Carolina Panthers – 2018 record (7-9) – ATS Record (7-9) – Over/Under Record (8-8)
- YPG Differential +20
- Point Differential -6
2019 ASA prediction – Play OVER 7.5 Wins for Carolina Panthers
We have Carolina favored in half of their games this season so we’ll lean ever so slightly to the OVER here and call for an 8-8 record. They were projected to win 9 games last year and wound up with only 7 wins despite outgaining their opponents on the season. 6 of their 7 wins came by 8 or more points while 7 of their 9 losses came by a TD or less. QB Cam Newton’s shoulder is the key here. He played very well early in the year and let the Panthers to a 6-2 start to the season. Once his shoulder starting bothering him, the Panthers only won 1 more game the remainder of the season. Newton’s overall numbers were very good as he completed 68% of his passes which was a career high. He had only completed 58% of his passes in his first 7 seasons combined. He’s tweaked his mechanics and rehabbed his shoulder so we’ll anticipate a solid season. The defense was uncharacteristically poor last year ranking 20th in total defense. Carolina ranked in the top 10 in total defense in 4 of the previous 5 seasons heading into last year so we’ll look for a much better performance this season. If they can get back into the top 10, or close, defensively they should eclipse 7.5 wins. The schedule lays out nicely for the Panthers as they have back to back road games only once all season. Not once do they play 3 road games in 4 weeks. Again, if Cam can stay healthy and his arm strength is solid, we like Carolina to win 8 games.
New Orleans Saints – 2018 record (13-3) – ATS Record (10-6) – Over/Under Record (7-9)
- YPG Differential +30
- Point Differential +151
2019 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 10.5 Wins for the New Orleans Saints
The Saints won 13 games last year but only outgained their opponents by an average of 30 YPG. They were obviously very good, but probably not as good as their overall record. After winning 13, the oddsmakers set this number much lower at 10.5. Most will look at last year’s win total and simply play this one over the 10.5. We go the other way here and project a 10-6 record for New Orleans giving us the UNDER. It’s simply very tough to duplicate a 13 win season. In fact, it’s almost impossible according to the long term data. Since the start of the 1983 season, 35 NFL teams have finished the regular season with 13 or more wins. Only TWO of those teams won 13 or more games the following season. In other words, a regression is almost a given. 24 of those 35 teams won 10 or fewer games the next season. The offense should be solid once again however we have concerns about the defense. They were very good vs the run last year but one of the worst in the NFL at defending the pass. They ranked in the bottom 5 in the NFL in YPG allowed passing, yards per completion, and yards per pass attempt. That’s not a recipe for success in the current NFL. They got by last year but we feel that side of the ball catches up with them this season. Brees was again very good but he’s now 40 years old and his numbers will diminish at some point soon. He’ll need another terrific season to give his team a shot at 11 or 12 wins. The schedule isn’t easy with three back to back road trips this season including in weeks 2 & 3 where they head to LA to face the Rams followed by a trip west again to face the Seahawks. The Saints will be solid again but 10 wins is our prediction.
Atlanta Falcons – 2018 record (7-9) – ATS Record (5-11) – Over/Under Record (9-7)
- YPG Differential +5
- Point Differential -9
2019 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 8.5 Wins for the Atlanta Falcons
We just don’t trust this team. They have entered the last 2 seasons with an offense that looks like it could be fantastic and a defense that had some solid pass rushers. Despite that, since their Super Bowl appearance a few years ago, the Falcons have fallen flat going 17-15 the last 2 seasons. While we think they have the ability to get to 9 or even 10 wins, we don’t trust this team. Even if they improve by a full game over last year, that still only puts them at 8-8 which falls under this number. The offense has taken a big step back. After scoring a league high 34 PPG in 2016, the Birds have put up 21 & 25 PPG their last 2 seasons. While QB Matt Ryan had a very solid year in 2018, he had no help from his running game as they averaged just 98 YPG on the ground. For comparison’s sake, the Birds averaged 117 YPG on the ground during their Super Bowl season in 2016. The defense took a big step back allowing 6 teams to score 30+ on them last year after allowing that to happen only once in 2017. The pass defense has become a major issue allowing opposing QB’s to complete 65% and 68% of their passes the last 2 seasons. The Falcons didn’t beat a single team in 2018 that ended the year with a winning record and their slate looks a bit daunting this year. Four of their first six games are away from home including games @ Minnesota, @ Indy, and @ Houston during that stretch. After those first 6 they host the Rams and Seahawks so it’s going to be tough for this team to get off to a good start. UNDER 8.5 wins is our recommendation.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2018 record (5-11) – ATS Record (8-7-1) – Over/Under Record (9-7)
- YPG Differential +32
- Point Differential -68
2019 ASA prediction – Play OVER 6.5 Wins for Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We like this Buccaneer team more than most. We think a .500 record is a definite possibility so we like OVER 6.5 wins here. This team won only 5 games last year but outgained their opponents by 32 YPG so they were better than their record. We like the hire of Bruce Arians as head coach for the Bucs. He has a 49-30 lifetime record as a head man and had the Cards winning 10, 11, and 13 games in 3 of his 5 seasons there. As soon as he left, Arizona dropped to a 3-13 record. The offense put up 24.8 PPG last year but they were better than that. That number ranked them 11th in the NFL in scoring yet they ranked 2nd in both total yards and yards per play in 2018 so their point total on the year was lower than is probably should have been. Those points could have made a huge difference as 7 of their 11 losses were one score games (8 points or less). We’re not big Jameis Winston fans, but he has lots of weapons to work with and we look for TB to put up more than 24 PPG this season with a top notch offensive mind (Arians) now in control of the franchise. Tampa’s pass defense was poor last year allowing opposing QB’s to hit 72% of their passes, worst in the league. Arians feels they’ve filled in the holes nicely back that and expects a solid secondary. The schedule is a bit of a concern out of the gate with 5 of their first 8 games on the road. They also lose a home game when they “host” Carolina in London in October. All that being said, we think this team can get to 7 or 8 wins this year with Arians at the helm.