NFL Net Yards Per Play: Falcons Class Of NFC South?

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Written By Mo Nuwwarah on October 26, 2023
NFL Net yards per play Week 8

While you’re handicapping NFL Week 8 odds, you may be searching for a new tool to apply to your step-by-step process. If so, NFL yards per play (YPP) 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. 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.

Ahead of NFL Week 8 action, the Atlanta Falcons have quietly righted the ship on offense to the point this looks like a top-half of the league team. We’ll look at their prospects and those of a couple of teams that faced off in Week 7 and had diverging outcomes.

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NFL 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 — benefited from playing weak competition in their first affair of the 2023 campaign. 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 8 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.

TeamYards Per PlayYPP AllowedNet YPPLast 3 Weeks NYPP

Atlanta Falcons Stand out In NFL yards per play

When the season started, it looked like Atlanta would fall into the “good defense, bad offense” bucket. We’d see a lot of totals around 40, and they would try to grind out wins by pounding the rock and playing defense. And that’s exactly how things started for the first month.

Then came the London game against the Jaguars. Jacksonville utterly embarrassed the Falcons offense, which could barely move the ball and then turned over any time it did.

At that point, Arthur Smith seemed to sense he needed to change to the offensive approach. In the three games since then, Desmond Ridder has averaged 295 YPG passing as the team went 2-1. And the games came against middling opposition — Tampa Bay, Washington, Houston — none of which would be described as a bottom-of-the-barrel defense.

The Falcons defense has remained stout and healthy in the meantime.

All of which is to say, if Atlanta is firing on all cylinders, is this team the clear class of the NFC South? The market has moved them to favorite status (see below), and with the Saints and Buccaneers scuffling, it’s hard to argue. While the Saints maintain solid YPP numbers, their offense looks inflated after playing catch-up for most of the past two games.

Buying high on Atlanta may make sense at this juncture.

Falcons Upcoming Schedule

New York Jets 4 – 7 – 0 Week 13: Dec. 3, 2023
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 – 7 – 0 Week 14: Dec. 10, 2023
Carolina Panthers 1 – 10 – 0 Week 15: Dec. 17, 2023

Browns and Colts Going In Opposite Directions

In one of the wildest games of the season, the Browns prevailed over the Colts, 39-38, but a deeper dive into the stats from that game tells a pretty interesting story. Looking specifically at NFL yards per play there, the Colts completely crushed the Browns, 6.8 to 4.4. That difference would usually indicate a 16-point win, per the rule of thumb above.

Yet, the Colts didn’t even win the game, thanks to untimely turnovers (-2 there), penalties (-47 yards), and special teams disasters (Myles Garrett leaped over the line to block a field goal).

To some extent, one could say the turnovers are predictive of Gardner Minshew, who has not exactly been known for taking care of the ball. But, overall, the fact the Colts have dominated YPP numbers in two consecutive weeks while booking losses indicates they may currently be undervalued in the market. At the same time, bettors should remember that Indy fell behind big against Jacksonville, which may have inflated their offensive stats via the must-pass game script.

On the other hand, Cleveland looks like a paper tiger sitting at 4-2. The market has already come in strong on the Seahawks, pushing Cleveland to . Though their overall season number around even is fine, their current form has them at a dreadful -1.6 YPP in recent weeks. That should serve as a flashing warning sign to bettors.

Browns Upcoming Schedule

Los Angeles Rams 5 – 6 – 0 Week 13: Dec. 3, 2023
Jacksonville Jaguars 8 – 3 – 0 Week 14: Dec. 10, 2023
Chicago Bears 4 – 8 – 0 Week 15: Dec. 17, 2023

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