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Tom Krasovic: Rams, Jets are best NFL 'over/under' bets for 2021 season

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Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions signals the receiver during the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on January 3, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions signals the receiver during the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on January 3, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Minnesota defeated Detroit 37-35. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images/TNS)

SAN DIEGO — Believing Matthew Stafford will upgrade their offense, I see the Los Angeles Rams as the best bet of the 32 NFL teams to beat their 2021 over/under win total.

Oddsmakers at have the Rams set at 10 victories. A year ago L.A. went 10-6 behind quarterbacks Jared Goff (9-6) and John Wolford (1-0).

Stafford and the 17-game schedule should push the total higher, despite six games in a formidable NFC West.

Here's Richard Sherman, the longtime NFC cornerback and budding podcast co-host, on how Stafford will change the Rams: "He opens their offense up. I think he goes for over 5,000 yards this year."

The one year Stafford exceeded 5,000 passing yards, he took the 2011 Detroit Lions to a 10-6 season and a playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, who won by outscoring them, 45-28.

Stafford, 33, will provide improvements beyond superior arm strength, more ability to fire strikes on the move and better escape skills in comparison to Goff, 26.

Where McVay often shouted adjustments to Goff deep into the play clock, Stafford can better manage the line of scrimmage, much as Philip Rivers did for San Diego teams.

Stafford's comprehension of NFL defenses will create mismatches. McVay won't have to scheme as many advantageous plays, though Stafford figures to thrive in those designs.

Make no mistake, said Stanford man Sherman: Stafford outsmarted Seattle's famed "Legion of Boom" defense.

"He knew he had us on our heels, and didn't need the coach to say anything," Sherman said. "And he just pushed us, pushed us, pushed us until it was all over."

Sherman hasn't forgotten the sandlot-style schooling: "He destroyed us in a drive where I don't think they actually called one play."

Let's not overthink other reasons why the Rams should exceed 10 wins.

Aaron Donald, who turned 30 this week, is still the NFL's most disruptive defender. The Packers were fortunate he was too injured to threaten them in Green Bay's crisp playoff victory. All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, 26, may be headed to his best season. Andrew Whitworth is a reliable left tackle who led the NFL in pass block win rate, per ESPN's grades.

It's concerning that Whitworth is 39. The Rams lost a few good players in free agency, headed by safety John Johnson. Desperate for a burner who can exploit Stafford's arm, the Rams drafted a receiver in Tutu Atwell who weighs only 155 pounds. (The Seahawks took a 190-pound speedster, D'Wayne Eskridge, one pick earlier.)

Mind the big picture.

McVay has shown his program will develop talent (Terrell Burgess, a heady second-year player, figures to join the safety rotation alongside Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller).

Stafford is the best quarterback to play for the McVay Rams, who've gone 11-5, 13-3, 9-7 and 10-6.

As for the NFL team most likely to fall short of its betting-line win total, the New York Jets are the choice. Their over/under is six victories.

Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson going down early with an injury would be no less surprising than Houston Texans QB Tyrod Taylor exiting in September. Though fluid as a passer and runner, the thin-framed Wilson exposed himself to hits unnecessarily as a runner and was sidelined by shoulder and hand injuries at BYU. His playing weight was about 200 pounds. The AFC East's defensive-minded head coaches will steepen his learning curve.

If the Jets obtain a veteran to compete with Wilson, the outlook wouldn't be brighter. Pencil them for five wins, up three from last year.

The highest over/under for any team is 12 1/2 for Kansas City, followed by the team that beat the Chiefs in last season's Super Bowl, Tampa Bay, at 11 1/2. At the low end, Houston's total is four, with Detroit at five.

The Chargers' total is nine, just ahead of Denver (8 1/2) and the Raiders (7).


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