2018 NFL Predictions: Jaguars win less than nine games, Bengals go big and our best futures bets – CBSSports.com


There are just seven days until the NFL season begins, which means there are just seven days to lock in your future bets on the 2018 NFL season. Once the Eagles and Falcons kick off, there’s no more gambling! Except for on individual games, roughly 12-16 times per week, three days a week, for the next six months.

But a single game bet is fleeting: the opportunity to cash in big on a successful season-long prediction? That’s true love.

To get your head right for the final countdown, we solicited some help from a few experts, including a duo from SportsLine: R.J. White (placed in the SuperContest multiple times, went huge on NFL games last year) and Larry Hartstein (a SportsLine senior analyst soaking in Vegas sources who’s gone 8-4 the last three years on season win total picks). 

Also joining the fun are myself (Will Brinson, you may know me from such movies as the Pick Six Podcast), John Breech and Jared Dubin. 

We were each granted an imaginary — as far as you know — $1,000 budget to spend on NFL future bets. The only requirements were a. one Super Bowl bet minimum, b. two season win total bets minimum and c. spend it all. 

It’s interesting to see the different approaches from all of us below: R.J. focuses on unders, Breech loves the Bengals and Dubin is dipping his fingers in all kinds of different opportunities. There’s no wrong way to win, as long as you’re right. 

Who can you bank on to win every NFL game, and which teams are ripe for massive upsets? Join SportsLine today and get projected scores and stats from an advanced computer model that beat 95 percent of CBS Sports Office Pool players the past two years and nearly won $4,000 on point spread picks. Plus, get Vegas insider picks, fantasy advice and much more! Use promo code KICKOFF to get your first month for $1! 

We’ll let each analyst explain why they’re doing what they’re doing below, but if you want to hear a more detailed version of it, fire up Thursday’s Pick Six Podcast and listen to R.J. and I break down who we’re taking and why to help you get an edge as you put those season-long prop bets in. 

R.J. White: Fade the Jaguars, Seahawks win Super Bowl????

Bet Wager $ Odds Payout

Seahawks win Super Bowl

$25

60-1

$1500

Seahawks win NFC

$25

30-1

$750

Jaguars UNDER 9 wins

$150

+110

$165

Raiders UNDER 8 wins

$125

-125

$100

Giants UNDER 7 wins

$100

+120

$120

Ravens YES make playoffs

$100

+120

$120

Seahawks YES make playoffs

$100

+260

$260

Chiefs win AFC West

$100

+275

$275

Packers win NFC North

$125

+175

$225

Patrick Mahomes wins MVP

$10

65-1

$650

Jordan Wilkins wins OROY

$10

100-1

$1000

Alex Smith most passing yards

$10

65-1

$650

Carson Wentz most passing TDs

$10

30-1

$300

Kenyan Drake most rushing yards

$10

65-1

$650

Jordan Howard most rushing TDs

$10

20-1

$200

Larry Fitzgerald most receiving yards

$10

85-1

$850

Myles Garrett Defensive MVP

$10

20-1

$200

Josh Jackson Defensive ROY

$10

20-1

$200

Jason Garrett First Coach Fired

$10

17-1

$170

Jaguars Under 9 (+110)

The Jags won 10 games last year while getting all the breaks, from their last-place schedule to QB injuries in their division to good health for their elite defense. About 200 of the Jags’ roughly 500 pass attempts defended came against Jacoby Brissett, Tom Savage, T.J. Yates, Blaine Gabbert, DeShone Kizer and Ryan Mallett. The offense doesn’t appear to have the talent to take a big step forward to compensate if the defense is merely great and not historically great. I think nine wins is probably their ceiling without that improvement on offense.

Raiders Under 8 (-125)

Their one star defender looks like he’s going to hold out of some regular-season games, and the rest of the unit looks like it’s lacking in talent. There isn’t much on offense in terms of playmakers beyond Amari Cooper, and I’ll believe it when I see it when it comes to Jon Gruden being able to have success in the modern-day NFL.

Giants Under 7 (+120)

There’s a lot of optimism for this team that I’m not sure is warranted. They’ve done work on the O-line, but rebuilt lines tend to need time to gel, and it’s not like they’ve plugged every single hole, with Ereck Flowers still slated for a starting role and questions at center. Eli Manning looks on the decline, and there’s only so much Saquon Barkley can do if the defense is giving up a ton of points each week, which I think is a real possibility.

Ravens Yes for Playoffs (+120)

The Ravens were a blown fourth-quarter play away from making the playoffs last year despite having no weapons in the passing offense and a patchwork offensive line basically all year. The line is healthier this year and Joe Flacco is seemingly on top of his game while throwing to an improved receiving corps. The defense and special teams will still be top-notch. In an AFC with no juggernauts, the Ravens are a great bet to get to the playoffs and make some noise.

Seahawks Yes for Playoffs (+260)

I don’t think the Seahawks have better than a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs, but they certainly have better than these odds imply. There’s concern about the defense, but they have enough in the pass rush with Frank Clark and Dion Jordan, who flashed late last year, two elite linebackers and solid players still in the secondary. The offensive line is better with Duane Brown at left tackle. And any team with a top-three QB like Russell Wilson has a shot at a playoff berth.

Chiefs to win AFC West (+275)

Andy Reid’s Chiefs always play well, and he’s had at least nine wins and a +70 point differential in each of his five years. The common expectation is that the offense will take a step back without Alex Smith, but the Chiefs didn’t lose Smith — they made a deliberate choice to turn to their handpicked QB, on whom they spent two first-round picks. Patrick Mahomes has a massive ceiling and the weapons to make this a dangerous offense, and the defense should be better with Eric Berry back.

Packers to win NFC North (+175)

The NFC North should be a tough battle between the Packers and Vikings, but there’s a huge gap in the odds between these two teams that just doesn’t make sense. The Vikings have a deeper well of talent, but Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers, and the defense could be much better with the switch to Mike Pettine and with two talented corners added in the draft.

$25 Seahawks to win NFC (+3000)
$25 Seahawks to win Super Bowl (+6000)

I mentioned above I think the Seahawks have a better shot at the playoffs than people expect with Wilson, an improved O-line and a defense that might not be as bad as people expect with Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Earl Thomas still around. If they make the playoffs, these odds represent insane value, as Russell Wilson has the talent to carry the offense if necessary. I’ll take the proven franchise QB and proven head coach in January, thanks.

$10 Patrick Mahomes to win MVP (+6500)

What if Mahomes is good? Carson Wentz was going to win the MVP in his second year before his injury, and Mahomes has the talent around him to put up big numbers. If those stats come with double-digit wins and competing for a bye in the AFC, these odds will look like incredible value late in the season.

Jordan Wilkins Offensive ROY (+10000)

The opportunity is there for Wilkins to become the feature back in Indy, and he’d be running against light fronts as people gameplan to stop Andrew Luck, and behind an offensive line that just added two guards in the draft, one of which was one of the top guard prospects in years. Worth a value play.

Jason Garrett First Coach Fired (+1700)

The Cowboys could underperform early with Travis Frederick out indefinitely, Zack Martin working to be ready for Week 1, an unproven rookie making a position switch at left guard and a right tackle who struggled last year. That makes Garrett the best value play for this prop for me.

Alex Smith Most Passing Yards (+6500)

Smith threw for over 4,000 yards last year, as did Washington’s QB. That alone makes these odds out of whack to me, but we should also expect Smith to throw a ton with Derrius Guice out and the running game a potential problem. Chris Thompson should be the team’s best back, but he does a lot of his work catching the ball. There’s upside on the receiving corps too, even if no one stands out as a WR1.

Carson Wentz Most Passing TDs (+3000)

Wentz finished second in passing TDs last year, one behind Russell Wilson, despite missing three games. His odds are likely this high because he’s not certain to be ready for Week 1, but even if he misses one week and is back in Week 2, that’s two more games than he played last year. Love the value here.

Kenyan Drake Most Rushing Yards (+6500)

Drake averaged around 90 rushing yards per game over the final five weeks once he was finally installed as the bell-cow back. The only back who topped that rate last year was Ezekiel Elliott. If Drake’s talent gets him 16-20 carries per game consistently, he could have a much better shot at winning this than these odds imply.

Jordan Howard Most Rushing TDs (+2000)

Howard racked up nine rushing touchdowns last year, and that was with zero threat of the team moving the ball through the air. If Matt Nagy gets more out of this offense, there should be more opportunities for Howard in the red zone. I’d expect him to reach double-digit rushing TDs and think this is a great value play as a result.

Larry Fitzgerald Most Receiving Yards (+7500)

I think these odds are so high because people perceive Fitzgerald as having one foot out of the league. He’s only turning 35 this week, an age where plenty of talented receivers have topped 1,000 yards: Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Jimmy Smith, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith, and so on. Fitzgerald’s three biggest years in terms of receptions have come in the last three years. With improved play at QB, he has a sneaky good chance of cashing this one.

Myles Garrett Defensive MVP (+2000)

Garrett looked every bit the No. 1 overall pick last year, and he’s poised to have a big year for a team many expect to be much improved in 2018. I believe he’ll be the most visible face of that improvement, and voters will look to reward him with this honor as a result.

Josh Jackson Defensive ROY (+2000)

Jackson led FBS in interceptions last year, and he’s already shown off his excellent ball skills during the preseason. The opportunity is there for him to play a ton in Green Bay, and he could wind up with a Marcus Peters-type season that earns him votes here.

Larry Hartstein: Bury the Browns, Bills

Bet Wager $ Odds Payout

Vikings win Super Bowl

$100

10/1

$1000

Bills UNDER 6 wins

$380

-190

$200

Browns UNDER 6 wins

$120

-120

$100

Chargers UNDER 9.5

$185

EV

$185

Eagles OVER 10.5

$100

+110

$110

Alvin Kamara OVER 755.5 receiving yards

$115

-115

$100

Vikings Super Bowl (+1000)

With Kirk Cousins‘ arrival, everything is in place for the Vikings to bring home the Lombardi Trophy.

Bills Under 6 (-190)

I would have gone Under 5 on the Bills’ season total too.

Browns Under 6 (-120)

The Browns can make huge strides in 2018, manage to go 5-11, and still cash this ticket for me with relatively little risk.

Chargers Under 9.5 (+100)

Los Angeles battles big issues with health every year and devastating injuries have already hit the offense (Hunter Henry) and the secondary (Jason Verrett). Plus Philip Rivers (43 turnovers past two years) has a penchant for key mistakes in big moments.

Eagles Over 10.5 (+110)

I’m going to hold off on overreacting to a winless preseason. Analytics gives them an edge in a weak division

Kamara Over 755.5 Receiving Yards (-115)

The second-year Saints back had 826 receiving yards last year and will be the focal point Weeks 1-4 — thanks to Mark Ingram’s suspension to start the season — if not the whole year because of his explosiveness. 

Will Brinson: Gimme that Specific Super Bowl matchup payout

Bet Wager $ Odds  Payout

Falcons win Super Bowl

$100

16-1

$1600

Raiders UNDER 8 wins

$125

-125

$100

Redskins OVER 7 wins

$135

-135

$100

Chiefs OVER 8.5 wins

$150

Even

$150

Titans OVER 8 wins

$120

-120

$100

Chiefs win AFC West

$100

+275

$275

Packers win NFC North

$100

+175

$175

Patrick Mahomes most passing yards

$50

25-1

$1250

Marquise Goodwin most receiving yards

$25

75-1

$1,875

Falcons vs. Chiefs Super Bowl matchup $95 170-1 $16,150

In case you don’t know, I’m all-in on the Falcons this year. So I’m going to get really aggressive and double down on the Falcons with a Super Bowl bet that pays out OK. Then I’m going to hit the Falcons and Chiefs playing each other in the Super Bowl, with a massive 170-1 payout. If I hit that — and who knows, it might just hit — I’m cleaning out $16 large

I also dig the Chiefs winning the division, the Packers winning the division (and we’ve covered that elsewhere here; definitely think they’re good bets and have both in real life). I’m also apparently all in on the Chiefs, taking Mahomes for most passing yards (I think we easily see the defense give up points while the offense slings it around). Marquise Goodwin is a long shot in terms of most receiving yards, but he’s got burner speed and could be peppered by targets from Jimmy Garoppolo

I’m digging the Titans with their new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and think the preseason concerns about Marcus Mariota are overblown. They can win the AFC South. 

There’s an easy case to be made for the Raiders winning less than eight games. And I’m going to live or die on the Redskins hill, which means I’m taking their over at seven wins. 

John Breech: Bet Big on Bengals Bounceback 

Bet Wager Odds Payout

Packers win Super Bowl

$120

12-1

$1440

Bengals OVER 7 wins

$120

-120

$100

Falcons OVER 9.5 wins

$110

-110

$100

Bengals YES make playoffs

$300

7-2

$1,050

Falcons win NFC South

$150

2-1

$300

Jimmy Graham most TD receptions

$100

15-1

$1,500

Ben Roethlisberger most passing yards

$100

14-1

$1,400

Packers win Super Bowl (+1200)

When it comes to betting on a team to win the Super Bowl, I only have one rule: Don’t get crazy. Betting on a long shot might sound like fun, but when it comes down to it, you’ll just be throwing your money away if you take the Bills, Bears, Browns or Dolphins at 100-1 odds. According to 538.com, since 2000, your best chances of winning a preseason Super Bowl bet is betting on a team that has between the fourth- and ninth-best odds. That formula has worked well for me. Back in 2015, I won $1,100 after making a $100 preseason bet on the Broncos to win the Super Bowl (I also picked them on CBSSports.com and you can see the proof here). The Packers have everything I want in a potential Super Bowl winner, which is why I’m laying the money on them to win it all this year. 

Bengals Over 7 (-120)

If there’s one bet in the NFL this year that feels like an absolute lock, it’s the Bengals getting more than seven wins. The Bengals had a disastrous 2017 season — they started 0-3, their offensive line was horrible — but they still managed to finish the season with seven wins (7-9). This should be the best Bengals team since 2015 and I wouldn’t be surprised if they hit the seven-win mark before December, which means you won’t have to sweat out your bet over the final few weeks of the season. 

Falcons Over 9.5 (-110)

I actually think the Falcons are going to win the NFC South this year, so this bet seems like a lock. For one, the Falcons have won at least 10 games in each of the past two seasons, so there’s no reason to think they can’t hit that mark in 2018, especially when you take their schedule into account. The Falcons play five of their first seven games at home, they play the Browns in Week 10 and you know what, they might have 10 wins by the time Thanksgiving weekend is over. 

Bengals YES make the playoffs (+350)

I know that you’re thinking: “The Bengals will never win a playoff game, so why would I put money on them here?” The good news with this bet is that the Bengals don’t have to win a playoff game, they just have to qualify. With the AFC so wide open this year, I’ll gladly put money on a team that’s made the postseason in five of the past seven years. The oddsmakers in Vegas are showing the Bengals zero respect this year — they basically have the same playoff odds as the Browns — so I’m going to go ahead and take advantage of that. 

Falcons win the NFC South (+200)

If you can’t tell by now, I really like the value that Vegas is giving me with two teams this year: the Bengals and Falcons. I thought about betting the Falcons to make the playoffs, but the odds are ugly, you’d have to bet $130 just to win $100. If you bet them to win the NFC South, that same $130 bet would potentially pay out $260. Here’s what I love about the Falcons: They have a former NFL MVP throwing to one of the three best receivers in the game, and their head coach is a defensive genius. That formula has worked well for the Patriots (Brady-Gronk-Belichick) and I think it’s going to help the Falcons win the division for the second time in three years. 

Jimmy Graham most TD catches (+1500)

Over the past six seasons, we’ve seen a Packers receiver lead the NFL in touchdown catches twice (James Jones in 2012, Jordy Nelson in 2016), so there’s no reason to think it can’t happen again in 2018. Oh, and let’s not forget about the fact that Jimmy Graham actually led the NFL in touchdown catches in 2013. Getting 15-to-1 odds on Graham leading the NFL in touchdown catches almost seems like a steal. 

Ben Roethlisberger most passing yards (+1400)

You may not have noticed, but Ben Roethlisberger has actually been putting up huge numbers over the past few years. In 2014, Roethlisberger won the league’s passing title, which means this bet would have cashed out four years ago. In 2015, Roethlisberger led the NFL in passing yards per game, but didn’t win the passing title because he only played in 11 games. In 2017, Roethlisberger had a shot at the passing title, but the Steelers benched him for the final game of the season. Despite sitting out in Week 17, Big Ben only finished 326 yards behind Tom Brady for the league passing title. Basically, if Roethlisberger can stay healthy for the entire season and if he doesn’t spend Week 17 on the bench, Big Ben seems like a strong favorite to win the passing title and at 14-to-1 odds, it’s a bet I’m willing to make. 

Jared Dubin: Pin it on the Packers, Dabble All Over

I structured my bets so that if Aaron Rodgers stays healthy and leads the Packers to a division title, I should cover all of my other higher-odds gambles with the three Green Bay bets I made: if Rodgers wins the passing title, Adams wins the receiving title, and the Packers win the North, that’s a $1,175 windfall. 

Bet Wager $ Odds Payout

Saints win Super Bowl 

$50

14-1

$700

Cardinals UNDER 5.5 wins

$25

+110

$27.50

Raiders UNDER 8.0 wins

$25

-125

$20

Chiefs win AFC West

$50

11-4

$137.50

Texans win AFC South

$50

5-2

$125

Falcons win NFC South

$25

2-1

$50

Packers win NFC North

$25

7-4

$43.75

Ravens YES make playoffs

$25

+120

$30

Panthers YES make playoffs

$25

+130

$32.50

Alvin Kamara OVER 900.5 rushing yards

$50

-115

$43.50

Alvin Kamara UNDER 12.5 TD

$50

-115

$43.50

Kareem Hunt OVER 1,099 rushing yards

$50

-115

$43.50

David Johnson OVER 1,050 rushing yards

$50

-115

$43.50

Dak Prescott UNDER 13 interceptions

$50

-115

$43.50

Marcus Mariota OVER 22.5 touchdowns

$50

-115

$43.50

Russell Wilson OVER 24.5 touchdowns

$50

-115

$43.50

Jimmy Garoppolo OVER 13.5 interceptions

$50

-115

$43.50

Tom Brady UNDER 10.5 interceptions

$50

-115

$43.50

Michael Thomas OVER 1,200.5 receiving yards

$50

-115

$43.50

Dalvin Cook most rushing yards in NFL

$25

18-1

$450

Davante Adams most receiving yards in NFL

$25

35-1

$875

Aaron Rodgers most passing yards in NFL

$25

8-1

$200

Michael Gallup Offensive Rookie of the Year

$25

30-1

$750

Derwin James Defensive Rookie of the Year

$25

10-1

$250

Danielle Hunter Defensive MVP

$25

33-1

$825

Le’Veon Bell MVP

$25

40-1

$1000

Dirk Koetter First Coach Fired

$25

4-1

$100

The three must bets we had were a Super Bowl winner and two team win total over-unders. I went with the Saints to win the Super Bowl because I think they’re one of the handful of best teams in the NFC and I just like their 14-1 odds better than the slightly lower odds for the Eagles and Vikings. But I didn’t take the Saints to win their own division, because 2-1 odds on the Falcons were too good to pass up. I don’t necessarily think both of those things will happen this season, but I do like the odds on each play. 

For my over/unders, I bet against the Cardinals and Raiders, two teams I think will be much worse than the popular consensus. Oakland’s line feels like it’s inflated by a win or two because people know who Jon Gruden is. Their defense is terrible and will be missing its best player for an undetermined amount of time. The Cardinals lost get David Johnson back but lost several offensive and defensive pieces and are counting on either Sam Bradford staying healthy or a rookie quarterback being good right away. That’s an under for me. 

My division bets were the aforementioned Packers and Falcons plays, plus the Texans to win the AFC South and the Chiefs to win the AFC West. Why am I getting +250 on the Texans to win that division? If J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson are healthy, it seems like they should be co-favorites with the Jaguars. Good value there. And while I’m writing about how the Chargers will win the AFC West for Friday, let’s just say I feel comfortable hedging my bets with Kansas City, which always seems to win 10-plus games. The Panthers and Ravens are not sexy teams but I like getting better than even odds that two teams routinely in the mix for wild-card berths or better will make the playoffs. 

Dalvin Cook was awesome last year before he got injured and I could see the Vikings’ offense really taking off if he’s given a focal-point type role, and while I don’t think he’s the most likely player to lead the NFL in rushing, I do like the payoff. Dirk Koetter actually is my favorite for first coach fired, so getting anything better than even there was a bonus. 

Dak Prescott had 13 interceptions last year in his supposedly terrible sophomore season, and it’s difficult for me to see him being worse than that this year. All anyone can tell you is how the Cowboys’ receiving corps is terrible, and while it’s not good, I’d encourage you to watch what they got at that position last year and tell me how it can possibly be worse. Add in the Cowboys being a run-heavy offense and I think something more like 9-10 picks is more likely for Dak. Jimmy Garoppolo threw five picks on 178 passes last year. Yeah, I’ll take over 13.5 if he’s going to throw 500-600 times this season, even with Kyle Shanahan scheming him into position for success. I’m a believer in the Matt LaFleur-led offense in Tennessee and think Marcus Mariota gets into the high-20s in touchdowns, and Russell Wilson is basically going to have to do the same because I still have next to no confidence in the Seahawks’ ability to run the ball and it seems fairly obvious that their defense will take a step backward this year. Taking under 10.5 picks for Tom Brady feels like stealing money. 

I like Alvin Kamara to rush for more than 900 yards given that he’ll get more carries than usual to start the year because Mark Ingram will be out, but some touchdown regression feels inevitable and he can still be a monster even while scoring, say, 10 times. David Johnson averaged 77.4 rush yards per game during his one healthy season as Arizona’s feature back, and that includes a five-carry, six-yard performance in the final game of the year when the Cards were already done. He seems likely to get the ball about a bazillion times this season and should easily surpass 1,000 yards. Kareem Hunt should get the ball even more often this season than he did a year ago with the Chiefs transitioning to a much more inexperienced QB, and the Chiefs seem likely to rack up yards and points at a ridiculous rate. I love that over. And Mike Thomas is the most underrated receiver in the NFL. He is an absolute stud and when you get fed 120-plus targets by Drew Brees, you are going to rack up yards like crazy.

Le’Veon Bell seems like a lock for 400-plus touches given that the Steelers have zero incentive to soft-pedal with him because he’s almost definitely leaving next year. And if his efficiency takes even a little bit of a jump from where it was last season, he is going to have insane numbers. If Pittsburgh can grab the AFC’s No. 1 seed, Bell would then be one of the MVP favorites. Michael Gallup is so smooth and seems like Dallas’ best passing-game weapon in the red zone, so I’m betting he emerges as Dak’s No. 1 target, and that makes him a sneaky OROY bet, even if I don’t think he’ll actually win. The same is true of Derwin James in Los Angeles, where he could be a major part of a very good defense. And Danielle Hunter just keeps getting better. With so many good line-mates in Minnesota, it’s not going to be possible to block him. If he can get into the mid-teens in sacks, he could win that DPOY award. 

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