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NFL Playoff Predictions Using Yards Per Point and Turnover Margin
As we head down the stretch towards the NFL playoffs, we thought we'd have a little fun with a couple of our favorite NFL Stats, yards per point and turnovers. If you follow our write ups, you see us refer to these two stats frequently. Why? Because of their predictive nature. I have often said, if I was only allowed to pick two stats to handicap a football game, particularly the NFL, these are the two I would choose.
Yards per point give you a quick snapshot of a teams overall efficiency on both sides of the ball. It tells you how hard a team has to work to score 1 point, and how hard their opponents have to work to score 1 point against them. The higher the number on defense, the better. The lower the number on offense, the better. Subtract the offensive number from the defensive number to arrive at an overall ypp number. Good teams are positive numbers. Bad teams are negative numbers.
Turnovers speak for themselves. Some math guru type handicappers suggest that turnovers are random events in football. That couldn't be further from the truth. Good teams create turnovers. Bad teams turn the ball over. Teams practice creating turnovers. They practice stripping the ball. They create turnovers by being in position to make plays. Bad teams turn the ball over when their inexperienced QB tries to force a through. Good teams avoid turning the ball over when their experienced QB throws the ball away, instead of forcing a throw.
Turnovers in football games are a direct correlation to the overall skill levels of particular teams. That is why the two best teams in the NFL also have the two best turnover ratios and will likely meet in the NFC Championship game. It's also why the winless Colts are -13 in turnover margin.
We have made a chart below. The first number is the teams offensive ypp number. The 2nd number is the teams defensive ypp number. The number in blue is the ypp differential when subtracting the offensive number from the defensive number. The number in green is turnover margin. The number in purple is their record against the spread.
One final note. Those of you who are ambitious, and we encourage you to be, can work out yards per point numbers for different segments of the year. Such as, the last 8 games, or the last 6 games. Or, home numbers and away numbers. Doing so will often open your eyes to current trends, such as a team on the rise or on the decline as playoff time approaches.
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49ers 13.1 and 22.6 +9.5 +18 10-1 ATS
Packers 11.6 and 18.2 +6.6 +16 8-4 ATS
Patriots 12.4 and 20 +7.6 +8 7-5 ATS
Ravens +14 and +18 +4 +4 7-4 ATS
Bears 13.4 and 17.8 +3.4 +7 6-6 ATS
Saints 13.7 and 16.9 +3.2 -2 8-4 ATS
Titans 15.4 and 18.6 +3.2 +6 6-5 ATS
Texans 14.6 and 17.4 +2.5 +12 8-3 ATS
Jets 12.9 and 14.7 +1.8 even 5-7 ATS
Lions 13.8 and 14.7 +0.9 +5 6-5 ATS
Broncos 14.8 and 15.1 +0.3 -3 7-5 ATS
Steelers 16.5 and 16.8 +0.3 -7 6-6 ATS
Falcons 16.2 and 16.2 even -1 4-6 ATS
Cowboys 16.3 and 16.3 even +5 4-7 ATS
Giants 15.8 and 14.8 -1 +4 5-7 ATS
Raiders 16.1 and 14.5 -1.6 even 8-4 ATS
Bad turnover teams
Eagles -13 4-8 ATS
Chargers -13 3-9 ATS
Colts -13 3-9 ATS
Redskins -13 5-7 ATS
Rams -5 2-10 ATS
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