NFL Net Yards Per Play: Dolphins Quietly Remain At League’s Peak

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Written By Mo Nuwwarah | Last Updated
NFL net yards per play week 17

After it looked like the 49ers might pull away to finish as the NFL net yards per play kings, the Miami Dolphins are mounting a spirited defense of what had been their top spot for most of the season. After a good game and a long-awaited big win against the Cowboys, they remain tied with San Francisco atop the board. Today, we’ll also take a look at a recent net yards per play slump from the seemingly surging Lions.

While you’re handicapping NFL Week 17 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 17 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

Dolphins No Longer Powered By Early Outliers

Early on, it was easy to write off the Dolphins’ net yards per play dominance. They posted a few outlier games that were going to be tough to reproduce, such as scoring 70 points on the Broncos and putting up north of 500 yards of offense on the Giants and Chargers. When dealing with a small sample of games, such things will have an outsized effect, swaying the final numbers.

However, as the season approaches the finish line, the Dolphins remain at the top of the board in NFL net yards per play. The 49ers briefly surpassed them, but the Dolphins have reasserted themselves as the Niners’ equals in this critical stat.

While the offense powered things early, the key to the Dolphins remaining at the top has been the revival of the defense. It was never realistic to keep posting 10 YPP as they did against Denver, but defensive improvement offered lower-hanging fruit, and the Dolphins have plucked it.

Miami now ranks sixth in EPA/play allowed on defense, above average against both the rush and the pass. What’s more, only the Raiders have outperformed them over the second half of the season.

Yet, the Dolphins have not gotten a ton of respect in the betting market. Despite a position that has them two wins away from securing the AFC No. 1 seed, they sit a distant fourth in Super Bowl odds, not far behind the Eagles but well back of the Ravens and 49ers. This is despite the market saying the Dolphins are only about a point worse than Baltimore (see game line below).

Note that they will also miss budding star WR Jaylen Waddle, in all likelihood, and possibly for multiple games.

But if outstanding defensive coach Vic Fangio can continue crafting the defense to his desires, Miami looks like a strong contender in a wide-open AFC.

Dolphins Upcoming Schedule

Jacksonville Jaguars 9 – 8 – 0 Week 1: Sep. 8, 2024
Buffalo Bills 11 – 6 – 0 Week 2: Sep. 12, 2024
Seattle Seahawks 9 – 8 – 0 Week 3: Sep. 22, 2024

Dolphins Week 17 Odds

Miami Dolphins Futures & Week 16 Props

Miami Dolphins 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

Lions Struggling In Net Yards Per Play

Lost in the celebration of the Lions clinching their first division title since 1993, the team has really struggled in the net yards per play department over recent weeks.

The 2-1 stretch has seen the Lions outgained by a significant margin in two games. In a 28-13 loss to the Bears, the Lions went -0.9 YPP. Even the Week 16 win against the Vikings didn’t look good by this metric, with an eye-opening -2.5 YPP.

Most of that ugliness came on the defensive end. Minnesota rolled up a whopping 7.6 YPP on offense despite starting its fourth QB of the season, Nick Mullens. Mullens fired for 9.3 YPA as the Vikings passed for more than 400 gross yards. And it didn’t come in a bunch of garbage time, as the outcome of the game was in the balance pretty much the whole way.

The pass rush hasn’t been the issue. Detroit ranks in the top five in both pressure rate and Adjusted Sack Rate.

Instead, it’s been the coverage letting the team down. PFF has been unimpressed with the unit, ranking them 27th.

The impending return of S CJ Gardner-Johnson should help, though it sounds like the sometime slot cover man will remain out for at least one more week.

Pass defense looks like an issue throughout the NFC playoffs, but an especially acute one for the Lions. Given the strength of the passing offenses in the conference, they’ll have to clean this up in a hurry if they hope to keep the good times rolling.

Lions Upcoming Schedule

Los Angeles Rams 10 – 7 – 0 Week 1: Sep. 8, 2024
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9 – 8 – 0 Week 2: Sep. 15, 2024
Arizona Cardinals 4 – 13 – 0 Week 3: Sep. 22, 2024

Lions Week 17 Odds

Detroit Lions Futures & Week 17 Props

Detroit Lions 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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