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NFL Season Over/Unders

   by Al McMordie - 07/26/2007

With the NFL season just around the corner, this is good time to look at what might happen this fall on the gridiron. Future numbers are out for each team. A year ago in this column I looked at the Minnesota Vikings: “New coach Brad Childress inherits a mess. They have unloaded stars WR Randy Moss and QB Daunte Culpepper in each of the last two offseasons. QB Brad Johnson turns 38 in September. The linebacker corps is below-average as is the secondary. The Vikings defense ranked 21st overall. They shocked the NFL world by trading up into the second round to take QB Tarvaris Jackson of Alabama State. After a relatively nice run, the Vikings are in for a fall. Prediction: Under 8 wins.â€쳌

It was a chaotic season for the Vikings, with no QB play and only 6 wins. For 2007 the Patriots are projected for 11 wins, while the Colts and Chargers are at 10½, meaning the AFC is once again the conference to beat. Different factors come into play when assessing futures, in addition to offseason changes. With that in mind, let’s take a look at changes that took place with certain teams and how that might influence their status for the current over/unders.

Jaguars (over 8.5 wins): Jacksonville might have been the best 8-8 football team in NFL history last season. Their offense ranked 10th in the NFL (3rd in rushing) while the defense was a dominating unit ranked second overall. This team beat the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, shut out the Jets (41-0) and Steelers (12-0), and ran all over the champion Colts (44-17), all playoff teams. So what happened? They couldn’t win the close games and stumbled on the road (2-6 SU/ATS). Coach Jack Del Rio is under the gun this season. They add a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter to try and spice up the passing game, and their road play should be better with some winnable games at Oakland, Houston, Kansas City, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay. Nine wins or more and a playoff berth are more likely.

Redskins (under 7.5 wins): Washington had only one draft pick in the first four rounds because of Daniel Snyder’s free agent shopping in recent years. He has a penchant for picking duds, too, compounding the Skins' problems. They were quiet this offseason, for a change, looking to bolster both lines with depth and address the secondary, which ranked 23rd. Overall this team has more problems than strengths. RB Clinton Portis is off a lost season to a shoulder problem, they have a kid QB in Jason Campbell (53% completions), and a defense that ranked 30th in the NFL, including 27th against the rush. This is a tough division, with the Redskins the only NFC East team in 2006 not to make the postseason. Seven wins or less is more likely.

Texans (over 6.5 wins): I’ll go out on a limb and say this is the year the Texans finally improve. QB Matt Schaub is an improvement over David Carr. The new QB has tools to work with in speedy WR Andre Davis and Andre Johnson. Second-year coach Gary Kubiak and new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman are putting in a plan for more balance to the offense. They added OT Brandon Frye (Virginia Tech) and G Kasey Studdard (Texas) in the draft, signed LT Jordan Black (Chiefs) and added running back Ahman Green, who is off a 1,059 yards season with the Packers. The defense can only get better with second-year stud LB DeMeco Ryans, DE DeMario Williams and rookie DT Amobi Okoye from Louisville. Games against the Browns, Bucs, Chiefs, Dolphins, Raiders and Titans (twice) are manageable. And don’t forget: Houston was the last team to beat the Colts (27-24) before they stormed to the Super Bowl title.

Bucs (under 7 wins): It’s Jeff Garcia or bust for Jon Gruden and Tampa Bay. This team has too many marginal QBs with Chris Simms, Tim Rattay and Bruce Gradkowski, so Garcia comes aboard. One problem is that there are few skill position players to throw to and the offensive line is poor (28th in rushing, 3.8 yards per carry in 2006). It's no secret Gruden wanted WR Calvin Johnson badly in the draft, but he settled for DE Gaines Adams to help what is an aging defense (17th overall). The secondary hasn’t been the same since S John Lynch left for Denver. Tampa Bay was 0-6 SU/2-4 ATS in the division and a poor 1-7 SU, 3-5 ATS on the road last season. 2007 doesn’t look much better in a division with Carolina and New Orleans. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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