The 2021-22 NFL season will kick off on Sept. 9 with a premier matchup between the defending champion Buccaneers and the star-studded Cowboys. Most stadiums are expected to be at full capacity of fans and intensity should be at an all-time high after the pandemic. For the Detroit Lions schedule, along with the Jets and Jaguars, the question is whether it will matter.
The full NFL schedule was released on May 12, with bettors quickly reacting to various teams’ schedules in Futures markets. The schedule also provided further clarity for deciding on how to bet Win Totals.
In this article, we look at NFL strength of schedule and study which teams could possibly go under their season total in wins now that we know how their schedules shape up in 2021.
Remember, the NFL has moved to a 17-game season and these win totals are projections for that, not 16 games.
2021 NFL Strength of Schedule
|Rank||Team||Opponents’ 2020 Win%|
The Team That Got No Help From Schedule Makers
Detroit Lions: 5 Wins (-110 Over) / ( Under)
The Lions schedule has not been kind recently with a mark of 14-33 over the past three seasons. Going into 2021, they decided to shake things up from the coaching staff to the quarterback. Jared Goff replaces Matthew Stafford and offers far less mobility behind a suspect offensive line. Dan Campbell steps in as head coach and Anthony Lynn is the new offensive coordinator after struggling to win close games with the Chargers last year despite elite QB play from Justin Herbert.
Detroit ranked dead last in nearly every advanced defensive metric last season, and they earned a rough scheduling draw from the league office. The Lions schedule opens against five perennial playoff contenders as they have to face the NFC West and AFC North in non-division games this year. Their schedule lets up a bit at the tail end with games at Denver and Atlanta, but those are distinctly difficult spots for visiting teams.
Even in a 17-game season, Detroit may only win a couple of games with a schedule that ranks tied for sixth toughest, based on 2020 opponents’ win percentage.
The Teams That Got Some Help From Schedule Makers
Jacksonville Jaguars: 6.5 Wins (+110 Over) / ( Under)
Can Trevor Lawrence make a significant difference in his rookie season? That’s what you have to ask yourself if you’re going to bet this under. The schedule itself is middle of the pack, ranking 18th in 2020 opponents’ strength of schedule, but the Jaguars roster bust be the primary focus.
Jacksonville lost 15 straight games after stunning the Colts in their opener last year. Granted, the franchise was not upset about losing by the end of the year so they could draft Lawrence, but they did very little to improve their defense in free agency this offseason. Jacksonville finished 31st in total DVOA defense and 26th in schedule-adjusted DVOA run defense per Football Outsiders. That’s a recipe for disaster in a division with Derrick Henry and the run-heavy Colts.
In non-division games, the Jags draw the loaded NFC West and the AFC East, which now has three playoff contenders with the Patriots expected to return to playoff contender status. Lawrence might excite, but he doesn’t play on both sides of the ball. New coach Urban Meyer also has no track record in the pros, and we’ve seen some of the best college coaches fall short in the NFL.
New York Jets: 6.5 Wins (+127 Over) / ( Under)
The Jets will debut new coach Robert Saleh and No. 2 overall pick Zack Wilson on Sept. 12 at Carolina against Sam Darnold and WR Robby Anderson, who both failed to thrive under former Jets coach Adam Gase. That’s the first chapter of a schedule that ranks just 19th in difficulty this year, based on 2020 opponents’ winning percentage.
After Week 1, they host the Patriots, play at Denver, and host the Titans before heading off to London to face Atlanta. There isn’t much relief for a team with a ton of new parts until the later stages of the season when they play at Houston and host Philadelphia. They close with brutal matchups against the Bucs and Bills.
Saleh and GM Joe Douglas are clearly trying to build a tough, defensive-minded club that can return to the top half of the AFC East, but the schedule makes it tough to see happening this year. The Dolphins might take a half-step backwards, but the Patriots have loaded up and the Bills are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Unless Wilson is tremendous out of the gates, the Jets could enter their Week 6 bye at 0-5, as they will likely be underdogs in each game, and have a very long road to try and secure six wins. If they do start 0-5, they’d have to go 7-5 after the bye week to reach the over on their win total.