Each spring under the expansive cover of March Madness, the NFL begins to lay the foundation for its upcoming season.
That process essentially kicks off with the start of free agency and a new league year in mid-March. It continues as other items such as the gradual release of the schedule and owners’ meetings are checked off the list.
Add another Groundhog Day-type benchmark as of Sunday. Sportsbook operator CG Technology broke the seal on projected win totals for the 2019 season by opening up those futures markets.
NFL win totals for 2019
Last year’s elite retain respect
A look at the CG’s list reveals a mix of a couple of surprises interspersed with a good number of expected projections.
The defending champion Patriots lead the way with a projected 11-win total after hitting that mark last season. Notably, the last time New England managed less than 11 wins was way back in 2009. That season, they sported a 10-6 record in Tom Brady’s comeback from an ACL tear. The Pats ultimately bowed out with a 33-14 loss to the Ravens in the Wild Card round.
There’s a three-way logjam at second with the remaining members of last season’s final four — the Chiefs, Rams and Saints. All three teams have their projection set at 10.5 wins. Notably, each squad comfortably surpassed that number in 2018. The Chiefs co-led the AFC with 12 victories, while the Rams and Saints were atop the NFC with 13 victories apiece.
Then, the team Kansas City shared top billing with, the Chargers, are bumped down to 10 projected wins as wagering opens.
Offseason moves have varying degree of impact
Other projected totals of note upon first glance include:
- The Browns jumping from a projected six wins as betting close prior to the 2018 campaign to nine as it opens for the upcoming season. Not only did Cleveland and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield exceed expectations last season by forging a 7-8-1 record, they did anything but rest on their laurels this offseason. The additions of Odell Beckham, Jr., Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson figure to take both sides of the ball to the next level.
- The Steelers check in at a relatively modest (by their standards) nine wins after trading away Antonio Brown and officially losing Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh has a pair of considerably talented pieces in JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner to help cushion those losses. However, the loss of the combined talent level of the two departed players, the roster’s depleted depth and last season’s 9-6-1 mark all play into current expectations.
- The Raiders rivaled the Browns for offseason headlines by snagging the best available receiver this side of Beckham in Brown via trade. Prior to that, they added personnel guru Mike Mayock ahead of a draft where they’ll have three first-round draft picks at their disposal. Oakland also continued its offensive makeover with the addition of productive second-tier pieces Isaiah Crowell and Tyrell Williams. Yet, all that maneuvering only nets two additional wins in the eyes of the oddsmakers. After finishing 4-12 in the first season of Jon Gruden 2.0, Oakland opens with a projected six-win total.
- Dark days appear to be on the horizon in South Florida. The Dolphins netted a 7-9 record under Adam Gase’s final season in 2018. New skipper Brian Flores arrives with plenty of endorsement from both coaches and players on the defending champion Patriots, where he spent 15 seasons honing his craft. However, with questions up and down the roster — including at the all-important quarterback position following a divorce from Ryan Tannehill — Miami brings up the rear along with the Arizona Cardinals with a meager projection of five wins.