With the NFL schedule now released, we know not only who is playing whom but when they're meeting -- and where.
Of course, that has a lot of fantasy football and betting implications.
How can we determine who has the best and worst draws? Well, definitely not by last year's winning percentages.
We can, instead, leverage 2022's projections to determine schedule strength. Using team win totals from FanDuel Sportsbook, I generated each team's expected point differential for 2022 and used that as the base for evaluating the 2022 schedule.
(Two notes. First, I utilized the betting odds on overs and unders to differentiate between, say, two teams with a win total 8.5. A team with -125 odds on the over will have a higher expected point differential than a team with -125 odds on the under even at the same win total. Second, I used the Cleveland Browns' Super Bowl odds as a baseline, given that they did not have a win total projection when the schedule was released.)
2022 NFL Schedule Snapshot
The following shows each team's win total from FanDuel Sportsbook and the average expected point differential of their opponents faced derived from those win totals. Those expected point differentials also allow us to look game-by-game and see how many times a team should be favored (accounting for home-field advantage) and how many games should be close. Three-point games could lead to added volatility in the win market for certain squads.
|Team||FanDuelO/U||Avg.OppxPD||GamesFavored||GamesAs 6+Favorite||GamesAs 6+'Dog||3-PtGames|
Toughest 2022 NFL Schedules
New York Jets
The New York Jets are projected to be favored in only two games this season by 1.1 against the Detroit Lions in Week 15 and by 1.4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16. They're expected to be touchdown underdogs in 10 of their games.
With just two games as a slight favorite and only four within three points either way, they'll likely have a hard time getting to six wins and go over their win total of 5.5 (despite -160 odds on the over) unless they sweep those six or -- of course -- get an unexpected win.
My win model has them at 5.0 wins.
New England Patriots
Despite sitting as the expected favorite in seven games, the New England Patriots have just two easy wins (when they're favored by at least six points) and a full nine games within a field goal either way.
Personally, I like the Patriots' over (8.5) from a team standpoint, and my unit-level projections have them as a 10.0-win team, but given the schedule, I'm not able to get there on the over.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and either Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett will have a tough task ahead of them in 2022. Their only game where the data says they'll be a touchdown favorite is actually on the road (-6.6) against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13.
They have more field goal games (six) than games as touchdown favorites (five) overall, due to the tough schedule. My talent-based power ratings have them as a 12.9-win team, but within the context of the schedule, they're right around their actual win total of 10.5 when I simulate out the season.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are sitting with twice as many close games (8) as they have games favored by at least a touchdown (4), yet they are favored in 12 games overall.
No team has a tougher start to the season (with an average opponent expected point differential of +4.04). Notable games in that stretch include games at the Cardinals, versus the Los Angeles Chargers, at the Buccaneers, versus the Bills, and at the 49ers.
I have them 52.6% likely to go under their win total of 10.5.
Last year's Super Bowl runner-up, the Cincinnati Bengals are favored in 10 games but favored by a touchdown in just 3 of them and face 9 three-point games, tied for an NFL high. They could set up to be one of the most volatile teams in the win column as a result.
I view them as a 10.5-win team that is winning, on average, 9.3 times when simulating out the 2022 NFL season. That puts 55.1% odds on them to go under their posted total of 10.5 wins at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Easiest 2022 NFL Schedules
A perennial contender for the NFL's easiest schedule, the Indianapolis Colts win out again this year. They are touchdown favorites in seven games, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. They also avoid any games as touchdown 'dogs.
Given the easy schedule (despite starting the season with two road matchups), the Colts rate as one of the best over bets (70.0%) in my simulation model. They're -160 to go over 9.5 wins at FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Eagles are one of the largest outliers in my dataset. Based on my offensive and defensive projections, they project out as a 7.5-win squad (not too far from their actual win total of 8.5 albeit with -150 odds on the over).
But when accounting for schedule and variance, they are projected to win 10.2 games, on average, in my model. That puts 68.4% odds they go over their total. They have the second-easiest start to the season, trailing only the Chargers.
They do face a three-game road stretch late in the season (at the Giants, Chicago Bears, and Cowboys from Weeks 14 through 16) but otherwise have a great draw.
San Francisco 49ers
With -145 odds on an over/under of 9.5, the 49ers have big expectations, and the schedule shakes out well for them to do just that. Favored in 16 games and by a touchdown in 7 of them, San Francisco is nearly at 10 wins if they can TCOB (take care of business).
My sims put them at 65.3% likely to go over 9.5 wins.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There isn't a game all season -- if things go according to plan -- where the Buccaneers should be viewed as the underdog, and just three of their games should be within a field goal either way. They're rating out as touchdown favorites in nine games, third-most in the league.
They do face the Cowboys (away), Saints (away), Green Bay Packers (home), and Chiefs (home) to open the season, but the schedule lightens up after that and ends with very winnable Week 17 and 18 games against the Carolina Panthers (home) and the Atlanta Falcons (away).
They're 56.6% likely to go over their win total.
Just because a team has an easier schedule doesn't mean they're a lock for an over on their win total. The Jacksonville Jaguars are -125 to go under 6.5 wins, and my model has them at 5.7 wins (and 65.1% likely to go under 6.5 wins).
They are favored in two games (versus the Houston Texans and at the Texans in Weeks 5 and 17, respectively).