NFL Handicapping – Inside the Numbers Week 2

Handicapping and Analyzing Stats – NFL Inside the Numbers Week 2

Throughout the NFL season, I go inside the numbers and review weekly box scores, stats, game recaps and more after watching many of the NFL games. For over a decade, I have kept a proprietary database of statistical information and utilized relevant rushing numbersstatistical guidelines and situations to better assist me in sports investing and providing point spread winners.  Week 2 was a good one for us going 5-2-1 with a top-play winner on the Bills and SEA/SF under the total in the Seahawks 12-9 ugly win. Seattle scored a late touchdown for their first TD of the season. We also had the 49ers as big ‘Dog (+14), just missing a huge upset winner. But the Vikings and Saints were no good for us in our weekly Fairway Football Forecast focusing on underdogs. Recall my record-breaking Week 2 from the 2009 season when picked and forecast a perfect 10-0 ATS Sunday in NFL point spread prognosis. Check out my weekly picks and plays along with the $1,000 Pro Football Challenge.

While I’m not in this year’s Las Vegas SuperContest. know that I’ve had some strong starts and overall NFL seasons throughout my handicapping career. My start in 2015 included 16-3-1 ATS after four weeks and 29-10-1 after 8 weeks on our way to another top-6% finish out of more than 1,700 entries in the SuperContest.

So each week I’ll provide various insights into NFL handicapping, and the weekly Inside the Numbers article will analyze stats and ways to utilize them and how rushing guidelines and handicapping point-of-attack play can put the percentages in your favor when wagering.

Here are some Week 2 stats of note.

Week 2 NFL favorites went 11-5 SU and 8-8 ATS. For the season favorites are 15-16 ATS and totals are now 11-19 over/under after another lower scoring week which saw totals go 6-9 over/under. Throughout the season there will be close calls on sides and totals, and while you can’t control the market or moves, you can become skilled at anticipating line moves and trying to get your bets in accordingly.

Beating the NFL over the long-term involves an understanding of the match-ups, situations and stats, and how to apply them for success. Good fortune in the turnover column helps too. After all, teams that are +3 or more in the turnover column in a game are a long-term 93% winning ATS situation. In Week 2, the Browns (5-2) reverted to last year’s form with rookie QB Kizer making his first start and tossing 3 INTs,. The Bears (4-1) couldn’t get out of their own way either in a ugle 29-7 loss at Tampa. Five other teams suffered an exact 2-turnover negative differential and went 0-5 SU/ATS.

Teams that had a meaningful rushing advantage over their opponent (at least 30 yards) went 11-0 SU/ATS in Week 2 and are now 20-1 both SU/ATS this season. We’ll discuss our rushing guidelines throughout the season, but if you can correctly handicap this situation and advantage in a weekly NFL match-up and it plays out accordingly, you’re well on your way to cashing more tickets and point spread winners. For over a decade, teams that out-rush their opponent by at least 30 yards in a NFL game cover the point spread nearly 75% of the time. There has not been a season since 2000 when this has been below 70% on average.

Here are your week 2 stat leaders across the board. The leading rushers in week 2 were Carlos Hyde (124 yards) of the 49ers, Jay Ajayi (122) of the Dolphins and C.J. Anderson (118) of the Broncos.


The quarterback play is clearly most important in the NFL, but significant turnover differential (2 or more, and 3 or more is fatal) is what most impacts games and results. Tough to handicap that or poor officials calls of course, but if you get better at understanding and recognizing point of attack play and which teams will have success rushing the football and/or stopping the run, you’ll become more proficient and the point spread winners will follow. Many other factors come into play in evaluating games and match-ups, including the quarterback play. But the ability to understand situations and make adjustments to changes, personnel, match-ups, injuries, weather and put all the stat profiles together will allow you to become better at handicapping the games.

Week 2 big ground gainers in rushing included the Redskins (228 yards/39 attempts), Raiders (180/27), Titans (179/36), Broncos (178/39), Texans (168/35), Falcons (141/27) and Ravens (136/32). Note all those teams ran the ball a higher percentage of plays, with many at least 30 times – another key indicator to point spread success. In fact through 2 weeks this season, teams that run the ball 30 or more times in a game (when their opponent does not) are 19-1 SU and 17-3 ATS. Control the ball, clock and chains, and you’ll open up the passing lanes, be more balanced on offense, and wear down more defenses.

Teams that struggled to get their ground game going included the Bears (20 rushing yards/16 attempts), Cowboys (40/14), Chargers (44/14), Packers (59/15) and NY Giants (62/18). These teams went 0-5 SU/ATS.

Teams that had strong offensive showings and efficient yards per play (yppl) in victory were the Patriots (555 yards/7.7 yppl) in their big bounce back win at New Orleans, Raiders (410/7.5), Titans (390/6.1), Redskins (380/5.6) and Falcons (364/6.3).

 Inefficient offensive teams included the Bills (176/3.5), Panthers (255/3.9) in beating the Bills,  Vikings (238/4.0), Colts (266/3.8), NY Giants (270/4.9) and Bengals (295/4.8).

The league average is approximately 5.4 to 5.5 yards-per-play.

The Vikings scratched QB Sam Bradford on game day, then proceeded to commit a week-high 12 penalties for 136 yards in defeat at Pittsburgh.

We’ll review more NFL stats and information each week as we continue to evaluate the results, match-ups and work to become even more proficient in point spread prognosis.

Author: FairwayJay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports analyst and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful handicappers and professionals. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay