August 13, 2022

Now that the 2022 NFL schedule is out, we’ve got a better idea of which teams may benefit — or not — from the order of which week they’ll face their opponents. But what about final records? Caesars Sportsbook has early lines on win totals for all 32 teams, but which clubs stand out as safe bets to go Over — or fall Under — those numbers? We’re glad you asked.

Here are nine early bets we’d make on teams poised to surpass expectations — or fail to meet them — in 2022:

Bears: Under 6.5

Justin Fields may have untapped potential under center, but their new regime has done less to directly help a young quarterback than any team in recent memory. Matt Eberflus’ defense may prove feisty with some added youth, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to score points, and Fields still has a lackluster line and receiving corps.

Matt Ryan may be past his prime, but he still gives Indy a quality arm a year after they had a playoff berth in sight. Despite the QB shuffle, Frank Reich has won at least nine games in three of his four seasons on the job. With a red-hot Jonathan Taylor and quietly upgraded defense, they should be able to feast on a cakewalk schedule out of the AFC South.

They’ve spent like they’re on the verge of a Super Bowl, and certainly Deshaun Watson’s arrival marks an upgrade at QB, with Nick Chubb and Amari Cooper giving them Grade-A supplementary weapons. But how long will Jacoby Brissett be manning QB with Watson likely to be suspended? Neither the Bengals, Ravens nor Steelers will be pushovers in that division, either.

They went 9-8 in Nick Sirianni’s first year, when Jalen Hurts was more effective as a runner than a thrower. Now, Hurts has A.J. Brown to pair with DeVonta Smith, and the defense looks better at literally every level. With a relatively soft start to the schedule and even softer finish, complete with several NFC East tilts, they should be squarely in the mix for another wild-card bid.

This is a make-or-break year for Kyler Murray, who’s angling for a lucrative extension, but boy did they get a tough draw with their schedule, opening against the Chiefs, Raiders and Rams (without DeAndre Hopkins) and closing with three of four on the road against the Broncos, Buccaneers and 49ers. In an always-tight NFC West, with drama still lurking at QB, they could stumble.

Ravens: Over 9.5

Lamar Jackson’s receiving corps remains iffy, but Baltimore really bolstered its defense, adding Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams to an already-feisty lineup that’s bound to be healthier. It’s unclear if their apparent doubling down on the run-heavy approach will win them the AFC, but they’ve got a path back to the playoffs. John Harbaugh’s won 10+ games in eight of 14 seasons.

When is the last time Dallas delivered on preseason hype? Mike McCarthy may be on thin ice after an early 2021 playoff exit, Dak Prescott’s weapons — while still solid — look a little different, and the O-line still has questions. They should be competitive, no doubt, but the Cowboys haven’t had back-to-back double-digit winning seasons since the 1990s.

Steelers: Over 7.5

Pittsburgh has a tough schedule. In the first half alone, they get the Bengals, Patriots, Browns, Bills and Buccaneers. There will inevitably be growing pains for rookie QB Kenny Pickett, too. And yet Mike Tomlin is the coach who can never be counted out; he’s still never had a losing season in 15 years. Even if Pickett is just OK, they should be comparable to their 2021 selves.

This might be the safest bet of the whole bunch. As if it weren’t enough that Atlanta is basically back to square one of its rebuild post-Matt Ryan trade, the Falcons also have a brutal schedule; six of their first seven are against projected playoff contenders, and they don’t get a bye until Week 14. Whether it’s Marcus Mariota or Desmond Ridder at QB, they have an uphill battle.

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