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The NFL schedule is official, which means hungry sports bettors can rejoice knowing that NFL team futures can finally be placed. Obviously, there is still plenty of time for rosters to change between now and the start of the regular season, but I’m going to take a look at the schedules for NFC teams and provide advice on individual team’s win totals based on what each team looks like right now.
Today I’ll be focusing on the NFC West. All win total projections come from FanDuel.
- 2019 Record: 5-10-1
- 2020 Strength of Schedule: (.518) – T-8th hardest
- 2020 Win Total: Over 7 (-115) / Under 7 (-105)
I have the Cardinals going 2-4 in the division, with a best-case scenario putting them at 3-3. This isn’t a knock on the Cardinals, it just comes down to the other teams in the division having more experience than Arizona heading into the season. The Cardinals are closing, and some might argue have closed, the gap in terms of talent, but with close games all over the schedule, the edge goes to other more experienced teams.
At 2-4, they need to find five wins in their other 10 games. This is doable for the Cardinals, but their schedule is tricky. Their easier games are on the road, while their more difficult games are at home. That should mean they pick up some extra victories at home this season, but it could also mean some extra losses on the road.
Arizona should have no problem taking care of Washington in Week 2 but could run into trouble against the Lions in Week 3, a team they improbably tied last season in Kyler Murray’s first start. The Cardinals then head on the road for a three-game stretch, traveling to Carolina, New York to take on the Jets, and then to Dallas. While two of those games are winnable, a long road stretch can be detrimental for a team.
After their bye week, the Cardinals host Miami and Buffalo in back to back games then will have a 10-day break between traveling to Seattle and New England to take on the Patriots. This is going to be the make or break stretch for the Cardinals. I have them starting the season 2-5, but if they can start 3-4 and sneak away from this four-game stretch with two wins instead of just one, they will be in really good shape to achieve at least seven wins.
However, the traveling doesn’t stop for the Cardinals, as they then head home from New England to take on the Rams and then fly back to New York to take on the Giants, before finishing out their season on the West Coast.
The fact is, the Cardinals are going to be spending a lot of time on the road this season. They are more talented than they were last season and have a lot of opportunities to pick up wins, but when games take place on their schedule isn’t doing them any favors. Seven wins are possible, but playing in the NFC West makes it feel as though those seven wins are the max for an improving team that is likely still a year away.
|Week 1||at 49ers||Loss||Week 10||vs Bills||Loss|
|Week 2||vs Washington||Win||Week 11||at Seahawks||Loss|
|Week 3||vs Lions||Loss||Week 12||at Patriots||Loss|
|Week 4||at Panthers||Loss||Week 13||vs Rams||Win|
|Week 5||at Jets||Win||Week 14||at Giants||Loss|
|Week 6||at Cowboys||Loss||Week 15||vs Eagles||Win|
|Week 7||vs Seahawks||Loss||Week 16||vs 49ers||Win|
|Week 9||vs Dolphins||Win||Week 17||at Rams||Loss|
2020 Record Prediction: 6-10
The Pick: Under 7 wins
LOS ANGELES RAMS
- 2019 Record: 9-7
- 2020 Strength of Schedule: (.516) – T-10th hardest
- 2020 Win Total: Over 8.5 (-105) / Under 8.5 (-115)
The Rams’ first three games are absolutely brutal, with a home game against Dallas followed by back to back road games in Philadelphia and Buffalo. For a team that struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball last season, they will need to quickly solve their problems in order to get in the win column early.
The good news for LA is that after the early stretch, the schedule gets easier. If you remove divisional games, the Rams take on the Giants, Washington, Chicago, Miami, Tampa Bay, New England, and the Jets. It’s not hard to see the Rams winning six of those seven games. If they can take those six wins and also finish .500 in the division, that will put them at nine wins, even if they lose their first three games.
Of course, many won’t be in love with the Rams offense after last season and that will cause many to stay away from this over. But even with all their woes, LA would have made the playoffs last season had the format been the same as it will be this season. The NFC West is going to be competitive and even if you believe that the Rams are the worst team in the division, it’s not hard to imagine them in close games with all their opponents much like they were last season.
In a worst-case scenario, the Rams finish 2-4 in the division, which would put them around eight wins. However, the Rams are going to be a team underestimated this season, which could be exactly what they need to get things right.
|Week 1||vs Cowboys||Win||Week 10||vs Seahawks||Win|
|Week 2||at Eagles||Loss||Week 11||at Buccaneers||Loss|
|Week 3||at Bills||Loss||Week 12||vs 49ers||Win|
|Week 4||vs Giants||Win||Week 13||at Cardinals||Loss|
|Week 5||at Washington||Win||Week 14||vs Patriots||Win|
|Week 6||at 49ers||Loss||Week 15||vs Jets||Win|
|Week 7||vs Bears||Win||Week 16||at Seahawks||Loss|
|Week 8||at Dolphins||Win||Week 17||vs Cardinals||Win|
2020 Record Prediction: 10-6
The Pick: Over 8.5 wins
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
- 2019 Record: 13-3
- 2020 Strength of Schedule: (.527) – 4th hardest
- 2020 Win Total: Over 10.5 (-120) / Under 10.5 (+100)
The 49ers enter the 2020 season with the 4th hardest schedule based on last season’s records. That hasn’t deterred Vegas from giving them a very high win total projection of 10.5.
My projection for the 49ers is 4-2 in division play, with the possibility of going 5-1. The 49ers start the season at home against Arizona and then in weeks 2 and 3, have the privilege of playing back to back road games in the same stadium when they take on the Jets and the Giants. That will cut out the cross country travel for them for at least one of those games. If they win both, they’re already at six or seven wins.
Other likely victories are a home game against Miami, a road game in New England, and a home game against Washington. Those three wins would put them at nine or 10, meaning they’d need to find two wins in their five remaining games to feel safe in their quest for 11 wins.
The five remaining contests are home against the Eagles, Green Bay and Buffalo, and two road games at New Orleans and Dallas. If they drop both road games, they’d have to win one or two of their home games. Being that the Eagles and Bills will both be traveling across the country, it’s not hard to imagine the 49ers being able to pull out both victories. And even if they only win one of those, they dominated the Packers last season, so they’re probably going to be confident heading into that matchup.
A lot of this feels like a worst-case scenario for the 49ers. There is no doubt that they’re going to be favored in most of their games this season. It’s not hard to imagine them easily clearing the 10.5 win threshold.
|Week 1||vs Cardinals||Win||Week 9||vs Packers||Win|
|Week 2||at Jets||Win||Week 10||at Saints||Loss|
|Week 3||at Giants||Win||Week 12||at Rams||Loss|
|Week 4||vs Eagles||Win||Week 13||vs Bills||Win|
|Week 5||vs Dolphins||Win||Week 14||vs Washington||Win|
|Week 6||vs Rams||Win||Week 15||at Cowboys||Win|
|Week 7||at Patriots||Win||Week 16||at Cardinals||Loss|
|Week 8||at Seahawks||Win||Week 17||vs Seahawks||Win|
2020 Record Prediction: 13-3
The Pick: Over 10.5 wins
- 2019 Record: 11-5
- 2020 Strength of Schedule: (.508) – T-13th hardest
- 2020 Win Total: Over 9.5 (+130) / Under 9.5 (-155)
This number is certain to drop due to the under being the heavy favorite. Get in ASAP if you like the under, or if you like the over, wait until this number drops to nine for a chance at a push. Nine wins are very, very likely for Seattle this season.
Even if the Seahawks manage to sweep the Cardinals, it’s still likely that they will go just 3-3 in the division. That means they must go 7-3 in their other 10 games in order to hit the over. With trips to Atlanta, Buffalo, and Philadelphia on the docket, things start to look tough for the Seahawks. It wouldn’t be out of the question to think they lose all three of those games. If they do drop all three, they would have to win all seven of their remaining games. If they can manage a win or two, then they would have to go 6-1, or 5-2 in the best-case scenario in their other seven games to get to 10 wins.
Home games against New England, the Giants, and the Jets, as well as a trip to Washington should result in four wins. Their other three games are home games against Dallas and Minnesota, and a road game in Miami. Let’s say they beat both Dallas and Minnesota, but they went 0-3 in the road games mentioned earlier, they would just need to win the game in Miami in order to hit 10 wins.
Easy enough, right? Not so fast. The Seahawks will be traveling all the way across the country from Seattle to Miami, a trip that has never been easy for Seattle. Add to that, the Dolphins’ game takes place right in between the home games against the Cowboys and Vikings making it a likely trap game.
It’s going to be a tough ride for the Seahawks this season, and no matter how you breakdown the schedule it always seems to come up with eight, nine, or 10 wins. I’m much more confident in the lower numbers than the higher.
|Week 1||at Falcons||Loss||Week 10||at Rams||Loss|
|Week 2||vs Patriots||Win||Week 11||vs Cardinals||Win|
|Week 3||vs Cowboys||Win||Week 12||at Eagles||Loss|
|Week 4||at Dolphins||Loss||Week 13||vs Giants||Win|
|Week 5||vs Vikings||Win||Week 14||vs Jets||Win|
|Week 7||at Cardinals||Win||Week 15||at Washington||Win|
|Week 8||vs 49ers||Loss||Week 16||vs Rams||Win|
|Week 9||at Bills||Loss||Week 17||at 49ers||Loss|
2020 Record Prediction: 9-7
The Pick: Under 9.5 wins
- AFC North Win Totals and Record Predictions for Bengals, Browns, Ravens, and Steelers
- AFC East Win Totals and Record Predictions for Bills, Dolphins, Jets, and Patriots
- AFC South Win Totals and Record Predictions for Colts, Jaguars, Texans, and Titans
- AFC West Win Totals and Record Predictions for Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, and Raiders
- NFC North Win Totals and Record Predictions for Bears, Lions, Packers, and Vikings
- NFC East Win Totals and Record Projections for Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, and Washington