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Turnovers and Penalties in the NFL

In my article earlier this week, I examined how penalties and turnovers affected a particular college football team's performance on the field, straight-up, and against the spread. I noted that had I looked at this particular team's history more closely, their awful performance on the field could have been easily predicted if not expected.This is not uncharted water.

Penalties plus turnovers equal losses SU and ATS. Here is what I've found after eight weeks of NFL play.Penalties.

Most penalties: Not suprisingly, New Orleans (76 for 621 yards) and Oakland (72/571 with a game in hand) lead the NFL. Tampa Bay (70/573), Miami (70/521), and Baltimore (70/519) are all tied for third and the five combined have a SU and ATS record of 15-21 (41.6%, -4.

5 units at -110). Penalties are demoralizing, kill or prolong drives, and generally signify an undisciplined or poorly coached team.Least peanalties: Not coincidently, Indianapolis (36/235) and Pittsburg (40/370) are a combined 12-2 SU and have commited the fewest fouls. Strangely the next three are all 2-5 SU, Jets (42/353), Cleveland (42/321) and San Francisco (42/298). The five's SU record combines is an unimpressive 18-17 but their combined ATS records are 21-13-3 for a wallet-fattening (62%, 6.

7 units).Turnovers.Turnovers Gained: Creating turnovers in itself is not necessarily a stat that guarantess SU or ATS success. Cincinnati (28), Giants (22), Detroit (19), Buffalo (18), Jacksonville (17) lead the NFL in takeaways and are a combined 21-16 SU and 19-15-3 ATS.Least Turnovers Gained: Not creating turnovers has not to this point been a recipe for failure as New England (5), Houston (5), Washington (5), Oakland (7), and Seattle (7) have combined for 17-18 SU and ATS records.

Turnover Lost: Giving the ball away is a surefire guarantee of a high draft choice. New Orleans (23), St Louis (21), San Francisco (19), Minnesota (19), and Tennessee are a horrific 12-26 SU (32%) and slightly better 13-25 (34%, and a crushing -14.5 units) ATS.Turnover ratio is where it gets a little bit interesting.

Positive Turnover Ratio: No brain surgery here, teams with the best TO ratio are some of the better teams in the NFL. Cincinnati (+20), Giants (+11), Denver (+8), Buffalo (+8), and Indianapolis are a combined 27-11 (71%) and 22-14-2 ATS (61% and 7.6 units).Negative Turnover Ratio: Might want to think twice about playing teams that not only do create opportunities on defense but also fail to protect the ball on offense.

New Orleans (-12), St Louis (-9), Washington (-9), Minnesota (-8), and Tennessee (-8) are a combined 14-24 SU (37%) and 15-23 ATS (39%, -10.2 units).Again, this is not earth shattering stuff and pretty much basic to fundamental handicapping. History does have a way of repeating itself and teams that were good and bad in the NFL's first half will likely to continue to be good/bad in the second half. Turnarounds (good and bad) will be directly attributable to correcting or failing to correct these mistakes and need to be given serious consideration when finalizing your selections.


Dennis Macklin is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com/Dennis_Macklin.htm.

By: Dennis Macklin


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