NFL Handicapping – Inside the Numbers Week 15

Handicapping and Analyzing Stats – NFL Inside the Numbers Week 15

Throughout the NFL season, I 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 numbers, statistical guidelines and situations to better assist me in sports investing and providing point spread winners.

Week 15 was a blood bath for the sports books, as public bettors piled on the big favorites and they delivered winner after winner except for Carolina, who remained unbeaten but blew a 35-7 lead and the cover. In Las Vegas it was the worst week of the season for the sports books. Members enjoyed a 3-0 Top Play week as the NY Giants and Texans delivered as ‘Dogs while we hit a Top Play total Saturday night in the Jets low-scoring win over the Cowboys. A few more totals winners but some disappointing losers including the Raiders and Bills, who both out-rushed and out-gained their opponents as underdogs but lost and failed to cover. Same to for the Buccaneers Thursday night, as they won the ground game by margin and had a 509-319 yardage edge but lost by 8-points.

Favorites went 11-5 SU and 9-6-1 ATS while totals finished 10-6 over/under. Home underdogs are 30-50 SU and 39-40 ATS this season following a 2-6 SU and 3-4-1 ATS week. This is where the public piled on the ‘bad’ teams at home against the ‘good’ teams on the road as the Chiefs, Cardinals, Packers and Bengals all rolled to road wins over the Ravens, Eagles, Raiders and 49ers. Add in the Patriots and Seahawks big 14-point favorite wins and covers over the Titans and Browns and you can see why it was a big week for the public bettors and many ‘squares’, and a disaster for the sports books. The Jets also won on the road over the Cowboys by 3-points for an ATS push and the Panthers won but failed to cover at the NY Giants after blowing a 35-7 lead.

We cashed a Top Play for the third straight week against the Colts as Indy’s struggles continued with just 14 first downs and 190 total yards offense in losing the key division game to Houston at home.

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. The Cowboys (4-1), Ravens (3-0) and 49ers (4-1) suffered a 3 or greater turnover differential in week 15 losses, and teams that are minus (-3) or greater in the turnover column in a game are now 1-36 SU and ATS this season.

Clients have paid me for over a decade for my expertise and ability to proficiently project point spread winners because I not only understand point of attack play and rushing guidelines used for success, but because it’s also important to understand situations and make adjustments to changes, personnel, match-ups, injuries, weather and more.

Week 15 big ground gainers in rushing included the Bills (240/31 – and lost), Cardinals (230/39), Seahawks (182/36), Panthers (171/29), Texans (155/37), Lions (150/23), Bucs (147/23), Chargers (140/36) and Vikings (129/36).

The Dolphins (44/19), Colts (50/19), Titans (59/21), 49ers (55/17) and Saints (69/18) struggled to get their running game going in defeat while the Steelers (23/17) rallied behind the passing of Big Ben to knock off the Broncos despite no running game.

But the point of all this is that rushing stats and point of attack play often trumps passing prowess a majority of the time. When you have a few top-tier quarterbacks that can overcome a poor ground game or use it as a short passing attack (Brady), sometimes a lack of a running game can work. A dominant defense helps. But regardless of all the talking heads telling you that teams must have a passing game to succeed in the NFL, I’ll point you to my weekly articles and stats that suggest otherwise and that perception is not reality in the pass/run success argument of the NFL. We have the adjust to the rules and changes in the game allowing for more passing game success and now more scoring in recent seasons, but the game is still about blocking, tackling, running and catching and the team that controls the line of scrimmage, establishes a running game (or more attempts) and minimizes turnovers is often the team that comes out on top.

Teams that had strong offensive showings and efficient yards per play (yppl) in week 15 victories were the Browns (481 yards/6.5 yards per play), Cardinals (493/6.7), Panthers (480/6.2), Chargers (442/6.1), Redskins (431/7.1), Seahawks (423/6.2) and Lions (396/7.8). Again, the Bucs lost despite 509 yards offense at 6.6 yppl to a Rams team that had 319 total yards. Inefficient offensive teams included the Colts (190/3.5), Browns (230/4.4), Dolphins (231/4.1), Titans (282/4.7), Bears (283/4.7)  and Bengals (242/4.0) in victory over the 49ers (319/4.5). The league average is approximately 5.4 yards-per-play.

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