Pro Football Stats: Read Between the Lines

The best time of the sports calendar is here, the opening month of the pro
football campaign!  There are mountains of stats and angles available for sports
bettors to digest from this season and years past. Information certainly is a
huge key when analyzing games and point spreads. Sometimes it can seem that
there is too much info, but it’s essential to understand that stats are only a
starting point. They don’t always tell the whole story. In fact, stats can
sometimes lie, something to keep in mind when searching for football picks.

Sure, it’s important to ask such questions as, “How many yards passing per game
does his team get? How big is this offensive line compared to the opponent? Is a
great quarterback going up against a team with slow defensive backs? What’s
their home record the last five years, straight up and against the spread?”
However, it’s important to learn when to look beyond stats. For example, here
are some stats from the 2012 NFL season:

*The Chiefs were 5th in
*The Eagles were 13th in passing offense.
*Detroit was No. 17 in
scoring offense.
*The Broncos were No. 2 in totals yards allowed.
Bears ranked No. 10 in rushing offense.
*The Raiders were 8th in passing on
*Arizona ranked 5th in pass defense.
*The Eagles ranked 9th in
pass defense.
*The Jets ranked No. 8 in total yards

Now, all of those 2012 stats are true. However, they
don’t tell the real story about a football team’s strengths, either. For
instance, the Raiders had impressive passing yards and total offense, but were
they really a good offensive team when you watched them? QBs Carson Palmer (22
TDs, 14 INTs) was average and has clearly lost a step because of age and
injuries. If he was so good why did they send him to Arizona in the
The Oakland defense was terrible, 20th against the pass, 18th
against the run with no pass rush, so the passing offense but up yards because
they were behind often in a 4-12 campaign. Overall, it is hard picture the
Raiders as a Top 10 offense in anything despite what the overall stats might
Stat-wise Kansas City was great at rushing the football only
because they couldn’t do anything else on offense. They ranked dead last in
passing and points, a mind boggling 13.2 ppg in 2012.
Denver ranked second
in the NFL in total defense, but that was a bit misleading as they had an easy
schedule.  They only lost four games, but gave up 27 in a loss at Atlanta, a
31-21 loss at New England, a 31-25 home loss to Houston and then the playoff
collapse to the Ravens giving up 38 points, so how good was this defense really?
Denver is on a 7-2-1 run over the total after going 11-5-1 over.
ranked 10th in rushing offense, but that was a bit misleading, too. They changed
their offensive strategy in 2012 determined to run the football because a weak
offensive line had got QB Jay Cutler killed in 2011.The Bears could also be
patient and rely on the ground game more because the defense was so stout,
keeping them in games. You can forget about that style in 2013 with new Coach
Mark Trestman, a pass-happy guy out of the CFL. He twice coordinated the No. 1
NFL passing offense (49ers in 1995, Raiders in 2002).
The Lions were a
disappointing 17th in scoring last year, but they had no problems moving the
football, ranked third in the NFL in total yards.  QB Matt Stafford (20 TDs, 17
INTs, 4,967 yards) had plenty of yards but few TDs. Remember that in 2011 he had
41 TDs, 16, and 5,038 yards passing on the fifth ranked offense that averaged
29.6 ppg (fourth). Will the real Lions’ offense please stand up?
defense, it’s difficult to believe that the Eagles had the No. 9 ranked pass
defense but they did. The run defense was terrible (23rd) and they allowed 27.8
ppg — only the Jags, Saints and Titans gave up more points.
At least the
Philly passing game was solid, ranked 13th in the NFL. Well, no…Three QBs
combined for 18 TDs and 15 picks and they were sacked 48 times behind an awful
offensive line.
The circus that was Rex Ryan and the NY Jets ended up
ranked No. 8 in yards allowed, No. 2 in passing yards allowed despite missing
star CB Darrelle Revis. Pretty solid defense, right? Again, misleading stats as
the Jets couldn’t stop the run allowing 133.6 yards per game (26th) and with the
offense so anemic opponents didn’t have to go uptempo and put up yards or
points. They could sit back and wait for the Jets to turn it over and give them
great field position.
Successful handicappers dig deep and weigh all the
strengths and weaknesses before heading to the betting window. All of which is
needed when searching for winning football picks each week.

Written by Jim Fiest of

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