1-2, and didn't look that good, before tearing his ACL in 2018. Is he going to come back like it was nothing? Even if it has no physical effect on his play, he had to spend time focusing on his health instead of improving his game. I also speculate that Garoppolo may let his combination of exceptional handsomeness, massive contract, and California lifestyle distract him from self-identifying as "great QB."
What I also love is that the 49ers home schedule is very difficult. Home games are where teams need to rack up wins, but the 49ers don't have any easy home games. Their division is tough with LAR, SEA, and ARI. Then the other five home games are PIT, CLE, CAR, GB, and ATL. No bad teams. They're not going to go 0-8 at home, but you can see that the possibility is there. The games @NO and @BAL are for sure going to be difficult. And then the only three weak teams on the schedule—TB, CIN, and WAS—are all road games (a 6-point swing of the line). Therefore, there is not a single game on the entire 16-game schedule that I feel confident saying that the 49ers will win.
RC: I don't believe the SF under is crazy-talk, even though I have them at 10-wins and making the playoffs. My projections showed 10-wins, but just one little nudge would have taken them to 7-8. It's a tenuous prediction for me having them at 10 wins right now. The reasons why I wouldn't make this bet (as a top 3) would be three-fold: (1) If Jimmy Garoppolo were healthy last year and we know he is a decent QB...ahead of his time 5+ years ago, just 'good' compared to Mayfield-Mahomes, etc., now...if he were healthy the 49ers go 7-8+ wins (in part because Arizona died, and they had OAK-TB-NYG-DEN on the schedule too). Their history is a bit skewed...in a sense that Mayfield erases the last decade of Browns' woes in the snap of a finger. Jimmy G. can be a .500 QB, he's not proven elite but he's definitely not a bum...we'll see if he's a B+ or C+ this year. (2) My fear that Kyle Shanahan is one of the better coaches in the league with a getting-better, young staff. Shanny might be worth a win where a loss should've happened on top of everything else. (3) This O-Line is getting good, and the D-Line could be real good...and if they have a good interior line play on both sides with a reasonably good QB and decent weapons -- it could come together for 9+ wins.
I don't think your call is crazy here, but I see too many things that spook me from playing it (over or under). If they win at TB, at CIN to start the season...I'd be thinking they're heading to a .500+ season. If they lose both roadies off the bat, you're cashing in on the under for sure.
My #3 is an 'under', my only ‘under’ this year -- the Jets 'under' 7 wins for a meager/my final $100.
Since we've been doing these the past three years, my summer plays have been 7-3-1 and two of the 3 losses are ‘unders’ I thought were in the bag -- like the Jets, so I'll just go with a smaller amount here.
You know how I feel -- I hate Sam Darnold as an NFL QB. I think he's more Matt Barkley than the next good/great NFL QB. I think he might be all-around worse than Jameis Winston, because at least Winston lets it rip and isn't fazed by his own stupidity/turnovers. Darnold is weak-armed and tentative throwing into traffic. They have to keep him to bubble screens and one-on-one deep balls, and roll-out misdirection easy passes. Ask him to stand in the pocket and find life on medium or deep passes between the hashes...he's dead.
53% passer on 3rd-down last season.
On any down with 6 or less yards to go...7 TDs/2 INTs.
More known passing situations, any down with 7+ yards to go...10 TDs/13 INTs and 55%+ Comp. Pct.
When ahead: 7 TDs/2 INTs.
When trailing: 8 TDs/10 INTs.
Trailing a game with 4 or fewer minutes to go...0 TDs/7 INTs.
Darnold is not the QB of a .500+ team. Plus, I think Adam Gase is a fraud and the fact that he keeps toting Dowell Loggains around as O-C is proof. The battles with Gregg Williams are waiting around the corner. A mediocre roster with a bad QB and an overrated head coach churning the roster with terrible coordinators -- not a season to get 7+ wins. Especially when I think Buffalo will be two losses for them, not a split.
XC: I project the Jets to exactly 7 wins. I get the appeal of the (+125) on the Under 7. I'll summarize my Jets comments from the AFC East discussion. An 8-8 team is average, and so 7-9 is below average. That's how I'd describe the Jets—below average. Sam Darnold doesn't need to be that good to win only seven games. Teams are not just QB & coach. They may have overpaid for some of their players, but it is a fact that they have some decent guys on offense and especially defense. I also see a fairly easy schedule. I definitely would not bet the Over 7 at a ridiculous (-145), but I don't like the under either.
XC: My third over/under bet is Atlanta Falcons Under 9 (-130), betting $117 to pay out $207. They have to go 10-6 for me to lose money. It's difficult for anyone to win 10 games. The Falcons have done it only twice in the last six seasons. Once was the 11-5 Super Bowl season, a vast statistical outlier compared to Matt Ryan's career before and after. The other season was 2017 (10-6) when they weren't that good but everyone in the NFC South had a super easy schedule. Last season, Ryan had his second-best season statistically but they were only 7-9.
On talent, I think that they're in the 8 or 9 win area this season. But their draft made me think that they're deluded about their roster. They evidently feel that their roster is so solid that all they needed to do was reach to fill holes at G and RT. They think that just having uninjured Deion Jones and Keanu Neal solves their defensive problems. The offense relies on Julio Jones, who turned 30 and could rapidly decline at any time.
I think that their schedule tilts this one toward a solid advantage. Aside from their own division (NO and CAR), the Falcons have to play the NFC West and AFC South. They also got @MIN and PHI as 2nd-place draws to start the season. To get to 10-6, they'd most likely have to go 6-2 at home and 4-4 on the road. But they don't have easy home games. PHI, TEN, LAR, SEA, TB, NO, CAR, JAX. They can take down TB and have a good shot against TEN and CAR. The rest are questionable. That's a bad sign. Because every road game is a potential loss. Even the best teams might win only 4-5 on the road. If they get only 3 then it's hard to get 10 wins total. The road schedule is @MIN, @IND, @HOU, @ARI, @NO, @CAR, @SF, @TB. It looks difficult until the last two (or last one if you believe in SF). Overall I see a team with expectations set too high.
RC: I hadn't really focused on ATL's under to date, but it makes a lot of sense...because much of your argument is my argument why Carolina is a great under bet -- the schedule rotation to the NFC West and AFC South is BAD timing because I think they're the two best divisions top-to-bottom. Carolina's number dropped from 8.0 to 7.5, so I'm a tad less excited and when I go against Cam, he burns me...when I endorse him, he burns me. For the same reasons I liked the Carolina under, your Falcons under makes a lot of sense...and probably more sense with such a high number.
My one fear on ATL getting to 9-10 wins is if the bottom is falling out of Carolina and Tampa ends up a Jameis-cluster, and ATL plays the Saints tough...the Falcons might go 4-2 in division and need to go .500 from there to get to the 9 wins, but with their schedule I'm not sure they could do that.
Back to my Jets ‘under’...I like to look at the QB-Head Coach combo, to start, on an 'under' to get a feel for whether either could shock me with a great performance to ruin my bet. With Carolina and Atlanta...Cam and Ryan have proven they could get hot. The coaches of either team aren't that bad. I look at the Jets and see Darnold, who I think is terrible and Gase, who I think is a loon...AND an obvious dysfunctional organization on top of everything else -- I think they are set up for failure more than ATL and CAR, in general. Additionally, CAR and ATL better win this year of some coaches are in trouble. Adam Gase has every reason to tank at the first sign of trouble, because he'll have grace for 1st-year and he can get a higher draft pick order and rebuild for 2020. I think Gase is already one foot in 2020, and ready to let 2019 fall on its face. He can't compete for a playoff spot with this roster in the AFC East in 2019...so, why not tank and make yourself set up for the future?
XC: Darnold and Gase may be a bad combo. But I think that it's wildly optimistic to expect Adam Gase to intentionally lose games. Typically 'tanking' in the NFL would take the form of benching veteran players to see what young players can do. Like when the Panthers were out of the playoff race and decided to take out injured Cam Newton for the final two games. If Gase intentionally loses any game, he won't be around for 2020. What would they tank for? They already have a 22-year-old QB. They're going to tank to get maybe the seventh pick in the draft? Who are they plotting to draft there? And what players are they going to bench to accomplish this feat? Most of their starters are in their mid-20s. If they took out their OLs or CBs they might accidentally improve. If they leave their starters in, are they just going to go out there and not try to win? Gase is going to tell the players not to prepare or give any effort? An NFL head coach doesn't get to decide unilaterally that it's best for the team to intentionally lose. Regardless of whether he is a good coach or not, it seems like unwarranted disrespect toward Gase's character to suggest that he would throw games.
RC: You don't have to sabotage the team by via the obvious. You do things like cut or bench a low-level veteran or two, promote low-level younger players into the lineup faster and let them learn 'on the job' or 'see what they got'...and you're fine with the mistakes they might make because you're really not worried about winning the Super Bowl. You trade players before the deadline to get your salary cap in position for the following year. They could play the second half without some talented players -- like they dump Trumaine Johnson, they trade Robby Anderson on the final year of his deal because they have no intention of signing him, etc. Imagine the Le'Veon Bell trade rumors if NYJ starts out 1-7/2-6 (like I think they might with that schedule). Imagine the Jets without Anderson, Bell in the 2nd-half of the season (imagining them with them is horrifying enough).
New coach who gets a 'pass'. New GM who will gut the roster because he's getting a 'pass' for a clean-up job as well. The Jets should/will take 2019 like an accounting write off and shape for 2020...if they do, they will for sure not win 7 games this year.
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