NFL Net Yards Per Play: What To Make Of The Vikings

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Written By Mo Nuwwarah | Last Updated
NFL yards per play

While you’re handicapping NFL Week 3 odds, you may be in search of a new tool to apply to your step-by-step process. If so, NFL yards per play (YPP) is one that should be near the top of your checklist. 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. Eventually, we’ll add a “last three weeks” column to capture a snapshot of the current form. If you see fit, one of them could be worth investing in for futures betting. You’ll want to look for undervalued teams, ones whose per-play strength isn’t reflected in their final scores, due to luck or other factors.

Ahead of Week 3, the Vikings stand out, particularly in their matchup against the Chargers. Vikings odds have them as a short favorite, but should they be a longer one? And could they present a buy-low opportunity in the NFC North?

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NFL yards per play Explained

Yards per play — also referred to as 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 provide an indication of 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 just like EPA, teams may be overvalued in the betting market if their YPP surges in a positive direction over a small sample size. You will see that a variety of units — offensively, defensively, or both — benefited from playing weak competition in their first affair of the 2023 campaign. In turn, their output could be mis-contextualized.

On the flip side, a team outperforming expectations against a presumably elite opponent is likely a sign of a positive trajectory.

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NFL Yards Per Play: Offense, Defense And Net

Here are the current yards per play numbers prior to Week 3 action. Conventional wisdom says that 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 a bit in either direction.

TeamOffensive YPPDefensive YPPNet YPP
Dolphins7.34.92.4
49ers6.34.51.8
Vikings6.34.71.6
Browns53.71.3
Cowboys4.73.51.2
Falcons5.34.21.1
Ravens5.34.31
Chiefs5.74.80.9
Jets5.14.60.5
Lions5.95.50.4
Saints54.60.4
Colts5.14.90.2
Packers5.25.10.1
Broncos5.55.40.1
Raiders5.35.4-0.1
Commanders4.95.1-0.2
Cardinals55.2-0.2
Buccaneers55.3-0.3
Rams5.25.5-0.3
Titans5.15.4-0.3
Bills5.45.8-0.4
Jaguars4.65.1-0.5
Panthers4.14.6-0.5
Eagles55.7-0.7
Patriots4.55.2-0.7
Seahawks5.15.9-0.8
Giants4.65.6-1
Texans4.45.4-1
Steelers4.35.4-1.1
Chargers5.56.9-1.4
Bears4.56-1.5
Bengals3.85.4-1.6

Standout Teams In NFL yards per play

Even early in the season, most of the names at the top of the net yards per play list don’t raise eyebrows. Few would quibble with the idea that the Dolphins, 49ers, Cowboys and Chiefs are among the strongest teams in the NFL.

But look at Minnesota, right up there in third. Not only that, but all of the strength of their number comes from the offense. Since offense is more predictive than defense going forward, should bettors be intrigued by the Vikings as a potentially underrated team?

Certainly, the yards-per-play numbers would say so in Week 3 in particular. While the Vikings sit at in the betting market, the YPP data suggests they should be a 20-point favorite.

Obviously, that’s pushing into the realm of the absurd and shows why small samples must be taken with multiple helpings of salt. But still, there’s no denying that the Vikings have moved the ball efficiently in the early going. Turnovers have sank them repeatedly. In particular, the Vikes have fumbled an astonishing six times already, which hardly seems likely to continue.

On the Chargers’ end, they got embarrassed by the ultra-potent Dolphins offense in Week 1. It’s going to take multiple weeks to smooth that out. Even a solid game against the Titans has yet to make a real dent.

If Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson can do something approximating Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill, then bettors will do well to back the Vikings at home here. Buying low on NFC North futures isn’t out of the question either. The other teams there haven’t covered themselves in glory thus far.

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