Even though the 2021 NFL season is roughly five months from kicking off, it’s never too early to speculate about win totals. And to gamble on them.
As far as the latter is concerned, Caesars William Hill released its initial projected win totals for each team for the upcoming season. There’s a lot that will still happen between now and then, with the NFL draft later this month being a major event to come. But NFL over/unders are open for wagering starting Friday, so we asked our 32 NFL Nation writers to handicap the win totals of the teams they cover based on the initial Caesars William Hill numbers listed below.
There is plenty of optimism from our reporters about the fortunes of the teams they cover, a little pessimism and the occasional pragmatic push here and there. Whether it’s optimism about running it back with a winning team (like the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers), giddiness about offseason acquisitions (New England Patriots) or adopting a wait-and-see approach for rebuilding situations (Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets), NFL Nation is here to provide eager bettors with early advice.
Buffalo has reached double-digit wins in each of its past two seasons and, barring injury, should feature one of the league’s most explosive offenses for the second year in a row. An extra home game helps a Bills team that won nine games at its own stadium last season, and if the defense returns to form, another trip to the AFC Championship Game should be in store. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Prediction: Over, slightly
I expect the Dolphins to match their 10-win total from 2020 considering they have an extra game to do it. The Dolphins played more rookies than any other team in 2020, including QB Tua Tagovailoa and three starting offensive linemen, so natural development and the signing of free-agent receiver Will Fuller V should make that group better. The strength of their team, a No. 5-ranked defense, largely remains intact and the Dolphins return 19 of 22 total starters to couple with two upcoming first-round picks. — Cameron Wolfe
Bill Belichick and his coaching staff squeezed seven wins out of a 2020 team with lesser talent. Now that the Patriots have infused the roster with more talent due to a free-agency blitz that saw them upgrade at tight end (Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith), pass-rusher (Matthew Judon) and several other positions — along with a 17-game schedule — the possibility of 10 wins seems realistic. — Mike Reiss
New coaching staff, new quarterback (a rookie). That screams “transition year” for the Jets. They can’t be worse than last season (2-14), but it will be difficult to top six wins. Their new QB, presumably BYU’s Zach Wilson, will experience growing pains, as most rookies do. There’s not enough talent around him to offset that. This season will be all about solidifying the quarterback position and establishing Robert Saleh’s program. The rebuilding continues. — Rich Cimini
This is a tough call because Lamar Jackson has won an NFL-best 81% of his games since taking over as Baltimore’s starter midway through the 2018 season and the Ravens return 19 starters from a team that won 11 games last season. But after taking advantage of the league’s easiest schedule in 2020, the Ravens face the NFL’s second-toughest schedule this year (.559). With Jackson and a strong defense, projecting 10 or 11 wins is realistic. It’s difficult to predict more than 11 when Baltimore has its most difficult schedule of the John Harbaugh era, at least by opponent record. Six of the Ravens’ nine home games are against teams that reached the playoffs last season. — Jamison Hensley
The Bengals are in Year 3 of a deep rebuilding project under head coach Zac Taylor. If QB Joe Burrow is available Week 1, Cincinnati should be in contention to surpass the .500 mark. The Bengals should give Burrow at least one big offensive piece in the draft and have spent a lot of money on defensive upgrades. All of those things should produce at least seven wins. Anything less than that will put Taylor and the front office under fire. — Ben Baby
Stephen A. Smith still isn’t convinced that Cleveland has a team that can be considered a Super Bowl favorite.
The Browns won 11 games last year despite a new coaching staff, several key players missing games due to COVID-19 and losing wideout Odell Beckham Jr. to a season-ending knee injury in October. The Browns finally have continuity on offense around QB Baker Mayfield, while GM Andrew Berry has bolstered their defensive talent this offseason, adding safety John Johnson III and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Yes, the AFC North is tough. But so are these Browns. — Jake Trotter
Yes, this goes against history. Mike Tomlin has not had a losing season in his 14 seasons, tying Marty Schottenheimer for the longest such streak to start an NFL head-coaching career. But the Steelers crumbled down the stretch last season, losing five of their last six games, including a playoff loss to the Browns. Now, Pittsburgh must play the NFL’s toughest schedule with a 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger playing behind a suspect offensive line. It feels like Pittsburgh is nearing a rebuilding phase. — Jamison Hensley
The Texans won fewer games in 2020 with quarterback Deshaun Watson playing the best football of his NFL career. While there has been a lot of turnover on the roster, the team doesn’t seem to have really improved this offseason. Houston isn’t sure what Watson’s status will be for the 2021 season because he is currently facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging harassment and sexual assault and the Texans likely expect Tyrod Taylor to start at quarterback in September. — Sarah Barshop
This isn’t an indication that the 2021 roster — minus this year’s draft picks — will be worse than last year’s, which finished 11-5 and reached the playoffs. It’s more that the Colts’ schedule will be tougher, having to face the NFC West along with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Between those five games and having to also face the Ravens, Bills and Titans (twice), repeating last year’s 11 wins could be difficult, even with an additional game to do so. — Mike Wells
Louis Riddick says Trevor Lawrence needs to be fully committed to win if he wants to be one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
With all the excitement surrounding the hire of Urban Meyer and the expected selection of Trevor Lawrence, people seem to forget that the Jaguars’ defense gave up the most yards and points in franchise history in 2020. They did address that side of the ball in free agency with CB Shaquill Griffin, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DT Roy Robertson-Harris and DE Jihad Ward. They’ll add more players in the draft, but expecting that to be enough to move the Jaguars into the middle of the league defensively is a reach. Which places a lot of pressure on the rookie QB against a schedule that includes trips to Seattle, the Los Angeles Rams and New England. — Mike DiRocco
The Titans have found a way to win at least nine games in each of the past four seasons, winning 11 games last year despite a porous defense that gave up an NFL-worst 51.7% third-down conversion rate and generated only 19 sacks. Titans GM Jon Robinson added Denico Autry and Bud Dupree to help fix that problem. The offense might not keep pace with the 2020 unit that scored 30 points per game, but any group that includes Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown and Ryan Tannehill is more than enough to win 10 games and compete for another AFC South division title. — Turron Davenport
Over/under number: 7.5
But over could certainly mean the first 8-9 finish in franchise history, resulting in a sixth consecutive playoff miss, if the Broncos aren’t more of a threat to score more than 16 points a game. They scored 16 or fewer points six times last season, 20 or fewer 11 times. Unless there is blockbuster in store on draft weekend, the Broncos are banking on quarterback Drew Lock being much better in 2021. The return of wide receiver Courtland Sutton from last year’s ACL surgery will help Lock’s cause and defensive improvements in free agency will give the Broncos enough pop to get back in the playoff conversation. — Jeff Legwold
I’d take the under if the line was at 12.5 because it doesn’t figure to be easy. But the Chiefs have won 12 games in each of the past three seasons and four of the past five and there’s no reason to believe that the Chiefs will go under this season with an additional regular-season game on the schedule. The Chiefs have had a winning streak of at least five games in each of Andy Reid’s eight seasons. If they can get another one, they’ll have to be only slightly over .500 the rest of the way to get to 12 wins. — Adam Teicher
Alert the Las Vegas sportsbooks. If for no other reason than the Raiders have improved from four wins in Jon Gruden’s return to the sidelines in 2018 to seven wins in 2019 to eight last season. So, if 1 plus 1 still equals 2, an improvement is imminent, no? Truly, the bigger question is whether the Raiders collapse at the end again, as they did in losing five of six to end the 2019 season and five of seven last year. — Paul Gutierrez
The Chargers have the reigning Rookie of the Year in quarterback Justin Herbert and have shored up protection on the offensive line, signing one of the best centers in the league in All-Pro Corey Linsley. They signed TE Jared Cook to replace Hunter Henry, and have Keenan Allen at WR and Austin Ekeler healthy at RB. Defensively, the Chargers get Derwin James back and a healthy Joey Bosa. The Chargers could be the best in the West. — Shelley Smith
Prediction: Under, slightly
And by slightly, go with nine. As much as optimism will reign with the returns to health of Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, La’el Collins and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys’ defense has a lot to prove with a new coordinator in Dan Quinn. Maybe they will have all of the answers, but the Cowboys’ nondivision schedule looks to be difficult. They play at Kansas City, at Tampa Bay, at New England and at New Orleans. It is possible they lose all of those games, which puts a premium on the rest of the schedule to reach more than 9.5 wins. Of course, nine wins could still win the NFC East. — Todd Archer
The Giants won six games last season with an offense that scored the second-fewest points per game (17.5) in the NFL. They’re basically adding Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay in a season where there will now be 17 games. Things would have to go really wrong for Daniel Jones & Co. to not be significantly better on that side of the ball this year. It’s Jones’ third season, his second year in Jason Garrett’s offense and there has been a significant boost in playmakers. It’s possible for the Giants to have a losing record and still go over their win total. — Jordan Raanan
It’s been doom and gloom in Philadelphia following the Eagles’ 4-11-1 campaign in 2020, and rightfully so. Still, there’s reason to believe they can be more competitive this season. Projected starter Jalen Hurts is sure to provide a higher level of play than the departed Carson Wentz did in 2020 and will be operating behind an offensive line that is formidable when healthy. The same can be said for the defensive front, which will be backed by Anthony Harris and Darius Slay in the secondary. The Eagles will benefit from a last-place schedule enough to climb out of the NFC East basement and hit the 8-to-9-win mark. — Tim McManus
Prediction: Over, slightly
Washington benefited from a bad division last year and, on paper, has a harder schedule — its 17th game is at Buffalo, one of six playoff teams on the docket. But Washington was a young team that went through four starting quarterbacks last season. Its coach, Ron Rivera, battled cancer during the season. Yet it finished strong. It improved at quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick, added a playmaker in receiver Curtis Samuel and upgraded at corner with William Jackson III. The defense was fourth in points allowed and second in yards in 2020. The team is far from a finished product and a year away from dreaming of a deep run but can win 9 or 10 games. — John Keim
It’s hard to envision eight wins or more because of the uncertainty on offense. Andy Dalton had a good run in Cincinnati, but his best days could be in the rearview mirror. Defensively, the Bears still boast Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith, but losing cornerback Kyle Fuller (cap casualty) opens a sizable hole in the secondary. The Bears are unlikely to bottom out, but it will be challenging to reach last year’s win total, even with an extra regular-season game. — Jeff Dickerson
Out with the old. In with the new. Detroit Lions football is entering a different era and, quite frankly, we don’t know what that looks like. After a dozen seasons in Motown, the franchise’s all-time passing leader, Matthew Stafford, has been replaced with former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Under new leadership, headed by general manager Brad Holmes along with rookie head coach Dan Campbell, the Lions will come out hot as they’re looking to prove themselves. I see them winning six games, slightly more than what the sports betting world says. — Eric Woodyard
Sure, the list of opponents looks brutally difficult (Chiefs, Ravens, Steelers, Seahawks and Rams among them), but the Packers look like they’re running it back for one more shot at a Super Bowl with largely the same team that went 13-3 last year and reached the NFC title game for the second straight season. The caveat here is that the whole thing doesn’t go to pieces between Aaron Rodgers and the organization before the end of the year. — Rob Demovsky
Prediction: Over, but just barely
The Vikings utilized all their resources on retooling the defense in free agency and should fare far better against the run with the addition of Dalvin Tomlinson and return of Michael Pierce, plus they finally have depth and experience in the secondary by adding Patrick Peterson, Xavier Woods and Mackensie Alexander. But Minnesota still has a handful of issues to address on the offensive line. If the Vikings don’t fix their issues in pass protection, this offense won’t be as explosive as it was a year ago, which could cost them in the win column. — Courtney Cronin
Vegas is usually spot-on with these numbers and the Falcons have won seven games or fewer in each of the past three seasons. Their 2020 season was a bit of an outlier at 4-12 after 7-9 seasons in 2018 and 2019. If — and this is a big if — the team’s stars can stay healthy, then the Falcons could reach 8 or 9 wins. But if anyone of significance were to miss multiple weeks, particularly on defense, this goes from over to at-the-line or under real quick. Other than receiver and defensive line, Atlanta doesn’t have the depth to handle injuries to starters, though the upcoming draft could help. — Michael Rothstein
Tedy Bruschi and Kimberley A. Martin discuss whether the Falcons will draft a QB or trade back for more picks.
It’s going to be close, but remember this team went 5-11 last season, losing eight games where it had a chance to win or tie on the final possession, including a 33-31 setback at Kansas City. The Panthers were competitive in their first year under coach Matt Rhule, and that was without running back Christian McCaffrey for 13 games. With a healthy McCaffrey and upgrades to the offensive line and defense, this team has a chance to win eight to 10 games if new quarterback Sam Darnold can avoid the big mistakes that haunted him with the Jets. That’s a big if, since Darnold’s career record is 13-25. — David Newton
I wouldn’t bet with too much confidence since the Saints are more of an unknown commodity than usual following Drew Brees‘ retirement and the loss of some other salary-cap casualties. But this is still one of the NFL’s most talented rosters and can rely on its defense, run game and offensive line when needed. Remember, this team went 12-4 last season despite Brees struggling early, then missing four games with significant injuries later in the season. The Saints should need just decent play from Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill to return to the playoffs. — Mike Triplett
The Bucs reached 11 wins without any sort of offseason to help Tom Brady acclimate to a completely new system. This year, Brady knows the system and they return all 22 starters on offense and defense from the Super Bowl. I don’t see the Bucs losing twice to a Saints team that doesn’t have Drew Brees and their schedule is very manageable, with their opponents finishing a combined 126-145-1 in 2020. — Jenna Laine
Over/under number: 8
Prediction: Over, but not by much
The Cardinals have added the necessary pieces to win more games in 2021, but the question will always come down to whether or not they can actually do it. They finished 8-8 last season, but with the additions of WR A.J. Green, RB James Conner, DE J.J. Watt and K Matt Prater, Arizona should win a game or two more. Nine wins seems likely, and 10 wouldn’t come as a surprise. — Josh Weinfuss
Over/under number: 10.5
Prediction: Over, by just a little
The Rams have revamped their offense by trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford and signing receiver DeSean Jackson, plus return three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the NFL’s top-ranked defense. Despite a grueling division schedule, the Rams’ nondivision opponents make a 10.5-win-plus season possible with a schedule that includes several teams that are expected to have less-than-stellar showings, including Detroit, Jacksonville, the New York Giants and Houston. — Lindsey Thiry
Over/under number: 10
Prediction: Over, barely
The 49ers believe last season was an injury-ravaged aberration and 2019 was closer to who they really are when healthy. You’d be hard-pressed to find a team that had more injury issues than San Francisco did last season, which means there’s reason to believe in at least some regression to the mean in 2021. If that happens, along with a last-place schedule, the 49ers should be able to push back into the range of 10 to 11 wins. — Nick Wagoner
Booger McFarland discusses how the turmoil between the Seahawks’ defense and their offense might be affecting Seattle’s Super Bowl chances.
Over/under number: 10
The Seahawks have averaged 10.33 wins per year in 16-game schedules over the past six seasons. Their worst season in that stretch was a 9-7 finish in 2017, when they had no run game and their defense was ravaged by injuries. Thus, nine wins feels like a baseline for the Seahawks as long as they have Russell Wilson playing like a top-five quarterback. Assuming the Seahawks don’t trade him this year — seemingly a safe bet at this point — Wilson plus a strong cast of weapons and a defense with a deep pass rush should top 10 wins in a 16-game season. The over looks even better with a 17th game. — Brady Henderson
Bruce Arians to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians hasn’t felt the need to bring in a specialist to talk to his players about the COVID-19 vaccine, which some players leaguewide have expressed skepticism about in recent days.
While Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera brought Harvard immunologist Kizzmekia S. Corbett in to speak to his players Tuesday night, Arians said Thursday, “I’m the specialist.”
He told players, “If you want to go back to normal, get vaccinated.”
Arians said the Bucs are holding a vaccine drive for players and their families at the facility.
“There’s going to be a long line over there right now,” Arians said. “We were pretty short up until now. Hopefully we have a pretty good line.”
Previous vaccine drives have also taken place at the facility for coaches and support staff members. The goal is to have 85% of the team vaccinated, which Arians feels they’ll be much closer to after the drive.
“Everybody’s tired of meeting out here and eating outside, and doing all those things we had to do last year,” Arians said. “It’s still a personal choice, but I don’t see a reason not to be vaccinated.”
When asked if any players expressed concern or skepticism, as Washington’s Montez Sweat did Wednesday, Arians said, “I haven’t spoken to anybody that’s resisted it. They’re just too lazy to get one.”
Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett said he and his wife, Jordanna, both received the vaccine. Their four children aren’t old enough to qualify for the vaccine at this time, as the CDC currently recommends children ages 12 and older receive vaccines.
Barrett missed the season finale against the Atlanta Falcons because he was a close contact of a teammate who tested positive, despite never testing positive himself. Still, he was forced to quarantine for five days. His children were home-schooled in 2020 and did not have play dates with other children because of concerns about the virus.
“It’s ‘to each their own.’ I recommend it,” Barrett said Thursday. “I don’t know why people wouldn’t get it. But whatever makes you comfortable, whatever helps you sleep at night, you do that. But I would like for 85% of the team to be vaccinated.”
Kansas City Chiefs hope Kyle Long back by start of regular season after leg injury in practice
Long was signed by the Chiefs in the offseason after he ended his retirement after one year. He wrote about the injury on Thursday on his Twitter account.
“I did everything I could to get back for football,” Long said. “Zero regrets. … Focusing on controlling the things I can control. Yesterday was not one of those things!”
I did everything I could to prepare to get back for football. Zero regrets. I’ve been getting better everyday and having so much fun with my new team. Focusing on controlling the things I can control. Yesterday was not one of those things! Thanks for the well wishes.
— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) June 10, 2021
Drafted 20th overall by the Chicago Bears in 2013, Long missed just one game over his first three seasons, in which he was selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls, but appeared in just 30 regular-season contests over his last four years with the team because of a variety of injuries. He announced his retirement in January of last year.
NFL Network first reported that Long had suffered a leg injury.
Fantasy Football cheat sheets – Updated 2021 player rankings, PPR, non-PPR, depth charts, dynasty
If you’re seeking a one-stop shop for updated 2021 fantasy football rankings and cheat sheets throughout the summer, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you will find them for PPR and non-PPR formats, as well as dynasty leagues.
PPR positional cheat sheet
One sheet with players broken down by position, including overall rank, salary-cap value and bye weeks for leagues that award one point for each catch. Download »
PPR top-300 cheat sheet
This sheet features 300 players in order of overall draft value, with positional rank, salary-cap value and bye-week information for leagues that reward each catch with a point. Download »
Non-PPR positional cheat sheet
For leagues using the scoring format that doesn’t award an extra point for each reception. One sheet with players broken down by position, including overall rank, salary-cap value and bye weeks. Download »
Non-PPR top-300 cheat sheet
This sheet features 300 players in order of overall draft value, with positional rank, salary-cap value and bye-week information. Download »
Mike Clay’s team-by-team projection guide
If you want the full breakdown for all 32 teams, you’ve come to the right place. Download »
NFL team depth chart cheat sheet
Fantasy depth charts for each NFL team: top two QBs, three running backs, four wide receivers, two tight ends and a kicker. Prioritized by fantasy value in PPR leagues rather than role defined on a traditional NFL depth chart, includes players’ positional ranks. Download »
Dynasty cheat sheet
Features the top 240 players and 60 best rookies to make all of your keeper and dynasty league decisions. Includes the age of players at the start of the 2021 season. Download »
*All cheat sheets are in PDF format. Your device must be equipped with a PDF reader for you to access and print the cheat sheet.
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