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Breaking down 2021 strength of schedule by Super Bowl odds, win total, and traditional format

We use three different numbers to look at strength of schedule for the 2021 NFL season.

Even Money Podcast: 2021 NFL Schedule Release

The NFL schedule should be released sometime this month, but we already know the teams who will match up. Thankfully we don’t need dates to calculate strength of schedule, which we have done below.

Traditional strength of schedule numbers are derived from last year’s win percentage of all opponents. That can give you a ballpark of what the schedule looks like for your favorite team, but it is based on old information, which doesn’t usually repeat itself the following season. To make things a bit more accurate, we’ve also calculated strength of schedule based win totals and Super Bowl odds for each group of opponents. DraftKings Sportsbook released Super Bowl 2022 odds immediately after Super Bowl 55 and released win totals on March 30.

Sportsbooks are usually better than your average Joe at projecting outcomes because it’s what they do 24/7. Sportsbooks also are influenced by wagers, but they still want to be in the middle path from the start. We’ll never get the complete accuracy we desire, but using futures odds is a better way of gauging schedule difficulty.

Win Total SOS

When we check out the schedule based on opponent win totals, there are some interesting teams at the top. The 49ers lead the way with the easiest schedule, while the Cowboys, Buccaneers, Browns and Broncos are next up.

We know what Kyle Shanahan can do with an average quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo, but what if he gets an electric Justin Fields, his glut of injured players from 2020 back and healthy, and the easiest schedule in the league?

The Cowboys lost Dak Prescott for most of last season and the offense took a dive. That should change with Dak back and facing what appears to be a winnable schedule.

The toughest schedule goes to the Texans, who also have the least amount of projected wins in the league. If only they could play themselves, but they can’t and the sportsbook is taking into account the likelihood that Deshaun Watson will not be under center Week 1.

The Steelers have the second worst schedule after having one of the easier schedules last season. They better hope that Ben Roethlisberger’s arm has found an extra gear in his old age.

Super Bowl odds SOS

I would rather use win totals than Super Bowl odds for strength of schedule, but it is still better than going with last year’s win percentage. And facing multiple favorites to go to win it all is not what you want if you aren’t one of those teams and even if you are. This method gives those top teams a bit more prominence.

The Cowboys and 49ers still have easy schedules with this method, but the Broncos and Chargers make a move into the top. This is significant because both teams face the favorite for the Super Bowl twice. That means the rest of their schedule looks darn good.

The Texans and the Cardinals remain on the wrong side of these charts, while the Vikings take a big dive into the depth of the SOS abyss.

Last year’s win percentage

The Steelers have the toughest schedule based on last year and that pretty much coincides with their SOS using these other methods. Playing the Browns and Ravens twice while adding the Bills, Packers, Chiefs, Vikings, Chargers, Seahawks and Titans is going to give you a tough SOS no matter how you cut it.

2021 NFL Strength of Schedule

Teams Win totals Win total rk Super Bowl odds Super Bowl Rk Win % Win % Rk Avg Rk
Teams Win totals Win total rk Super Bowl odds Super Bowl Rk Win % Win % Rk Avg Rk
Pittsburgh Steelers 150.5 30 14.47 29 0.574 32 22.8
Baltimore Ravens 145.5 19 15.41 17 0.563 31 16.8
Chicago Bears 148 26 14.71 27 0.550 30 20.8
Green Bay Packers 144 12 15.41 17 0.542 29 14.5
Minnesota Vikings 145 15 14.35 30 0.531 28 18.3
Cincinnati Bengals 148.5 27 14.65 28 0.529 26 20.3
Detroit Lions 147 22 14.76 25 0.529 26 18.3
Las Vegas Raiders 149.5 29 14.88 23 0.526 25 19.3
Cleveland Browns 140.5 3 17.00 6 0.518 24 8.3
Los Angeles Rams 147 22 14.76 25 0.515 23 17.5
Seattle Seahawks 145 15 14.94 22 0.511 21 14.5
Kansas City Chiefs 145 15 16.59 7 0.511 21 10.8
Arizona Cardinals 149 28 13.59 32 0.507 19 19.8
Tennessee Titans 145 15 14.82 24 0.507 19 14.5
Houston Texans 151.5 31 13.88 31 0.504 17 19.8
Washington Football Team 147.5 24 15.29 19 0.504 17 15.0
Los Angeles Chargers 142.5 7 17.12 4 0.493 16 6.8
Jacksonville Jaguars 142.5 7 16.41 8 0.491 15 7.5
New England Patriots 145.5 19 15.24 20 0.489 12 12.8
New York Jets 143 9 15.71 13 0.489 12 8.5
San Francisco 49ers 137.5 1 17.71 3 0.489 12 4.0
New Orleans Saints 147.5 24 15.00 21 0.483 11 14.0
Indianapolis Colts 144.5 14 15.71 13 0.478 9 9.0
Buffalo Bills 143 9 15.94 12 0.478 9 7.5
New York Giants 145.5 19 15.53 15 0.474 8 10.5
Carolina Panthers 142 6 16.29 10 0.472 7 5.8
Miami Dolphins 143 9 16.35 9 0.471 5 5.8
Denver Broncos 141.5 5 17.76 2 0.471 5 3.0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 140.5 3 16.24 11 0.465 4 4.5
Atlanta Falcons 144 12 15.29 19 0.454 3 8.5
Dallas Cowboys 139.5 2 18.06 1 0.452 2 1.3
Philadelphia Eagles 142 6 17.12 4 0.430 1 2.8

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