By Steve Rieder
The NFL offseason is often filled with prognosticators, pundits, and talking-heads discussing a team's impending success or demise for the upcoming season. Usually during these debates and diatribes, strength of schedule gets thrown around as a means to signify the level of difficulty in relation to the rest of the league. Far too often, these strength of schedule numbers are contrived based upon their opponents win-loss records from the previous season. Because teams are not static entities, strength of schedule numbers based upon this metric is borderline irrelevant in determining future success because of the changes to personnel, staffing, injuries, ideologies, etc..
A better way to measure the team's strength of schedule is to look at their opponents' win total projection. These numbers are certainly not perfect, but are much better at pricing a team given its ability to fluctuate over the course of the offseason. Sharp bettors refine these win totals in a much more efficient manner than any previous season statistic could quantify.
To begin calculating a team's average opponent win total, I averaged the win total from DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetOnline to determine a consensus line. For every ten cents of additional vigorish, I added 0.1 win/loss to a team's number. For instance: FanDuel was dealing Pittsburgh Steelers U8.5 -130.
Subtracting FanDuel's $0.10 of traditional juice, I made their win projection 8.3. It is important to note, while DraftKings and FanDuel had a 20 cent straddle, BetOnline dealt 30 cents.
After finding the consensus win projection for each team, I simply supplanted their number in each team's schedule and ran the average opponent win total. Below are each team's strength of schedule based up on opponent win total projections.
Note: The lower the number the easier the schedule. All win total lines were accurate as of article publication.
SEASON-LONG OPPONENT WIN TOTAL PROJECTIONS STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (example from 2021)
I was also interested in seeing how the strength of schedule would be for the first quarter of the season for each team. This could help identify teams that would be overrated or underrated to start the season, identify coaches who could be on the hot seat, quarterbacks that could find themselves in a quarterback controversy (lucky for Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco is backing him up), etc..