We may still be a few months away from kicking off the 2021 National Football League season, but this is actually the time of year when some bettors start making their money by wagering on the upcoming year.
The release of the full NFL schedule marks a huge uptick in futures wagering action at online sportsbooks all over the United States. Now, we know not only who each team is playing, but when. This vital information is what leads bettors to flood their favorite betting applications and fill out their bet slips before the odds begin to change.
While the option to bet on the Super Bowl Winner, AFC/NFC Champion, and Division Winner remains available throughout the season, there are other futures bets that must be placed before Week 1. This includes the market for Win Totals, which is one of the most popular preseason wagers for NFL fans.
Now that every team’s schedule is being made available and sportsbooks have futures odds available for all 32 teams, we’re going a bit deeper into 2021 NFL win totals and providing some of our favorite bets for the upcoming season.
NFL win totals for every team (2021)
What Is NFL Win Totals Betting?
Betting on NFL win totals is both easy to understand and exciting. Oddsmakers set a total number of wins for the whole season and bettors are simply choosing over or under.
While win totals may not be offered by every single operator, many of the leading online betting brands including DraftKings Sportsbook and William Hill Sportsbook are sure to have options for every NFL team.
Win totals are perfect for all NFL bettors but especially those who may not want to wager on every Sunday while still wanting some skin in the game over the long term. These bets provide a rooting interest over the course of the whole season and despite the relatively modest odds, they can be profitable and oftentimes fly under the radar.
Successfully predicting NFL win totals can be challenging because it requires some forecasting regarding not only the team you’re wagering on, but the other teams that they will face. Essentially, bettors are going up and down the schedule to decide wins and losses many months in advance. And this year, there’s an additional factor to take into account when making these bets.
2021 NFL schedule format: How it impacts win totals betting
In 2021, the NFL is debuting its 18-week regular season following a CBA agreement that allowed the league to expand the schedule by a week. This means that rather than playing 16 games over 17 weeks, each team will play 17 games over 18 weeks.
The additional game for each club means that the symmetry that once existed in the NFL schedule is gone. Half the league will play nine home games while the other half will play nine away games. The 17th game and its potential impact on each team’s schedule is something all bettors need to take into account when betting on win totals.
For starters, every team’s listed total will be higher than before with an extra game on the schedule. There is no longer an apples-to-apples comparison when it comes to using previous seasons as a guide, which was an imperfect but useful tool for NFL win totals.
Previously, If a team went 8-8 and made some improvements in free agency and the draft, there could be reason to believe they could get to nine or even 10 wins, likely going over their total.
Now, bettors would be wise to dig deeper into the schedule, specifically the opponent and location of that 17th game, which could very well be the difference between going over or under the total set by oddsmakers.
For what it’s worse, a format agreed to by owners determines that each team’s extra opponent is based on standings from the previous year. Each division was matched with another, and the two teams that finished in the same position (e.g., both 1st place teams) will play against one another in the extra game.
2021 NFL Win Total Predictions
There is no exact science when it comes to win totals, but there are a few ways to give yourself the best chance at success. Placing these bets ahead of time involves a variety of factors including each team’s schedule along with any roster turnover.
Strength of schedule is one thing that many people rely heavily on. It’s another imperfect tool because many things change from one year to the next, but it is also a valuable resource to look at each team’s draw in a vacuum.
Coaching changes are also incredibly important, as that can alter the schemes that the team plays with compared to the previous season. This way, you are working with the most current information and can make your best-educated guess about how the upcoming season will play out.
Here are some of our NFL win totals best bets for the upcoming season:
Speaking of the Buffalo Bills, we expect big things from the darlings of the 2020 NFL season. Buffalo won 13 games last year including nine of 10 to end the schedule. If not for a Hail Mary from Kyler Murray in Arizona, it could’ve been 10 straight wins to close the regular season.
In 2021, the defending AFC East champs will still be the top dog in the division following their trip to the conference title game. The Patriots are improved and the Dolphins are competitive but Buffalo’s offense led by QB Josh Allen has proven to be one of the most potent units in the entire league.
As for the entirety of the schedule, it ranks T-23rd going by their opponents’ record last year. It also helps that the 17th game is a favorable one against Washington, and it’s at home. Bettors can also find this total at 11 games for enhanced odds but we’re fine with taking this line at 10.5 and winning the bet with an 11-6 record.
The Chargers are set to be one of the more interesting teams in the AFC. They’ve got the reigning offensive rookie of the year in quarterback Justin Herbert at the head of an electric offense, but they’re also breaking in a first-year head coach with just one season of coordinator experience at the NFL level.
Despite some questions about the Staley hire, the Chargers are in excellent shape to build on the positives that came out of 2020. Despite some awful coaching blunders by Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles managed seven wins. And of the nine losses, seven of them came by a single score.
This year, we are asking for two more wins and with 17 games, we like our chances. The schedule ranks in the middle-of-the-road and the extra game is a home affair with Minnesota, which is very winnable. For standard -110 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook, the over nine wins feels like a strong play.
Where you stand with Indianapolis likely depends on your opinion of the Carson Wentz trade. Given his history with Frank Reich and the amount of weapons that Indy possesses on offense, we are buying a bit of a resurgence from Wentz in his new surroundings, and that should result in going over this total.
The Colts are in a two-team race for the AFC South with Tennessee once again, and this group won 11 games last season. With an extra game on the schedule and a pretty weak strength of schedule, Indy is a great bet to at least push this number if they don’t sail over it.
You may be able to find 9.5 if you shop around, but taking an even 10 wins at DraftKings Sportsbook means getting plus-odds for one of the AFC’s better teams.
Washington won seven games and managed to capture the division title in a woeful NFC East. But despite its terrific defense, we don’t think the WFT will be able to get itself over .500 this upcoming season.
Each of their three biggest rivals should be improved in some way and aside from playing in the always-competitive NFC East, Washington has a rough outside of the division. Games against Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Seattle, Green Bay, and even the LA Chargers are all included. Their 17th game is also against the Buffalo Bills, winners of the AFC East.
While the door always needs to remain open for a little Fitzmagic, the truth is that this is great value at William Hill Sportsbook.
It’s not easy taking the under for teams with totals that are already low, especially with an extra game on the schedule. But considering there’s a 17th game and oddsmakers still have the Lions around just five wins, we’re compelled to think there’s a reason for that.
There are a slew of reasons to be down on Detroit and it all starts with a roster that has too many holes to name. The defense allowed more points than any other in football last season and despite beefing up the offensive line in the draft, Jared Goff is an average NFL starter and doesn’t move the needle forward compared to Matthew Stafford.
This team won five games a season ago but has a strength of schedule that ranks tied for sixth, and there are plenty of daunting matchups both inside the division and outside. We’re willing to bet that five or lower is the right number and for plus-odds at DraftKings, it’s time to root for the Lions to continue their losing ways.