Increase Accuracy in NFL Picks ATS with Turnover Margin Data

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, December 11, 2014 7:30 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 7:30 PM GMT

Regardless of how much hard work you put into analyzing NFL games, there is no statistic that leads to ATS success and failure more than a team’s TO margin in a particular game.  

Each year at this time, I author this article which shows the correlation between a team’s TO margin and their record. Consider that, once again this year, any NFL team who has a +3 or more net TO margin against their opponent in a given game is 32-3 (91%) ATS.  Combining it with records for the previous 5 years, we find that the long-term record is now 209-19 (92%) ATS for any NFL team with a +3 or more net TO margin in a game.  In addition, teams with a +2 net TO margin in a given game approaches 80% ATS success, while even a +1 net TO margin results in over 65% ATS success.  The bottom line is that regardless of a handicapper’s expertise in forming NFL picks based on a fundamental, statistical, situational or technical perspective, the results are still most closely hinged on net TO margin.  The chart below shows us the degree to which this is true for NFL teams based on their YTD net TO margin.  The teams are listed from the team with the greatest positive net TO margin to the team with the greatest negative net TO margin.  The results, as isolated below, are painfully clear.

TEAM

Net TO Margin

SU YTD

ATS YTD

GREEN BAY

+16

10-3

6-6

HOUSTON

+12

7-6

8-5

ARIZONA

+10

10-3

9-4

NEW ENGLAND

+10

10-3

8-5

SEATTLE

+9

9-4

8-5

CLEVELAND

+9

7-6

8-5

BUFFALO

+9

7-6

7-6

DETROIT

+6

9-4

7-6

ATLANTA

+5

5-8

7-6

ST. LOUIS

+5

6-7

8-5

MIAMI

+4

7-6

7-5

DENVER

+4

10-3

6-6

SAN FRANCISCO

+3

7-6

5-8

BALTIMORE

+2

8-5

8-5

MINNESOTA

+1

6-7

8-5

DALLAS

+1

9-4

7-6

SAN DIEGO

-1

8-5

6-7

CAROLINA

-1

4-8

5-8

PITTSBURGH

-2

8-5

6-7

CINCINNATI

-3

8-4

6-7

INDIANAPOLIS

-4

9-4

9-3

KANSAS CITY

-4

7-6

8-5

NY GIANTS

-5

4-9

5-8

CHICAGO

-6

5-8

5-8

PHILADELPHIA

-6

9-4

7-6

JACKSONVILLE

-8

2-11

4-9

TENNESSEE

-8

2-11

3-10

TAMPA BAY

-8

2-11

4-9

NEW ORLEANS

-9

5-8

5-8

WASHINGTON

-9

3-10

4-9

NY JETS

-12

2-11

4-8

OAKLAND

-17

2-11

4-8

     

Conclusions
You certainly don’t need an advanced degree in handicapping to draw a conclusion from this chart.  Teams with a +9 or more TO margin for the year, are all winning teams with a combined record of 60-31 SU.  And, it is no surprise that all of these teams are .500 or better against the spread with a pointspread record of 54-36 ATS (60%) against the opening line.   Moving to the other end of the spectrum finds results to be even more dramatic.  The 7 teams with a negative TO margin of -8 or more are just 18-73 SU and 28-61 ATS (31%) against the opening line.  The 18 teams in the middle with net TO margins ranging from +6 to -6 are a combined 130-103 SU and 120-111 ATS.  These results clearly support the fact that the teams with the greater net TO margin produce the greatest profit in a season, with the reverse being true.

In a continuing search for NFL value and based on the above results, consider the following reversals to possibly take place.

Despite positive TO margins and a combined winning NFL odds pointspread mark of 23-16 ATS, Atlanta (5-8 SU), St. Louis (6-7 SU) and Minnesota (6-7 SU) all have losing records.  Their fate may not be as positive in the remaining 3 games of the season.

At the other end of the spectrum, consider that 4 winning teams, Pittsburgh (8-5 SU), Indianapolis (9-4 SU), Kansas City (7-6 SU) and Philly (9-4 SU) have all crafted winning marks despite being a combined -16 in net TO margin.  Expect good things in the ATS column, if their TO margin does indeed improve. 

In the meantime, just remember that the first thing to check when your well-handicapped NFL selection does not meet your expectations, is the TO column. 

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