With the 2023 NFL regular season schedule now released, bettors have ramped up their activity with offseason futures wagering options. Season-win props for all 32 teams have been released as well as game-by-game lines and totals. Typically, there aren’t any obvious misses by oddsmakers regarding these wagering options, as those would have been immediately attacked hard and modified. With that said, one of the best ways to gain an advantage over the house on these options is to use stats from the prior season that have historically been very reliable for predicting the teams that are due to improve or decline.
Last week, I analyzed the impact that close or blowout wins and losses in one season had on a team’s prospects for the next. This is the follow-up piece to my annual Changeover Systems series. I reminded readers of how powerful this type of analysis can be. For proof, simply look at the drops by teams like the Raiders, Buccaneers, and Cardinals, while also analyzing the emergence of the Vikings, Giants and Seahawks in 2022.
I have always believed the NFL is unlike any other sporting league in that teams can make quick definitive turnarounds from year to year, both positively & negatively. First-to-worst and worst-to-first are not unusual terms, and you can see seasons where more than half of the teams that qualify for the playoffs are different from the prior campaign. I believe this parity is one of the contributing factors to the league’s popularity.
There are also three “C’s” that can factor into sudden change as well. The first is Coaching, either by a change to a new guy or from improvement by the current man. The second is Confidence, which can quickly transform after a solid offseason and/or the first couple of good regular season games. The third is Cohesiveness, and this can also be impacted rather quickly with the addition or departure of certain personnel.
There are certain statistical indicators that a team exhibits in one season that can illustrate how close they are to changing the status of those three C’s and eventually, their fortunes the next season. You will find more of that key data below. Read through these findings, combine them with what we already learned a week ago, any coaching or free agent transactions each team made, as well as their draft results, and then head to the betting window. I will share my conclusions for season win totals next week when I wrap up my NFL off-season studies.
Systems of teams that had a negative turnover differential the prior season
- Since 2009, there have been 38 teams that had a negative turnover differential and won less than six games against the spread. All BUT TWO of those improved their ATS winning percentage the next season by an average of 20%. All but six of these teams improved their outright winning percentage as well, by an average of 20.4%, and 12 of them qualified for the playoffs, including Jacksonville last season.
Teams affected for 2023: Chicago, Tampa Bay
- Since 2010, 18 of 19 teams that had a turnover differential of -1.0 per game or worse and did not make the playoffs improved the next season. The only team that didn’t improve maintained a 5-11 mark: the New York Jets from 2016 to 2017. The Jaguars qualified on this system last year, and they improved by six regular season wins. The average regular season win improvement was 4.58 wins per season.
Teams affected for 2023: None. Indianapolis was closest with a turnover differential of -0.76
- There have been 15 teams since 2009 that had a negative or even turnover differential yet still managed to win double-digit games against the spread. Nine of those teams reached the postseason the next year, including the Rams of 2020, who won a wildcard playoff contest before falling in the divisional round.
Teams affected for 2023: None again, unfortunately. Seven teams won double-digit games ATS last season—all had positive turnover differentials.
- Of the 28 teams that improved their won-lost percentage by 34% or more from one season to the next since ‘09, all but four had negative or even turnover differentials the prior season. Last year, Detroit and Jacksonville met the criteria.
Teams potentially affected for 2023: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, LA Rams, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, NY Jets, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington
Systems of teams that had a positive turnover differential the prior season
- Teams that had a positive turnover differential and won 10 or more games against the spread are fade teams in the next season. Of these 81 teams since 2009, 56 of them had won-lost-records that declined by an average of 10.8% outright and 11.3% against the spread. Furthermore, of the 74 that reached the playoffs, 30 failed to do so in the following season, including Arizona, Green Bay, and New England last year.
Teams affected for 2023: Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, LA Chargers, NY Giants, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
- Only three of the last 14 teams since 2009 that had a turnover differential of +1.0 or better per game improved their record the next season. The average won-lost percentage decline was 10.6% (8% ATS), or almost two wins per season. New England qualified on this angle in 2020 and dropped from 12-4 to 7-9.
Teams affected for 2023: None. San Francisco had the top regular season turnover differentials at +0.8.
- Since 2009, there have been 40 teams with a turnover differential of +5 or better in a season and failed to reach the postseason. Only 12 reached the postseason the next year and only 15 improved their records. These are typically play against teams as failing to reach the playoffs does not provide momentum for the next season. This group includes Indianapolis, Minnesota, and New Orleans from a year ago.
Teams affected for 2023: Detroit, New England
- Only 10 of the last 39 teams with a positive turnover differential and that were less than .500 against the spread in a season reached the playoffs the next season, and only 16 improved. Houston, the Rams, and Pittsburgh all qualified on this system a year ago and none improved, and none reached the playoffs.
Teams affected for 2023: Green Bay, Minnesota, New England, Seattle
- Of the 12 teams that declined their ATS won-lost percentage by 31% or more from one season to the next since ‘09, ALL had positive turnover differentials of +4 or better the prior season.
Teams potentially affected for 2023: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Jacksonville, LA Chargers, New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. The Bengals, Giants, and Lions had the best ATS records in ’22, all 12-5 or better.
Systems of teams whose offense/defense production or point differential stats the prior season didn’t accurately reflect their won-lost record
- Since 2001, there have been 49 teams that managed to win 10+ games despite scoring less than 23 points per game that season. In the following season, only eight of these teams improved, while 38 dropped by an average of 4.3 games in the win column, including Las Vegas who fell from 10 to 6 wins.
Team affected for 2023: Baltimore
- There has been fairly steady season-to-season improvement made from the group of teams that have won less than 42% of their regular season games despite scoring 22+ PPG. Since ’00, only four of the 30 teams were worse the next season, and the average win improvement was 2.5 per season. Seattle qualified on this last year and improved by two games.
Team affected for 2023: Las Vegas
- Since 2000, there have been 63 teams that somehow won less than 42% of their games despite allowing 23 or fewer points per game that season. In the following season, 44 of these teams, or 69.8% of them, improved in the win column, and the average improvement of that group was 3.61 wins per year! There is a large group of teams qualifying for this angle in ’23 after just two last season
Teams affected for 2023: Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, Denver, LA Rams, New Orleans, NY Jets, Tennessee
- There has been consistent season-to-season decline made from the group of teams that have won 10 or more games despite allowing 23+ PPG. Over the last 24 seasons, only three of the 30 teams were better the next season, and the average win dropoff was 2.87 per season.
Team affected for 2023: Minnesota
- There have been 13 teams that have scored 27+ PPG in the last 22 seasons and did not make the playoffs. The combined record of those teams in the following regular season was 129-81, good for 61.4% and an average of 9.92 wins per season. Only three of those teams did not make the playoffs, and two others—the 2009 Saints and 2020 Buccaneers—went on to win a Super Bowl title. The Chargers qualified on this system in 2022 and went exactly 10-7, earning a playoff berth.
Team affected for 2023: None. Detroit was closest with 26.6 PPG
- If you examine positive point differential with a losing record, only one of the last 17 teams with this combination worsened their win total the next season. Two recent Super Bowl Champion teams met this criteria—the 2017 Eagles and the 2020 Buccaneers. The average win total for the 16 teams was 9.5 with eight of them winning at least 11 games. The average win improvement was 2.94 per season.
Teams affected for 2023: New England
- When considering a negative point differential with a .500 or better record, only six of the last 30 teams to achieve this dubious honor went on to a better season the next year. The average drop was a minimal -1.37 wins per season, but the margin of making the playoffs for teams like this was already small. Ironically, the Dolphins and Steelers qualify for this angle for a second straight season.
Teams affected for 2023: Miami, Minnesota, NY Giants, Pittsburgh
Combination systems using statistical traits already detailed
- There have been eight teams that have gone sub-.500 in a season despite a positive turnover differential and scoring differential. Six of them have turned around the next season and made the playoffs, improving by an average of 3.2 wins per season.
Teams affected for 2023: New England
- Nine of the last 13 teams that had a negative turnover differential and a positive score differential but didn’t make the playoffs did so the next season. This included Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay in 2020, as well as the Chargers last season.
Teams affected for 2023: None.
- Only nine of the last 43 teams with a positive turnover differential but negative score differential qualified for the playoffs in the next season, although Minnesota did last year. The Vikings and Pittsburgh qualify for a second straight year.
Teams affected for 2023: Green Bay, Minnesota, NY Giants, Pittsburgh
- All but two of the 24 teams since 2009 that had a negative turnover differential and were outscored by more than 10 PPG improved their won-lost record the next season by an average of 24.5%, or 3.9 wins per team. Five of those teams made the playoffs, and 13 of them improved by four or more wins.
Team affected for 2023: None. No teams were outscored by over 10 PPG for the first time since 2015.
- Only nine of the 41 teams since 2009 that had a positive turnover differential and who outscored opponents by more than 8.0 PPG improved their won-lost record the next season. The average won-lost percentage decline was 13.2% (12.6% ATS), or about 2.2 wins per season.
Teams affected for 2023: Philadelphia, San Francisco.
I hope this piece helps you zoom in on a few winning NFL season win total wagers you’ve been contemplating. Up next on my annual NFL offseason prep routine will be setting my initial Power Ratings for the season and using them to run against the 2023-24 schedule. I will then wrap up with a release of my own personal season win total wagers.