Success handicapping NFL games involves both studying trends and relying on stats. But relying on stats doesn’t mean taking every stat into consideration. Knowing which stats are meaningful and which aren’t will lead to more scores than you ever dreamed. Keep reading to learn how to recognize key handicapping NFL Betting stats.
How to Recognize and Handicap Key NFL Betting Stats
2022-23 NFL Regular Season
- When: Sep. 8, 2022 – Jan. 8, 2023
Start handicapping every NFL game by considering the offensive and defensive lines
Before getting into the first stat to know we must consider the difference between a betting stat and a trend. An NFL betting stat become a trend when it leads to more betting wins than losses.
A betting trend is something like Buffalo is 10-3 ATS in their last 13 at home. The stat is Buffalo is 10-3 ATS. The stat wouldn’t be a trend if the stat read Buffalo is 7-6 ATS in their last 13 at home.
With that in mind, we should always start our handicapping by studying offensive and defensive line stats. Offensive and defensive line stats by themselves aren’t betting stats.
But if we look at O-line and D-line stats from the prism of betting against the spread, the line stats become NFL betting stats. Keep reading for an example.
In 2021, Dallas averaged around 124 rush yards per game. Let’s say Dallas was a +6 underdog versus Kansas City on the road. The Chiefs allow close to 118 rush yards per. Based on the NFL betting stats, how KC’s defense performs versus the rush and how well Dallas rushes the football, the Cowboys and the points is the play.
Recognize the difference between a meaningless quarterback stat and those that matter
Recognizing a quarterback stat that’s meaningful and one that isn’t is difficult because a QB stat could be meaningful one week and not meaningful the next.
Completion percentage is a good example of this. Josh Allen completed less than 64% of his passes last season. But in many games, Allen made up for the completion percentage by being one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the league.
Tom Brady completed over 67% of his passes. But because the Buccaneers averaged less than 95 rushing yards per game, Tampa barely posted a winning 9-8 record against the spread.
Critically think about quarterback stats. Always consider quarterback stats in relation to that day’s game before turning the QB stat into an NFL betting stat.
Know your NFL coaches
You can glean plenty of opportunities from knowing NFL coaches. Some coaches, like New England’s Bill Belichick, loves to play in slow down, defensive games.
Kansas City’s Andy Reid also likes to slow down the game, but you wouldn’t notice it by how many points the Chiefs average. When it comes to coaches, NFL betting stats are meaningful depending on the matchup.
Let’s say Kansas City averages over 30 points per game, which isn’t far from reality. The Chiefs are in a game against the Bills, which average over 30 as well. The total is over 50.
You know Reid likes to slow the game down. You also know Buffalo likes to speed the game up. So you determine that the NFL betting stat to rely on isn’t on how many points each team scores, it’s Josh Allen’s completion percentage.
Patrick Mahomes has a higher completion percentage, which means Reid will develop a strategy that allows Kansas City to keep the ball and run clock, making under a great play, and KC a possible excellent play ATS.
Don’t overplay injury stats
Injury states are meaningful for sure. But oddsmakers know this. So once an injury hits a key player, oddsmakers over compensate.
The NFL betting stat to consider with injuries fall onto backups. So if Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott gets hurt, what are the key NFL betting stats about backup Cooper Rush we must know?
Last season, Rush completed over 62% of his passes. He played in 5 games and threw 3 TDs to a single pick. He also passed for 422 yards in 5 games.
If Dak gets hurt, Rush appears more than capable of managing a game. So, should Dak have to sit out a game, consider if Big D offers overlay odds before going against them ATS.
Don’t blindly turn NFL surface stats into NFL betting trends
Surface trends aren’t always true. Some believed the Saints aren’t a good team on grass.
But Sean Payton’s New Orleans teams were great on every surface. In 2018, New Orleans went 10-6 ATS. It didn’t matter the surface, the Saints were a threat to cover.
Bad teams, like Detroit last year, cover because they always offer overlay odds, not because of the surface on which play. For sure, a surface NFL betting stat can turn into a trend.
But other NFL betting stats can mean much more than surface stats. So don’t blindly turn an NFL betting surface stat into an NFL betting trend.