# Predicting Win Totals for All 32 NFL Teams

We looked at the win totals for all 32 teams before the NFL season kicks off and offered up astute analysis on why you should take your squad's over or under.

USA Today Sports

Aug 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) is congratulated by wide receiver D.J. Moore (2) and tight end Dan Arnold (85) after his score during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Before Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Bucs kicks off the 2021 season against the Cowboys, I will take you through all 32 teams and projected win totals with analysis. I have marked where I have a personal best bet and where I have put my money where my mouth is. For the rest, I give my opinions for the purpose of the exercise but are not ones that I feel most strongly about. My projections are based on initial power ratings for each team which are then plugged into each team’s schedule and are adjusted for difficult scheduling spots. The cumulative wins are then computed to spit out a fair win total projection.

There are some advanced analytics discussion here so here’s a little primer to help better navigate the analysis if you’re unfamiliar.

DVOA: The main statistic used on Football Outsiders, DVOA breaks down the entire season play-by-play, comparing success on each play to the league average based on a number of variables including down, distance, location on field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality.

EPA: Expected Points Added tries to better measure the value of individual plays in terms of points. It uses play-by-play data to create a scoring probability for the next play based on field position, down, distance, and time remaining, among other factors. For example, gaining 8 yards on third and 10 is way less valuable than gaining 2 yards on fourth and 1 because the latter increases that team’s chances of scoring on that drive.

Net Rest Advantage: Season long calculation of number of extra days rest one team has versus their opponents. For example, a team coming off a Sunday game would have a net rest of +1 if they were playing a team coming off a Monday night game.

Best Bets:

Carolina over 7.5 -120

Denver over 8.5 -150

Jacksonville over 6.5 +120

New Orleans under 9 -120

New York Giants under 7 +110

## Bengals

#### Win Total: 6.5Pick: Under

This is a toss up, but the schedule is just brutal for Cincinnati this season (fifth toughest) and they will never catch a breather in the division. QB Joe Burrow should tremendous promise last year but there are concerns following his torn ACL. The Bengals should be able to move the ball well on offense, but the offensive line will continue to be a problem. The Bengals did not do much to improve their offensive line, outside of signing RT Riley Reiff. The line last season ranked 31st in adjusted line yards and 25th in adjusted sack rate. The defense will most likely struggle to stop opposing passing games, considering they ranked 25th in EPA per drop back allowed last season and lost top cover CB William Jackson. In addition, Zac Taylor is dead man walking and is 6-25-1 straight up as an NFL head coach, including 2-13-1 in one score games. There are just too many issues with this team on top of the tough schedule to do anything but take the under.

## Broncos

#### Win Total: 8.5Pick: Over

The Broncos have tons of positive regression coming from bad luck due to injuries and turnovers. Last year the Broncos were hit hard even before the season started with the loss of Von Miller and had the seventh-highest adjusted games lost due to injury. Who can forget having to start practice squad WR Kendal Hinton as the emergency QB against the Saints? They also lost more EPA due to turnovers than any other team in the NFL and faced the 5th toughest schedule overall. Now they are expected to face the second-easiest schedule according to current win totals. New QB Teddy Bridgewater ranked seventh in completion percentage over expectation and was tied for 1st in adjusted completion percentage on short throws. The defense will be this team’s calling card and on paper looks to be one of the best in the NFL, including potentially the best and deepest secondary. If Bridgewater can just provide a steady hand at QB and is able to deliver the football in the right spots and not make mistakes, this team should win double-digit games.

## Raiders

#### Win Total: 7Pick: Under

My projections have the Raiders winning 6.8 games. Based on current win totals, they are facing the toughest schedule in the NFL and QB Derek Carr will have to go up against the second-toughest schedule of opposing pass defenses. A former strength of the team, the offensive line, will see some turnover with veteran C Rodney Hudson gone and will be replaced by Andre James who produced a horrible 1.4 PFF pass blocking grade on 116 snaps in 2019. That Raiders defense has ranked 32nd, 31st, and 29th in EPA in three seasons under Jon Gruden and they did nothing substantial on defense to think this won’t continue to be a bottom 10 defense again. Add in the fact that there won’t be a big home field advantage as many road fans will flock to Las Vegas, and this looks like a long season for the Raiders.

## Dolphins

#### Win Total: 9.5Pick: Over

This is another close one for me, but I have an 8.9 win projection. There are two sides to this Miami coin that I am struggling with. The defense ranked seventh in EPA, but only 24th in yards per play. The high EPA rank is because Miami gained the most EPA in the NFL from turnovers and ranked first by a mile in allowing the lowest third down conversion rate over expected. Both of those stats should negatively regress significantly this season. On offense, however, I expect a big step-up from Tua Tagovailoa who gets a legitimate set of weapons with WRs Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle in the mix. Although he only ranked 27th in EPA per drop back last season, his numbers weren’t as bad when compared to other rookie QBs historically.  He actually gets a full offseason, is not coming off a major injury, and is expected to face the second-easiest pass defense schedule in the NFL.

## Patriots

#### Win Total: 9.5Pick: Over

Last season, no team was hurt more by opt-outs and games missed due to Covid than the Patriots. New England had eight total opt-outs, the most in the NFL. The talent on that roster was really poor last year and the Patriots still managed to win seven games. And they did it against the 12th toughest schedule which makes it even more impressive. The Patriots are starting Mac Jones at QB and loaded up in free agency along with the Covid opt-outs. It’s never fun to fade Belichick and the roster is so much better than last year so I will reluctantly take this over.

## Eagles

#### Win Total: 6Pick: Over

Philadelphia was absolutely decimated by injuries to their offense last season. The offensive line especially was beaten up and the Eagles led the NFL in adjusted games lost along the line. QB Jalen Hurts may not be a good pocket passer but adds an exciting dimension to the offense with his playmaking ability. Excluding the Week 17 tanking session against Washington, the Eagles averaged 22.3 points per game and ranked 17th in EPA offense in his three starts to end the season. The Eagles defense catches a break this season as Philadelphia is expected to face the easiest schedule of opposing offenses in the NFL. Up and coming defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon inherits a defensive front that generated the second-highest pressure rate in the NFL last season as well. I don’t love this Eagles team, but six wins is a low bar in a bad division with a playmaking QB and a solid defense.