2020 Over/Under Win Total Bets/Analyst’s Chat: RC, Xavier, Chris (#3 picks)
INTRO: RC, Bet The Close Podcast's Chris Bilello, and Mock Draft Guru Xavier Cromartie picked their top 3 over/under win total bets and used a fictitious $1,000 stack to bet them with. Of the nine (3x3) bets proposed, only one team/bet did any two people agree on...and you'll see that on the second installment of this series.
They looked at each other's proposed plays only after everyone made their picks and are going to discuss their #1 best in a chat, then #2 and #3 for three installments to the series.
Here are each of their #3 picks/plays using BetOnline for the lines as of early July...followed by a chat/discussion/critiquing/debating what they think of each other's picks.
CHRIS: IND over 9 (-135).
($310 to win $230)
IND over 9 (-135)...seems like years ago...but it was only before last season Andrew Luck surprised the Colts with retirement, seems much more recent but then A. Vinatieri kicked like someone who the Colts wished surprise retired. The defense is in year 3...showed promise year 1, took a step back year 2, and like most trilogies I expect to be somewhere in the middle. Adding D.Buckner is huge on the DL...they hit the right spots addressing needs IMO. I’m not clicking my heels for P.Rivers but his receiving weapons are nice, rushing weapons are nice and the OL is at worst top 3 in the league. Man they are good. Coaching is top notch and the schedule is cake. They play exactly one team with a projected win total over 9...(BAL)...three toughest games are at home (BAL, GB, MIN). If really betting this...there are 8.5’s out there. At this number I may be playing for a push, but it would take this team finishing .500 with the easiest schedule in the league is a chance I’m willing to take. Bonus...they don’t have to play the Cardinals.
XAVIER: My third choice is $333 on the Tennessee Titans, Over 8.5, -135 ($580 payout).
The first issue here is that some people might not think that Mike Vrabel is a top coach. But the Titans beat the Chiefs in the regular season, and then won at the Patriots and at the Ravens in the playoffs. Vrabel rose quickly through the coaching ranks, entirely through Belichick affiliations. He made the move to Tannehill, and the Titans unlocked their potential. The team is run-dominant, with a 26-225-2 stat line in the win against the Chiefs, 40-201-1 against the Patriots, and 37-217-1 against the Ravens. They are, like my other two picks, a top run defense as well.
RC: Houston Texans ‘Over’ 7.5 wins (-110)
Bet $330 to win $300
Bill O’Brien has won 9-9-9-4-11-10 games as head coach of the Texans the past six seasons…8.7 wins per season. The outlier season (4 wins) was when DeShaun Watson got hurt his rookie season and Tom Savage and T.J. Yates started 10 games. Before you even get into how good or bad the Texans’ roster is…this team has proven, under Bill O’Brien, that it’s going to win 8-9+ games in any given season barring a catastrophe at QB.
Deshaun Watson is 24-13 (64.9%) as an NFL starter…21-10 (67.8%) the past two seasons as a full starter. I think Watson now falls into that category of…if we have Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, we got a chance to win our division/make a title run, QB category.
The Texans win total line has dropped because the team is getting punished on two fronts…
1) The division got better with Indy securing Philip Rivers…and the Colts are better dangerous for sure, but I don’t know that it is a major slam dunk that fading Rivers shows up to a new place and they go right to the top of the division.
2) The biggest punishment…they dared trade DeAndre Hopkins. If the Texans had the same exact roster they have this very minute PLUS still had Hopkins on the team, they would be a 9-9.5 win total team…if not 10.0 for Vegas and people might be chirping about the Texans for the Super Bowl with Hopkins, AND Brandin Cooks and David Johnson.
Then, imagine if this current Texans team PLUS Hopkins then lost Hopkins to an ACL tear this very day…so basically their roster as it is at this moment (without Hopkins) – what would the win total line drop to? 9.0 +/-? Maybe 8.5 worst case. But because the Texans TRADED Hopkins -- that made everyone sour on the Texans/Bill O’Brien as ‘dumb’/they are being punished by the media and thus the generic mind-numbed fans go along with the narrative and everyone is turning on the Texans.
If this is a 10-win team from the 2019 season, but they lost Hopkins and added David Johnson, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb…how did it get 3+ perceived losses worse in that transaction? It’s not logical, it’s emotional…a media punishment for trading their beloved DeAndre Hopkins. We’ve seen this before…team trades star/diva WR, the media gets hysterical, the sheep/fans/Vegas follows and thus the Browns/2019 (OBJ) and Raiders/2019 (AB) are bid up in preseason betting and the Steelers/2018 (AB loss) and Giants (OBJ loss) are punished in win total lines set. When Brown turned on the Raiders, and they dumped him…then the Raiders line dropped (and then they shocked everyone with a nice season anyway).
Now, this is not a slam dunk bet on Houston because the opening schedule is devastating. At KC, BAL, at PIT right out of the gates. However, we remember Houston blowing a huge lead in the playoffs and losing to KC, but we forget in the regular season the Texans got down 17-3 to KC and they outscored KC 28-7 to dominate them in a 31-24 road win. In 8 quarters of play last season against KC, Houston outplayed and outscored the Chiefs half the time. They were not dominated by KC…more they dominated them just as much.
If Houston can get one win in those first, tough three weeks and they just split in the AFC South conference play…that’s 4 wins in 9 games. They’d need 4 more wins their other 7 games…and they have CIN, @CHI, @DET, @CLE, GB, MIN, NE to get the job done. Very do-able, if you believe the Texans are just as good in 2020 as they were in 2019 or 2018. If Houston goes 4-2 in the AFC South and wins one of their first three games…then the 8 wins needed to get the betting victory are almost in the bag.
I’m getting a 10+ win team the past two seasons, that’s a pretty similarly talented team again in 2020…with a tougher schedule. My biggest risk in this equation is if Deshaun Watson gets hurt or misses key games, I have to rely on A.J. McCarron (at this point) or whatever QB they might trade for to save me.
The established, higher-end, playoff experienced, elite QBs in the NFL all have team over/under betting win totals at 8+ right now, usually 9+. Only Deshaun Watson is under 8.0 wins. I just like the value here even though I don’t want to bet overs on win totals – I’m getting a deal because people are butt-hurt about DeAndre Hopkins, so I’ll take it.
RC: Well, well, well...I didn't even pickup on this the first time I saw all our picks -- all of our #3 picks are from the AFC South, and they are 'overs'. If we're all correct...three AFC South teams are making the playoffs, and I think that's very possible. It would not shock me at all if these three teams tied at 9 or 10 wins and needed tiebreakers to determine the division winner.
However, the bigger question here is -- are they 'good' bets? I will defend mine as being the best of these bets in that I am riding with the team that has been the best of the AFC South for a few years, has the lowest win total 'over' to get to, has the best QB, and is at the best money line (-110). I'd say, if you like your Indy and Tenny bets...you're going to love the Texans bet! No? I think you guys got a good shot to win your overs here, but you are paying quite a price to take a look. I feel like I'm getting 'a deal'.
XC: I almost picked the Colts over. They're a well-run organization. They should have good depth to deal with the 3-week IR rotation. The only thing that stopped me was the switch to Philip Rivers at QB. I might as well include the Bucs as well, because they're in a similar situation. Everything looks good on paper. But so much depends on the QB, typically. If there's any doubt about the QB, it's a big risk. I don't know how well these veteran QBs will handle being in a new situation. It's difficult enough to make the switch after spending a whole career with one team. But then it's extra challenging when you can't even really work with your teammates. I want to see well-established QB-WR chemistry. Tom Brady has individually great receiving weapons, but they have to get on the same page with timing, adjustments, etc. When money is involved, I want to minimize uncertainty.
When the Raiders traded Khalil Mack, I thought that it was a secret genius move because they got a bunch of good draft picks and freed up cap space. But trading DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson and a 2 was just a dumb move. Hopkins is one of the most valuable non-QBs. He was traded for non-football reasons. There is not always a brilliant contrarian take.
I don't have any emotions toward the Texans. My numbers say that they should win about 7 games. They haven't been as good as their win-loss records would indicate. The QB is fine. The rest of the team doesn't impress me too much. When I went through all the teams' schedules, the only one that stood out to me was the Texans' schedule. You already know it's going to be an uphill battle all season. It seems to me like you're going to go through a lot of stress just to potentially have bragging rights that you believed in the Texans when everyone else left them for dead.
RC: I am the same worry on the new veteran QBs...Rivers and Brady -- will it be too sloppy early and are they shot? But then I think back to higher-end QBs changing teams late in their careers, and Peyton Manning popped right away with Denver and Brett Favre was good with the Jets and then great with Minnesota. Joe Montana was 17-8 with the Chiefs his two years. The QB change theory seems logical (new person, new place, new system leads to confusion) but the great ones have seemed to 'find a way'. The Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor type veteran changes...not so much, but they suck so it's apples and oranges. We're entering a new era of too many good QBs, so now we're seeing change like we've never seen before -- I don't think we know if 'change' is a negative for elite QBs/teams in this era, not enough sample size.
All your Texans' theories are valid, I just believe the move off Hopkins was just in time or close...like when the Giants traded OBJ or the Steelers with AB. You'd rather be a touch early than a touch late on these things, or you could get a Todd Gurley or OBJ like takedown of your team -- too much money, a problem behind the scenes, not worth the money.
This is a Texans team that smoked KC in the 2019 regular season and then had them down big in the playoffs before blowing it. The core of this team is intact in a time when preseason practices could/will be limited. If this is roughly the same team as it has been the past two years...a 10 win and 11 win team that exchanges Hopkins and Hyde for David Johnson, Brandin Cooks, and Randall Cobb as it's highlight moves...I don't think they fall three wins off their norm because of those changes. Tougher schedule, yes. But if they can win one of their first three games of 2020 (KC-BAL-PIT) then they might not play a 2020 playoff team all year outside their division. This is the right year to draw the NFC North rotation, and to get MIN and GB at home. From Week 11 on, the playoff stretch, Houston plays indoors six of their final 7 games...and they are built for the turf team.
I don't need them to win the Super Bowl, just get to a disappointing 8-8 is fine. I believe they're being unfairly punished for trading Hopkins, and I'm trying to take advantage of it as a bettor.
Chris Bilello: I feel like the Colts are the 49ers of the AFC...on paper, less of a defense but the possibility exists that everything could come together in year 3 and this defense being dominant. Of all the teams that want to be the next big running game the Colts have the OL to actually impose their will. I’m not clicking my heels for Philip Rivers (I am clicking then loudly for D. Buckner) but Reich can ease Rivers in with a running game and a schedule that has the Vikings as the toughest opponent in the first 7 weeks.
I respect what the Titans did in the second half of last season and think there is talent on that team...I just don’t like betting a season win total where I need to project a strong “out of nowhere” finish over the following season. They could be ok but I fear they may not run Henry 25-30 times from the start of this season. If I were to argue the other side of their playoff run the New England game felt more like a Patriot loss that a Titans win...that was the first time in the history of Belichick/Brady they had 1st and goal from the 1 and didn’t score a TD...again not trying to discredit but the Dolphins won there the week before in a game the Pats needed...and then everyone beats L.Jackson in the playoffs. Good win vs KC but if memory serves the Chiefs were 90% probability to win that game late in the 4th quarter. It may not sound like it but I like Vrabel and the Titans and will be looking for opportunities to back them this year. My last reason for going Indy is Non Common opponents for the Titans are @DEN and BUF while the Colts get @LV and NYJ. IMO Colts score 2 of 2 there.
I don’t know what to make of HOU...I know they won the division 4 of 6 years but over that time the highest win total going into a season was the 2015 Colts (10.5)...most seasons these 4 AFC South teams all had win totals below 10. Xavier makes a great point that Hopkins is not just a WR...he was THE offense. Maybe they have a trick up their sleeve to replace him but it’s a risk. I agree with the contrarian nature of this play but I can’t get all the way there. Non common games while the Colts and Titans are messing around with @DEN, BUF, @LV, NYJ...Texans get @KC and NE. That hurts my feelings.
XC: Saying that Lamar Jackson will automatically lose any playoff game he's in isn't a serious point. I don't think that the Titans strong finish was out of nowhere. It was a direct result of replacing Mariota with Tannehill. They've been 9-7 four years in a row, but that was all with Mariota dragging them down. Mariota consistently played like a high-end backup. He was safe but unproductive. His numbers are what you would expect from a QB 15-20 years ago, not this era. Tannehill may not be quite as good as last season, but he'll still put up "modern" numbers. The team is a well-established Patriots colony.
Derrick Henry rushed 113 times for 416 yards (3.69 YPC) in 6 games with Mariota. He rushed 273 times for 1570 yards (5.75 YPC) in 12 games with Tannehill. That includes the 3 road playoff games. It's possible they will still give him a lighter workload early in the season. The 386 carries last season might be a concern. But he clearly was better with Tannehill. Overall it's more evidence that Mariota was the problem.
Chris Bilello: I was being sarcastic about L.Jackson in the playoffs...he actually went nuts on the Titans defense from a total yardage standpoint...it was all turnovers and missed 3rd/4th and short conversions that sunk them. If memory serves the Ravens made a crazy number of trips to the Red Zone and netted an insanely tiny number of points in that game. The Titans had a great run through some tough teams...it just struck me a good play combined with good fortune. My point about the end of the Titans last season not being sustainable is D.Henry was rushing the ball 30 times a game and Tannehill was passing for 100 yards a game in their big wins. Sure they may be capable of winning games with a batter balance but now we are projecting something we didn’t see at the end of 2019. If they run that game plan all season I think Henry will break down. The clear strength of the playoff run was the defense and they have to replace DC Dean Pees...I really don’t know how much was Pees and how much was Vrabel, just another thing that gives me pause. As I said, I’ll be looking to back TEN in spots this year, I’m just not putting my chips on a season win total because I like almost everything the Colts offer on the field over the Titans and the schedule favors IND as well. I’m not running to get a TEN “under” 8.5...
RC: There are so many things that go into an 'over' bet. Schedule, team history, head coach, defense, O-Line...but I think the thing we all tend to establish first on an 'over' is 'what do I think about this QB?' I think that's where Houston gets the edge over Indy and Tenn. DeAndre Hopkins wasn't the offense...Deshaun Watson was/is. If you like 'run games', the Texans were top 10 in rush yards per game and ypc. Hyde-Duke combo was a top five fantasy output. They can run the ball as needed.
The rushing games in 2019 between these three AFC South teams:
138.9 yds per game = TEN
133.1 = IND
125.6 = HOU
Yards per carry:
5.0 = TEN
4.6 = HOU
4.5 = IND
TEN and IND have the better run games, but HOU isn't far behind...based on 2019.
But the QB gap is pretty significant: would you rather ride with Watson, Rivers, or Tannehill?
TEN has the best defense of the group, but more middle of the pack in the NFL and HOU-IND are back end of the middle pack.
All their coaches are somewhat respected by us. I mean, if Vrabel gets credit for two 9-7's, then why doesn't O'Brien get the same credit for this bet for his 10- and 11-win seasons in the same span?
If these are all 'good' teams, not great, and all capable of winning the division...I think the Houston bet makes more sense in that it's just 7.5 wins, has the far lower money line and has the best QB of the group (and best recent history).
I think your IND and TEN bets are valid/solid, but isn't mine better/more savvy/exposing a hole in the system (because of the Hopkins trade whining) with HOU 'over' by virtue of the win total and money line? The Texans are not -2 or 3 wins with the loss of Hopkins and add of Cooks, DJ.
An aside...Brandin Cooks has never been on a losing team and is 52-36 in games he plays in regular season and 4-2 in the playoffs.
Cooks missed several games in 2019, but if comparing recent full seasons of play Cooks 2018 to Hopkins 2019...
80 catches, 1,272 total yards, 6 total TDs, five 100+ yard games = Cooks
104 catches, 1,183 total yards, 7 total TDs, five 100+ yard games = Hopkins (1 less game/took Wk17 off)
I know Hopkins is the best pure WR in the game, or top 3, or whatever he's 'up there'...I agree...but it's not like teams don't have to cover Cooks and have free defenders to do anything with now that Hopkins is gone. I'm hoping the Texans get more diversified in targets with Hopkins gone. less predictable.
Oddly, in 2019...
Houston went (8-1) when Hopkins saw 8 or fewer targets in a game.
(3-5) when Hopkins saw 10 or more targets in a game.
*No games with 9 targets.
If you think that's a fluke, in 2018...
(5-0) when Hopkins saw 8 or fewer targets in a game.
(6-6) when Hopkins saw 10 or more targets in a game.
*No games with 9 targets.
Houston is (13-1) the past two seasons when Hopkins isn't touching the ball as much.
Chris Bilello: My number one factor for a win total is schedule. Beyond the 14 games they play that are the same...the Colts play @Vegas and NYJ while the Titans play @DEN and BUF and the Texans play @KC and NE...that pretty much takes care of the game difference in win totals for me.
If there was an even money bet on most team rushing yards among these teams in 2020...I’d run to bet the Colts. The OL is so good. I also think the clear best coach is Reich. Certainly the Texans have the QB advantage...but the Colts aren’t relying on Rivers to carry them. (ie throw the ball 63% of the time like he did last year). TEN may have the best defense but IND has a path to be better adding Buckner.
I think the Hopkins targets vs wins is chicken or the egg...like saying when a RB rushes for 100 yards the team is 9-0...or is it that when the team wins they run to put the game away and the RB gets the 100 yards. With Hopkins, if they are winning they don’t have to throw at the end and therefore he doesn’t exceed the 9 targets. When losing they chuck the ball until the end and he is a huge target hog.
I can see the Houston and Tennessee logic...I’m not against either, but I still am happy to have my chips on the Colts. If JAX goes 0-6 in the division we can all probably hit our numbers.
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