Broncos’ 2016 win total was the toughest number for NFL oddsmakers

The Denver Broncos stunned the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 less than three weeks ago, and already oddsmakers in Las Vegas have the Broncos’ 2016 success mapped out.

CG Technology in Nevada, which operates numerous sportsbooks such as The M, Venetian, Cosmopolitan and the Tropicana, is once again the first operator in the industry to release NFL season win totals, pegging the defending Super Bowl champs with expectations of 9.5 wins (Over -110/Under -120).

That win total for the Broncos was the hardest number CG Technology had to wrangle when crunching and comparing the proposed win totals this week. According to Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology, himself, a team of oddsmakers and two other respected individuals each brought their respective win totals to the table, debated their discrepancies and settled on an opening number for all 32 NFL teams.

Simbal says totals between nine and 10 were proposed for Denver, with the group eventually settling on a happy medium of 9.5 wins but making doubters pay extra to bet the Broncos Under.

“That was the one we had the biggest variance on,” Simbal tells Covers, pointing out how competitive the AFC West should be in 2016. “The (Broncos’) quarterback situation is tricky, the Raiders are better (and were the other team CG Technology had the toughest time setting a win total for), Kansas City is still good, and San Diego should improve after being so banged up last year.”

The team Denver dominated in Santa Clara back on February 7, the Panthers, are one of five NFL teams with a season win total of 10.5 wins (Over Even/Under -130) – the highest win totals on the board. Carolina, which finished with a league-best 15-1 record last season, is joined by the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and Seattle Seahawks with season win totals of 10.5.

“The Panthers obviously aren’t going to win 15 games two years in a row,” says Simbal. “Carolina is going to be working off a first-place schedule and they have tough road games at Seattle and Denver this year, which they’ll likely be dogs for. Some other guys were very bullish on Carolina. Do you set a total of 10 wins and make the Over a big fave or do you go 10.5 and make the Under a fave?”

Behind that pack of 10.5-win teams are the Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals with 9.5-win totals. The Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Kansas City Chiefs are all pegged with totals of nine wins.

Simbal says the process is all about gauging each team’s games and a probable pointspread for those individual matchups, then building a win total from the given probability associated with those spreads. But while their oddsmakers know each team’s games – home/away – they don’t know the exact order in which those contests line up, and won’t until the NFL officially releases its schedule on April 21.

“It’s hard to do the win totals this early because we don’t know when the games will be,” says Simbal, who sets bet limits at $500 until more information is available. “Scheduling does matter. Take teams like Arizona and Seattle, who will be favorites in most of their games. But when Arizona goes to Seattle, if that’s in Week 2 we have a pretty good idea of what the line is. If that game is in Week 17, however, that changes a lot.”

Speaking to the great level of parity in the NFL, there are 13 teams with season win totals between 8.5 and 7, topped by the Indianapolis Colts at 8.5 wins with the Over priced at -130 (Under Even) – a sign oddsmakers are optimistic Indianapolis will return among the AFC’s elite.

At the bottom of the board are the Cleveland Browns, who have an opening season win total of 4.5 with the Over also priced at -130 – a sign oddsmakers are optimistic that Cleveland can at least improve from a 3-13 record in 2015. Also among the lowest totals are the San Francisco 49ers (5 wins), Tennessee Titans (5.5 wins), Jacksonville Jaguars (6 wins), Chicago Bears (6.5 wins), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6.5 wins).

“I can’t remember setting a total lower than five wins, I don’t think,” Simbal says of Cleveland’s diminutive season win total. “The Browns will be underdogs in every single game this year. There’s not one situation in which I see them being the favorites. When you look at that win probability, it’s tough to come up with a number of five.”

CG Technology is expecting to open betting on the 2016 NFL season win total around 1 p.m. PT Thursday. Here’s the full list of their opening win totals.


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