NFL Net Yards Per Play: Cowboys Slumping, Vikings Hanging Tough

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Written By Mo Nuwwarah | Last Updated
NFL net yards per play

After several weeks of looking like a Super Bowl odds leader, the Dallas Cowboys have hit a statistical rut. It might not seem that way with only one recent loss, an understandable road setback against the Bills, but the Cowboys also played another shaky game against the Seahawks that has their NFL net yards per play stats in the red.

While you’re handicapping NFL Week 16 odds, you may be searching for a new tool to apply to your step-by-step process. If so, yards per play (YPP) should be near the top of your checklist. NFL net yards per play — the difference between offensive and defensive performance on a per-play basis — gives a solid look at a team’s overall strength.

This report will be updated following each week of action and contains each team’s yards per play results on offense and defense, respectively. The “last three weeks” column captures the teams’ current form. If you see fit, one could be worth investing in for futures. You’ll want to look for undervalued teams whose per-play strength isn’t reflected in their final scores due to luck or other factors.

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NFL NET yards per play Explained

Yards per play — or YPP — is a handy metric for NFL bettors since it eliminates unpredictable variables, including turnovers, botched kicks, and scores via special teams. Ignoring randomness is a critical part of handicapping any sport. Therefore, yards per play on both sides of the ball helps indicate where a team is in the short term. Generally speaking, you will rarely find a below .500 team in the upper echelon of these rankings.

But like EPA, teams may be overvalued in the betting market if their YPP surges positively over a small sample size. You will see that various units — offensively, defensively, or both — benefit from playing weak competition over arbitrary samples. In turn, their output could be mis-contextualized.

Conversely, a team outperforming expectations against a presumably elite opponent is likely a sign of a positive trajectory.

NFL Yards Per Play: Offense, Defense And Net

Here are the current yards per play numbers before Week 16 action. Conventional wisdom says dividing the net yards per play difference by 0.15 gives an approximate spread between two teams.

Furthermore, keep in mind that the more or fewer plays a team runs/defends, these numbers could wind up skewed in either direction. This table can be sorted by clicking on the headers.

TeamYards Per PlayOpponent YPPNet YPPLast 3 Weeks NYPP

Cowboys Struggling On Defense Especially

While the Cowboys escaped with a home win on Thursday Night Football a few weeks back against the Seahawks, the bottom line numbers for the defense were not pretty. Geno Smith hit multiple huge plays to DK Metcalf, who made mincemeat of the Cowboys’ secondary. In total, the Hawks passed the Cowboys for 6.3 YPP.

Only 0-for-3 on fourth down and a -1 conventional turnover differential kept Seattle from springing the big upset.

It wasn’t necessarily a harbinger of things to come, at least not immediately. In a showcase game, the Cowboys demolished the rival Eagles.

However, things turned ugly again in Buffalo. In a driving rain, the Bills pounded the rock at will, racking up an eye-opening 266 yards rushing on 5.4 YPA. Both sides of the ball failed to show up in that one, as only a garbage-time TD prevented Dallas from being held to three points.

Certainly, injuries have played a role. The offensive line got seriously banged up on Sunday, losing star G Zack Martin. And Jonathan Hankins’ absence hurts the run defense inside. Rookie first-rounder Mazi Smith has not proven up to the task just yet.

Does this represent a mere bump in the road, in which case +1000 on Cowboys odds looks juicy? Or should the Cowboys have concerns going forward?

There are reasons to give the Cowboys some leniency on these poor performances potentially. The Seahawks game was a bit of a look-ahead spot, given the massive revenge spot against the Eagles loomed. And by the same token, traveling across the country to play an AFC team in a rainstorm represented a possible letdown spot. The Bills had the motivational edge at home playing for their playoff lives, needing the game much more than Dallas.

If bettors buy into these notions, they may want to give the Cowboys a look. Although solving the 49ers’ fearsome rushing attack looms as a problem this team may not have the capability to solve.

Cowboys Upcoming Schedule

Cleveland Browns 11 – 6 – 0 Week 1: Sep. 8, 2024
New Orleans Saints 9 – 8 – 0 Week 2: Sep. 15, 2024
Baltimore Ravens 13 – 4 – 0 Week 3: Sep. 22, 2024

Cowboys Week 16 Odds


Dec. 24, 3:25 PM

Dallas Cowboys


Miami Dolphins


100% of staff picked DAL to win

Dallas Cowboys Futures & Week 16 Props

Dallas Cowboys Player Statistics

Player GP Games Played CMP% Completion Percentage YDS Passing Yards YDS/G Yards Per Game YDS/C Yards Per Completion TDS Passing Touchdowns INT Interceptions thrown RTG Passer Rating
Player GP Games Played INT Interceptions PD Passes Defended FF Fumbles Forced FR Fumbles Recovered SACK QB Sacks TOT Total Tackles SOLO Solo Tackles AST Assisted Tackles

Vikings Playoff-Viable With Mullens?

The Vikings tried their fourth starting QB of the season on Saturday against Cincinnati, an astonishing feat for a team that’s squarely in the playoff hunt. Things went fairly well for the offense, with 24 points and 7.6 YPA passing on a vulnerable Bengals unit.

Unfortunately, the 6.3 to 5.5 advantage in NFL net yards per play failed to translate to victory. Two ugly turnovers and a late collapse from a normally excellent defense doomed the Vikings to a 27-24 overtime loss.

On the one hand, the Vikings can be encouraged by Nick Mullens’ performance. The offense has really held this team back in recent weeks, as the pumpkining of Josh Dobbs commenced. On the other, well, go watch the tape of those Mullens interceptions. They were really rough.

Where does that leave Minnesota overall?

They’re still in pretty solid shape in odds to make the NFL playoffs, currently hanging onto the sixth seed among a drove of 7-7 teams. The market considers them the slightest of underdogs to get in, though.

Brian Flores’ defense has done its part despite the struggles against a Cincinnati group that has been surging of late. The Vikes still rank seventh in EPA/play allowed, and their 5 YPP allowed ranks 10th.

Whether bettors feel any optimism depends on whether they see the glass as half full following Mullens’ starting debut.

If the Vikings can maintain their very solid +0.4 number in NFL net yards per play, they’ll continue to have a chance at success and a playoff berth.

Vikings Upcoming Schedule

New York Giants 6 – 11 – 0 Week 1: Sep. 8, 2024
San Francisco 49ers 12 – 5 – 0 Week 2: Sep. 15, 2024
Houston Texans 10 – 7 – 0 Week 3: Sep. 22, 2024

Vikings Week 16 Odds


Dec. 24, 12:00 PM

Detroit Lions


Minnesota Vikings


100% of staff picked MIN to cover the spread

Minnesota Vikings Futures & Week 16 Props

Minnesota Vikings Player Statistics

Player GP Games Played CMP% Completion Percentage YDS Passing Yards YDS/G Yards Per Game YDS/C Yards Per Completion TDS Passing Touchdowns INT Interceptions thrown RTG Passer Rating
Player GP Games Played INT Interceptions PD Passes Defended FF Fumbles Forced FR Fumbles Recovered SACK QB Sacks TOT Total Tackles SOLO Solo Tackles AST Assisted Tackles

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