Back in May 2017, Xavier Cromartie (the world's foremost NFL Draft Mock Drafter) and I had informal chats on where we saw the season headed based on the schedule and the NFL Draft, etc. Over the subsequent months we might have changed our thoughts based on scouting the preseason or a key injury, but we love trying to take advantage of what we know in May/June of NFL seasons before various things come to light and the lines shift, etc.
So, just for a fun look back...not as fun for me as I have to re-read why I thought the Eagles were a bad bet this season (hey, had I known Foles would be starting I would have had them in the Super Bowl!! You know that's true!!)...We're publishing the chats we had as they were in May 2017. One division per day all this week. We'll do it all again May 2018, I'm sure...but let's look back at May 2017 first...
Originally published 5/22/2017...
Twitter @FFMetrics, @xaviercromartie
2017 record-setting national NFL Draft analyst Xavier Cromartie and R.C. Fischer discuss their very early (month of May) 2017 NFL season win-loss and playoff projections from a bettors over/under win total perspective, as we like to do every season.
These are informal chats, and the transcripts are posted below. Excuse any grammatical errors or typos. We will post a division chat per day, covering all eight NFL divisions and then make our official (early) over/under top three best bets with a fictitious $1,000 bankroll.
Bet OnLine 5/12/2017 numbers:
Kansas City = 9.5 wins (-105 over, +125 under)
Oakland = 9.5 wins (-135 over, +105 under)
Denver = 8.5 wins (-115over, +115 under)
LA Chargers = 7.5 wins (-125 over, +105 under)
Faux 2017 simulations…
Kansas City = XC 12-4, RC 11-5
Denver = XC 8-8, RC 10-6
Oakland = XC 6-10, RC 10-6
LA Chargers = XC 8-8, RC 6-10
RC: One of the biggest gaps between us – the Oakland Raiders. I have them as a 10-win team and you have a downfall to 6-10. What’s driving your anti-Oakland stance for 2017? I’m loosely with Oakland on a solid O-Line. Stable QB. Plausible defense. Shaky on them because of the coaching. I have them in the playoffs but I don’t feel good about it. 8-8 wouldn’t shock me. 6-10 would shock me a bit.
The schedule may wipe them out. Their easy games are on the road. They have NYG, TEN, DAL, NE on the non-division schedule. I could see the Raiders falling apart under this schedule.
XC: The Raiders are a poor man's Saints for me. Their offense is fine. I let their defense collapse. Part of it is the difficult schedule. But mostly it's the actual roster. Specifically the non-rush LB issue, again. They might have the worst LBs in the league. Their interior d-line is also weak. This defense could get wrecked. Almost everyone they play is built to run it down their throat. 9.5 is a pretty high number. Under (+105) looks solid.
It's kind of shocking to me that the Chiefs have worse odds than the Raiders. Same wins (9.5) but better (-105) for the Over. The Chiefs have a long-proven defense. Good roster. It's probably the usual Alex Smith hate. As the Chiefs' starter he has gone 11-4, 11-5, 8-7, 11-4. He's the same guy every year. The only worry here is that the Chiefs win 9 games instead of 10-11-12 because of the schedule.
The Broncos and Chargers odds are right where they should be.
RC: The reason I like the Chiefs is if Alex Smith goes down, you have hope with Pat Mahomes. If Derek Carr goes down…Oakland is screwed.
If Conley is any good, and if Melifonwu hits as expected…and Karl Joseph works…that secondary could be fantastic if Amerson keeps holding up. D-Line plausible, but not great. I think Ben Heeney could help turn this thing. I also think Ken Norton is more the issue, but they brought in Pagano as a ‘special assistant’…and that might help. I can see Oakland D upside more than further collapse. They sucked last year…and almost pulled the #1 seed in the AFC. Given the other AFC wild cards are awful (MIA, HOU, IND) I kinda think Oakland backs into a playoff spot.
I might play the Chargers as one of the better ‘under’ best in 2017. A bad team did not get any better with free agency, the draft, or the coaching change. What’s the argument for the Chargers as an 8-win team?
XC: Heeney is athletic, that's all. The Raiders aren't even pretending that they like their MLB situation. How bad is that? The coaches come out of the draft and essentially say, publicly, "Yeah, we suck at MLB." Conley and Obi are good long-term picks. The Raiders didn't reach for their most glaring positional need. But since they didn't, it leaves them weak in the short-term. Giving them 6 wins may be slightly too low, but the only easy game on the schedule is against the Jets... That's a waste of home-field advantage. Every other home game is against a tough team. And the road games aren't easy teams, either.
In the post-Tomlinson era, Philip Rivers is usually good for 7-to-9 wins. 2015 was an aberration. And although the Chargers won only 5 games last year, they played like a 7- or 8-win team. Rivers hasn't changed. I'm accounting for the fact that the defense isn't very good. This team looks fairly predictable. All of my information says that they should win 7 or 8 games, and the mark is set at 7.5. So it's a complete 50/50 for me and not worth playing.
RC: Philip Rivers, soon to be 36 years old, with 52 INTs in his last 48 games, and a 9-23 record the past two years is fading…and his back up is Kellen Clemens. That kinda is speaking to me a little bit. I think we have the ‘Chargers are better than their record’ fallacy playing in our heads now for the last 7 seasons. 51-61 record during that time and just sliding worse.
Worst starting RB talent in the league with no hot back up. Wasted a draft pick on Mike Williams. New head coach is a Rex Ryan disciple.
It’s like God is trying to stuff money in our pockets on LAC ‘under’ this year.
I love it when God does that…
XC: I don't agree with much of that. Rivers's age hasn't proven relevant yet. Statistically his playing ability has not changed. He has never missed a game. 51 wins in 7 seasons makes the point that they average 7 or 8 wins.
The o-line is better. Mike Williams is not a wasted pick. WR is the most valuable position after QB, and teams should stockpile them. This sounds like a crusade to avenge Tyrell Williams. The fate of the Chargers always comes down to how good their defense is. In their good seasons they have a top-half defense, and in their bad seasons they have a bottom-half defense. The offense is fine.
RC: A bet on LAC as an ‘under’ has a lot to do with Tyrell Williams. I assume they will down play his role.
They are then going to roll out an offense with Gordon, no-Woodhead role back, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen with aged Antonio Gates as their primary weapons.
Thinking top 2 RBs, Top WRs, and top TE…what team has a worse set up for weapons? Maybe the Colts, Ravens and for sure the 49ers? Even the Browns are more exciting (not considering QB).
They also get the tough deal of the best division in football…so maybe 2-4 or 1-5 in those 6 games?
If 2-4…they need to find 6 wins of their other 10 games.
If they go 0-3 there…then they’re 2-7, needing to find 6 wins in their other 7 games. It’s not happening.
I agree with you that the Chargers are a 7-9/8-8 team under normal circumstances with schedule that shaves 2-3 wins due to toughness/strength of it…and the kicker of no dynamic weapons aside from Tyrell and no backup QB if Rivers tanks/gets hurt.
I think it’s a strong ‘under’ potential.
XC: Tyrell Williams and Hunter Henry will get plenty of snaps. It's true that they have no solid backup RB when Gordon gets hurt. And Gordon is no LaDainian Tomlinson. Plenty of offensive targets to spread it around to, though.
They can beat the Broncos and Raiders at home and maybe on the road. But I'm ok with saying 2-4 in the division. And I'm ok with saying they lose those other 3 tough games too. But that doesn't settle it. If you're pointing out 7 games that they can lose... then that's 9 games that they can win. I see them in a few close wins and a few close losses. So if they have bad luck and lose most of them, then 6 wins is a possibility. But it ultimately brings me back to 'looks like 7 or 8' under normal circumstances.
RC: If I told you from the future that the Broncos has 5 wins or 10 wins in 2017, definitely one or the other…which would you guess?
XC: I would say that the Broncos would win 5 games instead of 10, because it's much easier to justify. Because first I'm assuming that Trevor Siemian is the starting QB, and I have him projected as 30th out of 32 QBs. The Broncos rely heavily on their defense. But will it continue to hold up? My actual position see them holding as the 6th-best defense, but it could drop off. The obvious justification is that there are new coaches in town: Vance Joseph at HC and Joe Woods at DC. And I'm not so confident about their abilities. The talent on the defensive front is eroding a bit; I'm a known hater of Shane Ray. The ILBs are ok. No sane person can criticize Miller-Harris-Talib. But the coaches have to continue to use them properly. Wade Phillips has bounced from team-to-team for decades, but he's a pretty respectable DC, and now they don't have him. And then the Broncos get the tough AFC West schedule where the only easy game is the Jets.
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