Look for Kingsbury’s Cardinals to go ‘under’ 5 wins

With the NFL draft in the rearview mirror, the folks at the Westgate SuperBook were kind enough to post early regular season win totals for the 2019 season.

Here are five of the best bets on the board:

Arizona Cardinals: 5

Kliff Kingsbury’s hiring makes this one of the most unpredictable situations in the entire NFL. It’s easy to see the Cardinals putting up a lot of points once he gets this team rolling, but will that be in Year 1 with a rookie quarterback?

The Cardinals’ schedule doesn’t set up favorably for a team that will be driven by rookies. Arizona has tough home games vs. the Panthers, Seahawks, Falcons, Rams, Steelers and Browns — all teams who are significantly more talented and experienced than Arizona.

There are only a few obvious win opportunities for Arizona in 2019: at home vs Detroit on Sept. 8, at the Giants on Oct. 20 and at home against the 49ers on Oct. 31. It’s tough to find five — let alone six — wins on this schedule.

The bet: Under

Baltimore Ravens: 8.5

This number for Baltimore entirely hinges on your belief in Lamar Jackson as an NFL quarterback. He was excellent as a runner during his rookie campaign, but his passing stats left something to be desired.

He completed 58 percent of his throws for 1,201 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions over the course of seven starts. He completed over 60 percent of his passes in a game only twice — in his first start against Carolina and in Week 14 against Tampa Bay, who was last in the league in completion percentage allowed and yards per attempt allowed.

Jackson’s history says there’s not much room to grow — he never completed more than 59 percent of his passes at Louisville. The difference is he averaged nearly seven yards per rush with the Cardinals, but only 4.73 yards per attempt as a rookie.

Baltimore’s division is also tougher than it was a season ago. Cleveland and Cincinnati both upgraded at head coach and the Browns added Odell Beckham Jr. to an already-explosive offense. Pittsburgh lost Antonio Brown, but still has JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner to go with an improved defense.

Looking at the schedule, Baltimore has a few big win opportunities: at Miami, vs Arizona, vs San Francisco, at Buffalo and vs the Jets. But even if the Ravens take care of business and win those five games, it’s tough to find four more wins on the schedule. None of their divisional games will be easy, and the rest of the calendar is riddled with tough matchups like New England, Kansas City, Seattle, Houston and the Rams.

The bet: Under

Kansas City: 10.5

Kansas City’s offense is uncertain right now, given what has transpired with Tyreek Hill. For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume Hill will not be with the Chiefs — or any other franchise — going forward.

The Chiefs’ offense is still going to be elite, if not the best in the league. Patrick Mahomes is the best young quarterback in the league, and is armed with Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Damien Williams. To fill Hill’s role, the Chiefs drafted speedy Georgia receiver Mecole Hardman in the second round of the draft. He averaged 15.5 yards per catch in his final season with the Bulldogs.

Schedule-wise, the Chiefs are in good shape. The Chargers will be tough to beat, but Oakland seems like it’s at least a year away from playoff contention, and the Broncos have put most of their chips in the Joe Flacco basket. Mahomes is 2-0 in his career at Denver, so it’s possible the Chiefs could get to five divisional wins.

Kansas City has freebies vs Jacksonville, Detroit and Tennessee. Some of their toughest matchups come at home — Indianapolis, Houston, Green Bay and Minnesota will all travel to Arrowhead. The only two alarming games on the schedule? December matchups at New England and at Chicago. KC shouldn’t have too much trouble getting to 11 wins.

The bet: Over

New England Patriots: 11

The Patriots have long held the two biggest advantages in football — they have Tom Brady and they get to face the Bills, Jets and Dolphins twice every year.

Brady may be waning as he’ll turn 42 before the season starts, but the Pats have a great schedule once again. According to winning percentage numbers from 2018, they face the NFL’s second-easiest schedule. New England hasn’t won fewer than 11 games since Brady missed the entire 2009 season with a knee injury — and even then, the Pats went 10-6.

Looking at this year’s schedule, there aren’t any obvious losses. Their toughest matchups like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Dallas and Kansas City are all at home. They also have several record-boosting opportunities vs Washington, Cincinnati and the Giants. Throw in a 5-1 divisional record, and the Pats should be able to clear 11 wins without much trouble.

The bet: Over

New York Giants: 6

This was a rough offseason for the New York Giants. General manager Dave Gettleman began by not using the franchise tag on Landon Collins, allowing him to sign with division-rival Washington. Then he opted to trade star WR Odell Beckham Jr. for Jabrill Peppers and a pair of draft picks. Finally, Gettleman picked mediocre Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick with no intention of playing him, thus wasting the only benefit of New York’s disappointing 2018 campaign.

There’s not much reason to believe 2019 will be any better. This offense is now built around Saquon Barkley, who did have an exceptional rookie season a year ago. But teams will be able to load the box against New York, unafraid of Eli Manning’s ability to hit Golden Tate or Sterling Shepard down the field.

The Giants have won a combined four road games over the past two seasons, so New York will have to do most of its damage at home if it’s going to get to a 6-10 or 7-9 record. The Giants have home games against Buffalo, Washington, Minnesota, Arizona, Dallas, Green Bay, Miami and Philadelphia. It’s possible they could earn wins over Buffalo, Arizona or Miami, but the others will be difficult. It’s even harder to find good road win candidates beyond the Buccaneers or Jets.

The bet: Under 6

Here are the rest of the regular season win totals, courtesy of the Westgate SuperBook:

Arizona Cardinals: 5

Atlanta Falcons: 8.5

Baltimore Ravens: 8.5

Buffalo Bills: 6.5

Carolina Panthers: 8

Chicago Bears: 9

Cincinnati Bengals: 6

Cleveland Browns: 9

Dallas Cowboys: 9

Denver Broncos: 7

Detroit Lions: 6.5

Green Bay Packers: 9

Houston Texans: 8.5

Indianapolis Colts: 9.5

Jacksonville Jaguars: 8

Kansas City Chiefs: 10.5

Los Angeles Chargers: 9.5

Los Angeles Rams: 10.5

Miami Dolphins: 5

Minnesota Vikings: 9

New England Patriots: 11

New Orleans Saints: 10.5

New York Giants: 6

New York Jets: 7.5

Oakland Raiders: 6

Philadelphia Eagles: 9.5

Pittsburgh Steelers: 9

San Francisco 49ers: 8

Seattle Seahawks: 8.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6.5

Tennessee Titans: 8

Washington Redskins: 6.5

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