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A new season, a fresh start. There’s nothing quite like the last couple weeks of August as we gear up for another season of pigskin. Last year, I dipped my toe in the water providing you with weekly picks. We finished the regular season with a 14-17 record. Disappointing yes, but a very small sample size. I rebounded in the playoffs going 7-5, including a perfect 2-0 in the Super Bowl (thank you Pats). I expect to carry that momentum into the regular season. But before week 1 begins, I wanted to share with you something I’ve always excelled at and enjoyed, picking season win totals.

In my opinion, these lines are where Vegas leaves the most room for error, and the average gambler has the best opportunity to capitalize, if you have the patience. Yes I know it’s hard to make a large wager, then sit for 4 months before it cashes, but I have made a lot of good money on these bets in previous years, and you almost always have action until the final week or two of the regular season.

For record purposes, I’m picking all 32 teams, but am only going to bet on a few, which I will make clear in my writeup. The ones I’m betting on will have *** next to them.

As for the regular season, expect my picks every Friday (I will rarely pick the Thursday night game, if I do, then I will get my picks in Thursday before kickoff). I will also include my suicide picks every week as I am in several pools.

I will also be picking games and posting lots of football analysis on social media pages, mainly Twitter, so please give me a follow @jaredleesmith.

Here are this year’s picks, by division….


AFC East

New England Patriots OVER 12.5***

Over! Over! Over! They are the best team in the NFL coming off another Super Bowl and brilliant offseason. Barring catastrophic injury to Tom Brady this team will cruise to their 9th straight AFC East title and 15th in the last 17 seasons. Final record: 14-2

Miami Dolphins OVER 7.5

Call me crazy, but I think Jay Cutler is a better fit in Miami than Ryan Tannehill ever was. This team won 10 games last season and I don’t think they will regress that much this year with Cutler under center. Final record: 8-8

Buffalo Bills OVER 6.5

This is a no bet for me because I think Vegas nailed this number. The Sammy Watkins trade was curious but I love the Sean McDermott hire. Buffalo will do what they always do, win games they shouldn’t, and lose at least one or two that they will be heavily favored in. Do yourself a favor and stay away, much better value on the board this season. Final record: 7-9

New York Jets UNDER 4

My mother always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all. You can’t make this number low enough and I don’t need to tell you why. Final record: 3-13


AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers OVER 10.5

Big Ben will be up to his old tricks, and this high-octane offense will continue to hum. They’ve finished with at least 10 wins in 5 of the last 7 seasons. They should be right around that mark again this year, which is why I’m laying off. Final Record: 11-5

Baltimore Ravens OVER 8.5

It’s been quite some time since the Ravens had a legitimate deep threat, now they have 2. Jeremy Maclin will be a breath of fresh air for Joe Flacco, who throws the deep ball better than anyone. I’m also high on a bounce back year for Breshad Perriman if he can stay healthy. Final record: 10-6

Cincinnati Bengals UNDER 8.5

On paper this team has a ton of talent and upside, but I’m just not sold on this offensive line after the departure of Andrew Whitworth. Just a gut feeling it’s a rebuilding year in Cincy. Final record: 6-10

Cleveland Browns UNDER 4.5

If Cincinnati falters, this might be a chance for Cleveland to gain some traction at the bottom of the division, but DeShone Kizer will struggle out of the gates if the rookie gets the nod at QB. Expect a typical Browns year where they show you a ton of promise but still don’t have all the pieces in place to finish games and get wins. Final record: 4-12.

AFC South

Houston Texans OVER 8.5***

Probably the most underrated team in the NFL right now. I loved the Deshaun Watson pick and JJ Watt is going to be back with a vengeance. The Texans are a legit Super Bowl contender this season. Final record: 11-6

Indianapolis Colts OVER 9

Andrew Luck is good enough for 9 wins on his own and I like what new GM Chris Ballard is doing building around his franchise QB instead of dumping money on aging veterans. Final record: 10-6

Tennessee Titans UNDER 8.5

The Titans are the trendy sleeper pick this year in the AFC south but I’m not buying it. Tennessee has only eclipsed the 9-win mark twice since 2004 and I don’t trust a running quarterback coming off a knee injury. The Titans will contend and will likely just miss out on a wild card spot in a weak AFC. Final record: 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars UNDER 6.5

The Blake Bortles experiment has turned out to be a disaster. The former 1st round pick might lose the starting job to Chad Henne, and despite an uptick in organizational leadership with Tom Coughlin now running the show, I still think this team is a few years, (and one legit quarterback) away. Final record: 5-11


AFC West

Oakland Raiders OVER 9.5

This is a tough spot for the Raiders. It’s been a really long time since they’ve had a target on their backs after an impressive 12-4 campaign last year. I don’t think they get back to that plateau again this year, but they will be close. Marshawn Lynch was a masterful pickup and Derek Carr will be highly motivated after missing the playoff game last year. Final record: 11-5

Kansas City Chiefs OVER 9

The AFC west is definitely the most balanced division in the NFL this season. It’s probably the only division, outside maybe the NFC east, where you can make a legit case for all four teams winning the division. Every time you doubt Kansas City, they prove you wrong. I love Patrick Mahomes II and I think there’s a chance he beats out Alex Smith down the road, but for now it’s still Alex’s team, and he still knows how to win games, especially with an elite defense on the other side of the ball. Final record: 10-6

LA Chargers Over 7.5***

Hard to believe, but LA has two professional football teams now and I think the new location will breath some fresh air into what’s been a floundering Chargers franchise the last couple of years. I think this is finally the year everyone stays healthy and the Chargers surprise some people and make a run at a wild card spot. Philip Rivers certainly has the big game experience necessary. Final record: 9-7

Denver Broncos Under 8.5

Losing Wade Phillips will hurt this defense, and there’s still no clear-cut quarterback at the top of the depth chart. Those two things equal problems for modern day NFL teams, not to mention this team has had incredible success over the last few years ,so I can see a regression to the mean here. Final record: 6-10


NFC East

New York Giants OVER 9***

Eli Manning doesn’t have many bullets left in the tank, but it might not matter with the talent around him. The running game and offensive line will still be spotty at best, but this WR corps is top notch and the defense will be just as good as last year. Big Blue wins the NFC East, most likely via a tiebreaker. Final record: 10-6

Dallas Cowboys OVER 9.5

The only reason I went Giants over Cowboys to win the division is the loss of Ezekiel Elliot and his absence in that week 1 matchup between Dallas and New York. If the Cowboys can win that game without Freaky Zeeky, then Dallas has the inside track for the division. Either way, I think both teams win 10 games and clear their season total. Final record: 10-6

Washington Redskins OVER 7.5

The drama that is the Redskins franchise continued this offseason with the firing of GM Scot McLoughan and the ongoing debate about a name change. Despite all that, Kirk Cousins is in another walk year after being franchised for the 2nd straight season, and the addition of Terrelle Pryor should help open up the offense. I think the Skins are a .500 team. Final record: 8-8

Philadelphia Eagles UNDER 8.5

This is a huge number for a team with a 2nd-year quarterback who didn’t finish his rookie season very strong. I’m not a Carson Wentz believer, and the rest of this roster just isn’t that strong. This division is too tough for the Eagles to finish above .500. Final record: 6-10


NFC North

Green Bay Packers UNDER 10.5

This number is one win too high. I think there is a very good chance Aaron Rodgers runs the table again and this team cruises to another division title, but my gut says something slips them up along the way, either an injury or lack of production and they win one or two less games than expected. I still fully expect this team to make the playoffs and probably win the North, but the Pack are just not a great value play this season. Final record: 10-6

Minnesota Vikings OVER 8.5***

Speaking of value plays, the Vikings started off like gangbusters last season before fading down the stretch and missing out on the playoffs. I expect Sam Bradford to be much more comfortable with the offense this year, and that defense has not gotten any worse. This is a team that could contend with Green Bay for the division crown and will not miss out on the postseason. Final record: 10-6

Detroit Lions OVER 7.5

This is basically the exact same Lions team that went 9-7 last year, so barring injury I don’t see any reason why they can’t go 8-8 this year. Final record: 8-8

Chicago Bears UNDER 5.5

Similar to the Jets, you can’t make this number low enough. I was not a fan of the Mitchell Trubisky draft pick and as a Jets fan, I’m glad they didn’t trade up to get him like the Bears did. It’s going to be a long season in the Windy City. Final record: 3-13


NFC South

Atlanta Falcons OVER 9

Okay remember how I said the NFC West was the most balanced division in the NFL, yea I was wrong, it’s the NFC South. All four teams have a legit argument for being the top dog, including the reigning NFC champs. Matt Ryan could and should be out for blood in 2017 after his disappointing performance in the 2nd half of the Super Bowl. Think Tom Brady after returning from his suspension last year. I’m a little worried about Devonta Freeman, as most big name RBs usually take a step back after monster workloads and signing big contracts in the offseason, but there’s enough here to warrant a double-digit win total season. Final record: 11-5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OVER 8.5***

I love the upside here. Jameis Winston’s star is still on the rise and the talent around him is only getting better and more cohesive by the day. I think this team is one-win better than last year, a year they went 9-7 and missed out on the postseason by the slimmest of margins. That won’t happen this year. Final record: 10-6

Carolina Panthers PUSH 9

I think the biggest question in this division is how the Panthers bounce back. The Super Bowl hangover 6-10 season was unexpected, but not out of the ordinary, as many teams have taken a step back the year after making it to the big game. If you’re a believer in Cam Newton, then this team will be just fine, but his maturity level is my only concern. Play at your own risk. Final record: 9-7

New Orleans Saints UNDER 8.5

A very new look Saints team this year as Brandin Cooks is gone and Adrian Peterson is now in the backfield, providing a safety blanket for the aging Drew Brees. But AP is no spring chicken either, and I think the timing of this offense will struggle, especially early in the season. The Saints window is officially closing. Final record: 6-10

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks OVER 10.5

The Seahawks should have won 11 games last season, but that bizarre tie against the Cardinals in week 7 resulted in a 10-5-1 record. I don’t see any reason why they can’t have the same if not more success than last year, and hopefully a healthy Russell Wilson pushes this total over the number. Final record: 11-5

Arizona Cardinals OVER 8.5

The Cardinals should have won 10 games last year, but kicking woes and injuries derailed them late in the season. Something tells me a very similar team shows up in 2017 with hopefully a much improved kicking situation with the veteran Phil Dawson in the mix. Final record: 9-7

LA Rams OVER 5.5

Tough division, and still an unproven guy under center in Jared Goff, who I didn’t like to begin with last year. But Wade Phillips will provide a boost on defense, and if Goff can figure things out, this could be a sneak good squad in 2017, especially in the wild west where wins inside the division are very hard to come by. Final record: 6-10

SF 49ers UNDER 4.5

Brian Hoyer will be the starting quarterback in week 1, which is all that needs to be said about the 49ers this season. Final record: 3-13

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