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

What’s Your Magic Number?

The most successful businesses — and certainly, sales departments — have identified their Key Performance Indicators (KPI); individual gateways that directly effect the outcome of a particular process. Then they measure the competency ratios in line with them.

Have you identified the KPIs in your sales process?

A good KPI example in the sales process might be how many times you advance the first sales appointment to the next phase, whether that’s a demonstration, a site visit, a survey or a proposal. Another KPI is how many times you gain a new customer once the first gateway is passed. And when you do gain a new customer, what’s the average revenue you achieve? That’s certainly an important KPI. Because if your average revenue per sale is 40% less than the average peer KPI, you might want to find out why and take focused action to improve it, as you’re leaving money on the table.

And what about the length of a sales cycle in days? Is that conditional or do you have a degree of control over it? If you have a team member that has an average sales cycle 30% shorter than the peer group, uncover and assimilate those best practices out to the rest of the sales team. Less time, more results. That makes ‘Sales Cycle’ a valuable KPI.

On a practical level, KPIs can provide management prospect reactions to their service offering for feedback to marketing and product development, detect problem areas in sales performance and signal the need for strategic or tactical modifications — even an all-out intervention through pinpoint sales performance training.

Perhaps the most overlooked KPI is the individual ‘Magic number’; how many new weekly sales opportunities must be generated based on neighboring KPI’s. Think of the magic number as the fuel in your gas tank needed to get from point A to point B. It’s directly proportional to how far a distance, how fast you drive and your average miles per gallon. Your sales process ‘Magic number’ is a derivative of your average revenue per sale, 1st appointment to proposal ratio, closing ratio and revenue goal. It’s your ‘Activity barometer’ and it should be at 100%.

The following are some tips for improving several sales process KPI’s.

If your current 1st Appointment to Proposal ratio is below 65%:

1. Internally define what your ‘Next step’ objective of the 1st appointment is; a demo, a site visit, a survey or a proposal. Then train to a process and measure the outcome.

2. Decide to start at the ‘Top’ with the fiscal authority that can ‘Call the shots’.

3. Avoid ‘Selling’ your product on the 1st appointment. Instead, outline your diagnostic steps to evaluate the fit between your solutions parallel to their business objectives.

If your current Closing ratio is below 65%:

1. Ask pertinent questions to what the Prospect Company’s decision-making process is, what the internal criteria for change is and what players need to be involved for evaluation.

2. Communicate a timeline and set a specific date for the 2nd appointment before leaving the 1st appointment. Encourage that all management players be present at the next appointment.

3. Catalog risk factors for each management player and develop strategies, tactics, and tools for direct communication to them.

4. Have relevant industry and title reference letters available for ‘Real-time’ credibility.

If your current ‘Activity barometer’ is below 100%:

1. Announce the Competency of converting conversations to appointments as a Key performance Indicator for sales success.

2. Define an appointment setting training objective and set a realistic goal.

3. Develop a training process in line with prospecting scenarios and best practice communications.

4. Don’t sell your ‘Widget’; sell the Business reason to meet.

5. Partner with technology to transfer best prospecting practices into ‘Intellectual capital’ promotion throughout your sales society.

Ultimately, sales trainers and management should work in concert to create a new culture by replacing random sales routines with specific KPI competency training.

Targeted and timely KPI training can make a critical difference to your monthly revenue scorecard. In today’s high sales performance culture migrate away from monthly and quarterly ‘Quota’ focus to daily routines and weekly goals. The opportunity rests squarely on switching paradigms from the required ‘End result’ to the necessary steps (KPIs) to get there routinely. Then build supporting tools for learning and application.

And don’t forget your ‘Magic Number’.

How to Build Organizational Trust That Boosts the Bottom Line

The purpose of communicating with employees is to share information to influence behavior, drive engagement and achieve business goals. But what if employees distrust the source of that information–or the information itself? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening in today’s business world.

In fact, according to research from Watson Wyatt, only 39 percent of employees say they trust senior management, and a mere 45 percent say they have confidence in their management’s abilities.

As professional communicators, it’s up to us to start building trust in our organizations. While that trust must start on a personal level, there are also things we can–and should–be doing to help build trust at the organizational level.

Here are five strategies to help you do that.

1. Start sharing more information. Research from CHA, a U.K.-based consultancy, found that 90 percent of employees who are kept fully informed are motivated to deliver added value by staying with a company longer and working harder, while 80 percent of those who are kept in the dark are not. As communicators, it’s our job to encourage our executives to share information more frequently and more openly.

2. Do a trust-based communications audit. Take a look back at all communications with employees (or any stakeholder group for that matter) over the last six months. Include e-mails from top executives, intranet postings, newsletters and so on. Then evaluate those communications for their openness and honesty. Look at whether or not any commitments were made in those communications–and if those commitments were kept. Finally, determine if there was consistency in messaging across each platform. Is your organization speaking with one voice? Or are you sending mixed signals?

3. Conduct a trust-based risk assessment. When it comes to trust, it’s much more difficult to rebuild it than it is to maintain it. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive. Start by looking across your organization and pinpointing all of the touch points with your key stakeholder groups–employees and retirees, analysts and investors, media, customers and so on. Then identify the areas that are either (a) most vulnerable to a breach of trust or (b) would cause the most damage to your reputation if there was a breach of trust.

For example, an organization that has hundreds of customer service representatives taking calls 24-hours per day faces the risk that any one of those representatives could breach a customer’s trust at any moment. Just look at the damage that was caused to AOL when a customer (who also happened to be a blogger) recorded a call with one of the company’s customer service representatives when he tried to cancel his service. (If you haven’t already seen it, check out the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmpDSBAh6RY)

When it comes to breaching an employee’s trust, the most risk is likely posed by his or her direct supervisor. Failure on the supervisor’s part to tell the truth or follow through on commitments could do irreparable damage to the trust he or she has established with that employee.

4. Create SOPs for any major risks. Once the highest threats for a potential breach of trust are identified, you need to develop a risk mitigation plan. In the situation above, for example, you might offer additional training to customer service representatives that includes an overview on how social media tools like YouTube and mySpace are making it all the more important to provide excellent service on each and every call. Or you may offer workshops for managers that help build their leadership skills with an emphasis on building and maintaining trust with their direct reports.

Even with a risk mitigation plan, however, you still need to be prepared for the inevitable breach of trust. But how quickly and effectively your organization responds can make all the difference in whether the hit to your reputation is a mere chip in the armor or a devastating blow.

5. Start a dialogue about trust with your executive team. Once you’ve conducted a communications audit, completed a risk assessment and developed a preliminary response plan, it’s time to start a dialogue with your executive team about the importance of building trust with all key stakeholder groups. There is a tremendous amount of research (including the 2008 Edelman Trust Barometer highlighted in this issue) that provides concrete evidence of the low trust epidemic and how it’s affecting (among other things) employee engagement, customer loyalty and financial performance.

(c) Bon Mot Communications 2008