Using negative stats to your advantage when betting the NFL

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

July 11th, 2019

When it comes to the NFL, just about everything is tracked. It's easy to get lost in the statistics, trying to determine which have value relative to the spread and which don't. Here are five key statistics that tell me I don't want to wager on a team.


If a team doesn't take care of the football, it is destined to be on the losing end of the spread more often than not. While turnover ratio directly measures fumbles recovered plus interceptions versus fumbles lost plus interceptions thrown, it doesn't tell the whole. Fumble recoveries are known to be statistically random and luck can factor into interceptions. A clearer picture of a team's willingness and ability to take care of the football is its fumbles forced on defense and total fumbles on offense. If a team finds itself in the bottom five of the league, it doesn't value the ball enough to get my dollar.

Completion percentage

If the modern NFL has taught us anything, it's that a good quarterback can win the day. Clutch throws into tight windows can make the difference between winning and losing. Accuracy can be improved and worked on, but ultimately it is a skill that has a ceiling. I want no part of quarterbacks with low accuracy ceilings.

Defensive rush yards per attempt

The NFL has turned into more of a passing league, but if a team finds itself at the bottom of the league at stopping the run, it will be fighting an uphill battle in the second half of every game.


Some penalties are worse than others. Defensive penalties aren't as bad as offensive penalties, but if a team leads the league in penalties, it is going to struggle in a number of categories.

Red zone inefficiency

Plenty of teams can move the ball up and down the field, but if you can't score when you get in the red zone, you are destined to fail. Teams that turn red zone trips into three points instead of six will struggle in the long run.