It's a betting bonanza kind of week. We had the women's basketball national championship last night with the men on tap Monday.
Then we sprint to Thursday with The Masters and MLB opening day at the same time.
But the NFL had to stick its snoot in the action, too.
Last Friday, FanDuel Sportsbook posted its first win totals for the 2022 season. As if there weren't enough already on our plates.
We could ignore these for a bit until the non-NFL sports start to chill out. But then we're missing out on -- potentially -- the softest numbers we'll get all year. We want to pepper these before the market grinds them into efficiency.
As such, let's run through just the spots where my numbers differ most from the market in order to pick off the biggest values. Then we can circle back and run through more bets later on.
Here are the five totals where my win total projections differ from the market by at least one win. As a note, I omitted the Seattle Seahawks over 5.5 (-130) because my numbers are currently assuming DK Metcalf will return. A trade there would make their projection much lower than its current mark of 6.7.
Rams Under 10.5 Wins (-135)
Ah, yes, betting against the defending Super Bowl champs. You massive fish. You dolt. You moron.
But here, a bet of the Los Angeles Rams under 10.5 wins is less about them and more about the teams they'll face.
My numbers do view the Rams favorably. They're within shouting distance of sixth in my power rankings, so if they were to add one more piece on offense, they'd be considered a legit Super Bowl contender.
But not only do they get the schedule of a divisional winner (meaning they're paired with other divisional winners), they also have to face the AFC West. This upcoming year, they will face the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all on the road. Those are three of the top four teams in my power rankings, and they'll also face the fifth-place Los Angeles Chargers in a battle for LA.
I've got the Rams closer to 9.5 wins than 10.5. If this were just based on team strength, I'd view this market as being accurate. But once you account for the schedule, the under here is appealing even at heavy juice.
Colts Under 9.5 Wins (+115)
The Indianapolis Colts -- unlike the Rams -- don't suffer from a tough schedule. I just have concerns around their talent, making it hard to get to 9.5 wins.
It's probably true that Matt Ryan is a slight upgrade from Carson Wentz. But as of now, it's Ryan without a left tackle and with a massive lack of talent at pass-catcher. Environment matters a lot for quarterbacks, especially for guys entering their age-37 season who seemed to experience a falloff in arm strength the previous year.
The Colts will likely add help on the line and add pass-catchers. Still, they're thin on draft capital for trades, and most of the key free agents have been gobbled up. The odds they land a legit difference-maker are slim.
I've got the Colts at 8.4 wins, which, in fairness, is second in the division and just 0.4 wins behind the Tennessee Titans. But the Jacksonville Jaguars seem feistier than they were last year, and two of the Colts' home games are against the Chiefs and Chargers. I'm fine betting the under here even while knowing they could patch some of these holes.
Vikings Over 8.5 Wins (-130)
Thanks! I hate it!
This was a theme all throughout last year: my numbers would tell me to bet the Minnesota Vikings, I'd do it, and I'd regret it whether the bet won or lost.
In fairness to the numbers, the Vikings were 8-6 against the spread when my numbers told me to bet them. So it wasn't as if the numbers were off. It just wasn't an enjoyable journey to have money riding on such a frustrating team.
Yet here we go again.
The key criticism of the Vikings this offseason is a fair one: they're spinning their wheels. They're kicking the can down the line, adding congestion to future seasons' salary caps in hopes of competing again in 2022. Unless you've got a team that can legitimately compete for the crown, it's a tough strategy to justify.
It does, though, help their outlook for the 2022 win total market. And that's why my numbers still have them at 10.0 wins despite their flaws.
This is, in part, fueled by an easier schedule. They're just 13th in my power rankings but have the 9th-highest win total projection. That's another reason we can bet the over while still being skeptical of their strategy.
Whatever we want to say about Kirk Cousins, he can lead an efficient offense during the regular season, and that can lead to wins. Maybe a new play-caller and head coach helps him find a new ceiling. But even the low-ceiling version of Cousins we should expect can get them over a win total of 8.5 this year.
Bears Under 7 Wins (-120)
Part of the reason my numbers have the Vikings going over is they get to face the Chicago Bears twice a year. They view those as decently easy matchups.
I'm baking in progression from Justin Fields this year because I believe in his talent. But I can go only so far in that progression if the Bears don't improve the situation around him.
And when the receiver depth chart is Darnell Mooney followed by the human embodiment of the shrug emoji, they haven't done enough.
The offensive line should improve if we assume left tackle Teven Jenkins is fully healthy. That's not an elite unit yet, either, though, and the Khalil Mack trade -- while a good long-term move -- hurts their 2022 outlook. There just isn't a lot of talent on this team, especially not in a division with two competent foes.
I've got the Bears at 5.9 wins right now, 0.8 wins behind even the Detroit Lions. They just haven't given Fields enough help for me to believe that 2022 is the year they break out.
Texans Over 3.5 Wins (-145)
The implied odds of -145 are 59.2%, so FanDuel knows the Houston Texans are more likely to go over 3.5 wins than under it. Still, I am willing to take that step and bet the over here.
Currently, the Texans have the lowest win total projection in the sport by my numbers. Even that mark, though, is up at 4.7, 1.2 wins higher than their win total here. That gives us wiggle room to cover the juice.
One pushback on betting the over here is that trade winds have been swirling around Brandin Cooks. If they were to trade Cooks, it'd hurt their projected passing efficiency and downgrade them in my model.
That just doesn't seem to be how the Texans want to operate, though. They could have traded Cooks at the deadline last year; they chose not to. They could have traded left tackle Laremy Tunsil this offseason to stockpile picks; instead, they restructured his contract to keep him in town.
The Texans don't seem to be in tear-it-down mode. They're keeping key assets, and it's making four wins decently realistic.
Davis Mills outperformed expectations as a rookie. They kept Pep Hamilton around to be offensive coordinator after Hamilton worked well with Mills last year and Justin Herbert the year before. They're certainly not a good team, but they don't seem to be dumpster-fire-y enough to justify a win total this low.