NFL Handicapping – NFL Inside the Numbers Week 9

Handicapping and Analyzing Stats – NFL Inside the Numbers Week 9

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, which went 3-1 ATS last week with 3 outright underdog winners, 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 9 stats of note.

Week 8 NFL favorites went just 7-6 SU and 7-6 ATS, but it was one of the worst Sunday’s in years for the sportsbooks, as the public piled on the Chiefs, Bears, Vikings and Steelers to bury the sportsbooks. If you followed the biggest moves on the Week 9 look ahead lines from the Westgate Superbook, and bet towards those moves you went 2-2 ATS after going 6-2 ATS the previous week.

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 24-3 SU and 23-4 ATS. The NY Jets had 4 turnovers in a 13-7 loss at Miami, who did not turn the ball over. Teams with exactly a plus-2 turnover went 1-0 (CAR) and are now 16-0 SU and 15-1 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 8-1 SU/ATS in Week 9, making it 26-1 ATS in the last three weeks and  and are now 75-19 (80%) ATS this season and historically a 75% ATS profile with no season below 70% since 2000. The biggest rushing week of the season last week (8 teams rushed for at least 150 yards and went 7-1 SU/8-0 ATS) saw just 2 teams rush for at least 150 yards in Week 9 (when their opponent did not) and go 2-0 SU/ATS. Both the Chargers and Seahawks rushed for at least 150 yards in LA’s 25-17 road win at Seattle.

Running the ball often is another key to SU and ATS success, as teams that run the ball at least 30 times went 6-1 SU/ATS in Week 9 with the Titans completing the profile in Monday night’s 28-14 win at Dallas running the ball 36 times for 125 yards while the Cowboys rushed just 19 times for 72 yards. Teams that rushed the ball less than 23 times went just 1-8 SU/ATS in Week 9. 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 9 rushing leaders included the Panthers 179 rush yards / 32 carries), Falcons (154/24), 49ers (143/32) and Saints (141/34), who handed the Rams their first loss of the season and LA with top RB Gurley ran the ball just 19 times for 92 yards in a 45-35 defeat that features an aerial attach by QB’s Goff and Brees, as LA passed for 391 yards and averaged a strong 8.2 yards per play while New Orleans passed for 346 and averaged 7.0 yards per play with a more balanced attack.

The power of running the ball can perhaps be best illustrated this way. Thus far through 9 weeks, teams that rush the ball at least 30 times in a game when their opponent does not are 81-12-1 SU and 73-19-2 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.

Teams that rushed the ball less than 23 times went 1-8  SU/ATS in Week 9. Going back those results have been 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 and 2-8 ATS in Week 8.

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 (499 yards/8.6 yppl), Falcons (491/7.7), Saints (487/7.0), 49ers (405/7.5), Panthers (407/6.9) and Chargers (375/7.5).

 Inefficient offensive teams included the Lions (209/3.0), Raiders (242/4.4), 49ers (267/4.2), Jets (282/4.4) and Ravens (265/4.7). Despite just 11 first downs and 190 yards (4.1), the Bears beat the brutal Bills 41-9 in Buffalo.

The league average is above 5.6 yards-per-play; up from past 5.4 yards per play in recent seasons. Here is the best and worst of all teams in offensive yards per play this season. Best – Chiefs (7.1), Chargers (7.0), Rams (6.9). Worst – Bills (4.0), Cardinals (4.3), Titans (4.8).

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