NFL Net Yards Per Play: Ravens, Browns Peaking Heading To Playoffs

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

Heading into Week 18, two of the least exciting teams to think about at the moment are the Browns and Ravens. Both will likely play a slew of backups this week as they prep for the playoffs, locked into their seeds. But both also merit a look in NFL net yards per play. How are they doing what they’re doing, and how good should bettors feel about them heading into January?

While you’re handicapping NFL Week 18 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 18 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

Do Ravens Still Have a Vulnerability?

The Ravens have put together two of the strongest results of the season in back-to-back games and ascended to the top of many NFL power rankings; although, TheLines staff still has them behind the 49ers. Do the Ravens deserve more respect?

Where you view the Ravens in the hierarchy of the NFL depends partially on what catch-all metric you prefer. Net yards per play and net EPA have them as a merely great team and behind the 49ers, as well as the Dolphins (slightly) in the former. DVOA thinks they’re one of the best teams of all time and the class of the NFL.

Looking over their past two games, there’s no doubt the dominating performance over the Dolphins demands attention. The Ravens gained a monstrous 8.9 YPP in that game, as Lamar Jackson had one of the most efficient games of his career, which is saying something when it comes to a former MVP.

On the other hand, their defense did give up 5.7 YPP. While that’s below Miami’s season average, it’s well above average overall.

And the 49ers game, statistically, was far less impressive than the final score. San Francisco had the yardage edge with 6.3 YPP to 5.4. Turnovers (five) and penalties (10 for 102 yards) sank them. Some garbage time factored in, but so did snaps for a backup QB.

The market still likes the Ravens to come out of the AFC but doesn’t consider them a favorite over the field (). Their path could either be quite difficult (Bills in the first round remains possible) or involve not facing the Bills, Chiefs, or Dolphins until the conference title game.

Big picture: it looks like the Ravens’ offense is peaking as one of the best units in the game. But will their defense represent a vulnerability come playoff time?

Ravens Week 18 Odds

Baltimore Ravens Futures & Week 18 Props

Baltimore Ravens 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

Browns A Threat With A Functional, Flacco-Powered Offense?

Another AFC North team also looks to be hitting its apex at the right time.

Sure, it was the Jets, but that team still has one of the top defenses in the NFL. Putting up 37 on them and winning going away still counts as impressive. Thanks to yet another dominating game (7.4 YPP to 5.3), the Browns won their fourth straight and now have the best yardage differential over the past three weeks at +2.

Flacco has gotten it done, helping the team to win four in five games since taking the reins of the offense. But, the stats, advanced and otherwise, are less enthused.

EPA+CPOE Composite doesn’t have an exceptionally high opinion of Flacco’s work, ranking him 19th since he became the starter. By total offensive EPA/play, the Browns have improved from 28th to … 25th. Flacco’s TD-INT ratio of 13-8 doesn’t inspire much confidence either. He’s still making quite a few mistakes and ill-advised throws.

A middling offense with a great defense can still do some damage in the playoffs. But, generally, it’s difficult to win multiple games in a row with a bottom-10 unit. And the Browns are still playing like such, much fun as Flacco’s Comeback Player of the Year () candidacy has been.

The Browns do have one thing going for them. If you’re going to be a bad offense/great defense team, you’d rather do it with a high-variance QB than a turtling one, at least come playoff time. Try as they might, the Browns defense won’t be pitching shutouts against playoff offenses. They will need to score some points, and Flacco could still hit the good end of variance for a few games and make the big plays that will keep them in it.

Browns Week 18 Odds

Cleveland Browns Futures & Week 18 Props

Cleveland Browns 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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