Tonight the Dolphins and Steelers strap it up for real as we begin the chase to Super Bowl XXXXI. We’ve had a couple of days to digest the NFL preseason, scan final cuts, and analyze last minute free agent pickups. Here are a few impressions I have regarding NFL season win totals.
New Orleans under 6.5
As much as you want to root for the New Orleans Saints, it looks like another long year in the Crescent City. The Saints have a tremendous 1-2 punch in Deuce McAllister and super-rook Reggie Bush but the offensive line is unsettled and Drew Brees must still be viewed as a question mark after off-season shoulder surgery.
The defense appears to be a sieve and is destined to allow a ton of points. In fact, the Saints ground game may be in fact their best “defensive option" by converting third down chances and grinding out clock.
New Orleans’s schedule is brutal. The Saints draw the AFC North and their only winnable road games are against Cleveland in their opener with the Packers on the road the following week. Should the Saint’s open 0-2, it’s conceivable that they could be 0-11 heading into their December 3rd home game vs. the 49ers.
New Orleans final six road games are at Carolina, Tampa Bay, Pittsburg, Atlanta, Dallas, and the Giants. Winnable home games are San Francisco and Washington. It’s difficult seeing the saints scratching out 4-5 wins never mind the seven you would need to cash this ticket. Play the UNDER.
Houston Texans over 5.5
The Gary Kubiak hiring should pay dividends both long and short term. If David Carr is to fulfill his highly touted potential, he’ll certainly do so under the long-time ex-Denver Bronco offensive coordinator. Additions to the Texan offensive line and its new zone blocking scheme should improve the Texan running game. Carr will no longer be a piñata while attempting to pass.
The Houston defense was showing signs of coming around the final month of the season in 2005 and proved stingy in the preseason. It remains to be seen if #1 pick Mario Williams will have a Julius Peppers type impact but at worse have a solid run stopper that bring heat to opposing quarterbacks.
The Texan schedule is very manageable. The open with three of their first four at home facing *Philadelphia, *Washington, *Miami, and then Jacksonville, *Buffalo, *Tenn, Indianapolis, and *Cleveland. On the road they face Indy, Dallas, *Tenn, Giants, Jax, and finish with *Oakland, *Jets, and at New England. I’ve marked what are in my opinion winnable games and by my count see nine. I see the Texans in many 16-13 and 20-17 types of games. Houston is one year removed from 8-8 and I see 6-8 highly probable. Play the Over.
Dennis Macklin is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com/Dennis_Macklin.htm