NFL Situation Spotlight #76 – Teams with a Big Pass Yardage % For (BPY%F) > 50%

When an NFL team takes the field on offense, their goal is simple: gain enough yards on each play as to set up an eventual 1st down, thereby moving the chains and starting the whole process over again, until either a field-goal, or preferably a touch-down, is put up on the scoreboard.

First-downs can be achieved in many different ways of course; either through the air, or on the ground; via the big-play, or by using a more conservative approach that involves more short-yardage conversions in 3rd-down situations.

Regardless of whether a team is built around speedy Pro-Bowl receivers that shred an opponents defense for long gains or they take a more traditional route, involving up-the-middle ‘smash-mouth’ runs with a mix of short-yardage pass attempts thrown in for good measure–all coaching staffs will use the players they have on the field and their accompanying skill sets in the best possible manner to get that next first down, or score.

The important question for those of us looking to beat the Vegas Point spread is: are there certain styles of offense that in the right situations, cover the spread at a higher rate than others?

The answer is yes and this article will briefly explore one style of offense that has produced some very good results against the spread over the past 7 years when a certain statistical bench-mark is achieved.

The particular style of offense I am talking about involves teams that produce a high percentage of big pass play yardage as part of their overall yardage gained by throwing the football.

My official label for this stat is BPY%F (Big Pass Yardage Percentage For) and it is a measurement of the percentage of total team passing yards that were gained from passing plays of 20 or more yards.

Dallas led the league in this category in 2007. 42.5% of the Cowboys passing yardage for the season came on plays of >= 20 yards. Green Bay and San Diego rounded out the top 3. The league average for BPY%F has typically been around 40% in most years over the past decade, but this fell to 37.5% in 2007.

It was actually a good year versus the spread for teams that rely on the deep ball: The top 8 teams in the league for BPY%F were a combined 75-45 ATS and none of the 8 had an ATS record under .500. Conversely, the bottom 8, led by Baltimore’s brutal pass attack (they had a BPY%F of only 25.5%) were a dismal 50-74 ATS.

These interesting results have not played out in a consistent manner over the past 7 years; however, and in some years, teams with a high BPY%F have only been mediocre against the number overall while those at the bottom end of the scale have been closer to .500 ATS.

When we look at teams entering a game with an extremely high BPY%F (greater than 50%); though, a consistent pattern does begin to emerge.

Since 2001–which is when I began to track BPY–teams have been an excellent 145-119 (54.9%) ATS when entering a game with a BPY%F of greater than 50% on the season.

Teams that have this large a percentage of big pass play yards are normally only seen in the first 6-7 weeks of the season, before a mounting number of pass attempts begin to reduce BPY%F to a more normal level, league wide. That’s not to say that some teams have not carried a 50% level all the way to season’s end (Philadelphia from 2006 is a good example, they had a BPY%F well over 50 at the end of that season) only that, this situation does predominantly play on teams that are extremely efficient with the deep-pass right out of the gate.

What we have here is good so far, but, there is one more primary condition that needs to be added to this situation before things really begin to take shape and it involves how ‘game-ready’ the opponent of our focus team happens to be, at this early stage of the season.

Here is the meat of this situation: I have found that teams with a Big Pass Yardage Percentage > 50%, playing a team with a Play Book Execution Penalty per-game average against (PBEPA) of 1.3 or greater are a very strong 56-20 (73.7%) ATS since 2001, for a profit of $3,400.00 when wagering $110 to win back $100.

What are Play Book Execution penalties you might be ready to ask? For those who have not read my NFL Game Sheets Guide, I categorize penalties under a total of 6 different headings and this particular category involves calls such as: Illegal Procedures, Formations, Shifts, Motion, Participation, Snaps and Substitutions; Intentional Grounding; Delay of Game; 12 Men on the Field; Ineligible Receivers, and so on–essentially those flags generated by the break-down of play-calls, mostly on offense. The league average for PBEP’s is normally around 0.7 calls per game (on each team).

It’s a category of penalties that act as a good yardstick for measuring the quality of a team’s coaching staff and also provides an indication if players are being used in schemes where they are comfortable and have the necessary skills to succeed.

Combining a team that is having great success with the deep ball early in the season, with a team that is perhaps at the other end of the spectrum in regards to ‘preparedness’ and offensive efficiency and creativity, creates line value that the astute bettor can exploit.

In addition to the main conditions described above, there are a few secondary conditions that serve to tighten the record of this trend.

Firstly, any games with an Over/Under of greater than 48 are excluded and our focus team must also be coming off a game in which their Time of Possession was 23 minutes or greater (TOPF is an excellent barometer of the overall health of a team, both on offense and defense).

In addition, teams that are coming off back-to-back SU wins of >= 14 points are also excluded as they are more likely to be either overvalued, or at risk for a let-down in the current game.

Lastly, teams that met their current opponent either earlier in the season, or anytime within the previous 2 seasons, and had a turn-over differential (TOD) of Primary Conditions (Building Blocks)

1) Big Pass Yardage % For (BPY%F) > 50%.

2) Opponent’s Play Book Execution Penalty Average Against (PBEPA) > 1.3.

Secondary Conditions (Tighteners)

1) Exclude Over/Under (OU) >= 48.

2) Exclude Time of Possession For (TOPF) in Last Game of = 14 points in Last 2 Games.

4) Exclude Turn-over Differential (TOD) Situation Stats

ASMR: +0.8

Home%: 55.4

Dog%: 42.9

TDIS%: 65.6

WT%: 75.0

SPR: -0.40

Top Teams: PIT(7); ATL(6); CAR(4); CLE(5)

Situation Records

Overall (Since ’01): 48-6 ATS

2007 Season: 6-1 ATS

2006 Season: 9-0 ATS

2005 Season: 15-1 ATS

2004 Season: 11-1 ATS

Last 3 Results. Pick in Brackets.

2007 WK6–CLE 41 MIA 31 (CLE -4.5) W

2007 WK5–WAS 34 DET 3 (WAS -3.5) W

2007 WK4–IND 38 DEN 20 (IND -9.5) W