Super Bowl 50 live blog:

Over or under: picking the NFL's 2014 win totals from Vegas

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith, right, watches quarterback Josh McCown run through drills during a voluntary minicamp football practice Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in Tampa, Fla
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New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith, right, watches quarterback Josh McCown run through drills during a voluntary minicamp football practice Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

For both professional and self-preservational reasons, my last official bet was probably from the 1990s. Oh, I might have bought into a Super Bowl squares thing one year, filled out an NCAA bracket for a few bucks, and yeah, I've won at fantasy football.

But those, to me, are different.

Betting on sports is nuts, you guys. I don't know how you do it. I used to make weekly NFL against-the-spread picks at my old job at Pro Football Weekly, and I was the Andy Dalton of handicapping — one week, I'd go 12-4, the next I'd win two games. Afterward, I'd blame everyone else.

So I implore you: As I make predictions on the Bovada (an online sportsbook/casino) 2014 NFL over-under win totals for each of the 32 teams, take it only in the hey-this-guy-is-an-idiot vein and please do not wager the mortgage money on my picks as if they were gospel. This is not me dispensing gambling advice. But you probably already knew that.

Alas, without further ado, here are the Bovada win totals — along with my guess (lo, not a bet) on what the actual result will be — from highest to lowest:

Denver Broncos
Bovada win total: 11.5
My prediction: Under

The schedule is absolutely murderous — the first three opponents combined for 35 wins a year ago, including a Super Bowl, and they have an early bye weeks and other tough games littered throughout. Yes, I know there were improvements in the offseason, and yes, I am aware of Peyton Manning and the offensive potential to actually improve on last season. But five losses would not stun me, and that's what I came up with: an 11-5 mark. It's under, but just barely.

Seattle Seahawks
Bovada win total: 11
My prediction: Over 

Like the Broncos, the Seahawks have a tough opening trio and a Week 4 bye — hardly ideal. But I think the Seahawks can go 3-0 there and, really, head into November undefeated. They play the 49ers twice after Week 13, and the schedule is shockingly backloaded with division games (five of the final six) with a tough one at the Eagles sandwiched in between. But I still think an over is possible, even if I was tempted to cop out with a "push" pick in the brutal NFC West. This is a super talented bunch, and I believe they remain highly motivated to win another title.

New England Patriots
Bovada win total: 10.5
My prediction: Over

Everything sets up for a big year again. A soft opening to the schedule, and a middle section that has the Patriots not leaving Foxborough from Oct. 13 to their road game (with a bye beforehand) against the Colts on Nov. 16. Only two non-Sunday games, both early in the season. I know the "Tom Brady is in decline" talk is out there, but he should be more settled in with his receivers and blockers this year. The defense unquestionably is better. And even with the division teams — mostly the Bills and Jets — adding notable pieces, are any of them markedly better? Maybe the Bills, but they're still not in the Patriots' class.

San Francisco 49ers
Bovada win total: 10.5
My prediction: Over

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Jim Harbaugh (AP)

Jim Harbaugh (AP)

Call me a believer. Despite all the chaos that has pervaded this team in the offseason, from the reported Jim Harbaugh discord to the Aldon Smith ugliness and on, I still say this: We're talking about one of the most talented rosters in the NFL (which somehow gets stronger this season) that nearly stole the NFC championship game in Seattle a year ago. Colin Kaepernick is in a contract season, and he has a better support system. The schedule is challenging, yes — seven of the eight road games are against teams that were 7-9 or better, and five home games come vs. playoff teams or 10-win clubs, in the case of the Cardinals. Harbaugh finds a way to match the Seahawks' 11 victories and challenge them for the NFC West crown again in the best division in football.

Green Bay Packers
Bovada win total: 10.5
My prediction: Over 

I count 3-4 likely losses and 1-2 more possible ones. That gives me anything from 10-6 to 12-4. Tough one. But with a healthy Aaron Rodgers, an improved (and, yeah, healthy) defense and plenty of weapons on the roster, I like the "over" chances. Their schedule is manageable, the short weeks are at home against lesser opponents, and I believe Rodgers is the favorite to win MVP this season. I know that's four overs to one under so far, but I am not budging here. The Packers have had a quietly sound offseason.

New Orleans Saints
Bovada win total: 9.5
My prediction: Over 

My gut reaction was to say over, way over, but I mulled it harder than I thought I would. I believe the defense overachieved last season. I believe the NFC South will be more balanced this season. I believe the Saints' middle portion of the schedule is tougher than you might think and has a sneaky pre-bye portion that could lead to a stunner of a loss or two. There's always that Jimmy Graham holdout possibility, although not playing does him little good. With Sean Payton and Drew Brees on board for 16 games, though, I just couldn't predict fewer than 10 wins.

Indianapolis Colts
Bovada win total: 9.5
My prediction: Under

Ooh. Yeah, I like the Colts to a degree. I love their quarterback and I love the rest of the AFC South, which means to say it's a weak division. But we predict that the Jaguars and Texans will not be roll-overs by season's end, and the Colts face each once from Week 12 on. The schedule is dotted with tough teams throughout, and there's no real easy stretch of note. Plus, this team can just be odd at times. Beat the Seahawks but lose to the Rams by 30 at home? They went 11-5 but only outscored their opponents by 55 points; the league's three other 11-win clubs a year ago were plus-110 or higher. OK, whatever. We're going with the under — the barely under, at nine wins, for what it's worth. 

Cincinnati Bengals
Bovada win total: 9
My prediction: Under 

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QB Andy Dalton (AP)

QB Andy Dalton (AP)

We've been Bengalphiles in the most reasonable way possible the past few seasons: The talent on the roster suggests they will win a lot of games and the presence of Dalton suggests that will end in the postseason. How many more one-and-dones do they have left in them? We say none for this season. Marvin Lewis has staved off death more than Keith Richards, Dalton is on shaky ground with his play and his contract and their best defender (Geno Atkins) is coming off a torn ACL. Yes, the talent is all there, but sometimes a team's lack of cohesion can trump that. I am going with eight wins.

Philadelphia Eagles
Bovada win total: 9
My prediction: Over 

Frankly, we are surprised. This is a team that struggled early on under Chip Kelly but saw the light go on down the stretch, when they won seven of the final eight games to claim the NFC East. Few are expecting Nick Foles to put up the lights-out numbers he did a year ago, but are we thinking the Eagles take a step back? They were 10-6 a year ago, and there are still questions with all of the division opponents. Maybe the Giants can challenge the Eagles for the East crown. But there are enough new faces and improvements on both sides of the ball to think that more than nine wins is in the offing. Maybe not way more, but one is all we need.

Chicago Bears
Bovada win total: 8.5
My prediction: Under

It stands to reason that team going 8-8 with a miserable run defense has a chance to do far better the following season with reinforcements up front. But a tough early slate with road games in four of their first six (and five of seven) contests before the bye and a stronger division could level things out a bit. Plus, we don't trust Matt Forte's health, Brandon Marshall's stability or Jay Cutler's ... whatever. Not on the long term, anyway. This is a talented team but one whose identity hasn't yet come together. We think they are headed for a similar mark in 2014, so they barely come in under.

Baltimore Ravens
Bovada win total: 8.5
My prediction: Over 

This might be the third-best team in the AFC when it's all said and done. Solid roster, clutch quarterback and enough defensive playmakers to win the North. They have three division games to open the season, which could set the table for the season, and some sneaky-good opponents in the middle part of the year. But these are seas the Ravens can navigate, with John Harbaugh leading the way and the Super Bowl chatter way in the rearview mirror. The run game and offensive line are potential worries, but we like the over here — solidly.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Bovada win total: 8.5
My prediction: Under

They strike us as sort of the Chicago Bears of the AFC in that we want to like them more than we actually do. There's talent, no question, and any team with Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau has a chance. But they smack of another disappointment — good enough to win tough games but lacking that extra pizzazz to make a real run at the division. A later bye week helps, but they must open with four of six on the road also, which could put them in a hole. Same thing happened a year ago. 

Atlanta Falcons
Bovada win total: 8.5
My prediction: Under

In 2012, they won 13 games and were a few plays from a Super Bowl. In 2013, they crashed and burned in an injury-plagued four-win campaign. So where do people think they'll land in 2014? Exactly in the middle — the average of 13 and 4 is 8.5. It's never that clean and easy, is it? Matt Ryan is counting on a run game and a healthy receiving corps, not to mention tougher and smarter blocking up front, but he also has no more Tony Gonzalez. The defense is aiming for respectability again, with some solid pieces to help them get there, yet there are holes that will keep them in the dreaded transition mode. Still — we must pick. Can't hedge on a half victory, after all. Tough schedule, no doubt. Mike Smith will get this team back on track, but we smell yet another 8-8 type team here.

Carolina Panthers
Bovada win total: 8.5
My prediction: Under

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Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

We, like much of the football-watching nation, would seem to favor the under. If there's one team that roundly is expected to sink in the standings, it's the Panthers, who not only lost nearly their entire wide receiver corps but also a big chunk of their offensive line. Plus — and GM Dave Gettleman might not like to hear this — but Steve Smith and Jordan Gross were tone setters, great players who also helped push and lead the locker room. Their values can't be overstated. Cam Newton's ankle is still healing, and every other position on offense has legitimate questions and concerns. How much can be asked of a great front seven?

Detroit Lions
Bovada win total: 8.5
My prediction: Over 

We think modest improvements defensively could lead to big things, but have the Lions gotten markedly better on that side of the football? We're not sure. Clearly, a lot of the offensive balance problems did not help things defensively, so Matthew Stafford not turning the ball over and the non-Calvin Johnsons of the world stepping up will help. Plus, we think they will receive a locker room boost with the temperament change from the machismo of Jim Schwartz to the even-keeled Jim Caldwell. How many close games did they lose last season? Six of nine were one-score affairs. We say they pull a few of those out and finish above .500.

Kansas City Chiefs
Bovada win total: 8
My prediction: Under 

Interesting that two unexpected big winners from 2013 — the Panthers and Chiefs — are expected to fall this much. Also interesting that both are made up similarly. If you're expecting your defense to pull out 17-16 games every week, it's a tightwire act — it can work for a season, maybe two, but you're also hoping for everything else not to come crashing down. That's what happened in the post-bye stretch run last season, falling from 9-0 to losing six of eight games, including the insane playoff defeat at Indy. The Chiefs face three of the four best teams in the NFL prior to the bye week, and we think they have a 7-9 kind of season where points are at a premium.

New York Giants
Bovada win total: 8
My prediction: Over 

Have you realized just how many changes the Giants have made this offseason? They have bolstered the offensive line, the backfield and the secondary and have the core pieces to sneak up in a fair but hardly strong division. Eli Manning has been at his best when the expectations are low, and that's exactly where he's at now. Tom Coughlin has had four or five revivals in his career, and we think he has one last gasp. The schedule is manageable, Victor Cruz is due for a bounceback, the depth is much better and the Giants have the goods to push the Eagles for the NFC East crown. We'll go over on that.

San Diego Chargers
Bovada win total: 8
My prediction: Over 

The loss of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt could be felt, and the schedule is tougher than it appears at first blush. Plus, are we sure that Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen will be as prolific as they were last season? No, maybe not, but this is a rushing game that could be very strong collectively, and even with the questions in the secondary, there is something alluring about John Pagano's defense if they can find a pass rush, perhaps with the returns of Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney. As the Chiefs fall, the Chargers ... are able to tread water. We like them again in the 9-win range.

Miami Dolphins
Bovada win total: 8
My prediction: Under 

With respect to Bill Lazor, whom I know by reputation only, it seems unlikely that he can wave a Chip Kelly-like wand and make this offense with Eagles-esque efficiency all of a sudden. The concept of quickening up this vanilla offense and taking advantage of Ryan Tannehill's burgeoning skills makes sense, but the pass-catching and blocking options remain areas of concern, even with additions. Defensively, what are they? The front looks strong, but the back seven might be a collection of ill-fitting pieces and injury-prone players. The schedule isn't insane, but it's hardly a cake walk either. We'll go with the (slightly) under.

Dallas Cowboys
Bovada win total: 8
My prediction: Under 

This is like a cruel joke. The team that has gone 8-8 three years in a row — and is exactly .500 since the 1997 season — is pegged for ... yeah, 8 wins. Of course. But we'll shoot below that mark. There's something that just feels last-placey about this season, if the foreboding Sean Lee injury is any indication of what things might be like defensively (hint: perhaps horrific). Tony Romo, coming off two back surgeries in the past year and a half, is going to remain healthy? We hope so for his sake, but fear not. Same with DeMarco Murray. Even with some star power and a young nucleus on the offensive line, we don't like their chances.

Arizona Cardinals
Bovada win total: 7.5
My prediction: Over 

This should be easy, right? The Cardinals won 10 games a year ago, lost three games by a combined 9 points and seemingly improved in the offseason. They get Jonathan Cooper back from a missed rookie season and appear to be stronger at two offensive line positions, which is huge. They're still strong defensively, will have Andre Ellington in a more featured offensive role and have a tough but still the fourth-easiest schedule among the NFC West teams. The bear is the home stretch, a brutal final six games: vs. Colts, at Eagles, vs. Rams, at Titans, at Seahawks and vs. 49ers. Good coaching will keep them competitive, and even with a small step back, they still can be .500 or better.

Houston Texans
Bovada win total: 7.5
My prediction: Under

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Texans coach Bill O'Brien (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Texans coach Bill O'Brien (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

What Bovada and the betting public basically are saying is that Bill O'Brien is going to turn this thing around, last season was a horrific aberration and that ... quarterback, we don't need no stinkin' quarterback! I just can't wrap my head around the Texans being one of these teams that out-scheme and out-maneuver teams for four quarters every Sunday without a known quantity under center. I am a BOB fan, but good lord, there's not much in the way of clarity there. In fact, I can't think of a time where a team had four possibilities for a starter — that typically means they have no good ones. The Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt experience will be fun; there's some real talent on defese. The division is fairly soft. That said, we're counting on a healthy Arian Foster, Andre Johnson to show up and someone to step up at QB. Too much for me in Year 1.

St. Louis Rams
Bovada win total: 7.5
My prediction: Over 

Can all four NFC West teams be 8-8 or better? That only has happened six times since we went to the four-team division format in 2002, and interestingly, it happened twice each in three seasons — the 2008 NFC East and NFC South divisions, 2007 NFC East and AFC South and the 2002 AFC East and AFC West. Three more times in the past 12 seasons, including with the NFC West last year, we had a last-place team win seven games. (One oddity: the 2011 AFC West had three teams at 8-8, and one at 7-9.) So can the draft-fueled Rams roster make a run and improve on their seven wins from a year ago? Remember, they lost Sam Bradford for 9-plus games a year ago and lost six of those. With him back needing to prove himself, a good run game and a front seven that rivals any group in the NFL, we'll take the over.

Washington Redskins
Bovada win total: 7.5
My prediction: Under

It's hard to imagine the Redskins not going up in the standings, having removed the cloak of darkness from the Shanahan-Griffin debacle of 2013 and after adding the kind of deep threat in DeSean Jackson whose safety-drawing ability could have as much effect on RG3 as it could Alfred Morris. There's a good amount to like offensively, even with a line clearly in flux. There's a solid front seven defensively, with a secondary that still could make you sweat. So even though their issues remain in the same places as the past few seasons, the results might not be quite as disastrous. They have road trips — two to Texas and two to the West Coast — that could be tough, but a healthy Griffin helps. Just not enough for me to go more than seven wins comfortably. They had the third-worst point differential (minus-144) a year ago, and that's a consideration.

New York Jets
Bovada win total: 7
My prediction: Under, although a push feels right

Such a tough team to get a handle on. I hate the way they've handled the QB position, and I am left to wonder just how much the new additions are round-peg, round-hole fits, at least in terms of expectations for what they might add. Defensively, they seem strong, and bringing back the ground-and-pound approach is smart. But will Marty Mornhinweg stick with it? Will either Geno Smith or Michael Vick be the right man for that system? Too many ill-fitting offensive parts for my taste, and I still say they will be vulnerable to strong passing teams that can handle their interior pressure. Not enough from the edge, and it's a secondary that can be picked on. The schedule is tough but not brutal. I want to bet on Ryan in a make-or-break season, but I just can't go over seven.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bovada win total: 7
My prediction: Over 

Nowhere will you see me write "easy money" or "hammer this" because, remember: I don't bet and I don't implore you to do so. But if there's a team that could have a Chiefs- or Panthers-like revival, it's this Bucs club. New head coach Lovie Smith, a defense on the rise and a basketball lineup of an offense all make me think things are on the up and up. Josh McCown isn't a world beater for sure, but he's the perfect short-term upgrade (even if some of us really like Mike Glennon in time). The division is still tough, but — prediction — they won't lose twice to the Panthers again. Five one-score losses and coaching discord did them in early last season, and that won't repeat itself. This team can win 10 games and challenge for the South title in this topsy-turvy division historically.

Tennessee Titans
Bovada win total: 7
My prediction: Under 

Am I reading this right? Yes, they won seven a year ago and bring in a respected head coach in Whisenhunt and coordinator in Ray Horton who should shape things up in time. But Jake Locker, coming off a hip injury, is their starting quarterback. There is no position that is completely set (even with the talented offensive line and receiving groups), and the defense is undergoing a switch from a 4-3 (with the personnel to fit that scheme) to Horton's preferred 3-4. There's a lot going on here, and it would be terribly ambitious to think they're anything more than a competitve rebuilding team. Road games in three of the first four weeks (all against 2013 playoff teams) looms as an early hole to dig out of. I am going under, and comfortably so.

Buffalo Bills
Bovada win total: 6.5
My prediction: Over

In my mind, this is a team on the rise, and also one that could surprise some folks. The unknown factor clearly is EJ Manuel — if he makes a big jump, a wildcard run is entirely possible because of this defense, this run game and some intriguing wide receivers who can make plays. I still don't love the Sammy Watkins trade, but he's an instant upgrade on special teams and after the catch. Jim Schwartz should do good things with this defense, coming off a strong statistical season, even with Jarius Byrd gone and some key contributors on the mend. Only two of their first eight games before the bye are against winning teams from 2013. Keep an eye on the Bills if Manuel shows something. 

Cleveland Browns
Bovada win total: 6.5
My prediction: Over 

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Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

You might not love Johnny Manziel and you might, like most of us, wonder if Josh Gordon ever will be on the field this season. Those are legit concerns. But you have a really nice formula brewing here: a strong defense, an improved (we think) run game and a run-around, sandlot quarterback with ice in his veins and a devil-may-care attitude that this team, frankly, has needed in the worst way. Most Browns QBs since Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde (and maybe Jeff Garcia for a hot minute) have played not to lose. Manziel might go down, but he does so swinging. That will galvanize this team in the short term, bank on it. The schedule presents some challenges in Mike Pettine's first season, but we like this team's ability to be far more competitve this year with Manziel winning the job and becoming a rallying force. What he does after that ... all bets are off.

Minnesota Vikings
Bovada win total: 6
My prediction: Under, but another push candidate 

Mike Zimmer was an inspired choice to lead this team, and it might be a case of two seasons — a tough first half, followed by a post-bye breakout. We don't yet know how they will handle the QB situation, and yet Norv Turner can work with the rest of this group, with Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph likely to be busy young men. But can they outscore teams on a weekly basis? The defense has work to do, even with four first-rounders figuring to play prominent roles, and it might take half the season or longer to completely work things out on this side of the ball. Six wins feels about right, but forced to make a call, we'll go with five. Hey, we're ready to be wrong about this one.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Bovada win total: 4.5
My prediction: Over 

We're friends with Ryan, who knows the team well and clearly is joking on some level, but his humor only goes so far in our minds. We think he's right ... minus the double part, anyway, and sans Glendale talk, naturally. This is a solid team all of a sudden. They have the defensive formula that Gus Bradley is looking for. The run game could be solid. We hate that they could be limited in terms of the passing game, and the offensive line is still coming together, but there is a lot to like here. If the Jags can make it through an interesting first five games in decent enough shape — going 2-3 with at Eagles, at Redskins, vs. Colts, at Chargers and vs. Steelers would be commendable — they can be within range of the .500 mark. Maybe not all the way there, but close.

Oakland Raiders
Bovada win total: 4.5
My prediction: Under 

I realize I am saying they'll win four or fewer games. It's tough to predict that for any team. But even with a strong finish to free agency and a great draft class, we still see holes everywhere — especially at quarterback where, sadly, an address change might not be enough to revive Matt Schaub's off-course career. The offensive line takes a hit, and we're not jazzed about two aged, injury-prone running backs leading the charge. Defensively, they are solid up front but super shaky on the back end, and depth-wise. This doesn't get us feeling great. Oh, and their .578 opponent winning percentage — for what that number is worth — is the highest heading into the season.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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