Football Outsiders: Eagles, Vikings, Saints, Texans Best Picks To Go Over Season Win Totals in 2022

Football Outsiders is arguably the most respected analytics website that covers the NFL, so its Almanac is always a must-read.

Every year, FO simulates the season thousands of times to come up with its preseason projections. Editor-in-Chief Aaron Schatz said the teams are always bunched closer together than reality in terms of projected wins, and that’s the case moreso this year.

But the big-picture takeaways are still sound. The Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the favorites to win the Super Bowl, Football Outsiders believes, while the New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets are projected to be the worst teams.

The site does, however, stray from groupthink with several teams. Here are four clubs the projection model believes are good bets to go ‘over’ their projected win total in 2022, with commentary from Schatz.

Philadelphia Eagles

2021 record: 9-8
Win total: 9.5 (Over -130; Under +110)
Football Outsiders’ projection: 10.0 wins

The Eagles are projected to win 10 games in 2022, which is tied with the Buccaneers for the second-most in the league, behind only the Bills.

Philadelphia is given a 66.6% chance to make the playoffs, a 12.3% chance to make the Super Bowl and a 6.3% chance to win it. Even though the Dallas Cowboys are the betting favorites to win the NFC East, Football Outsiders posits Philly as the preseason favorite in the division.

“We definitely are (high on the Eagles),” Schatz said. “We like a lot of their personnel additions. The projection system loves A.J. Brown, Haason Reddick, James Bradberry. Getting Brandon Graham back from (a torn Achilles) injury is huge. Obviously they’ve got a strong offensive line. Plus they have the easiest projected schedule in the league.”

There is split opinion on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, and Football Outsiders is not crowning him as the next big thing. But he’s not a detriment, and all the pieces around him are very intriguing.

Philadelphia enters the season with an Offensive DVOA that is No. 6 in the NFL and a Defensive DVOA of No. 7.

“He was average passing last year,” Schatz said. “Can he get better than that? Absolutely. Would we like to see him improve to make this projection a reality? Sure. But having A.J. Brown will help that happen, too. I wouldn’t say we’re big Hurts believers. Like, Hurts is not what is driving this projection. Everything else is driving this projection. He’s just not dragging it down.”

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Minnesota Vikings

2021 record: 8-9
Win total: 9.0 (Over -115; Under -105)
Football Outsiders’ projection: 9.5 wins

It felt like Minnesota was on the verge of a rebuild this offseason, but instead brought most of its key pieces back for another season. Football Outsiders believes that was a good decision, as the Vikings are actually projected to finish with more wins (9.5) than the Green Bay Packers (9.3) this season.

The Vikings enter the season No. 10 in Total DVOA, led by an offense that is projected to be the seventh-best in the NFL.

“We were surprised that our system loved the Vikings so much this year,” Schatz said. “Their defense comes out about where it’s been the last couple of years, about average. Their offense comes out higher. Kirk Cousins is consistently around the eighth- to tenth-best quarterback in the league from a statistical perspective. And I know scouting people don’t think he’s that good, but from a statistical production perspective, he consistently comes out about that good. Their offense as a whole is going to come out about that good, and they have an easier schedule than the Packers.”

The Vikings are listed with +265 odds to win the NFC North and -110 odds to make the playoffs. Football Outsiders believes Minnesota has a 59.7% chance to make the postseason, making that another enticing play.

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Houston Texans

2021 record: 4-13
Win total: 4.5 (Over +100; Under -120)
Football Outsiders’ projection: 7.9 wins

Even though Schatz cautions that the lower-rated teams have higher win total projections than is realistic, this one still stands out in a major way.

Houston has a Total DVOA that is 25th in the NFL, whereas many believe it will be the worst team in the NFL. Combined with one of the easiest schedules, the projection system is all about the over on Houston.

“They keep adding guys that don’t suck,” Schatz said. “They just keep adding guys. They’re built to be blah, but not terrible. Like Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. And the rookies. And Brandin Cooks is still there, and Davis Mills was the second-best rookie quarterback last year in a terrible coaching situation. They just keep adding guys who are kinda like OK. So we feel like they’re going to come out kinda like OK.”

The Texans are projected to have the No. 15 defensive DVOA in the NFL and No. 10 on special teams. Even though the offense is still lagging behind, that would seemingly be plenty for the over to hit with ease.

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New Orleans Saints

2021 record: 9-8
Win total: 8 (Over -135; Under +115)
Football Outsiders’ projection: 9.4

The Saints have lost quarterback Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton in successive offseasons, which has put a damper on expectations.

However, their defense could be elite, while their offense looks competent. The Saints are projected to have the sixth-most wins in the NFC this season and are top-10 in Total DVOA heading into 2022.

“We have them as our No. 1 projected defense, and we have their offense as pretty average,” Schatz said. “And the offense can actually be better than that, right? (Jameis) Winston was pretty good when he played last year.”

Winston tore his ACL after only seven games last season, but there is not generally a decline in play at the position following that type of injury.

The Saints are +125 underdogs to make the postseason this year but Football Outsiders gives them a 57.7% chance to claim a berth.

“We think the Saints are a really nice competitor for a wild card spot,” Schatz said.

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