NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel announced the league will add one game to the regular season schedule starting in 2021. The ripple effects from the new 17-game schedule have already entered the sports betting world, with several sportsbooks already posting NFL win totals.
Gone are the days of well-known benchmarks like 8-8 for a .500 season and 10 wins likely getting you to the playoffs in most years. The schedule change will force bettors to adjust their thinking slightly.
The move from 16 to 17 games is a 6.25% increase. That would be like the NBA and NHL adding roughly five games to its 82-game schedule or MLB adding 10 games to its 162-game schedule. It’s a significant change for the NFL.
What we do not know yet is how teams will adjust in-season to 17 games. Will teams that are likely to make the playoffs rest some starters towards the end of the regular season, with only one playoff bye week up for grabs to the top seed in each conference? That change came last year with the move from six to seven playoff teams in each conference.
Will teams that have an extra home game on their schedule have a significant advantage over teams that play an extra road game?
There are some elements to how a 17-game schedule will play out still unknown.
Below, we’ll teach ourselves what a new win total in a 17-game season actually means compared to 16 games. We’ll also take a look at the five teams projected to see the biggest changes in winning percentage in the upcoming 17-game schedule.
Biggest gainers in projected 2021 NFL win totals vs. 2020 wins
Jacksonville Jaguars – 6.5 wins
New head coach Urban Meyer and projected number-one pick Trevor Lawrence have sportsbooks bullish on the Jaguars. Jacksonville is projected to win 32% more games in 2021 after only winning one game last season. No team is projected by sportsbooks to improve its winning percentage more than the Jaguars.
New York Jets – 6.5 wins
Like the Jaguars, the Jets have a new head coach in former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and potentially a new quarterback in BYU’s Zack Wilson with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. A projection of 6.5 wins in a 17-game sason is a 25.7% upswing on two wins in a 16-game season with Adam Gase in 2020.
San Francisco 49ers – 10.5 wins
The 49ers are the only potential playoff team sportsbooks project to improve on their winning percentage by more than 20%. San Francisco traded three first-round picks to move up to the third pick in the draft. Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s team only won six games last season. 10.5 wins in a 17-game schedule is 24.3% higher than the Niners 16-game winning percentage in 2020.
Biggest losers in projected 2021 NFL win totals vs. 2020 wins
Pittsburgh Steelers – 8.5 wins
No team is projected for more negative regression than the Steelers. Perhaps, it’s doubt in an aging Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback or the loss of several defensive pieces. Pittsburgh won 12 games a year ago. A projection of 8.5 wins in a 17-game season shows a decrease of 25% on their 2020 winning percentage.
New Orleans Saints – 9 wins
Drew Brees has retired, and that means the Saints have to find a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2005. Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will compete for the job in training camp. The Saints won 12 games a year ago, but a projection of 9 wins in 2021 predicts a drop of 22% in winning percentage. No other teams besides the Saints and Steelers are projected to see a dropoff of 20% or more in 2021.
Winning percentage in 16 vs. 17-game schedule
|Wins||16-Game W%||17-Game W%|
|NFC East||DraftKings Win Total||2020 Wins|
|Cowboys||9.5 (BET NOW)||6|
|Washington||8 (BET NOW)||7|
|Giants||7 (BET NOW)||6|
|Eagles||6.5 (BET NOW)||4|
|NFC North||DraftKings Win Total||2020 Wins|
|Packers||10.5 (BET NOW)||13|
|Vikings||8.5 (BET NOW)||7|
|Bears||7 (BET NOW)||8|
|Lions||5 (BET NOW)||5|
|NFC South||DraftKings Win Total||2020 Wins|
|Buccaneers||11.5 (BET NOW)||11|
|Saints||9 (BET NOW)||12|
|Panthers||7.5 (BET NOW)||5|
|Falcons||7 (BET NOW)||4|
|NFC West||DraftKings Win Total||2020 Wins|
|49ers||10.5 (BET NOW)||6|
|Rams||10.5 (BET NOW)||10|
|Seahawks||9.5 (BET NOW)||12|
|Cardinals||8 (BET NOW)||8|
|AFC East||DraftKings Win Total||2020 Wins|
|Bills||10.5 (BET NOW)||13|
|Dolphins||9 (BET NOW)||10|
|Patriots||9 (BET NOW)||7|
|Jets||6.5 (BET NOW)||2|
|AFC North||DraftKings Win Total||2020 Wins|
|Ravens||11 (BET NOW)||11|
|Browns||9.5 (BET NOW)||11|
|Steelers||8.5 (BET NOW)||12|
|Bengals||6.5 (BET NOW)||4|
|AFC South||DraftKings Win Total||2020 Wins|
|Colts||10 (BET NOW)||11|
|Titans||9.5 (BET NOW)||11|
|Jaguars||6.5 (BET NOW)||1|
|Texans||4.5 (BET NOW)||4|
|AFC West||DraftKings Win Total||2020 Wins|
|Chiefs||12 (BET NOW)||14|
|Chargers||9 (BET NOW)||7|
|Broncos||7.5 (BET NOW)||5|
|Raiders||7.5 (BET NOW)||8|