I've posted overrated and underrated NFL teams on my NFL Picks page for a while, but I thought it deserved its own section. I'll update this page every week during the season as well as periodically during the offseason. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
Updated Nov. 13, 2018
NFL Overrated Teams:
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams looked unstoppable against the Vikings on an early Thursday night. When that happened, I wrote, "Be wary of teams that appear that way on national TV. They can often disappoint afterward because they're way overvalued. Remember the Eagles from numerous years ago with their controversial quarterback when they couldn't be stopped against the Redskins? That's what the Rams' win over Minnesota felt like."
As it turns out, the Rams haven't covered the spread since beating Minnesota, save for their Week 7 victory over C.J. Boat Hard, or whatever his name is. They've beaten nine teams that are a combined 32-47-2. Because looking at numbers is lazy, let's analyze the wins:
- Rams beat the Raiders after trailing at halftime. Oakland's only win thus far came via horrible officiating versus a rookie quarterback making his first start.
- Rams shut out the Cardinals, who were nearly blanked at home the week before versus the Redskins.
- Rams beat the Chargers by 12. The same Chargers who nearly lost to C.J. Beathard.
- Rams defeated the Vikings by seven. Minnesota tied the Packers and a hobbled Aaron Rodgers and then was blown out by Buffalo. Plus, some poor officiating buried the Vikings.
- Rams snuck out a win against a pedestrian Seattle team, as Los Angeles couldn't stop the run.
- Rams beat the Broncos by three, although they were up by more before some garbage scores. Case Keenum was horrible until the Rams went into a prevent, and Denver stinks overall.
- Rams crushed C.J. Boat Hat, or whatever his name is.
- Rams barely beat the Packers, who led for most of the game. Had Ty Montgomery not fumbled the kickoff at the end, Aaron Rodgers probably would've led Green Bay to victory.
- Rams beat the Seahawks in a home game where they trailed entering the fourth quarter.
I understand that the Rams seem unstoppable to some - they were favored in New Orleans, for crying out loud - but that's precisely what makes them overrated.
Three media panelists were asked who would win the NFC North, and they said the Vikings without giving it a second thought. There was no consideration to the Bears, who lead the division, or the Packers, who would hold the tie-breaker with a win in Minnesota.
The Vikings struggle in many areas. They have trouble covering downfield against receivers that Xavier Rhodes isn't blanketing. They can't cover the middle of the field because their linebackers struggle against the pass. They can't block because their offensive line sucks. Mike Hughes is out for the year, while Andrew Sendejo is dealing with an injury. The Vikings' previous three wins have come against the dreadful Cardinals, the struggling Jets and the pedestrian Lions, who just traded one of their top offensive weapons.
The Steelers just locked up a spot on this list for quite some time in the wake of their 52-21 victory over the sleep-walking Panthers on Thursday night.
There's an extensive history of teams floundering after huge victories on national TV. It occurred recently, with the Rams beating the Vikings convincingly back in Week 4. Everyone thought the Rams were unstoppable after that game, yet they've covered one spread since.
Pittsburgh's spreads are going to be greatly inflated as a result of this victory. Yet, it would've been a different result had the Panthers brought their "A" game.
San Angeles Chargers
The Chargers only lost to the Rams and Chiefs. The Chargers only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. Hey, the Chargers only lost to the Rams and Chiefs. The Chargers only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. Have you paid attention? The Chargers only lost to the Rams and Chiefs. The Chargers only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. Hey, guess what? The Chargers only lost to the Rams and Chiefs. The Chargers only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. Have you heard the news? The Chargers only lost to the Rams and Chiefs. The Chargers only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. Did you hear? The Chargers only lost to the Rams and Chiefs. The Chargers only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. You'll never guess who only lost to the Rams and Chiefs: The Chargers only lost to the Rams and Chiefs. The Chargers only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. Rams Chiefs. Chiefs Rams. Rams Chiefs. Chiefs Rams. Rams Rams Rams. Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs. Rams Chiefs Rams Chiefs Rams Chiefs Rams. Chiefs Rams Chiefs Rams Chiefs Rams Chiefs. Rams Rams. Chiefs Chiefs.
Sorry, I thought I was a member of the national media for a second. Yes. The Chargers only lost to the Rams and Chiefs. This is true. So what? They got blown out in both games. They barely beat C.J. Beathard at home. Their other six wins are against the Bills, who suck; the Raiders, who suck; the Browns, who saw Baker Mayfield get hurt in the first quarter; the Titans, who shot themselves in the foot repeatedly; the Seahawks, who are mediocre at best; and the Raiders, who, if you didn't see it earlier, suck. None of those teams have winning records except Tennessee.
The Chargers can't defend the middle of the field, and their pass rush isn't very good. I don't trust their offensive line either, and they have a shaky coaching staff and kicking game. They have reached obscene levels of overrated, and I can't wait to keep making money betting against them.
NFL Underrated Teams:
I had the Falcons down as an overrated team - until I saw a report saying that Deion Jones has been taken off injured reserve. Jones will be back this week, and that's absolutely enormous for Atlanta's playoff aspirations. If you don't think one player can make much of a difference on defense, you haven't watched Jones. He's one of the top linebackers in the NFL, and he's great in all aspects. In his return, the Falcons will be much better versus the run, and they'll defend tight ends and pass-catching running backs much more effectively. Jones is the heart and soul of Atlanta's defense, and his absence was the primary reason for the team's struggles. His return will have a profound effect on the rest of the Falcons' season.
The Ravens just lost by double digits to the Panthers and then suffered a defeat to the Steelers, but they've been very banged up. In the Pittsburgh game, the Ravens were down two starting offensive linemen, while some defensive players were banged up.
Baltimore has dropped to 4-5, but the team is going on a bye at the right time. The Ravens will have a chance to heal up, so if everyone is healthy in Week 11 and beyond, Baltimore could have a very strong finish to the year.
Also, it's worth noting that the loss to the Steelers doesn't seem as bad now after seeing how Pittsburgh destroyed Carolina.
It seems like people believe the Vikings will beat the Bears on Sunday Night Football to take the lead in the division. And yet, the Bears are favored by three!
Chicago, in my opinion, is the better team. The Bears have the superior offensive line, and they are better at covering the middle of the field. They also happen to be healthier in the secondary. The only area where the Vikings are definitely superior is quarterback, and it's not like Kirk Cousins is the most reliable passer in the world. Mitchell Trubisky, meanwhile, has endured some poor outings this year, but has also flashed with some terrific performances.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are much better than their 4-4-1 record indicates. They were 3-2-1 off their bye, but have suffered a pair of brutal losses. Had it not been for Ty Montgomery's lost fumble on the kickoff return, Green Bay may have beaten the Rams. Meanwhile, the Packers were tied at 17 with the Patriots in the fourth quarter, with possession. But thanks to an Aaron Jones fumble, injuries to Bryan Bulaga and Blake Martinez, and an ejection for Jermaine Whitehead, the Patriots were able to outscore Green Bay, 14-0, in the final frame.
I expect the Packers to finish the year well. Aaron Rodgers is getting healthier, while the defense has been better since getting some cornerbacks back from injury.