NFL Handicapping – Inside the Numbers Week 4

Handicapping and Analyzing Stats – NFL Inside the Numbers Week 4

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.

You can read my weekly Fairway’s Football Forecast NFL article on this site, including Week 4’s underdog picks and plays that went 3-1 ATS with two outright ‘Dog winner on the Bengals (+4) over the Falcons and Ravens (+3) over the Steelers. A near miss on the biggest ‘Dog of the week as the 49ers (+10’) lost 29-27. Another solid week overall on all our plays, and Fairway’s Football Forecast NFL ‘Dog log for the season on these pages is now 9-5 ATS with .

Last year we posted a 16-8 ATS record while providing plays on these pages.

I no longer sell selections for other companies, and I’ve turned down numerous offers to provide my expertise and selection services. Instead, I provide other insight, analysis and picks to better inform, educate and assist others. From 2003 through 2010 I went 371-277 ATS (57.3%) and won 8 consecutive regular seasons as documented at the Sports Monitor with two top of the leaderboard finishes in 2010 (44-22 ATS) and 2003 (52-28). I’ve participated in the Las Vegas SuperContest, and posted back-to-back 60% ATS seasons.  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.

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 4 stats of note.

Week 4 NFL favorites went 11-4 SU and 6-8-1 ATS. I rated the Colts as favorite over the Texans, but line moves impact ATS stats and sometimes favorite-to-underdog moves which happened on game day with Houston taking money and closing a 1-point favorite. Week 4 scoring surged to its highest this year and averaged 53.4 points per game and for the season games are averaging a record 47.9 points per game.

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 plus (+3) or more in the turnover column in a game are a long-term 93% winning ATS situation. The Jets, however, were the first team this season to be +3 in turnovers (3-0) in a game and lose, both SU and ATS at Jacksonville. The Bears (3-0) had the big TO edge, but completely destroyed the Bucs 48-10 as our biggest play of the season. Teams with a plus-3 or greater turnover margin in a game are now 10-1 SU/ATS this season. Teams with exactly a plus-2 turnover margin are 7-0 SU/ATS this season, so you can see the importance of winning the turnover battle by at least 2 per game.

Teams that had a meaningful rushing advantage over their opponent (at least 30 yards) went 8-4 ATS in Week 4 and are now 36-12 ATS this season. This is historically for nearly 2 decades a proven 75% ATS situation with no season below 70% ATS. I’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.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara had 134 rushing yards at 7.1 YPR and 3 TDs vs NYG

The Patriots (40/175), Cowboys (35/183), Texans (35/119), Seahawks (34/171), Jaguars (34/126), Saints (32/170), Packers (32/141), Bears (31/139) and Ravens 30/96) all rushed the ball at least 30 times in victory. Leave it to the Browns (31/208) to find yet another way to lose, and the only team with at least 30 rushes and lost in Week 4.

The power of running the ball can perhaps be best illustrated this week. Thus far through 4 weeks, teams that rush the ball at least 30 times in a game when their opponent does not are 29-3-1 SU and 25-7-1 ATS. Remember that when the media members or talking heads tell you how important passing the ball is, and remember to run your way to profits and the cashiers window. At least 30 rushes a game is pure profit, while less than 23 rushing attempts per game is a proven loser.

Eight running backs rushed for at least 100 yards in Week 4 action with the Cowboys RB Ezekeil Elliott leading the way with 152 yards on 25 carries, while the Saints Alvin Kamara rushed for 3 TD’s and 134 yards.

Following a 1-11 SU and 3-9 ATS result in Week 3, those teams that rushed the ball less than 23 times went 0-10 SU and 3-7 ATS in Week 4 (rating Denver a ATS winner Monday night).

The quarterback play is clearly most important in the NFL, and QB ratings from starter to backup can impact a betting line at by at least 6 points (see link and chart. The 49er’s losing starter Garoppolo is a huge loss, as its effected the Week 4 line at LA Chargers by 6 to 6.5 points. We still took the extra value and played the 49ers in our Week 4 picks and ‘Dog log, and San Fran easily covered and nearly pulled the big upset in a 29-27 defeat.

As you become 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 and forecasting the games.

Browns Raiders
1st Down/plays 21  –  74 27  –  90
Rushing/ATT 208  (31) 139  (29)
Passing 279 426
Total Yd/YPPL 487  (6.6) 565   (6.3)
3rd Down 5-15 5-16
TO/TOP 4   –   31 2  –   37
Penalty Yds 8-55 6-65
Score/Line 42   OT 45    (-2’)

Teams that struggled to get their ground game going in Week 4 included the Steelers (19 rushing yards/11 attempts!), Jets (34/14), Colts (41/17), Vikings (54/17), Dolphins (56/18), Bills (58/16), Bucs (60/18,) and Giants (65/15). These teams went 0-8 SU and 0-7-1 ATS.

Teams that had strong offensive showings and efficient yards per play (yppl) in victory were the Rams (586 yards/10.1 yppl), Raiders in overtime (565 yards/6.3 yppl), Bears (483/8.3), Jaguars (503/6.8), Ravens (451/6.1), Patriots (449/6.0), Chiefs (446/6.2), Saints (389/5.8), Packers (423/5.7), Cowboys (414/6.4) and Dolphins (373/9.6.

 Inefficient offensive teams included the Bills (145/2.6 hu?), Jets (178/3.5), Dolphins (172/3.8), Cardinals (263/4.7) and Steelers (284/4.8).

The league average is near 5.6 yards-per-play; up from past 5.4 yards per play.

The Dolphins, Colts, Falcons and Bucs all at at least 10 penalties in defeat.

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. You can bet on it.

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