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5 offenses coming off 'the big swing'

National Football Post

Think of the ongoing battle between bookmakers and bettors as a game similar to the one played on Sundays during the fall. Both sides spend at least a week preparing for the opposition, looking for every detail—no matter how small—that can potentially provide an opportunity to gain an edge over the competition.

You can’t roll out of bed on Sunday morning, take a five-minute glance at the lines and expect to turn a profit. That’s not how it works. Research, discipline and most of all, preparation, are the tools required to come away from the carnage with more money in your pockets than when you began.

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Cam Newton
A big jump in points followed Cam Newton's arrival in Carolina. But can the Panthers maintain?

In our ongoing effort to gain that illusive edge over the bookmakers, we spent last Friday taking a look at what happens to NFL teams that post a losing record one season and then come back the following year to win ten or more games. The results were informative, which made us decide to head further down the rabbit hole for another taste.

Today’s project focuses on NFL scoring averages. More specifically, our objective is to identify what happens to teams that experience either a sharp rise or fall in scoring average from one year to the next.

What we’ve discovered is that the key number is 9.

Over the last ten years there have been ten instances in which an NFL team saw its per game scoring average increase or decrease by nine or more points from one season to the next. And in every single one of those ten instances, each team went in the opposite direction come year 3.

Take a look at the chart below and pay close attention to the teams highlighted in blue.

NFL SCORING AVERAGES FROM 2002-2011

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odds chart

The results are almost too good to be true. In every instance in which a team experienced a scoring variance of +/- 9.0 or more points from one season to the next, they promptly headed in the opposite direction in year 3.

Each specific example is broken down in more detail below. For those of you who plan on quickly skimming the next section, here are the key points we’ve discovered in regards to the study:

Scoring average: After experiencing a +/- scoring differential of 9.0 or more in year 2, the ten teams that qualified for this study came back in year 3 to average a difference of +/- 6.0 points per game (median also = 6.0 pts/gm). That may not seem like a lot, but if you take 6.0 points per game and multiply it by 16 games, you get a grand total of 96 points for the entire season. That translates into just under 14 touchdowns.

Straight-up records: Nine of the ten teams in this study saw their season win totals correlate directly with their rise or fall in scoring average from year 2 to year 3 (Minnesota lost three more games in year 3 then they did in year 2 despite averaging 3.7 more points per game). Excluding the Vikings from the equation, the other nine teams averaged 3.8 more wins or losses in year 3 then in year 2. That’s almost 25% of the total amount of games played each regular season.

Against the spread records: Ah yes, ATS records. The main reason why we put this research together in the first place. The numbers below show us that seven of the ten teams in this study saw their season ATS records correlate directly with their rise or fall in scoring average from year 2 to year 3 (Cincinnati broke even, while Carolina and Oakland went in the opposite direction). Excluding the three aforementioned teams from the equation, the other seven organizations averaged 3.1 more ATS wins or losses in year 3 then in year 2. That’s a sizeable difference that could determine whether or not a team turns a profit.

THE TEN TEAMS

Buffalo Bills
2003:
15.2 pts/gm, 6-10 SU, 6-8-2 ATS
2004: 24.7 pts/gm, 9-7 SU, 11-5 ATS
2005: 16.9 pts/gm, 5-11 SU, 7-9 ATS

Change: Scored 7.8 fewer points per game in 2005. Covered the spread in 43.8% of ’05 games as opposed to 68.8% of contests played in ‘04. Lost four more games outright in ’05 than ’04.

Carolina Panthers
2007:
16.7 pts/gm, 7-9 SU, 8-8 ATS
2008: 25.9 pts/gm, 12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS
2009: 19.7 pts/gm, 8-8 SU, 9-7 ATS

Change: Scored 6.2 fewer points per game in 2009. Covered the spread in 56.3% of ’09 games as opposed to 50% of contests played in ‘08. Lost four more games outright in ’09 than ’08.

Chicago Bears
2005:
16.3 pts/gm, 11-5 SU, 9-5-2 ATS
2006: 26.7 pts/gm, 13-3 SU, 9-6-1 ATS
2007: 20.9 pts/gm, 7-9 SU, 7-9 ATS

Change: Scored 5.8 fewer points per game in 2007. Covered the spread in 43.8% of ’07 games as opposed to 56.3% of contests played in ’06. Lost six more games outright in ’07 than ’06.

Cincinnati Bengals
2007:
23.8 pts/gm, 7-9 SU, 6-9-1 ATS
2008: 12.8 pts/gm, 4-11 SU, 7-9 ATS
2009: 19.1 pts/gm, 10-6 SU, 7-9 ATS

Change: Scored 6.3 more points per game in 2009. Covered the spread in 43.8% of games in both ’08 and ’09. Won six more games outright in ’09 than ’08.

Cleveland Browns
2006:
14.9 pts/gm, 4-12 SU, 7-8-1 ATS
2007: 25.1 pts/gm, 10-6 SU, 12-4 ATS
2008: 14.5 pts/gm, 4-12 SU, 6-9-1 ATS

Change: Scored 10.6 fewer points per game in 2008. Covered the spread in 37.5% of ’08 games as opposed to 75% of contests played in ’07. Lost six more games outright in ’08 than ’07.

Minnesota Vikings
2009:
29.4 pts/gm, 12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS
2010: 17.6 pts/gm, 6-10 SU, 5-10-1 ATS
2011: 21.3 pts/gm, 3-13 SU, 7-8-1 ATS

Change: Scored 3.7 more points per game in 2011. Covered the spread in 43.8% of ’11 games as opposed to 31.3% of contests played in ’10. Lost three more games outright in ’11 than ’10.

New England Patriots
2006:
24.1 pts/gm, 12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS
2007: 36.8 pts/gm, 16-0 SU, 10-6 ATS
2008: 25.6 pts/gm, 11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS

Change: Scored 11.2 fewer points per game in 2008. Covered the spread in 56.3% of ’08 games as opposed to 62.5% of contests played in ’07. Lost five more games outright in ’08 than ’07.

New Orleans Saints
2005:
14.7 pts/gm, 3-13 SU, 5-10-1 ATS
2006: 25.8 pts/gm, 10-6 SU, 10-6 ATS
2007: 23.7 pts/gm, 7-9 SU, 6-10 ATS

Change: Scored 2.1 fewer points per game in 2007. Covered the spread in 37.5% of ’07 games as opposed to 62.5% of contests played in ’06. Lost four more games outright in ’07 than ’06.

Oakland Raiders
2002:
28.1 pts/gm, 11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS
2003: 16.9 pts/gm, 4-12 SU, 3-12-1 ATS
2004: 20.0 pts/gm, 5-11 SU, 6-10 ATS

Change: Scored 3.1 more points per game in 2004. Covered the spread in 37.5% of ’04 games as opposed to 18.8% of contests played in ’03. Won one more game outright in ’04 than ’03.

Oakland Raiders
2009:
12.3 pts/gm, 5-11 SU, 8-8 ATS
2010: 25.6 pts/gm, 8-8 SU, 8-8 ATS
2011: 22.4 pts/gm, 8-8 SU, 10-6 ATS

Change: Scored 3.2 fewer points per game in 2011. Covered the spread in 62.5% of ’11 games as opposed to 50% of contests played in ’10. Won the same amount of games outright in ’10 and ’11.

THE 2012 SEASON

By this point you’re probably wondering whether or not we can put any of this information to use for the upcoming season. Well, here’s your answer: Five NFL teams (listed in the above chart in red) will enter 2012 after experiencing a scoring differential of +/- 9.0 or more points from 2010 to 2011. Before we get to the teams, take note that:

Scoring average vs. SU records: Of the three teams that experienced a scoring increase of 9.0 or more points from 2010 to 2011 (Carolina, Green Bay, New Orleans), all three saw an increase in straight-up wins as well (average of 3.6 more wins in 2011 then 2010). Of the two teams that experienced a scoring decrease of 9.0 or more points from ’10 to ’11 (Indianapolis, Kansas City), both saw a decrease in SU wins as well (average of 5.5 more losses in 2011 then 2010).

Scoring average vs. ATS records: With the exception of the Chiefs (who went 9-7 ATS in both 2010 and 2011), all of the teams on this list experienced a change in ATS records that is directly correlated to their change in scoring average. The Panthers, Packers and Saints all scored more points and, as a result, covered the spread in more games in 2011. In addition, the Colts scored fewer points and covered the number in two fewer outings.

Carolina Panthers
2010:
12.3 pts/gm, 2-14 SU, 4-12 ATS
2011: 25.4 pts/gm, 6-10 SU, 9-7 ATS

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Aaron Rodgers
ICONHistory suggest that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will score fewer points in 2012.

Green Bay Packers
2010:
24.3 pts/gm, 10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS
2011: 35.0 pts/gm, 15-1 SU, 11-5 ATS

Indianapolis Colts
2010:
27.2 pts/gm, 10-6 SU, 8-7-1 ATS
2011: 15.2 pts/gm, 2-14 SU, 6-10 ATS

Kansas City Chiefs
2010:
22.9 pts/gm, 10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS
2011: 13.3 pts/gm, 7-9 SU, 9-7 ATS

New Orleans Saints
2010:
24.0 pts/gm, 11-5 SU, 6-9-1 ATS
2011: 34.2 pts/gm, 13-3 SU, 12-4 ATS

What all of this analysis shows us is simple. If the scoring average trend that we have broken down in this article holds true in 2012, the Panthers, Packers and Saints are all headed for a step in the wrong direction offensively, while the Colts and Chiefs should expect to see more trips to the end zone this coming season.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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This story originally appeared on Nationalfootballpost.com
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