Updated NFL Strength of Schedule for Second Half of 2020 Season

Jon Gruden pumping his fist

Jon Gruden’s Raiders enjoy the easiest strength of schedule over the second half of the season. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire)

  • The 2020 NFL season has reached the unofficial midpoint
  • SBD uses a much more accurate method for calculating NFL SOS
  • See which teams have the easiest and toughest second halves of the 2020 NFL season

As we approach kickoff of Week 9, it marks the unofficial midpoint of the 2020 NFL season. I have to admit, I had my doubts about us making it this far. But here we are!

While I know most of you have been keeping a close eye on your futures bets, I wanted to use the midpoint of the season to take a deeper dive into the road ahead, and help you determine whether you should seek any hedge opportunities or an early cash out.

How do we do that? We look at each team’s strength of schedule over the second half of the season. I’ve come up with a more accurate method for calculating NFL SOS using NFL win totals. This year, we’ve also seen win totals updated after each week at select sportsbooks.

I’ve used these updated win totals to calculate each team’s remaining (or second half) strength of schedule. You’ll find the SOS for all 32 teams in the table below, with the no. 1 (Jacksonville) possessing the toughest remaining schedule, and no. 32 (Las Vegas) having the easiest.

Updated NFL SOS for Second Half of Season

Rank Team Raw 2nd Half SOS SOS Per Game
1 Jacksonville Jaguars 71.1 9.48
2 Atlanta Falcons 73.8 9.41
3 San Francisco 49ers 67.4 8.95
4 Los Angeles Rams 68.3 8.9
5 Buffalo Bills 65.6 8.86
6 Carolina Panthers 68.6 8.65
7 Indianapolis Colts 62.1 8.62
8 New York Jets 63.2 8.55
9 Tennessee Titans 64.8 8.33
10 Arizona Cardinals 70 8.32
11 Denver Broncos 65.7 8.23
12 Philadelphia Eagles 64.9 8.11
13 Cincinnati Bengals 63.4 8.04
14 Los Angeles Chargers 66.2 8.03
15 New York Giants 65.8 7.85
16 Detroit Lions 62.1 7.73
17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 65.6 7.7
18 Houston Texans 63.2 7.57
19 Kansas City Chiefs 61.1 7.55
20 Chicago Bears 63.1 7.54
21 Green Bay Packers 59.7 7.53
22 Washington Football Team 65.5 7.51
23 New Orleans Saints 67.8 7.43
24 Dallas Cowboys 66 7.41
25 Minnesota Vikings 62.7 7.34
26 Baltimore Ravens 61.1 7.16
27 Seattle Seahawks 61.6 7.09
28 New England Patriots 62.9 7.06
29 Miami Dolphins 62.3 6.95
30 Pittsburgh Steelers 58.5 6.833
31 Cleveland Browns 63.4 6.825
32 Las Vegas Raiders 62.3 6.82

I’ve sorted the table above by SOS per game. This number is simply their raw SOS divided by the number of games they still have to play, as some teams have already had their bye and some have not.

For reference, the average (mode) SOS per game is 7.89, while the median is 7.73.

Jaguars Have Toughest Second Half

The Jaguars have a significantly tougher second half schedule than the rest of the league at an SOS per game of 9.48. That certainly doesn’t bode well for the 1-6 Jaguars’ chances of turning their 2020 season around under rookie quarterback Jake Luton.

They enter Week 9 fresh off a bye with the Texans coming to town, who just beat them 30-14 in Week 5. They’re 6.5-point home dogs in this one, and they should expect to be even heavier underdogs the rest of the season.

Jaguars’ Remaining Schedule

Week Opponent Opponent’s Updated Average Win Total
9 vs Houston 5.5
10 at Green Bay 11
11 vs Pittsburgh 13.5
12 vs Cleveland 9.5
13 at Minnesota 6.5
14 vs Tennessee 9.8
15 at Baltimore 11.5
16 vs Chicago 8.5
17 at Indianapolis 9.5

If you’re sitting on an under bet on Jacksonville’s win total, which opened at 6.5 and currently sits at 2.5, you’re laughing. Unless you’re feeling extremely optimistic about Luton, I would advise against trying to bet the over on their updated win total.

Raiders Have Easiest Second Half

Las Vegas, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh all have much easier schedules than the rest of the league, but the Raiders stand out above the three as the easiest.

Jon Gruden’s squad already has a couple signature wins this season over the Chiefs and Saints, and don’t see a ton of great teams down the stretch.

They head to LA for a date with the Chargers as one-point underdogs in Week 9. Since we’re not really sure who the Raiders are just yet, it’s uncertain how many more games they’ll be dogs in moving forward, despite their weak opponents.

Raiders’ Remaining Schedule

Week Opponent Opponent’s Updated Average Win Total
9 at LA Chargers 6.5
10 vs Denver 6.3
11 vs Kansas City 12.8
12 at Atlanta 4.5
13 at NY Jets 1.5
14 vs Indianapolis 9.5
15 vs LA Chargers 6.5
16 vs Miami 7.5
17 at Denver 6.3

There are a couple futures bets to consider hedging options on with the Raiders. I’m not going to get into their divisional odds, as Kansas City is too strong, but let’s touch on their playoff futures and win total.

The Raiders opened at +245 odds to make the NFL playoffs and -350 odds to miss. Their current playoff odds stand at -120 to make and -102 to miss. If you bet them to make at +245, there’s an opportunity to hedge by betting them to miss at -102 now.

But with their easy schedule, why would you want to? Well, you have to ask yourself, which team they are pushing out? They did just beat the Browns in Week 8, who currently occupy the final playoff spot and are tied with Miami as the first team out.

But Cleveland’s remaining schedule is nearly as easy as Vegas’ and they still have a half game to make up. I don’t foresee any of Baltimore, Tennessee, or Indianapolis not making the playoffs, so your decision to hedge comes down to (a) whether you think the Browns will also roll through their light second half, and (b) if you like the Browns to hold off the Dolphins, who have the fourth-easiest second half SOS.

Super Bowl 55 Odds Tracker

Moving to their win total, which opened at an average of seven and currently sits at 8.5, I think there’s a strong opportunity to middle if you bet the over on seven. The Raiders are currently 4-3 and would need to win five of their final nine to hit the over on their updated win total.

Of their final nine games, five of them come against the AFC West – only one of those being against Kansas City. The four games against Denver and Los Angeles are helping their SOS, but these two teams are trending up and I believe a little undervalued in their respective updated win totals. (I put the Falcons in the same basket.)

Plus, since returning as the Raiders head coach, Gruden is just 2-2 against a couple bad Broncos teams, and 2-2 against the Chargers. As you’ve seen over and over, divisional games have a high tendency to not go the way you expect. If they split these four games, then going over 8.5 wins will likely come boil down to whether they can win two of these three games: at Atlanta, vs Indianapolis, and vs Miami.

If I was sitting on an over bet on Las Vegas’ win total, I’d be getting a little greedy and going after the opportunity to middle.

Teams Whose Second Half SOS Got Tougher

Team Original Raw 2nd Half SOS Updated Raw 2nd Half SOS Difference
Jacksonville 78.6 85.3 +6.7
Buffalo 65.6 70.9 +5.3
New York Jets 63.2 68.4 +5.2
Indianapolis 73.4 77.6 +4.2
San Francisco 67.4 71.6 +4.2

The Jags schedule got much tougher than it originally appeared, as games against Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Chicago don’t have the same outlook as they did ahead of Week 1.

For the Bills, it’s games against the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Steelers that all look much tougher after seeing them for eight weeks.

Teams Whose Second Half SOS Got Easier

Team Original 2nd Half SOS Updated 2nd Half SOS Difference
New Orleans 77.5 66.9 -10.6
Cleveland 63.4 54.6 -8.8
Las Vegas 69.8 61.4 -8.4
Dallas 66 59.3 -6.7
Miami 62.3 55.6 -6.7

The Saints second half looks much easier after seeing eight weeks of Atlanta (who they play twice still), San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Minnesota. All of those teams had much higher expectations at the beginning of the season versus what we think of them now.

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Matt McEwan