AFC: Total Team Wins – Jets Over (6) $$
I’m going to back Zach Wilson in my first pick of the 2021 NFC season. Everything I have seen and read about this young man is bullish. He is being compared to Josh Allen and even Patrick Mahomes and several pundits have questioned if he should have been the number one pick in the draft instead the second. He should be an immediate upgrade over Sam Darnold whom they sent to Carolina. I would also recommend taking over on any individual prop bets on Wilson for the season.
One thing to remember to start is this 2021 NFL season is that the league is transitioning to a 17 game schedule this year instead of 16, so the team totals will be slightly higher than last year.
Jets lost the first 13 games of the 2020 season before finishing with two wins in the last three while showing a lot of improvement towards the end of the season. They had a heart breaking loss against the Raiders where all they had to do was stop a last second Hail Mary to win. They coaching staff inexplicably decided to send an all out blitz on the play and got burnt and lost in classic style. The coaching gaff cost the Jets their first win of the season and defensive coordinator Greg Williams his job. Hopefully gaffs like this will filled this season.
Looking at the Jets last place AFC schedule, they have 9 home games and 7 road with the bonus neutral site game in London against the Falcons. Their toughest matchup of the season is in week 18 in Buffalo which may not be as bad as it sounds. If the Bills are resting players the last week of the season because they have a playoff spot already locked up, this may actually be a winnable game.
Looking at there week 1 game, they see a very winnable game in against the Panther and their old QB in Darnold. They also have games against CIN, HOU, PHI and JAX where they should be favoured. They need to pull off a couple of upsets to break this total and I like their chances of doing so.
AFC: Total Team Wins – Steelers Under (8.5, -120) $$
The second pick I will take is the Steelers to go under the total 8.5.
Last year the Steelers started the season 11-0 and they very well may have been the worst 11-0 team in the history of the NFL. They picked up some easy early wins thanks to a favourable schedule and an offensive style that emphasized a short, quick passing style.
It was effective strategy early on, until the other teams adjusted after realizing this offence could not run the ball and Ben was no longer capable of the throwing the deep ball accurately. So obviously the linebackers started jamming the short routes and the safeties cheated up putting more pass pressure on the offensive line of the Steelers.
The result of these adjustments was a 1-4 record to finish the season including an embarrassing home playoff loss to their hated rivals, the Browns.
One year later and Ben Roethlisberger is another year older now starting his 18th season. Somehow I don’t expect him to be better than he was last year. He is expected to start week 1 of the season, but there is a strong possibility that he will not finish it.
But the real problem this team has is the offensive line. They did a poor job last year at run production and the team finish last in the NFL in team rushing yards and rushing average. There have been no significant improvements in this area this season so I would expect more of the same. As a result, Ben will be forced to throw the ball far more often than he wants and will be under pressure most of the time.
The Steelers also have one of the toughest schedules in the AFC this year. They have 4 games against tough divisional rivals Ravens and Browns who should both be playoff teams. They were also gifted road games in BUF, KC, and GB, 3 of the 4 conference finalist from 2020. Honestly if they win 2 of these 7 games, I’d be surprised. That means they will need to go 7-3 in their remaining game in order to break .500 and the season win total.
AFC West Division – Ravens (+110) $
With the Steelers taking a step back this year, the Ravens really only have to beat out the Browns to win the division. The Ravens have absolutely owned the Browns for decades and I see no reason why they won’t do so again this season. I like this team’s chances with Lamar Jackson leading the way to get back the AFC Championship game.
They still possess the on of the best defences in the AFC to boot. A good defence and a great running game is a deadly combination to winning division titles.
AFC South Division – Titans (-120) $
The Titans and Colts should be top of this division this season. Looking at the QB situation and you really have to give the edge to the Titan where Ryan Tannehill is highly underrated. The Colts counter with Carson Wentz after Phillip Rivers retired. Wentz played badly and not even the Eagles wanted him in the offseason and he may not even start the season with a foot injury.
Oh ya, there is a guy still around named Derrick Henry who managed 2,027 rushing yards last year and should still be the best back in the AFC.
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NFL/AFC Lines and analysis provided by Sports Interaction.