Baltimore Ravens – 10.5 (take the over)
This may seem like a daunting number at first glance, but once you take a look at the Ravens schedule for the upcoming season, you’ll probably be ready to make some wagers.
In order to decrease the wordage of this article, I’ll sum up the Ravens’ schedule in one word; Cushy.
This team has the 2nd easiest schedule in the entire league. It’s no surprise why. They’ll play both the Browns and Bengals twice, and that’s in addition to their division getting matched up with the lowly NFC West this season.
Throw in two early season matchups against Tennessee and Jacksonville, do some elementary math and then realize that the Ravens have TEN games where the only thing that stands between them and a win, is the door of the team bus.
To get to the over, the Ravens will need to win ONE (yes, only one) of their other six games. I believe they’ll win at least three of those (Houston, Indianapolis, @ San Diego) and I wouldn’t be surprised if they took care of the Jets and Steelers at home.
The Ravens will be the favorite in all but one of their sixteen games. That one game is @Pittsburgh.
Best case: 15-1
Worst case: 11-5
Most likely: 13-3
Cincinnati Bengals- 5.5 (Gun to my head; over)
I’ve gone back and forth with this. I even wrote out an entire explanation of why I think the bet here should be the under. But then I deleted it and started over again after looking at the upcoming schedule.
The Bengals have the 4th easiest schedule this season. As mentioned above with the Ravens, the entire AFC North will play the entire NFC West this year. The previous sentence is my main argument for taking the over.
Looking over the first nine weeks (they have BYE week 7) the Bengals will have a chance to win SEVEN games. The one game they’ll for sure lose is against Indianapolis in week 6. Their first nine weeks looks like this: @Cleveland, @Denver, San Francisco, Buffalo, @Jacksonville, Indianapolis, BYE, @Seattle, and @Tennessee.
I think the Bengals go four out of the first six (Cleveland, San Francisco, Buffalo and Jacksonville) and take a well-deserved week off before heading to Seattle. I believe they will win @Seattle before losing to the Titans. That leaves them with FIVE wins heading into the second half of their season.
From week 10 to week 17 the Bengals will have a chance in three games. Those games are week 12 against Cleveland, week 15 @St. Louis and week 16 versus Arizona. I like Cincinnati to beat Cleveland once more, but I see them losing to both St. Louis and Arizona to finish with a record of 6-10.
Remember my earlier comment on how the AFC North matching up with the NFC West is the reason I took the over? My whole reason for that comment is because I believe the Bengals will win at least two and maybe even three of those games against those teams. If the AFC North played any other conference, I would have taken the under.
Best case: 8-8
Worst case: 2-14
Most likely 6-10
Cleveland Browns- 6.5 (take the under)
Another year, another disappointment. Well, that’s how I think Browns’ fans are going to feel after the 2011-2012 campaign.
The Browns will play the 13th ranked schedule this season. Not horrible, but not nearly as nice as the other three teams in the AFC North. Everyone else will be playing a schedule ranked inside the top five in the league as far as easiness goes.
Looking over their schedule, I just don’t see a way this team wins FIVE games, let alone the SEVEN required to pick the over.
I already said I believe the Bengals will sweep the Browns, so that leaves us with only EIGHT games the Browns will have a chance to win. Of those eight games, three are in the West (San Francisco, Arizona and Oakland) and I don’t want to have to have to rely on a bad team winning at least two games that far from home.
That being said, I like the Browns to defeat the Dolphins (week 3), Titans (week 4), Seahawks (week 7) and Jaguars (week 11). I think that the week 10 game versus the Rams will be difficult, but they may be able to get that one as well.
Right there is FIVE wins, and I’m not too comfortable with them winning all of the games I mentioned. Maybe they squeak out a win against Cincinnati and a game on the West Coast, but I’m not willing to put money on that.
You just have to go with your gut, and mine’s telling me that a 7-9 season for the Browns is a stretch at best.
Best case: 7-9
Worst case: 3-13
Most likely: 5-11
Pittsburgh Steelers- 10.5 (take the over)
The Steelers are really in the same boat as the Ravens. They have an easy schedule (5th overall) and will be favored in the overwhelming majority of their games. They’ll make the playoffs again, but it’s tough to predict whether they’ll be making the playoffs as a division champ or a wildcard.
In my opinion, the Steelers have EIGHT games where they shouldn’t break a sweat (4 NFC West games and 4 combined between Bengals and Browns). Throw in Tennessee and Jacksonville and we come to the same count as the Ravens (10 wins) in similar games.
I think the Ravens and Steelers will each win at home, in effect canceling out the division tiebreaker. Assuming that’s the case, that means the Steelers will have at least 11 wins, therefore successfully beating the 10.5 over-under.
The remaining four undecided games should cause Steeler fans to worry a bit. These games are @Indianapolis (week 3), @Houston (week 4), New England (week 8) and @ Kansas City (week 12). I think they will probably beat Houston and I think the week 11 BYE ensures they will beat Kansas City, but my point is that these aren’t gimmes.
I like the Colts to win at home on Sunday Night Football and I think New England will beat Pittsburgh when they come to town as well.
Beating the 10.5 threshold will be no problem, but I think the Ravens carry the division this season.
Best case: 14-2
Worst Case- 11-5
Most likely: 12-4