With free agency and the draft now well and truly in the rear vision mirror, NFL fans are left sitting on their hands waiting for the lull period in the offseason to pass. As we gear up for training camps to start a month from now, every team will have a “glass half full” approach to what they can achieve in 2021 and these 5 teams, in particular, are poised to beat their over/under win total. For reference, the win/loss totals used were found at Sports Betting Dime.
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Projected wins – 9.5
There are some legitimate concerns surrounding Dallas’ defence heading into the 2021 season, but I still expect a bounce-back season from the Cowboys. Mike McCarthy’s first season in charge didn’t go accordingly to plan, losing his QB Dak Prescott to a dislocated ankle in Week 5 with Pro-Bowl O-lineman Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith missing a huge chunk of the season as well. Dallas will be boosted by their return to start the new campaign and if their key offensive pieces can stay healthy, they should be able to win 10+ games and challenge for the division crown in the lacklustre NFC East.
Projected wins – 10.5
This is far from a certainty given the history of the Cleveland Browns, but after an encouraging campaign last year I have faith they can back it up in 2021. Their success starts and ends with Baker Mayfield and the Browns’ quarterback showed he’s more than capable of leading them to another playoff berth – compiling a 6-2 record in the second half of the season with 2,049 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception. A full season from Baker’s primary weapon in Odell Beckham Jr and Defensive Year of the Player candidate Myles Garrett should push Cleveland to 11-12 wins.
Los Angeles Rams
Projected wins – 10.5
No offence to Jared Goff, but I’m extremely high on what the Rams can achieve with Matthew Stafford under center. The longtime Lions play-caller can help elevate Los Angeles back to the great offensive heights they achieved during their run to Super Bowl LIII back in 2019 when they finished third in total touchdowns (55) and second in total yards (6,738) and PPG (32.9). Last season with Goff at QB, L.A. still managed to win 10 games and providing Stafford can stay healthy I’m expecting the Rams to challenge for the top seed in the NFC and punch the over on their win tally in the process.
Projected wins – 7.5
Atlanta is entering a new era in franchise history with former Titans OC Arthur Smith set to take over the reins as their newest head coach. Some expect the Falcons to struggle in Smith’s first season, but they turned their back on the idea of trading franchise QB Matt Ryan – which indicates they aren’t trying to rebuild and instead, they plan to win in the final few years of Ryan’s deal. Even despite the loss of future Hall of Fame wideout Julio Jones, touted tight-end prospect Kyle Pitts will be a dynamic weapon in the passing game and in a division with Carolina and potentially a stumbling Saints team, Atlanta should be able to win 8-9 games without too much sweat.
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New England Patriots
Projected wins – 9
Last season marked the first time since 2000 that the New England Patriots posted a losing record, with 18 playoff appearances and 6 Super Bowl wins sandwiched in between those seasons. Tom Brady isn’t coming to save the day, but the Pats are poised to make a huge improvement from their 7-9 campaign last year with star linebacker Dont’a Hightower just one noteworthy name returning to action after sitting out the 2020 season. There are concerns over the QB situation, with the eclectic Cam Newton poised to start in Week 1 and rookie Mac Jones waiting in the wings, but posting a record over .500 in a 17-game season is certainly achievable for this group. Besides, we’ve learned over the last two decades that you can NEVER sleep on Bill Belichick!
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