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Baltimore Ravens Under 11 Wins

By Chris Jordan, Featured Handicapper


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Poor John Harbaugh.

This dude essentially returns the most important components on the offensive side of the ball, the defense will be an improvement from last year's 11-win campaign, and yet I don't see them getting past 10 wins this season.

The Ravens, who boasted the league's worst pass production in yards per game and attempts, won 11 games after facing the easiest schedule. I can't imagine - improvement or not - what this team is poised for against what some have deemed one of the toughest schedules this season.

First of all, they have six games in one of the hardest divisions in football. Second, they're facing what should be an improved and tougher AFC West, and will also tackle the NFC North. Toss in the improved Football Team from D.C. and the dangerous L.A. Rams, and I'm not sure how Lamar Jackson escapes without getting dinged up.

He's the target on that offense, and everyone knows it. And when you have a lethargic passing game, and have no choice but to run your dual-threat quarterback for what turns into a run-first offense, it can pose a problem. Tackle Orlando Brown is gone, running back Mark Ingram II is sayonara, and center Matt Skura has moved on. I said the offense has personnel back, yes. But only six starters are back.

The defense was commendable last season, but it suffered a big hit with the departure of linebacker Matthew Judon, who is now with the New England Patriots. Also gone is Yannick Ngakoue, who is now in Las Vegas, which hosts the Ravens in the season-opener. The Ravens have 10 starters back, but again, this is going to be a tougher than you'd think schedule for the Ravens to endure.

Let's take a look.

The Ravens will open in Las Vegas with a Monday night loss to the Raiders, and then return home to take their lumps from two-time AFC champion Kansas City. They catch a break by playing in Detroit in Week 3, so should be 1-2 before heading to Denver. That's a game I need to think on, and will leave as a question mark.

At 1-2-?, the Ravens are back on Monday night, this time at home against the Colts. It'll be the start of three straight at home before a bye, and I believe they'll take two of three, beating Indy, losing to the Chargers, and topping Cincinnati.

After a week off, and sitting at 3-3-?, the Ravens will be refreshes for a visit from Minnesota, improving to what should be 4-3-?.

Then things get tough.

On a short week, the Ravens go to Minnesota for a Thursday game, let their guard down and I think they lose. Then they goto Soldier Field, where I think they lose again. Reeling, at 4-5-?, the Ravens next host the division-rival Browns, and I have another question mark because they hit the road for Pittsburgh and Cleveland next both losses.

That puts the Ravens at 4-7-?

Green Bay comes to town, and we don't know if Aaron Rodgers will be there, or not, and even if he is, what will the chemistry be like by then? I'm granting the Ravens a win here. A trip to the Cincy has the Bengals seeking revenge, and I'll give it to them. Now we're at 5-8-? with those two games outstanding.

The Ravens close at home with the Rams and Steelers. I'll give them the split here, making them 6-9-? Back to the Broncos and Browns games. Let's give them both to Baltimore, it makes its final mark 8-9. And let's say I'm wrong on two of the games overall, now the Ravens are 10-7.

That's still under 11 wins.

I like Baltimore to stay low in its season-win total.

2* RAVENS UNDER WINS



Philadelphia Eagles Under 6 1/2 Wins

By Chris Jordan, Featured Handicapper

I wasn't sure what to make of the Philadelphia Eagles, but with question marks at the quarterback situation, the left tackle spot still up for grabs, and an unbelievably tough start to the 2021 campaign, my lean is toward under 6 1/2 wins.

I certainly don't think they're better than division rivals Washington or Dallas, and might not be as good as the New York Giants. I would be shocked to see the Eagles come away with more than two wins in their six division games.

But let's talk about how this team opens the season with a six-week stretch that will see it face the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers. Three of those teams are considered Super Bowl contenders, and all four are considered playoff-caliber squads.

You'd think having all four of those games at home would help, but what if the Eagles escape with a 1-3 mark? That would mean nearly 40% of their home games resulted in a 25% win percentage.

Truthfully, this is a team that remains in tentative buld mode, meaning it's looking toward the far-future, not the near-future. So imagine the Eagles going 2-4 or even 1-5 in the first six weeks... then, 35% of their way through the season they're pre-planning the preparation for 2022.

I'm not convinced Jalen Hurts or Joe Flacco will help this team with any immediacy. You have to think the Eagles want Hurts in there quickly, learning the NFL and building from scratch like the rest of the team. It's what makes this team a rebuilder. Rumors have circulated Deshaun Watson could be targeted, but do the Eagles want that sort of circus around the team and their young quarterback?

Let's go through the schedule, as the Green Birds open against the Dirty Birds in Atlanta, and the Falcons still have Matt Ryan pulling the trigger. Julio Jones is gone, but that won't stop Ryan and company from opening the season with a win. Philly will then lose at home to Frisco, at Dallas, and at home to Kansas City. I don't have Philly winning until a trip to Carolina, putting the Eagles at 1-4 to start the campaign.

Tampa Bay will dominate in Philly, and by then, with morale low, the Eagles won't be able to hang with a hyped up Raiders team in Las Vegas. Despite a 1-6 mark, the Eagles will show some pride in Motown and should take care of the Lions. The L.A. Chargers proved they could travel well last season, and will outclass the Eagles on offense. Now at 2-7, the trip to Denver remains a question mark for me. New Orleans comes to town without Drew Brees and my verdict is still out on the Saints, so let's hold on to a Philly record of 2-7-? at this point.

I have the Eagles losing in back-to-back games in Jersey, to the Giants and Jets. The last four games are vs. Washington, vs. the Giants, at Washington, and vs. Dallas. I'll be generous and let them split those, which mean were sitting on 4-11-?

The question mark is for the Denver and New Orleans games, and if you give them victories, that still only means six wins, which stays under by a half-win.

Complete makeover for a team looking to make its move in 2022. Take the Eagles under.

3* EAGLES UNDER WINS



New York Giants Over 7 Wins

By Chris Jordan, Featured Handicapper

The time has come for New York Giants coach Daniel Jones, who will be in his third year as starter, since being handed the vessel once steered by two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning.

Enough with the excuses and reasons why he can't make things work in Jersey, it's time he prove this is where he belongs and he can comandeer the ship. I know this team has endured a wave of injuries, and I know Saquon Barkley missed a combined 17 games the past two seasons, but that's strengthened him and made him tougher mentally in how to endure the adversity of a short-handed unit.

Some call Jones a disappointment, whereas I think he's gone through growing pains.

The Giants ranked 31st in scoring last year, Jones was 28th in passing efficiency, his receivers ranked 25th... yes, it's been a mess. Christ, there is nowhere to go up with this team.

The Giants added more firepower for coach Joe Judge to create, Barkley swears this is going to be his best year yet and will be stronger after suffering a torn ACL, and I believe offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will have the offense clicking out of the gate.

The Giants can open the season with a promising win against Denver before a tough Week 2 encounter at Washington, which won't go as well four days later on a Thursday night. But after 10 days off, the Giants will swat the Falcons back to Atlanta before going to New Orleans. This is my temple-scratching game, because the Saints will be interesting post-Drew Brees. It's also a tough game with a trip to allas on deck. I think the Giants can split with a win in the Big East, but not Big D. Puts us at 3-2.

I don't see the Giants holding off the Rams, but can see them beating Carolina in Week 7. Now we're at 4-3. The Giants will have their helmets handed to them by the two-time AFC champion Chiefs in Kansas City on a Monday night. A Week 9 visit from Las Vegas is the game I can't call. It's before a bye week, and it all depends how good - or bad - the Raiders are playing. Let's sit on 4-4 with a question mark on Vegas.

Out of a bye week, the Giants won't escape Tampa with a win in another Monday night game against a Super Bowl participant, but should have no trouble topping division rival Philly, which will be in town over Thanksgiving weekend. Now at 5-5, with the Raiders in question, and six games left, the Giants have tough games in Miami and Los Angeles, to face the Chargers. I have them going 0-2.

They close the season hosting Dallas (win), traveling to Philly (win) and Chicago (loss), and hosting Washington (?).

So here's the deal, how I've outlined their schedule, I'm at 7-8 with question marks on the Raiders and Washington in the season-finale. Considering the NFC East crowned a champion at 7-9 last season, an 8-9 or 9-8 record might win the division this year, right? So the Giants splitting those two games I have question marks, or sweeping them - especially if the season-finale is for the division - takes over the seven-win mark.

Play the Giants over 7 wins.

2* GIANTS OVER WINS



New York Jets Over 6 1/2 Wins

By Chris Jordan, Featured Handicapper

The New York Jets see light at the end of the tunnel. I like them to get past the six-win plateau, and will have some action on them over 6 1/2 wins.

Quite frankly, with the season schedule expanded now, I can see the Jets winning eight games this season.

They have a new head coach, they've made the right acquisitions during the offseason, and I think they've drafted well. I'll go as far to say the Jets might have had a Top 3 free agency dip during the offseason, and I'm excited for training camp to open.

First-year coach Robert Saleh is no slouch, and brings that alpha-male attitude from San Francisco, where he served as defensive coordinator. He's not about to settle for mediocrity, and won't allow his team to compete at less than 110%.

I love the fact Saleh brought Guy LaFleur in from Frisco, to lead the offense and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. I'm a big believer in Wilson, and certainly believe he'll be ready for his inaugural campaign. The Jets have a respectable receiving corps for Wilson, and newly acquired running back Tevin Campbell for the blue-collar yardage.

On defense, you're going to see Saleh's influence immediately, because he was able to lure LaFleur. The trust in one another will allow Saleh to resurrect the defense to contend with the two-time division champion Buffalo Bills, the surging Miami Dolphins and always dangerous New England Patriots.

Breaking down the schedule, the excitement and hype Saleh will have instilled will help the Jets open with a road win in Carolina, and the motivation will carry over to the home opener in a win over New England. The Jets will struggle in the rarified air in Denver, and could lose at home to Tennessee in Week 4.

That's when the alpha-dawg in Saleh kicks in and the Jets wake up to win in Atlanta before losing the revenge game at New England.

The Bengals will fall in Jersey on Halloween, and the Jets will lose a heartbreaker at Indianapolis. After 10 days off, a home showdown with Buffalo is a hit or miss for me that I'm up in the air with. Regardless of a win or loss, the Jets will fuel off the result the next week at home in a win over Miami.

The Texas are an absolute mess, so a win in Houston is not out of the question, and the same can be said for the Eagles, who visit Jersey on Dec. 5.

That puts us at seven wins with the Buffalo game in question, and five left on the schedule. I look at it like this: vs. Saints (win), at Miami (loss), vs. Jaguars (win), vs. Buccaneers (loss), at Bills (loss).

That gives me a 9-7-? mark, the question being Nov. 14 vs. Buffalo. It also gives me wiggle room with a win total of 6 1/2.

Play the Jets over this season.

3* JETS OVER WINS



Las Vegas Raiders Over 7 Wins

By Chris Jordan, Featured Handicapper

The Las Vegas Raiders are going Over 7 wins.

Last year they went over 7' wins, going 8-8. This year, let's face it, is a make-or-break with either Jon Gruden or Derek Carr. Considering the 10-year, $100 million contract Gruden has, the onus truly will fall on Carr.

And I'm a big believer in the Raiders' quarterback, who every year goes through an offseason of scrutiny from those wondering if he's seen his last days in Silver and Black. At some point he's going to be able to stick it up everyone's rear by leading the Raiders to postseason wins.

Plural.

The offense, I don't believe, will have much of an issue, even with the revamped offensive line. I think Richie Incognito will finally see a healthy season, I think Andre James will be fine in the middle, and I believe Denzelle Good and Alex Leatherwood can protect Carr just fine. I also think tight end Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs will do enough to support Carr.

The key this season is defense, and I like what I've been hearing from new coordinator Gus Bradley. From OTAs, he has the stop unit heading into a positive mindset with training camp just a couple of weeks away, and brings with him a wealth of experience coaching good defenses in Seattle, Jacksonville and Los Angeles (Chargers).

Last year Gruden called offseason acquisition Maliek Collins the "key" to the defense. Well, he must have been, because an awful campaign led to awful performances by the stop unit. This year, Bradley says there are no keys, and it's more about the bond as a unit in its entirety. His experience in building the Legion of Doom in Seattle has the young Raiders defenders confident they'll be better off the edge, and agile in the secondary.

Looking at the schedule, the Raiders open the season on Monday night in their shiny 1-year old stadium with fans allowed this year. They can open 1-0 by defeating Baltimore. A strong enough win help them in Pittsburgh in Week 2, and a 2-0 start will have them stoked for a revenge home game against Miami in Week 3. Last year the Dolphins ruined the Raiders postseason hopes with a late-season 26-25 win in Vegas.

The Chargers will also be out for revenge, in L.A., and will hand the Raiders their first loss of the season in Week 4. The Bears (home), Broncos (away) and Eagles (home) are all winnable games, giving Vegas a chance to open the season 6-1.

Las Vegas will look past the Giants in Jersey, with the Chiefs on deck, and could drop two straight. The Raiders will respond with a home win against the Bengals, giving them their seventh win.

That would leave them with seven games to get one more win, and take the total over. Take your pick, as it could be in Dallas, at home vs. Washington, at home vs. Denver, in Indianapolis, or in the season-finale against the Chargers.

With a confident Carr driving the offensive vehicle, Bradly spearheading the defense, and Gruden needing to get his team into the postseason, the Raiders Over 7 wins is solid play.

4* RAIDERS OVER WINS