This key metric can help you with your future bets throughout the season
12 mins read

This key metric can help you with your future bets throughout the season

The first week of the NFL pre-season is now in the books. We’ve got our first look at our rookie quarterbacks, along with a quick reminder that we must temper expectations for those likely to start. CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson both threw early interceptions, and while Bryce Young avoided turning the ball over, he managed 3.5 yards per attempt in his debut with the Carolina Panthers.

Spotting quarterbacks isn’t everything on rookies. Sam Howell and Jordan Love had a solid performance as they looked to prove their belonging as first-time rookies. It’s been five years since Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold were selected at the top of the 2018 draft. Both players have bounced around the league the past few years, and are hoping to make a preseason that will earn them some playing time in their new home.

There are a lot of questions this time of year when it comes to quarterbacks across the league. The truth is, pre-season won’t provide answers to any of them. We have all fallen victim to an overestimation of these glorious practices. be it Ryan Leaf beats youngster Peyton ManningAnd Description Ja’Marr Chase Bust or Brandon Weeden turns Cleveland fans into believersEvery fan probably has an example of when their emotions were put into a blender by football fantasies in August.

Betting in the futures market in this close season has its pros and cons. On the one hand, information is our greatest asset. The more we get, the more comfortable we feel. Most of us are connected this way. On the other hand, the odds are very effective after betting the whole summer. The edges are slim. This is the trade-off that bettors make, and it is based on when they feel comfortable they have enough valuable information to make an informed bet. Most likely, you are already at this point. There aren’t a lot of things that will change a team’s outlook, except for injury, which can happen at any time in the season.

Instead of overreacting to advance stat lines over the next few weeks, it’s better to rely on the research that kept you busy all those summer nights. One stat I like to rely on when evaluating new quarterback positions, or those without a long history to fall back on, is explosive play potential.

Explosive play winning games in the NFL

The NFL is an offense-driven league. Nine of the top 10 scoring offenses were playoffs, while the top two (Kansas City and Philadelphia) battled it out in the Super Bowl. Not surprisingly, the teams that score more win more. A team’s ability to hit explosive plays (12+ yard runs, 16+ yard passes) plays a major factor in whether or not a drive generates points.

Drives without an explosive game have less than a 10% chance of getting points, while percentages jump exponentially with each explosive game. Two explosive plays give teams over 50% scoring, while three moves the needle to over 80%. It is no coincidence that all four teams that took first place in their conference (Kansas City, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and San Francisco) also finished in the top five in creating explosive plays. They also finished in the top four of the Net explosive plays (The difference between generated and allowed explosive plays).

Long story short, if you’re hitting more explosive plays than your opponent, there’s a good chance you’ll score more and win the game.

Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers warms up before an NFL game on January 14, 2023 (Kevin Sabitus / Getty Images)
Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers warms up before an NFL game on January 14, 2023 (Kevin Sabitus / Getty Images)

How should this shape your bets?

Your bets should never be based on a single data point, but I think it’s important to take into account how the offense is built when considering its potential success. The longer the drives, the more likely it is that a penalty or negative play will sabotage their success. Stacking drives 10 times the play is a tough way to beat defenses. It’s not a referendum on playing in every team with better-skilled players, but it certainly played a role for me when deciding whether a team like Miami (which I’m into a lot) is worth supporting given the current odds. Understanding how they affect the team both positively and negatively can be applied to your decision-making process with any bets throughout the season, including player props. Defenses improved last year in reducing explosive plays, which helped reduce scoring from 23.9 to 21 points per game. It also led to the lowest yardage totals for most quarterbacks for a season long yardage props.

Let’s look at a few of the teams I’ve rotated that might stand out when contextualizing explosive plays.

Running back Mac Jones sophomore year, Bill O’Brien got the headset to bring some life to the offense. Belichick defenses will always be screws, but I do have list building concerns on the other side of the ball. JuJu Smith-Shuster’s addition doesn’t seem close enough. Jones is clearly on the hot seat, but moving the chains 10 yards at a time with this set will be a challenge for anyone. Offensive talent doesn’t stack up in the department, which is the main reason the Pats don’t get my money. If anything, less than 6.5 at +115 makes sense.

Brain Daboll was charming last year, propelling A team that previously had four wins in the Divisional Round of the playoffs after being ranked 27th in net explosives. I bet the sequel isn’t as good at showing as the original, and crime is a huge reason for that. The team’s ability to win games dipped once opponents figured out how to pressure Saquon Barkley, and I’m not sure if they had stretchers in place to really open up the attack. I’m excited to see how Daboll uses an abundance of slot receivers, but it feels like another year of relying on long drives.

The Texans were the worst team in the league last season. While it’s easy to get excited about CJ Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. It is important to realize that they started from the bottom. Robert Woods and John Michie wouldn’t make the big impact needed for an offense that ranks 32nd through the air and 31st on the ground in the EPA per game. This is another team that doesn’t have the firepower to make the full winning leap.

It’s not just about the middle ground

Everything does not fall on the shoulders of the middle. Getting a new offensive coordinator or play-caller can have a huge impact on the offense. Some of the biggest stories this season revolve around teams hoping to get the most out of their quarterbacks by changing their play-by-play callbacks. Here are some of these teams to keep an eye on.

One of the most surprising moves was Dallas cutting ties with Kellen Moore after he finished third in scoring. Mike McCarthy wants a more balanced offensive approach, fueled by his running game. I am intrigued as to how this happened. Teams enjoyed more fleet success last season than they have seen in several years, so is Mike McCarthy stuck in the past or ahead of the curve?

The real question is whether Tony Pollard and Deuce Vaughn can carry the load without succumbing to injury. The Cowboys have playmakers all over the field, so it’s hard to bet that the offense is still explosive. Where McCarthy’s play calls could have the greatest impact on a Cowboys season is in high-leverage positions at the end of games. This will make or break them if they can get to the next level.

Los Angeles Chargers

It’s hard not to love where Kailyn Moore has landed. This is the perfect example of how the prospect of a team getting more power can change their outlook. After watching Justin Herbert Pepper down the first five yards after the line of scrimmage with passes last season, we’re finally getting to maximize the star quarterback’s talent. Not only did they bring in dynamic play caller Moore, but they drafted TCU’s Quentin Johnston in the first round. LA is committed to crafting its offense around the big plays, which is why the Chargers are making my money this offseason.

The Crows’ parting with Greg Roman ensures we’ll have answers to the NFL’s best imitation of the chicken-or-egg causal dilemma. Did the Crows’ arduous approach help or hinder Jackson’s ability to thrive as a passer? Baltimore call-in Todd Monken makes Jackson a real player in the MVP conversation. Odell Beckham Jr. Extras supplies and Zay Flowers Jackson with a varied offensive arsenal, but bettors will have to decide if the changes translate into wins, or simply end up cosmetic. Baltimore was already an explosive sixth in net games, so if they can improve on that, your eyes should turn to the Super Bowl prospects.

I had to bring these two birds together now that they’re the ultimate pre-season rivalry in football. I had misgivings that Sean Payton would be up to the task of bringing Russell Wilson back to his prime, his first act making my grin wriggle like a Grinch. Of course, pre-season never lies when you assert your position. Payton will certainly make them much better, but I would expect him to do it more with his running game, rather than relying on Wilson. With Tim Patrick’s season at camp winding down, the weapons Wilson has to work with are a sharp throwback from his days in Seattle. I don’t see it as an explosive offense, which lowers their ceiling in a tough conference.

As for the Jets, it won’t be perfect, but I feel stronger from their perspective than Denver. Adding Aaron Rodgers to an offense with young playmakers like Garrett Wilson and Bryce Hall will give New York the missing piece it lacked in 2022. There are issues with the offensive line, and it will also take some time to build chemistry. Your patience should pay off. Rather than betting on them now, I think the Jets are a team that should be targeted in the second half of the season at some better odds.

Take a step back and don’t overreact

Whether you’re finalizing your future bets for the season, preparing your survivor pools or shooting the first week’s odds already, I hope this provided some ideas on how to view some of the unofficial changes from another perspective. This is the time of year when the NFL is back on top and new information comes in non-stop between preseason actions, opponents and daily happenings from camp. It’s important to step back from the constant updates, go back to how you viewed these teams over the summer and highlight valuable information that you think could make a difference to a team’s season.

Stats provided by teamrankings, statmuse, royalfootball, pff and clevanalytics.

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