The preseason is over.
Teams will soon cut to their 53 man rosters and scouting units have set out on their yearly hunt for college talent. After this season is over, the player personnel departments will have what Ron Wolf used to call his Super Bowl, the NFL draft. How they did in last year’s draft, and recent ones, is reflected on the field.
Some teams have done better than others.
Some good teams are due for a downturn, and some bad teams are poised for a jump. It is those teams that generate solid future wagers on season win totals. Many put more stock in what happened last year than what is likely to occur this season. When the talent and expectations are out of whack, teams can play off script.
When expectations are higher than actual talent, like the case with the San Francisco 49ers this year, that team is almost certain to disappoint. Conversely, if expectations are below actual talent, a team can have a breakthrough season like the one enjoyed by the Los Angeles Rams last year. This season, the New York Giants are in a roll similar to the one that carried the Rams success in 2017.
A team that had a breakthrough campaign the year before, one that carried them into the playoffs after multiple losing seasons, is almost always headed for certain doom.
Last year, the Oakland Raiders fit that bill. In 2016, they were perhaps the best team in football while Derek Carr was healthy. Yet, when he went down with a season ending injury on Christmas Eve, all hopes for a Super Bowl went with him. On his return season last year hopes were high for the talented Raiders, but that breakthrough campaign the previous year that landed them in the postseason after four straight losing years, spelled doom and a 6-10 campaign.
While the Raiders could resurge this year, the team that broke years of losing seasons with a postseason berth last year was the Los Angeles Rams. If Jared Goff continues to excel at quarterback, and the Rams add one of the best defenses in the league, they appear poised to do well.
But, in this case, motivation trumps talent.The season-to-season flow of the Rams that saw them end a string of 10 consecutive losing seasons with a first round playoff bye in 2017, puts them in the crosshairs of failure this year.
This coming week, leading up to Thursday’s opener between the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles and the team that gave them their most severe test in the playoffs last season, the Atlanta Falcons, we will release our future choices on season wins and the Super Bowl.
The season win over and under column will appear on Tuesday, and I can assure you that on that list will be the 49ers and Rams going under their win totals, 8½ and 10 respectively, and the New York Giants over their projected win total of 7½ games.
On Wednesday, the lead column will feature our choices for Super Bowl LIII and which team we think will win it. Then, on Thursday afternoon, our first regular season Headline Play will post.