With less than four months remaining until the start of the 2015 NFL regular season, popular online sportsbooks are beginning to release projected win totals for all 32 teams. On Tuesday, Bovada set the Philadelphia Eagles’ regular season win total at nine games, with the “over” being a slight -130 favorite and the “under” being an even-money bet (in layman’s terms, you would have to bet $13 on “more than nine wins for the Eagles” to win $10 and $10 on the “less than nine wins for the Eagles” to win $10). In comparison with other teams around the league, the Ravens’ regular season win total was also set at nine games and the totals of the Cardinals, Falcons, Bills, Panthers, Bengals, Cowboys, Chiefs, Dolphins, Saints, Giants, and Steelers were set at a half-game in either direction of nine wins. You can view the Bovada win projections for all 32 teams here.
Frankly, I was a little shocked when Bovada’s win projection for the Eagles was publicized. Though improvements from last season’s team have been made at key positions such as quarterback, running back, inside linebacker, and cornerback, Bovada’s nine-win projection for the 2015 season matches an identical nine-win projection for the Eagles made by the site prior to the 2014 season.
To add to the peculiarity of the projection, since he was named head coach at Oregon in 2009, Chip Kelly has never coached a team that has won less than ten games during the regular season. Here’s the complete list of how Kelly’s regular season teams have fared in his six seasons as a head coach:
Oregon, 2009: 10-2 (83.3 win percentage)
Oregon, 2010: 12-0 (100.0 win percentage)
Oregon, 2011: 10-2 (83.3 win percentage)
Oregon, 2012: 11-1 (91.6 win percentage)
Philadelphia, 2013: 10-6 (62.5 win percentage)
Philadelphia, 2014: 10-6 (62.5 win percentage)
Another important thing to consider is the Eagles’ 2015 regular season strength of schedule. Though teams have seemingly improved or worsened since the conclusion of 2014, with an opponent record of 121-134-1 (.425) last season, Philadelphia has the 10th easiest schedule in the league on paper. The Eagles will also not play a single team coming off their bye week in 2015, and their own bye was conveniently scheduled for week 8, which immediately precludes a tough road game in Dallas against the Cowboys. On paper, the Eagles have a favorable 2015 schedule. If you piece together context clues from projected win totals, most sportsbooks believe the Cowboys will repeat as NFC East champions in 2015, though the margin between teams is minimal. Along with the Eagles 9-win projection, the Cowboys are projected to win 10 games, the Giants are projected to win 8.5 games, and the Redskins are projected to win a lowly 6.5 games.
As you can see, I think there’s tremendous value in betting the “over” nine wins for the Eagles during the 2015 regular season. Sure, quarterback Sam Bradford’s checkered history with injuries makes any bet on the Eagles’ upcoming season somewhat of a risk, but it’s important to remember that with backup quarterback Mark Sanchez at the helm for more than half of the 2014 regular season, Chip Kelly and the Eagles still managed to put together 10 regular season wins. With a better cast than last season, the Eagles have all the necessary pieces to exceed the 9-win projection, even if there’s eventually some fluidity at the quarterback position due to injury. When better overall personnel is paired with Kelly’s consistent past-production as a head coach and the Eagles’ seemingly less-than-difficult schedule, I’ll confidently bet on the Eagles winning more than nine regular season games in 2015. If you’re a gambler, you should too.
Follow Sidelines and Headlines creator Ray Butler on Twitter: @RayButlerII