2021 NFL Strength of Schedule Calculated Properly
- Look back to the NFL Strength of Schedules for all 32 teams during the 2021 NFL season
- See how easy and difficult schedules affected each team’s win-loss record
- Looking for NFL Strength of Schedule for the current season?
While many others use the flawed method of using last year’s wins to calculate NFL Strength of Schedule for the upcoming season, SportsBettingDime uses its proprietary method—cooked up by Matt McEwan in 2018—which leans on the win totals put out by sportsbooks.
Here is what the 2021 NFL SOS looked like using this method, and how it was able to predict
2021 NFL SOS
|Rank||Team||Combined Win Totals of 2021 Opponents||2021 Win-Loss Record||2021 Win Total Result|
|1||Las Vegas Raiders||153.5||10-7||7 (Over)|
|2||Pittsburgh Steelers||152.8||9-7-1||8.5 (Over)|
|3||Houston Texans||151.8||4-13||4.5 (Under)|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||150.8||10-7||6.5 (Over)|
|5||Detroit Lions||150.1||3-13-1||5 (Under)|
|6||Washington Football Team||150||7-10||8.5 (Under)|
|7||Arizona Cardinals||149.1||11-6||8.5 (Over)|
|8||New Orleans Saints||148.9||9-8||9.5 (Under)|
|9||Chicago Bears||148.6||6-11||7.5 (Under)|
|10||New York Giants||148.3||4-13||7 (Under)|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs||147.9||12-5||12.5 (Under)|
|12||Baltimore Ravens||147.8||8-9||11 (Under)|
|13||Los Angeles Rams||147.2||12-5||10.5 (Over)|
|14||Minnesota Vikings||146.9||8-9||8.5 (Under)|
|15||Green Bay Packers||146.3||13-4||10.5 (Over)|
|16||Seattle Seahawks||145.6||7-10||10 (Under)|
|17||New England Patriots||145.4||10-7||9.5 (Over)|
|18||Philadelphia Eagles||145.1||9-8||6.5 (Over)|
|19||Atlanta Falcons||145||7-10||7.5 (Under)|
|20||Los Angeles Chargers||144.9||9-8||9.5 (Under)|
|21||New York Jets||144.1||4-13||6 (Under)|
|22||Tennessee Titans||143.8||12-5||9 (Over)|
|23||Carolina Panthers||143.3||5-12||7.5 (Under)|
|24||Buffalo Bills||143.2||11-6||11 (Push)|
|25||Miami Dolphins||142.9||9-8||9.5 (Under)|
|26||Indianapolis Colts||142.8||9-8||9 (Push)|
|T26||Dallas Cowboys||142.8||12-5||9.5 (Over)|
|28||Jacksonville Jaguars||142.7||3-14||6.5 (Under)|
|29||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||142.6||13-4||12 (Over)|
|30||Denver Broncos||142.4||7-10||8.5 (Under)|
|31||Cleveland Browns||141.9||8-9||10.5 (Under)|
|32||San Francisco 49ers||138.2||10-7||10.5 (Under)|
My method for calculating NFL Strength of Schedule did not perform very well in the 2021 NFL season. In past years, betting the teams with the toughest schedules to go under their win totals, and the teams with the easiest schedules to go over their win totals, has been a profitable wager.
That was not the case in 2021, as we had some real over and underachievers on each extreme of my NFL SOS.
If you bet the six teams with the easiest SOS in 2021 to go over their win totals, you would have only hit two: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to go over 12 wins (-150), and Dallas Cowboys to go over 9.5 wins (+115).
The San Francisco 49ers, who had the easiest schedule based on NFL win totals, as well as the Cleveland Browns, who had the second-easiest schedule, both suffered through injuries to their respective quarterbacks, Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield. Both tried to play through their injuries, and neither looked good doing so. Denver, who had the third-easiest schedule, also suffered through mediocre-at-best QB play en route to a disappointing season.
If you bet the six teams with the toughest SOS in 2021 to go under their win totals, you would have hit three: the Houston Texans to go under 4.5 wins (-110), Detroit Lions to go under five wins (-120), and Washington Football Team to go under 8.5 wins (-105).
The Raiders, who had the toughest schedule based on NFL win totals, and Bengals, who had the fourth-toughest schedule, were two of the biggest overachievers in the league. Las Vegas surprised many in making the playoffs, despite a very tough schedule, while the Bengals went all the way to the Super Bowl after only winning four games the previous season.
You can see some further commentary from last season on the teams with the easiest and hardest NFL Strength of Schedules for the 2021 season below.
Toughest 2021 Schedule
It should come as no surprise that a team who has to play the Kansas City Chiefs twice this season is the team with the toughest schedule. The Las Vegas Raiders are in tough in 2021, largely due to the fact that they finished second in the AFC West last season.
As a result, their extra two games against AFC opponents come against teams who finished second in their respective divisions last year, the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. Their extra, 17th opponent this season is the Chicago Bears, who are trending in the right direction after drafting Justin Fields.
The Raiders only play two games against teams with win totals less than seven (Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles), and only four games against teams with average win totals less than 8.2. Las Vegas’ average opponent in 2021 is a nine-win team.
Easiest 2021 Schedule
After an injury-ravaged 2020 season that saw the 49ers struggle to a 6-10 record, only one year after representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, San Francisco will benefit in 2021 by having the easiest schedule in the league.
Kyle Shanahan’s squad actually has a significantly easier schedule than anyone else, as the sum of their opponents win totals only comes out to 138.2, which is 15.3 fewer wins than the Raiders (toughest) and 3.7 fewer wins than the Browns, who have the next easiest schedule.
San Francisco’s six games against other NFC West teams will be tough, but they get a weaker NFC North that includes the Detroit Lions (avg win total of 5.2), a very weak AFC South that includes the Jacksonville Jaguars (6.5) and Houston Texans (3.8), and their three extra games come against the Philadelphia Eagles (6.5), Atlanta Falcons (7.5), and Cincinnati Bengals (6.5). Their average opponent is an 8.1-win team.