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.
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