Several Important Factors for the NFL Betting Season
The NFL season consists of 16 regular season games spread over 17 weeks with bye week schedules for each team. Six teams from each conference compete in a seeded postseason format with the division winners and the two wild card teams with the best regular season record.
The winning team from each conference post season elimination playoffs compete in the Super Bowl in February.
The competition provides an attractive betting proposition, where popular teams are excused for an occasional regular season slump, but that is not a luxury that carries over into the post season. You need to know the basics of NFL betting before you can find value in the odds.
Games can be high scoring, with teams scoring over 30 points, but other significant game changing events, such as fumbles and interceptions, are often heavily influenced by randomness and dumb mistakes.
- What do winning margins tell us
A string of narrow wins is often seen as a positive and sustainable team trait. It is simply the inevitable consequence in a sport where many games are decided by seven points or less. Some teams will accumulate more narrow wins than losses in a short 16 game season. Did those narrow wins cover the spread more than 55% or higher. How did this point margin add up when predicting likely performance during last year’s regular season. Can you excuse losing from bad luck or other factors that affect the team chemistry.
In 2015, Denver, Arizona, Carolina and Indianapolis had the four largest differentials between narrow wins and narrow defeats. Their combined regular season win percentage was 0.75 and none of the four teams had a losing season. In 2016, their combined regular season win percentage fell to 0.48 and two of the successful four from the previous season posted losing seasons.
Cleveland, Dallas, Tennessee, New York Giants and San Diego (now in LA) all suffered more narrow defeats than narrow victories when winning just 25% of their regular season games in 2015. Those narrow defeats were usually the result of a couple of busted plays were the defense was out of position or a dropped ball in the end zone. Either way, the margins are there for review and necessary for your handicapping skills.
- How important is turnover differential
Turnover differential, either by fumble or interception, will impact a win loss record if the turnover gap becomes a team habit. Good teams can overcome turnovers but not on a consistent basis.
Although there is an element of skill and defensive scheming involved in a turnover, particularly when taking the ball away by interceptions, there is also a degree of randomness that should be taken into consideration.
Dallas, Baltimore, Jacksonville and Tennessee had the worst turnover differential in 2015, but in 2016 they turned a combined win percentage of 0.27 into one of 0.51 and of the four previously losing sides, Baltimore returned an 8-8 season, Tennessee moved to 9-7 and Dallas 13-3. In contrast, the four teams with the best turnover differential fell from a combined 0.8 to 0.5.
Oakland, Kansas, Minnesota, Atlanta and New England had the best turnover differentials in 2016. Teams with the worst figures, who may see natural regression this season and an improved return, included Chicago, Jacksonville, New York Jets, Cleveland and LA’s other franchise, the Rams.
A fumble happens every Sunday but a team can recover its own fumble and not turnover the ball to the other side. The better teams are able to cover-up their mistakes and reduce their turnover rate with quicker fumble awareness they practice with fumble drills. An interception turnover cannot be rectified by a loose ball on the ground waiting to be recovered. The interception is the worst turnover and can lead to a pick-6. A fumble is usually from a hard hit but can be justified if you do not lose possession — not the case with an interception.
The turnover difference is magnified by those quarterbacks who are prone to bad throws under pressure as you cannot recover your own interception.