Handicapping Football - Factors To Consider
With the football season rapidly approaching I thought it would be a good time to look at some factors that I use when handicapping a football game. There are many different approaches to take, but I like to focus on the stats a team has had in the past and see how they compare to the team they are going to face. We can not predict the future with 100% certainty but if we know how a team has produced in the past it will give us a basis for what to expect in the future. Here are the some of the factors that I consider when comparing teams.
1) The stat that I use the most is Yards per Rush (YPR). This is a great stat because a team can have a lot of rushing yards but it may be because all they do is run. This is a stat that is important both offensively and defensively because if you can stop the run it greatly improves your chance of winning. I like to take this stat a bit farther than just the usual YPR number and compare it to how a team's YPR is compared to what their combined opponents have been averaging. For example, if a team is averaging 3.8 YPR against teams that average giving up 3.4 YPR then the they are actually .4 YPR better than average. If they are averaging 3.8 YPR against teams that average 4.2 YPR they are .4 YPR worse than average so the same stat can be misleading. I like to compare a teams offensive YPR to their opponents defensive YPR, if there is a difference of 1 YPR then you would assume that they should have great success running the football. Letís look at an example:
Colorado - offensive YPR 4.6 vs teams that average 4.2 YPR
Missouri - defensive YPR 4.4 vs teams that average 3.6 YPR
In this example, Colorado is .4 YPR better than the average of the opponents they faced. Missouri's defense does not stop the running game well and is giving up .8 YPR more than their opponentís average so the difference is 1.2 YPR. This would indicate that Colorado should be able to run the ball very successfully and have a great chance of success in this matchup.
After deciding who has the advantage in the running game I take a look at the line for the game. If the team that I think is the better running team is an underdog, I would strongly consider making a play on that team.
2) Another stat that I use is Yards per Point (YPP). This is a stat that will tell you how efficient a team is. To figure this stat just take the total number of points a team has scored and divide by the number of total yards they have. This will give you their offensive YPP. To calculate their defensive YPP, take the number of points allowed divided by the total yards they have given up. The thing you want to look for here is an offensive YPP that is low and a defensive YPP that is high.
3) The last thing I would like to discuss is power ratings. There are many sources out there that have a good list of power ratings. I think this is great way to see who has been playing well and getting a read on that team. If you have the capability of forming your own power ratings that is great, but if you are not a computer programmer there are certainly many places on the internet where you can find a good set of ratings.
There are many other factors to consider when making a wager on a football game but these 3 things will give you a great place to start! The most important thing to remember is to have fun and not bet over your head! Good luck in the upcoming football season!