With the NFL preseason two weeks in, and the regular season only two weeks away, time for some "Prisoner of the Moment" insight on win totals.
You know what I'm talking about, with teams you may have been on the fence about, but now after only two games, you've jumped from the top rope and are ready to make an investment.
Happens to the best of us, as we get excited over players who may or may not make the final 53-man cut.
Here are my "Prisoner of the Moment" takes through Week 2 (lines courtesy DraftKings):
RAIDERS (Over 6 1/2 wins, +110) - Of course I'm going to start in my own backyard, where the Silver and Black is 2-0 after impressive preseason wins over last year's NFC semifinalist San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams, two years removed from their Super Bowl title. Before we talk about a fluid offense that leads the league with 34.0 points per game, how good has projected QB3 Aidan O'Connell looked? O'Connell ranks No. 1 in the preseason with his 125.2 passer rating, having completed 26 of 36 attempts for 304 passing yards and three TDs. Brian Hoyer was brought in to backup Jimmy Grapppolo, but O'Connell continues to make his case as a poised rookie. Both Hoyer and Grappolo made their preseason debuts in Saturday's 34-17 win over the Rams. The Raiders have shown defensive tenacity in both wins, putting the ball back in the offensive unit's hands with efficient play.
PRISONER OF THE MOMENT TAKE: Drink the Las Vegas Kool-Aid, as we're seeing improvement with preparation and execution, and should see at least 7 wins.
JAGUARS (Over 9 1/2 wins, -140) - Jacksonville hasn't been favored to win the AFC South in quite some time, but it's looking more and more like their division to win with how well they've played this preseason. After winning their first two games, with Trevor Lawrence playing a couple of series (5 of 6 for 36 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT), it's been the rushing game that has shown some life. And while we don't know who will be in the running backs room come Week 1, what we do know is the offensive line has been exceptional. The Jags are averaging a league fifth-best 145.0 yards rushing per game, contributing to the league's No. 2 offense, which averages 406.5 yards per game overall. But this goes beyond the Jaguars, as one has to take in consideration the divisional opponents - Indianapolis, Tennessee and Houston. I can see Jacksonville going 5-1 or 4-2 against those three this season. Other wins should come at home Atlanta, San Francisco and Carolina, and on the road at Pittsburgh and Cleveland. We we would need a couple of wins from the other six games to get to 10.
PRISONER OF THE MOMENT TAKE: The Jaguars went from three wins in 2021 to nine wins and a playoff berth under then-first-year coach Doug Pederson in 2022. This year a division title is at their finger tips, along with 10+ wins.
VIKINGS (Under 8', -110) - There is a reason the Over/Under win total for Minnesota is a pick'em. Everyone became enamored by the Vikings last season, with nobody taking in consideration the rather weak schedule they played. Per Sharp Football Analysis dot com, the Vikings have the eighth-toughest schedule. Their projected tally for SKOL lands on 8.6 - basically right on the posted total. And keep in mind, of the 11 teams that actually had the hardest 2022 schedules, only three went over their 2022 win total (Bengals, Steelers and Jets). Even further, the Vikings have one of the five worst edges with prep and rest, gauging rest days vs. their opponents. For instance, the Vikings open the season at home against the Buccaneers, then has a game four days later at defending NFC champion Philadelphia. They have a short week in October, too, after playing at home vs. Frisco on a Monday, and then visiting rival-Green Bay the following Sunday. The second leg of short weeks on the road are never easy when you consider teams needing a mandatory off day, and a travel day.
PRISONER OF THE MOMENT TAKE: The Vikings are going to take their lumps more than most think, and will find themselves struggling a lot more than they did last season, and will win no more than 8 games.
PANTHERS (Under 7', -115) - I'm not convinced by any means that Carolina will be an improved team this season, and could be in the basement of the NFC South when it's all said and done. We've seen them shut out by the Jets in Week 1 of the preseason, and then fall short of a comeback in a 21-19 loss to the Giants in Week 2. Is Bryce Young the answer? Not this year, in my eyes. We haven't seen much of him in the preseason, but it's the rest of the roster that has me concerned for the rookie. Pass protection will be an ongoing issue. The Panthers have to figure out a way to become a solid wall across the frontline, even though Young showed poise against the Giants' random blitzing schemes. If there are any leaks, both Young and the rushing game will struggle for efficiency. On defense, the question is how this team has improved in the Red Zone. Last season it allowed league-tying ninth-highest 32 RZ TDs. The Panthers' stop unit also needs to improve on third down, having allowed a league 10th-highest 41.1% conversion rate.
PRISONER OF THE MOMENT TAKE: The Panthers will have a frustrating season, especially in a division where I think every team has improved - except them. I don't think Carolina gets more than 7 wins.