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NFL Handicapping System: Yards Per Point
by Robert Ferringo - 8/6/2010

NFL Football

Yards Per Point is an excellent statistic to utilize in NFL handicapping because, in its own way, it accounts for much of the “hidden yardage” that is otherwise difficult to quantify on game day. Although it’s actually pretty basic to calculate, Yards Per Point isn’t a common NFL statistic and there aren’t any mainstream databases that regularly track and update it throughout the season. However, it is a number that many professional handicappers rely on to give them greater insight into what is actually going on down on the gridiron each week.

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Yards Per Point is simply dividing an offense’s total yards gained by that team’s total points. So if New Orleans averages 403.8 yards per game as well as 31.9 points per game they have a Yards Per Point total of 12.66. This number is calculated the same way for defense, with yards allowed divided by points allowed. 

Now, not all points come via the offense. There are defensive and special teams scores that get factored into a team’s scoring average. But by not differentiating between scoring by an offense, a Yards Per Point calculation takes all manner of scoring into account for the final number. And let’s face it, special teams and defensive touchdowns have a lot to do with luck. There are always some teams that will be better at creating turnovers, and thus scoring on defense, and there are always organizations that have an edge with their special teams. But Yards Per Point allows for these advantages to be worked into a stat that is standard for all of the teams.

Yards Per Point also takes into account things like field position (again, which are direct reflections of defense and special teams), penalty yardage, turnovers, and all of the other random things that comprise a game. Teams that benefit from a shorter field – whether it is due to a turnover, great special teams play, or their defense allowing them to win the field position battle – will obviously have a smaller Offensive Yards Per Point. These teams are taking advantage of lucky bounces, significant skill advantages, or just poor execution by their opponents and turning them into points. And this statistic is a way to represent all of those facets of the game.

So, again, Yards Per Point is a very basic statistic in terms of calculation. But in a way it is a very complicated stat because it is all encompassing.

So, how do we put this into practice? Well, according to published reports, from 2003 to 2007 the top five teams in Offensive Yards Per Point in each season went an amazing 234-152 against the spread in those years. That’s an incredible 60.6 percent ATS system. The bottom five teams from those seasons were just 164-221, meaning that if you had played against those teams you would have hit 57.4 percent of your wagers. And combined, if you had bet just $50 per game on those teams – the five best and five worst each season – you would have made around $5,400 and connected on over 59 percent of your bets.

Those numbers are amazing. But they have a singular flaw: you don’t really know which teams will be in the Top 5 in Offensive Yards Per Point until the end of the season. Granted, the idea is that by the middle of the season you have an idea of which are the best and worst teams in this statistic. But there are no numbers to back up those assumptions.

However, there are ways in which we can use OYPP in the preseason to determine which teams are going to perform better or worse than they did the previous year. Now, the numbers we have to work with are in regards to teams’ straight-up records and not their ATS marks. However, that can still create a profitable situation. Whether it is in the futures market or if it is simply knowing which teams are going to be better or worse the next year – which is usually reflected in ATS marks – you can have an edge by knowing which clubs are going to be better or worse compared to what people expect.

According to published reports from other professional handicappers, there are  certain statistical thresholds that are significant in predicting how teams will fare from one year to the next. On offense, teams that have a Yards Per Point at 14.15 or lower have a record that is either the same or worse the following season about 72 percent of the time (over nearly 70 trials). Teams with an Offensive Yards Per Point of 17.45 or higher have a record that is the same or better the following season around 74 percent of the time (over nearly 60 trials).

Defensively, teams with a 14.6 Yards Per Point or lower have a better record the following year an astounding 79 percent of the time around nearly 100 trials dating back to 1999. Going into last season there were 12 teams that fit into that category (based on their 2008 Defensive YPP) and an incredible 11 of them posted better records.

Conversely, teams with a Defensive Yards Per Point that is 16.3 or higher produce a weaker record the following year about 69 percent of the time with over 100 trials over the past decade. In 2009 there were seven teams that entered the season with a 2008 DYPP of 16.3 or higher, and five of the seven had weaker records.

Below are the 2009 Yards Per Point numbers for both offense and defense. Using these statistics and the trends provided you could tell which clubs are, statistically speaking, set up for either a regression with their record or a nice bounce back in their record.

2009 YARDS PER POINT (OFFENSE)
New Orleans – 12.66
San Diego – 12.68
Minnesota – 12.91
Green Bay – 13.16
Philadelphia – 13.35
Colts – 13.97
San Francisco – 14.12
Baltimore – 14.39
Giants – 14.58
Arizona – 14.72
New York Jets – 14.72
New England – 14.88
Atlanta – 15.00
Miami – 15.00
Chicago – 15.21
Houston – 15.80
Tennessee – 15.90
Pittsburgh – 16.14
Cincinnati – 16.18
Kansas City – 16.48
Denver – 16.74
Carolina – 16.81
Buffalo – 17.01
Cleveland – 17.01
Dallas – 17.67
Seattle – 18.10
Detroit – 18.23
Jacksonville – 18.60
Washington – 18.83
Tampa Bay – 18.91
Oakland – 21.63
St. Louis – 25.63
 
 
2009 YARDS PER POINT (DEFENSE)
Dallas – 20.25
San Francisco – 18.54
Baltimore – 18.44
New England – 17.99
Atlanta – 17.19
Arizona – 17.06
New York Jets – 17.05
New Orleans – 16.80
Buffalo – 16.70
Cleveland – 16.64
Cincinnati – 16.56
Carolina – 16.44
San Diego – 16.35
Minnesota – 15.83
Houston – 15.62
Denver – 15.59
Green Bay – 15.30
Oakland – 15.27
Washington – 15.22
Philadelphia – 15.21
Pittsburgh – 15.11
Jacksonville – 14.80
Kansas City – 14.65
Tampa Bay – 14.62
Seattle – 14.61
Tennessee – 14.56
Indy – 14.50
Chicago – 14.44
Miami – 14.32
St. Louis – 13.70
Detroit – 12.69
New York Giants – 12.22

Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. Last year his NFL picks brought home +62.5 Units for his clients and he is regarded as one of the top totals players for NFL odds in the sport. He guarantees a winning football season this year or he will work for free until you turn a profit. You can sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.


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