NFL betting: Pats over, Falcons under, and three more win totals

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The best part about betting team win totals is that you get to enjoy season-long sweats from a single wager. It's more bang for your buck or, if you're from the South, more holler for your dollar. Here are my five favorite totals offered by BetMGM for the 2021 NFL season:

New England Patriots OVER 9.5 wins

This is a completely different Patriots team than last year's 7-9 squad that had a league-high eight COVID opt-outs and no real identity. On defense, Pro Bowl linebacker Dont'a Hightower returns after opting out and Kyle Van Noy returns after opting to play in Miami for a season. They'll be joined by the Patriots' biggest free-agent signing, edge rusher Matt Judon.

Expect a lot of two-tight ends sets with the new additions of Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, and for the Patriots to run the ball down your throat with PFF's second-highest graded running back last season, Damien Harris. Oh, and he'll be running behind the third-best offensive line in the NFL

As for the quarterback situation? Mac Jones was PFF's highest-graded college QB ever, and looked extremely sharp in preseason action. The rookie is ready.

Atlanta Falcons UNDER 8.5 wins

I hope the Falcons offense is up to the task of scoring 35-plus points per game, because with this defense, that's the only way they're going to have a winning season. Outside of defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and linebacker Deion Jones, there isn't much to like about the front seven, as Dante Fowler Jr. has yet to prove he can produce without an Aaron Donald beside him to draw all the attention. The secondary is even more bleak after losing safeties Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee to the Cowboys in free agency and will need to rely on multiple rookies.

A small bonus for under bettors: one of the Falcons' "home" games is in London, so they'll only play seven of their 17 games in Atlanta.

New Orleans Saints OVER 8.5 wins

The Saints have been drafting their butts off over the years and may be the best in the NFL at this point. Their first four picks in the 2017 draft are all starters on this team (CB Marshon Lattimore, T Ryan Ramczyk, S Marcus Williams, and RB Alvin Kamara). They also snagged starters with their first pick in successive drafts in DE Marcus Davenport, C Erik McCoy, and RG Cesar Ruiz. They've built the fourth-best offensive line in the league and a formidable defense. If this trend continues and they hit on their first two 2021 draft picks of Payton Turner and Pete Werner, the loss of Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins and Malcolm Brown can be mitigated.

Yes, defensive tackle David Onyemata is suspended for the first six games of the season and receiver Michael Thomas is on PUP. Yes, the Saints are roaming nomads until at least week four. But all Sean Payton does is build winning teams.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has guided his team to the playoffs each of the last four seasons. (Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has guided his team to the playoffs each of the last four seasons. (Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

Houston Texans UNDER 4.5 wins

It pays to tank in the NFL and the Texans are already halfway down the Mariana Trench. What's this team's strength? A couple of good players on the offensive line and a wide receiver who's suffered five concussions. I'm not sure this team could win five games if they were in a division with three other franchises who were all trying to tank. Head coach David Culley was brought in to be an interim fall guy while they rack up enough draft picks to build a decent roster. 

San Francisco 49ers OVER 10.5 wins

The Niners have the NFL's easiest schedule, a devastating rushing attack, and one of the league's best play-callers in Kyle Shanahan. This offense is going to be an absolute nightmare to scheme and play against once Trey Lance is inserted into the lineup.

The other side of the ball won't get much better for opponents. Nick Bosa and Dee Ford return from injury for a lethal front seven unit that includes two of PFF's top 30 linebackers in Fred Warner (2nd) and Dre Greenlaw (30th).

If we see positive regression on injury luck and turnovers, this team could sail to 13-plus wins.

Stats provided by SharpFootball and pro football reference

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