2021 NFL: Looking at the AFC Over/Under Totals

by Will Rogers

AFC EAST

Can the Jets get to 7-10 in a season in which the AFC East has three solid teams? Gang Green would probably have to go 2-4 in the division to have a shot at beating the posted 6.5 win total, and it’s hard to see that happening with so much inexperience – including at the two most important spots, quarterback and head coach. New York’s chances of getting to seven wins depends on Zach Wilson having a Justin Herbert-like first season, and the rest of the roster more than pulling its weight for new boss Robert Saleh.

***Division favorite Buffalo (10.5) went 6-0 in the East last season, but that is unlikely this time around. OTOH, the Bills have more depth than at any time in the last two decades.

***New England’s number (9) seems just about right, but to cash an Over ticket at 10-7 they have to figure out whether they are going to ride it out with Cam Newton or turn the club over to rookie Mac Jones.

***Miami is also at 9, and a lot depends on how the Dolphins react to a tough early schedule. There is no easy game until Week 6 (Jacksonville). The Fins got to 10-6 last season, but were even better (11-5) ATS.

AFC NORTH

Steelers fans weren’t sure that Ben Roethlisberger would be under center again this season, and that pretty much sums up the uncertainty surrounding this franchise. Pittsburgh’s number has been set at a modest 8.5, which befits a team that lost four of its last five last season after starting 11-0. The Steelers are disappearing from annual Super Bowl discussions, and now the question is if – and how – they can maintain their elite status as a playoff team and prevent a slide into the NFL muck. This is perhaps the toughest O / U bet on the board this season.

***Will running QB Lamar Jackson actually make it all the way through a 17-game season? Are opponents starting to figure out the Ravens’ offense? If the answer to either question is yes, 11 appears to be a high total.

***With an improved secondary and every key player back, Cleveland (10.5) will get a long look from Over players. Getting to 11 would signify that the franchise has indeed turned the corner.

***Joe Burrow should be back and healthy, but the low number (6.5) tells us that oddsmakers don’t like the Bengals’ chances in what could be the best division in the NFL.

AFC SOUTH

Carson Wentz’s foot injury has scrambled the betting for every team in the division. The Colts’ QB still doesn’t know how much time he’ll miss – the team says he will be back at some point in 2021 – and that has taken the Colts’ number completely off the board. Indy was projected at 9.5 before the injury, and that was even with a questionable left side of the O line. Even if the Colts deal for a QB (there was talk of a trade with Minnesota before Covid hit the Vikings’ QB room), the next number will be much lower than 9.5.

***If Wentz is missing for the two Titans games (Sept. 26 and Oct. 31), the path to 10 wins (the number is 9.5) gets much easier. A word of caution to those looking at the Over: Tennessee won a lot of tight games last season. If the law of averages catches up with the Titans . . . well, you know.

***Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence looks like the real deal, but can he drag the Jags to seven wins? The number is 6.5, and seems just about right. They would likely need three wins in the division to get there.

***You would think that a team could go 5-12 just by showing up, but this is Houston and the Deshaun Watson mess and a bad roster all-around says that Under players will be cashing even with the total being a meager 4.5.

AFC WEST
Eighty percent of the offensive line will be newcomers, and that’s a bit of a red flag for anyone figuring that an Over play on Kansas City (12.5) is a lock. Still, there is plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and the Chiefs have enough depth there to just wear down teams over the course of the season. Going 5-1 in the division is more than reasonable as the Chargers, Broncos and Raiders are all in the decent-but-not-yet-there muddle.

***The Chargers’ number has been pinned at 9.5, so bettors need to decide if LA has improved enough to go 10-7. Only two games last season were blowouts.

***The Broncos (8.5) are another team that could go anywhere, but without a franchise QB it’s hard to justify an Over play. There is talent up and down the roster, though, but perhaps not enough to complete for the last of a playmaking QB.

***Join the club if you can’t figure out what’s going on in Sin City, where the Raiders (7) have been hemorrhaging players and the quarterback situation always is fluid until David Carr wins the job back.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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