What key statistics in 2021 may mean for NFL teams in 2022

September 3, 2022 09:53 PM
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NFL team-by-team schedules, season win totals and game-by-game lines and totals are now all available for the 2022 season. 

At first glance, none of the win totals stands out as an obvious miss by oddsmakers. If there was a miss, it already would have been hit hard and adjusted. With that said, one of the best ways to gain an advantage over the house — on win totals and advanced betting lines — is to use stats from the previous season that are historically reliable in predicting improvement or decline.

In Part 1 of my Changeover Systems, I analyzed the impact of close or blowout wins and losses on the following season. In Part 2, I’ll look at the predictive nature of certain statistics.

The NFL is unlike any other league in how quickly teams can rise and fall from year to year. First-to-worst and worst-to-first moves are not unusual and, in my opinion, are factors in the league being so popular. 

These sharp moves from year to year are often triggered by one of my three “Cs”: 

— Coaching, either through a personnel change or a change in the way the current coach goes about his business

— Confidence, which can rise or fall quickly due to offseason moves or a string of wins/losses early in the regular season

— Cohesiveness, which can strengthen or weaken with the addition or departure of personnel

Of course, certain statistics from the previous season can illustrate how close a team is to changing the status of those three Cs, which, in turn, can lead to big moves in the standings. You’ll find the key data in this report. Read through the findings, combine them with what we learned in Part 1, add in any coaching and free-agent moves and head to the betting window.

Systems for teams that had a negative turnover differential the previous season

— From 2010-20, 18 teams had a turnover differential of -1.0 per game or worse and did not make the playoffs. Of those 18 teams, 17 improved their win total the following season (the other equaled its win total), with an average improvement of 4.5 wins. 

Team affected in 2022: Jacksonville

— From 2009-20, 36 teams had a negative turnover differential and won fewer than six games against the spread. Of that group, 34 improved their ATS winning percentage the following season (by an average of 20%), 30 improved their outright winning percentage (by an average of 20.2%) and 11 qualified for the playoffs (including Dallas and Philadelphia last season).

Teams affected in 2022: Carolina, Jacksonville

— From 2009-20, 15 teams had a negative or even turnover differential yet still won at least 10 games against the spread. Of that group, nine reached the playoffs the following season.

Teams affected in 2022: Detroit, Tennessee

— Since 2009-10, 26 teams improved their winning percentage by at least 34% from one season to the next. Of that group, 22 had a negative or even turnover differential in the prior season. Last year, Cincinnati, Dallas and Philadelphia met that criteria.

Teams potentially affected in 2022: Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville, L.A. Chargers, Las Vegas, N.Y. Giants, N.Y. Jets, San Francisco, Tennessee, Washington

Systems for teams that had a positive turnover differential the previous season

— From 2009-20, 14 teams had a turnover differential of + 1.0 per game or better. Of that group, only three improved their record the following season, with an average decline in winning percentage of 10.6% (almost two wins per season) and 8% against the spread.

Teams affected in 2022: None (Dallas and Indianapolis had turnover differentials of + 0.8 per game)

— From 2009-20, 75 teams had a positive turnover differential and won at least 10 games against the spread. Of that group, 52 had winning percentages that declined the following season (by an average of 10.5% SU and 11% ATS).

Teams affected in 2022: Arizona, Buffalo, Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England

— From 2009-20, 37 teams had a season turnover differential of + 5 or better and failed to reach the postseason. Of that group, only 14 improved their record the following season (11 made the playoffs).

Teams affected in 2022: Indianapolis, Minnesota, New Orleans

— Since 2009-10, 12 teams declined by at least 31% ATS from the previous season. Of that group, all 12 had a turnover differential of + 4 or better the prior season.

Teams potentially affected in 2022: Arizona, Buffalo, Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, New Orleans, Seattle, Tampa Bay

Systems for teams with a notable stat/record discrepancy

— From 2001-20, 48 teams won 10+ games despite scoring fewer than 23 points per game. Of that group, only eight improved and 37 declined the following season, with an average decline of 4.3 wins.

Team affected in 2022: Las Vegas

— From 2000-20, 29 teams won less than 42% of their games despite scoring at least 22 points per game. Of that group, only four declined the following season, with an average improvement of 2.5 wins. 

Team affected in 2022: Seattle

— From 2000-20, 61 teams won less than 42% of their games despite allowing 23 points or less per game. Of that group, 43 (or 70.5%) improved the following season, with an average improvement of 3.65 wins.

Teams affected in 2022: Denver, Seattle

— Over the last 23 seasons, 29 teams won 10+ games despite allowing at least 23 points per game. Of that group, only three improved the following season, with an average decline of 2.83 wins.

Team affected in 2022: Las Vegas

— Over the last 21 seasons, 12 teams scored at least 27 points per game and failed to make the postseason. Of that group, nine made the playoffs the following season, with two winning the Super Bowl (2009 Saints and 2020 Buccaneers). The combined record of those 12 teams in the following season was 119-74 (61.7%), with an average win total of 9.9. Las Vegas qualified for this system last season and went 10-7.

Team affected for 2022: L.A. Chargers

— Of the last 15 teams with a positive point differential and a losing record, all 15 improved or equaled their win total the following season. Eight of the 15 teams won at least 11 games the following season, with an average win total of 9.5 and an average improvement of 3.0 wins. Two Super Bowl champions came from this group (2017 Eagles and 2020 Buccaneers).

Teams affected for 2022: Denver, Seattle

— Of the last 27 teams with a negative point differential and a .500 or better record, only six improved the following season, with an average decline of 1.3 wins. 

Teams affected in 2022: Las Vegas, Miami, Pittsburgh

Combination systems 

— Of the last six teams that went 7-9 or worse despite a positive turnover and scoring differential, five made the playoffs the following season, with an average improvement of 4.2 wins. 

Teams affected in 2022: Denver, Seattle

— Of the last 12 non-playoff teams with a negative turnover differential but a positive scoring differential, eight made the playoffs the following season, including the 2020 Buccaneers.

Teams affected in 2022: L.A. Chargers

— Of the last 40 playoff teams with a positive turnover differential but a negative scoring differential, only eight made the playoffs the following season. 

Teams affected in 2022: Houston, Minnesota, Pittsburgh

— From 2009-20, 22 teams had a negative turnover differential and were outscored by more than 10 points per game. Of that group, 20 improved their record the following season, with an average improvement of 3.9 wins.

Team affected in 2022: Jacksonville, N.Y. Jets

— From 2009-20, 37 teams had a positive turnover differential and outscored opponents by more than 8.0 points per game. Of that group, only eight improved their record the following season, with an average decline of 2.4 wins.

Teams affected in 2022: Buffalo, Dallas, New England, Tampa Bay

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