By Thomas Viola

The long summer drought is finally over, and the NFL season is almost upon us once again. As preseason games kick off, bettors are making their futures bets for another NFL season. Which means it is time for us to take a look at the NFL schedule as a whole, and evaluate some win total numbers that might provide some good value for the season. So without further ado, here are my five favorite win totals for 2022: 

Lions o6.5 -120 (DraftKings) – I have not watched a minute of Hard Knocks, so I am not being affected by the HBO Hype Machine around this team. When a team has an extraordinary number of close losses in a season, I treat that as an indicator of a team on the rise. At the very least, there has to be some positive regression. The Lions lost (or tied) 7 games by a score of a touchdown or less last year. No team was unluckier last year, and that should change.

The offense now actually has some great pieces – D’Andre Swift, TJ Hockenson, and Amon-Ra St Brown are a quality foundation. Jameson Williams will complement St. Brown and DJ Chark when he comes back. It’s not like Jared Goff can’t be a mediocre QB – he took the Rams to a Super Bowl as one. The o-line is going to be good, talks of them being a top-5 unit in the league may even be underselling them. The defense has more question marks, but we aren’t expecting this team to win the Super Bowl, we only need 7 wins. 

An easy strength of schedule will greatly help us do that. Detroit plays the NFC and AFC East, as well as the Jaguars. The second half of their schedule is very friendly. They play the Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Panthers, and the Bears twice in the back half of the season. All 6 of those games are winnable right there. With games against the Seahawks and Commanders on the early side, if you have 3 wins through 8 games, you’re feeling pretty good about the second half. I believe in Dan Campbell as a coach, and I think this Lions team will at worst be mediocre this season. 

SF u10 -110 (Draftkings) – The 49ers are not a good football team. They luckboxed their way to an NFC Championship game last year that they had no business being in, and that was with Jimmy G at QB. Now you have Trey and Out. People talk about how Zach Wilson had a cupcake schedule in college, Trey Lance sure had to deal with some hard competition at North Dakota State. This guy was so bad that as a rookie he couldn’t beat out a guy that literally no one wants. I don’t care that you have Deebo Samuel, George Kittle is another year older, Brandon Aiyuk isn’t striking fear into me either. 

As far as the schedule, I simply don’t see this team winning ten games. I think the Bears can come out and surprise them Week 1 in Chicago. You play the AFC West, which could easily be 4 losses right there. Then you play the NFC South, which is admittedly a mixed bag, but the Saints and Bucs will be tough matchups. I’m not saying this team wins 2 games, but 10? I don’t see the 49ers as winning more than 7 with a QB who is for all intents and purposes a rookie, and who greatly overachieved last year. The Bengals win total is at 9.5, why do people think Cincy will regress harder than these guys?

Saints o8.5 -105 (DraftKings) – I know Sean Payton is gone, but it’s not like this team is not going to have continuity in the program here. Go back and watch Jameis Winston’s starts last season – 14 TDs to 3 INTs in the 7 games he played before his ACL tear. His receivers last year were bad – remember when Marquez Callaway was the next big thing? This year the Saints have Michael Thomas back, a healthy Jarvis Landry who still has something left in the tank, newcomer Chris Olave who is expected to be a contributor immediately, and apparently the NFL might delay Alvin Kamara’s suspension until his criminal case is resolved.

 The Saints boast the 9th easiest strength of schedule – they get to play the Falcons and Panthers twice, and for some reason always have Tampa Brady’s number anyway. They play the NFC West – which I believe is much weaker than it used to be, and AFC North, which admittedly means you run into the Ravens and Bengals, but that’s not a bad schedule. With the NFC as weak as it is right now, there is no reason the Saints can’t be a playoff team. 

Texans – ov4.5 EV (DraftKings) – I believe in General Mills. Yes the Texans were horrendous early on last season. But down the stretch last year this team nearly swept the Titans, destroyed the Chargers, and beat the Jaguars. They had 4 wins a season ago, and you are telling me this team isn’t improved? They aren’t very young – actually one of the oldest rosters in the league. Weird for a rebuild, but they have a lot of veterans who know how to play football. You still have Brandin Cooks for Mills to throw to, and you hope he will take a step forward in Year 2. There is a reason the Texans stuck with him as their QB. 

With Lovie Smith at the helm, they finally have some more experienced coaching. I’m not saying they are going to be good. But they play in the weakest division in football. You get to play Jacksonville twice. I don’t think the Titans are going to be anywhere near what they were last year, and to be quite frank, I am betting the Texans to win the division at 25/1. You are one Matt Ryan injury away from a wide open shot at the division. But 4 wins is a very reasonable number for this team to surpass, even if they don’t end up being an above average, or even average team. 

Seahawks – u5.5 +120 (DraftKings) – The Seahawks are my pick to have the worst record in football this season (+750). There is no team with a worse QB situation in the NFL. If Drew Lock and Geno Smith are your answers, the question is “What is tanking?” 

You play the AFC West and NFC South for your out of division schedule. I love nothing about that, except that you play the Panthers towards the end of the season when Christian Mccaffrey will already be hurt. Geno Smith will win the revenge game against the Jets. Even if you split with the 49ers, you still need to find two more wins in this schedule. I guess they can beat the Giants Week 8. But the back half of the schedule does a team that is tanking no favors. If anyone is winning two games this season, I think it is the Seahawks.