Is There A Correlation Between Winning ATS & Turnover Differential?

Kevin Stott

Monday, August 22, 2016 9:04 PM UTC

Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 9:04 PM UTC

Let’s take our annual Preseason look at all NFL teams ranked by their ATS records combined with the Give-Take Differentials from the 2015/16 and look at the correlation between having a positive TO margin and winning, and provide a couple of related picks.

Who Did Best, Worst ATS in NFL in 2015/16 & Was There a Turnovers Correlation?
Last season, there was a very strong correlation between Turnover Differential—more accurately the Takeaway-Giveaway Stats—and being not only a winning team overall (Straight Up) but also in making bettors money and covering Against The Pointspread (ATS). Once again, some small truths are revealed by these numbers and when comparing the perceived rankings from 2014 and 2015 with the 32 teams in the NFL, some of the usual suspects are again near the bottom and the top of these rankings—and that’s where the money is most likely to be won ATS. Betting on the teams who have proven they can cover as well as create TOs and to bet against the Rats who lose the pigskin, and consequently, often cover ATS less than other teams in the league. And maybe the perfect example of what sometimes is a wonderful mathematical correlation is the strange reality in 2015/16 how the Tampa Bay BuccaneersSan Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles all ended up at -5 Takeaways and all three tied at 22nd in the Give-Take rankings from last year in the NFL and also with identical 7-9 ATS records. Like poetry.

The NFC team which fared the best in this correlation last year were the Carolina Panthers and QB Cam Newton (8/1 to be NFL MVP, Bovada) who led the NFL with a +20 Take-Give total—more than +1 a game for 19 total games for the NFC champions—while the AFC team with the best numbers was the Cincinnati Bengals and QB Carson Palmer (16/1 to be NFL MVP, Bovada) who had a +11 Give-Take mark last season (2nd best in NFL) and who went and impressive 12-3-2 ATS (80%) in all games including the Postseason. And the NFC team which had the worst numbers last season was the Dallas Cowboys, who had to deal with an injury to QB Tony Romo (40/1 to be NFL MVP, GTBets) and which went an abysmal 4-11-1 ATS (26.7%) and easily finished the worst in the NFL in Take-Give with an ugly -22 (11 Takeaways - 33 Giveaways) after getting just 11 total TOs in 16 Regular Season games. Yo Cowpoke players: The football itself is everything fellas. Practice wanting it. And bringing up the rear in the AFC, was Rookie QB Marcus Mariota (25/1 to be NFL MVP, Bovada) and the Tennessee Titans who, like the Cowboys, went 4-11-1 ATS but gave away the football eight less times with a -14 Give-Take total when all was said and done (19 Takeaways - 33 Giveaways).

So this correlation can be quite obvious and used properly in sportsbooks if one gauges the right teams and backs—or fades them—consistently through the season. Let’s see how the numbers fell last season (in all Regular and Postseason games) and then talk above some of the quirkier realities exposed by the data from a very weird season which saw a beat-up, old Quarterback (then 39-year-old Peyton Manning) make more poor decisions and give the Football away more than most QB’s in recent memory while on the playing field on a team that just couldn’t score TD’s and with a crappy Give-Take total (-4), yet the Denver Broncos and Super Bowl MVP and LB Von Miller (100/1 to be NFL MVP, Bovada) somehow found a way to make the Broncos Defense so strong that the Offensive inadequacies and embarrassments didn’t even end up mattering in the end in and which saw the NFL championship decided in a game (Super Bowl 50) where the football sat helplessly on the turf for a second with one of the participants just looking at the ball. You gotta want it, man. The football is everything.


2015 NFL ATS Records (All Games) and TO +/- Rankings (Takeaway - Giveaway)
1—Carolina Panthers (ATS: 13-6, 68.4% — TO Rank: #1, TO Margin: +20 (39T - 19G)
2—Cincinnati Bengals (ATS: 12-3-2, 80% — TO Rank: #3, TO Margin: +11 (29T - 18G)
3—Minnesota Vikings (ATS: 14-3, 82.2% — TO Rank: #10T, TO Margin: +5 (26T - 21G)
4—Green Bay Packers (ATS: 11-7-0, 61.1% — TO Rank: #6T, TO Margin: +6 (27T - 13G)
5—New York Jets (ATS: 8-6-2, 57.1% — TO Rank: #10T, TO Margin: +5 (22T -17G)
6—Buffalo Bills (ATS: 8-7-1, 53.3% — TO Rank: #6T, TO Margin: +6 (25T - 19G)
6—New York Giants (ATS: 8-7-1, 53.3% — TO Rank: #20, #6T, TO Margin: +6 (27T - 21G)
8—Washington Redskins (ATS: 8-7-1, 53.3% — TO Rank: #10T, TO Margin: +5 (25T - 20G)
9—Houston Texans (ATS: 9-8-0, 52.9% — TO Rank: #10T, TO Margin: +5 (25T - 20G)
10—Pittsburgh Steelers (ATS: 9-6-3 60% — TO Rank: #15T, TO Margin: +2 (30 - 28G)
11—Kansas City Chiefs (ATS: 9-9-0, 50% — TO Rank: #2, TO Margin: +15 (29T - 14G)
12—Arizona Cardinals (ATS: 9-9-0, 50%, — TO Rank: #4, TO Margin +9 (33 T - 24 G)
13—New England Patriots (ATS: 8-8-2, 50% — TO Rank: #5, TO Margin: +7 (21T - 14G)
14—New Orleans Saints (ATS: 8-7-1, 53.3% — TO Rank: #20T, TO Margin: +2 (22T - 20 G)
15—Denver Broncos (ATS: 10-8-1, 55.6% — TO Rank: #19T, TO Margin: -4 (27T - 31G)
16—Seattle Seahawks (ATS: 8-9-1, 47.1% — TO Rank: #6T, TO Margin: +6 (22T - 16G)
17—Los Angeles Rams (ATS: 7-8-1, 46.7% — TO Rank: #10, TO Margin: +5 (26T - 22G)
18—Oakland Raiders (ATS: 8-8-0, 50% — TO Rank: #17, TO Margin: +1 (25T - 24G)
19—Chicago Bears (ATS: 8-8-0, 50% — TO Rank: #19T, TO Margin: -4 (17T - 21G)
19—San Diego Chargers (ATS: 8-8, 50% — TO Rank: #19T, TO Margin: -4 (20T - 24G)
21—Indianapolis Colts (ATS: 8-8-0, 50% — TO Rank: #22T, TO Margin: -5 (25T - 30G)
22—Tampa Bay Bucs (ATS: 7-9-0, 43.8% — TO Rank: #22T , TO Margin: -5 (23T - 28G)
22—San Francisco 49ers (ATS: 7-9-0, 43.8% — TO Rank: #22T, TO Margin: -5 (12T - 17G)
22—Philadelphia Eagles (ATS: 7-9-0, 43.8% — TO Rank: #22T, TO Margin: -5 (26T - 31G)
25—Detroit Lions (ATS: 7-9-0, 43.8% — TO Rank: #26, TO Margin: -6 (18T - 24G)
26—Jacksonville Jaguars (ATS: 7-8-1, 46.7% — TO Rank: #29, TO Margin: -10 (18T - 28G)
27—Miami Dolphins (ATS: 5-11, 31.2% — TO Rank: #18, TO Margin: -3 (16T - 19G)
28—Atlanta Falcons (ATS: 6-10-0, 37.5% — TO Rank: #27, TO Margin: -7 (23T - 30G)
29—Cleveland Browns (ATS: 6-10-0, 37.5% — TO Rank: #28, TO Margin: -9 (21T - 30G)
30—Baltimore Ravens (ATS: 5-9-2, 35.7% — TO Rank: #30T, TO Margin: -14 (14T - 28G)
31—Tennessee Titans (ATS: 4-11-1, 26.7% — TO Rank: T#30, TO Margin: -14 (19T - 3328G)
32—Dallas Cowboys (ATS: 4-11-1, 26.7% ATS — TO Rank: #32, TO Margin: -22 (11T - 22G)

> Rankings compiled with 2015 Regular Season ATS records having precedence, then TO +/-


Conclusion: The Power of Possession of the Pigskin and Simple Stories Revealed by the Numbers
Looking at these numbers left me with several questions which sort of tell the tale of these teams and may be used as ammunition in the coming 2016 NFL Regular Season should some of these NFL teams continue to either get Fumbles and Interceptions when they can, or to give up the football consistently as some teams like the aforementioned Titans (combined -24 TO L2 seasons, (8-23-1 ATS, 25.8%) and their AFC South counterpart, the Jacksonville Jaguars (combined -16 TO L2 seasons, 13-18-1 ATS, 41.9%) have shown to be prone to do these L2 seasons. So which NFL team showed the most improvement in this area and correlation from 2014 to 2015? It has to be those Bengals again, who went 8-7-1 ATS after finishing dead even (+0) in Take-Give in 2015 and then improving to an extremely profitable 12-3-2 ATS (80%) after increasing their Take-Give to a +11 last season—the second-best mark in the NFL. 

And which NFL team fell the most? Probably the lowly Cleveland Browns (Regular Season Team Win Total 4½, Over -150, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) who went a profitable 9-5-2 ATS in 2014 after a +6 Give-Take (TO) Regular Season, then losing the football 9 times more then they got it in 2015 to help them finish at 6-10 ATS (35.7%). So if you blindly faded the Browns last season, you won 64.3% of the time. Expect more suck from this team this year.

And what big-name NFL teams do these numbers say are somewhat overrated in name (and maybe even number) value? How ‘bout Andrew Luck (12/1 to be NFL MVP ,Bovada) of the Indianapolis Colts and Ben Roethlisberger (+750 to be NFL MVP, Bovada) and the Pittsburgh Steelers over in the AFC? Over the L2 seasons, the Horseshoes have gone a combined 19-13 ATS yet have had pathetic -5 TO (Take-Give) numbers while the Black and Gold and Head Coach Mike Tomlin (76-74-5 ATS) have gone 18-13-3 ATS, yet have just a total +2 TO margin. So that’s an average of just +1 TO a season for Pittsburgh and a huge reason why the Steelers aren’t as dominant as the team’s storied history and team nickname makes the vast majority of the General Public perceive. And who should be better overall because of their TO Stats but hasn’t been? That has to be Larry Fitzgerald (300/1 to be NFL MVP, Bovada), David Johnson (75/1 to be NFL MVP ,Bovada) and the Arizona Cardinals, with a healthy +17 Take-Give ledger over the L2 seasons, a nice 20-14 combined ATS mark but no trips to the Super Bowl. 

And maybe one team to look to improve in the big scheme of things after having a horrific TO Margin season last season is Joe Flacco (100/1 to be NFL MVP, Bovada) and the Baltimore Ravens who had been an ugly -14 in Turnover Differential (14 Takeaways - 28 Giveaways) in 2015—while suffering many Injuries and losing several key players to Free Agency in the Offseason—after going 7-8-1 ATS and finishing at a +2 TO margin in 2014/15. With a good Head Coach in John Harbaugh (74-63-6 TS) and a wise QB in Delaware product Flacco, if Baltimore can play better Defense and endure fewer Injuries, it may be a team on the upswing both in the Standings and at the betting windows. But creating, and more importantly, getting the football on Turnovers will play a huge part in any improvement.


TO DIFFERENTIAL RELATED NFL WEEK 1 PICKS: Vikings -3 -125 over Titans, Eagles -6 over Browns at BetDSI
TO DIFFERENTIAL RELATED NFL FUTURES BOOK PICK: Dallas Cowboys Season Team Win Total Under 9½ -130 at Bovada


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