NFL Handicapping – Inside the Numbers Week 5

Handicapping and Analyzing Stats – NFL Inside the Numbers Week 5

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 5 underdog picks and plays that went 2-2 ATS with two outright ‘Dog winner on the Browns (+3) over the Ravens and Jets (+1.5) over the Broncos. Through 4 weeks, Fairway’s Football Forecast NFL ‘Dog log is now 11-7 ATS.

Last year we posted a 16-8 ATS record while providing underdog 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 5 stats of note.

Week 5 NFL favorites went 10-5 SU and 7-8 ATS. The Jets were an underdog and we rated the Lions a 1-point favorite. Week 5 scoring averaged 47.5 points per game and for the season, NFL games are averaging 47.8 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. Teams with a plus-3 or greater turnover margin in a game are now 13-1 SU/ATS this season. Teams with exactly a plus-2 turnover margin are 10-0 SU and 9-1 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 6-2 ATS in Week 5 and are now 42-14 (75%) 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.

The Jets (323 rush yards / 38 carries) had a NFL high rushing yards in week 5, and the Seahawks lost despite 190 rushing yards on 32 carries, as the Rams rushed for 155 on 30 attempts. The Bills (144/43), 49ers (147/34), Steelers (131/29) and Chiefs (126/30) all won while going heavy on rushing attempts.

The power of running the ball can perhaps be best illustrated this way. Thus far through 5 weeks, teams that rush the ball at least 30 times in a game when their opponent does not are 36-4-1 SU and 30-10-1 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.

The NY Jets running backs get game balls this week, as Isaiah Crowell rushed for 216 yards on just 15 attempts and 1 TD, while Bilal Powell had 99 rushing yards on 20 carries. Chris Carson (116) of the Seahawks and James Connor (110) of the Steelers both rushed for over 100 yards.

Following a 1-11 SU and 3-9 ATS result in Week 3, 0-10 SU and 3-7 ATS in Week 4, teams that rushed the ball less than 23 times struggled again going 0-10 SU and 1-9 ATS in Week 5.

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).

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.

Teams that struggled to get their ground game going in Week 5 included the Raiders (41 rushing yards/13 attempts), Redskins (39/18), Giants (50/16), and Falcons (62/19). These teams went 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS.

Teams that had strong offensive showings and efficient yards per play (yppl) in victory were the NY Jets (512 yards/8.4 yppl), Rams (468/7.4), Texans (464/6.1), Saints (447/7.1), Patriots (438/6.5), Chiefs (424/6.1), Chargers (412/7.0) and Steelers (381/6.6).

 Inefficient offensive teams included the Titans (221/4.2) and Redskins (284/4.7). The Lions (264/4.6) and Cardinals (220/4.5) were inefficient on offense in victory with fewer plays but at least a +3 differential in turnovers.

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