Welcome back to another edition of Kras NFL Matchups! With 2020 coming to a close of what is to be remembered as one of the worst this side of the millennium, we begin the final stretch towards the NFL post-season. Let’s dive in and review:
Week 11 Matchups
- Dallas is having a tough year, having the worst turnover differential in the league, (-13) and a defense that’s given up more points through the first 11 weeks than any other team, they just can’t seem to catch a break… With Prescott sidelined to the tune of $31.4M, and Elliot’s lack of production in the backfield in his last 4 games, it looks like, “it’s Floodin’ down in Texas” (SRV).
- New York football has seen better days with a combined 2 team record of 3-16, no thanks to the J-E-T-S Jets. The G-Men, who might actually win 5 games this year, are tied for the lead in what has to be the worst division in professional American football, the NFC East.
- The LA Chargers have been another huge disappointment this season. Dealing with numerous injuries on both sides of the ball, they’ve managed a pedestrian 2-7 start under what is likely to be Anthony Lynn’s last year coaching the only team in the league that plays 16 away games.
- Meanwhile, Seattle has found a way to give up an average of 30 points a game, lead the league in letting wide receivers down field (448 yds/g), and still manage a 7-3 start to lead their division. With a banged up 49er’s roster and the Rams not doing anything spectacular, it’s likely the Cardinals will be the only contender to the Seahawks in the NFC West.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t lost a game, currently sitting 9-0 they have a soft matchup against Jacksonville, who’s defense is giving up over 400+ yd/game through the air, and struggling to put up points of their own. Going up against the 3rd/4th ranked defense in the league, the Jags have little to look forward to on Sunday.
- The Indianapolis Colts are quietly playing good football. A top 5 defense in the NFL, with a secondary that has been shutting down the pass, giving up only 199 yds/ game with 11 interceptions, they sit at the top of the AFC South with only the Tennessee Titans looking back at them. Philip Rivers is playing football without having to try to come from behind in the 4th quarter of every game. The Colts are headed into a pretty even contest against the Packers this weekend, and could be a sleeper if they can knock off the Titans again next week.
During the week while players and coaches prepare for their matchups and contests, I enjoy sifting through team stats. Over the last couple weeks, I stumbled upon a way to evaluate a team’s efficiency that I hadn’t thought of before. To no surprise, 1 search on the internet revealed that this method is not new and routinely practiced within the sports betting communities. The method is called Yards per Point. The reason I’m sharing this is because it exists, many people use it, however I had never heard of it, so it’s possible others haven’t either.
There’s two ways to do it:
- Total offensive yards gained divided by total offensive points scored. (you can choose whether you want to include special teams Yds/Tds but it makes little difference)
- Average yards gained per game divided by average points scored per game.
They are pretty much identical for offense, (+/- 0.03). For Defense you take Total Yards given up divided by total points given up and Average yards given up per game divided by average points given up. Again, almost identical but enough of a variance that could affect your rounding if you round to a whole number, (+/- 0.30).
Figure A.1: Yards_per_Point
Using this method, you can see that the Baltimore Ravens score points more efficiently than the rest of the league. The Miami Dolphins force offenses to gain more yards to score points. Based on a team’s average yards gained/given up per game, you can effectively estimate how many points they should score in that game.
Let’s take the Thursday night game, which turned out to be a pretty good example, (the method isn’t flawless, but gives you a fair representation of what is reasonably expected).
Arizona has a yards/pt of 15.12, and avg offensive yards/game of 425.
15.12 yards = 1 point, 425/15.12 = 28.1 or 28 points
Seattle has a yards/pt of 14.80, and avg offensive yards/game of 406.
14.80 yards = 1 point, 406/14.80 = 27.4 or 27 points
Per the sportsbooks, Thursday night’s odds were as follows:
Spread: Seattle -3, or Arizona +3 (Seattle was given a 3-point home field adjustment)
Over/Under: 57 points
The fact that this calculation is within range of what the betting odds were for the game, means we are in the ballpark. The final score of the game was Seattle 28 to Arizona 21 with two close TD attempts at the end of the game from Arizona that would have put them on the number.
It seems simple so I decided to make it complicated by taking the standard deviation of average yards per game for the whole league. This allows me to estimate based on whether a team has a better/worse performance than normal. Here are the results for the rest of Week 11:
Figure A.2: Week 11 Estimates
At a glance, most of the scores generated from Yards/point seem conceivable (with the exception of Dallas only losing by 2 points, and Cleveland being upset by Philadelphia).
- Atlanta has a chance to surprise New Orleans this week, who will be without their All Pro QB Drew Brees. The Falcons seem to be inventing new ways to lose games this year, however they have won their last two games going into this division matchup. It would take a miracle for them to earn a wildcard spot, however the team is in need of a statement game this year to prove their worth.
- The Eagles may struggle in the rushing department this weekend but shouldn’t have a tough time moving the football through the air against Cleveland. Look for the Browns to use their advantage in the run game to eat up clock and keep Philly’s offense on the sideline, which may end up favoring the under.
- Three games stand out as great matchups this week and should be fodder for ESPN’s highlight reels. Games to watch this weekend would be Baltimore vs. Tennessee; Green Bay vs. Indianapolis; and Los Angeles vs. Tampa Bay. Another game not to be overlooked is the rematch between Las Vegas and Kansas City, otherwise known as the matchup responsible for ruining your suicide pool chances 5 weeks ago.
- Last and certainty least, it would not be surprising to see the Jets upset the Chargers with their first win of the season (See: Lambo wide right, 45-yard field goal gives Cleveland first win of the season, 20-17 over Chargers, 2016). While it’s safe to say the Jets have the worst offense in the NFL, there is something about a winless team that you just don’t want to bet against.
Until next time, and thank you for reading.