NFL Handicapping – Inside the Numbers Week 7

Handicapping and Analyzing Stats – NFL Inside the Numbers Week 7

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, and I provide the weekly Inside the Numbers to better assist us in evaluating teams, stats and performances.

My NFL history as a point spread prognosticator has been a winning one with recent seasons results and from 2003 through 2010 when I went 371-277 ATS (57.3%) and won 8 consecutive regular seasons as a public handicapper with all plays documented at the Sports MonitorSome top of the leaderboard finishes included 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 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 7 stats of note.

Week 7 NFL favorites went 10-4 SU and 7-7 ATS rating the Redskins (+2) an underdog after being a favorite until game day. Note too that the look ahead lines from the Westgate Superbook have some teams a favorite and become an underdog by the following week when current week lines are released, and visa versa.

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 21-2 SU/ATS after the biggest week of the season in turnovers saw seven teams have at least 3 or more turnovers than their opponent. Those teams went 6-1 straight up and 7-0 ATS, as only the bumbling Browns failed to win despite a 4-1 turnover edge. Teams with exactly a plus-2 turnover margin went 1-0 last week and are 14-0 SU and 13-1 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 9-0 ATS in Week 7 and are now 58-18 (76%) ATS this season and historically a 75% ATS profile with no season below 70% since 2000. The Detroit Lions, led by rookie RB Kerryon Johnson (158 yards), rushed for 248 yards in a 32-21 win at Miami. That running production was the Lions most rushing yards in two decades.

Detroit also ran the ball 35 times, another key indicator to SU and ATS success. Teams that ran the ball at least 30 times went 8-1 SU/ATS in Week 7 with only the Texans failing to win despite dominance in the running game in London, and the Bucs failing to cover, as the large turnover differential (4-1) was too much to overcome. Handicapping point of attack play and determining which team will have more success running the ball and controlling the ball, clock and chains will get you more point spread winners.

Week 7 rushing leaders included the Lions (248 rush yards / 35 carries), Colts (220/37), Chiefs (198/29), Rams (146/35), Texans (141/37), Saints (134/39) and the only straight-up loser with a big rushing edge, Titans (164/33).

The power of running the ball can perhaps be best illustrated this way. Thus far through 7 weeks, teams that rush the ball at least 30 times in a game when their opponent does not are 53-6-1 SU and 45-13-2 ATS.

Remember that when the media members, talking heads or your fantasy football friends 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.

Poor rushing teams that ran the ball less than 23 times in a game produced a 1-11 SU and 3-9 ATS result in Week 3, 0-10 SU and 3-7 ATS in Week 4, 0-10 SU and 1-9 ATS in Week 5, 1-9 SU, 2-7-1 ATS in Week 6 and 2-6 SU, 1-7 ATS in Week 7 with both the Giants and Falcons running the ball just 20 times each in the Monday night game and last-second back door cover TD and 2-point conversion by the Giants.

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 had strong offensive showings and efficient yards per play (yppl) in victory were the Chiefs (551 yards/7.9 yppl), Lions (457/7.9), Colts (376/6.4), Patriots (381/6.0).

 Inefficient offensive teams included the Cardinals (223/3.4), 49ers (228/3.9), Bengals (239/4.4), Jaguars (259/3.8) and Jets (263/3.8).

The league average is above 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