Tuesday, 8 September 2015

How To Use NFL Yards Per Play Rankings To Gain A Betting Edge

Football betting punters should learn to evolve betting strategies to get ahead of bookmakers in the NFL. One way of doing this is to place close attention to Schedule changes and to use yards per play rankings to exploit discrepancies in Handicap markets.
The NFL has always seen a gulf in quality between the best and worst franchises. Since the scheduling rule changes in 2002 dictated that only two games per year would be based on a team’s record from the preceding year, the number of mismatched fixtures has increased, resulting in the bad teams losing regularly, and the good teams winning more often.
So what does this mean for punters betting on the NFL? This article sets out to explain how to use yards per play rankings, from previous seasons, to your advantage.
Using Yards Per Play Rankings To Your Advantage
With the emergence of big mismatches, there are now more profitable opportunities to change betting strategies and do what is often unthinkable – back the quality team as large favourites.
One way to evaluate a team is to look at its offensive yards gained per play and the defensive yards allowed per play. As you would expect, the teams that gain more yards than they allow, tend to win more than they lose.
While this rule isn’t exclusively accurate, it is as good a predictor of future performance, as past head-to-head results.
The table below shows yardage data from the 2014 NFL season for each franchise competing in the 2015 NFL season. By calculating the yardage difference between offensive and defensive yards per play (Y/P) for each franchise, will give you a solid base for predicting results.
Yards Per Play NFL 2014
Team
Offensive yards per play
Defensive yards per play 
Net yards per play
Seattle Seahawks
5.9
4.7
1.2
Denver Broncos
5.9
4.8
1.1
Green Bay Packers
6.1
5.3
0.8
Indianapolis Colts
5.8
5.3
0.5
Baltimore Ravens
5.7
5.3
0.4
Detroit Lions
5.3
4.7
0.4
New England Patriots
5.5
5.3
0.2
Dallas Cowboys
6.0
5.8
0.2
Philadelphia Eagles
5.6
5.4
0.2
Miami Dolphins
5.4
5.3
0.1
Buffalo Bills
5.0
4.9
0.1
Kansas City Chiefs
5.3
5.2
0.1
Pittsburgh Steelers
6.1
6.0
0.1
San Francisco 49ers
5.2
5.2
0.0
Houston Texans
5.2
5.2
0.0
New Orleans Saints
6.0
6.0
0.0
Carolina Panthers
5.2
5.3
-0.1
San Diego Chargers
5.4
5.5
-0.1
Cincinnati Bengals
5.4
5.5
-0.1
Washington Redskins
5.7
5.8
-0.1
Cleveland Browns
5.1
5.2
-0.1
Tennessee Titans
5.3
5.4
-0.1
Minnesota Vikings
5.2
5.4
-0.2
St. Louis Rams
5.3
5.6
-0.3
Atlanta Falcons
5.8
6.1
-0.3
New York Jets
5.0
5.4
-0.4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5.0
5.5
-0.5
New York Giants
5.4
6.0
-0.6
Jacksonville Jaguars
4.7
5.5
-0.8
Arizona Cardinals
5.0
5.8
-0.8
Chicago Bears
5.2
6.0
-0.8
Oakland Raiders
4.5
5.5
-1.0
By looking at the table it is clear to see that the four worst teams in terms of yardage per play differential in 2014 were the Oakland Raider (-1.0), Jacksonville Jaguars (-0.8), Arizona Cardinals (-0.8) and the Chicago Bears (-0.8), neither of which qualified for the playoffs.
In comparison, the four best teams by yardage per play differential were the Seattle Seahawks (1.2), Denver Broncos (1.1), Green Bay Packers (0.8) and the Indianapolis Colts (0.5). All teams qualified for the playoffs bar the Philadelphia Eagles who won eight but also lost eight.
Betting odds can often fail to reflect the difference between the elite teams and the teams that struggle.
While the results are not surprising, a yardage differential can be used to analyse matches between two teams. There is a simple rule that is used by sharp bettors using the NFL yardage differential to calculate a betting advantage – each 0.15 yards per play is worth 1 point on the handicap market.
Using Yards Per Play To Calculate Handicap Discrepancies
By using the 2014 stats above, we can examine the 2015 NFL week one match between the Seattle Seahawksand the St. Louis Rams.
By looking at the table from last year, the Seahawks had a yards per play differential of +1.2, while the Rams net differential was -0.3. The difference between the two franchises was 1.5, so by dividing this number by 0.15 suggests the Steelers should be around a 10 point favourite on a neutral field.
However, the Steelers are actually offered at -4, while at home the Broncos are offered at +4. The handicap odds offered with Pinnacle Sports suggest the teams are much closer than the yardage per play calculation would suggest.
With this said, as with all tools for evaluating teams, this calculation is best used in conjunction with other handicapping methods. Many statistical methods become far more viable after 4-6 games, at which point the 2014 data could be analysed.
It is also vital to gather as much knowledge on betting variables to accompany your yards per play calculations such as preseason results, squad rosters, and which players are sidelined through injury.
These betting variables coupled with the yards per play calculation will give you the best chance to work out any NFL handicap discrepancies.