5 Stats to Handicap Better During Second Half of NFL Season

profile image of Jason.Lake
Head coach Mike McDaniel of the Miami Dolphins high fives Xavien Howard #25 and Tua Tagovailoa #1 prior to the game against the Chicago Bears. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP.

This has been one of the greatest NFL betting seasons of all time. Now that the doors to the gambling arena have been thrown wide open, the market behind those gates is bursting at the seams with new bettors, most of them looking for a fun way to zazz up their football, nothing serious, just a few bucks here and there on their favorite teams and players.

Then you have those of us who would really like to win some money. Making NFL picks these past two months has been like taking candy from a baby, except the baby is willingly handing it over to you. Alas, the boom times can’t last forever.

We’re halfway through the 2022 regular season now, and the potential profit margins on the NFL odds board have already started to shrink. You’ll need to use a bit more brainpower if you want to keep bringing in that cheddar.

So let’s get those axons fired up with a closer look at five football statistics that you should definitely consider using if you aren’t already, and if you are, maybe you could be using them more efficiently.

PLAY NOW: $25,000 Free-To-Play NFL Contest BMR’s 2022 Pick’Em Pool With Weekly Prizes

1. DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average)

Speaking of efficiency, we start with the gold standard of analytics, the free-to-use kind, that is. Football Outsiders have yet to put a full paywall around their weekly DVOA charts, which rank the league’s 32 teams based on their performance levels, as measured using efficiency-based advanced stats.

This gives us a very useful set of power rankings to work with, but don’t stop there. DVOA can also be used to assess individual players at various positions, which will help you immensely when you’re betting NFL props.

For example, noodle arm or not, Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa leads the league in passing DVOA heading into Week 10. This helps us see past Tagovailoa’s one glaring weakness and appreciate the things he does right, things that casual fans may not appreciate just yet.

2. SRS (Simple Rating System)

Pro Football Reference is absolutely the place to go for the full range of free NFL stats (and AFL stats, and even AAFC stats) from the dawn of football. They’ve got their own power rankings, too, and they even assign each team a certain number of points per game above or below the average team.

There’s a reason it’s called the Simple Rating System, though. All they’re using for this stat is margin of victory for each team, which then gets massaged by looking at their relative strength of schedule, also using SRS to come up with that number.

As tempting as it is to just compare the SRS figures for two teams playing each other, and add somewhere around two points for home-field advantage to come up with a projected point spread, these figures only start to become really useful once you’re deeper into the season. Like, maybe right around now.

3. Yards Per Carry

Even before the analytics nerds got their hands on football, we had efficiency-based stats to look at. Yards per carry is a great way to quickly separate the really good running backs from the one-dimensional bell cows, who are just racking up the yards through sheer volume.

Case in point: Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard. He’s only No. 19 in the league with 506 rushing yards, but Pollard splits carries with Ezekiel Elliott (443 yards, No. 24). Look instead at Pollard’s 6.2 yards per carry, which ranks first among tailbacks. That’s some elite running right there.

4. Sack Rate

Measuring defensive performance is hard. Sacks as an official statistic have only been around since 1982, and they’re useful, but like yards rushing, it’s more valuable to measure these instances on a per-play basis.

Pro Football Reference has a stat called Sack Rate that takes the number of times a quarterback gets sacked, then divides that by the sum of passing attempts and times sacked.

Thanks to this stat, we know that while Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields (33 sacks) has been jacked up more than anyone else, Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert (2.77% sack rate) is the one who’s in the most peril on passing downs.

5. ATS/Total Records by Month

Lastly, since we’re getting into the winter months now, it’s a good idea to take a more granular look at each team’s ATS and over/under records.

Some teams perform better outdoors in the cold than others. For example, the Green Bay Packers are 20-10 ATS at home in December dating back to 2008.

Bundle up, Cheeseheads, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.