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NFL Handicapping: How Much Do Penalties Matter?

NFL Handicapping: How Much Do Penalties Matter?

 

One of the most difficult tasks for any handicapper is determining how much various stats matter. When you begin making your NFL picks, you have lots of different pieces of data that you can sift through. What about yard totals? What do you make of a team’s completion percentage? Somewhere in there, you will likely encounter a team’s penalty statistics. Is this something that you should focus on or is this something that you can take with a grain of salt?

The first thing to understand is that for NFL teams, penalty numbers are predictive. This means that you can largely expect a team to commit a certain number of penalties based upon what they have done earlier in the year. Certain other stats, including fumbles, are not so predictive. They happen based upon random chance, and if you put too much emphasis on them, you will fail with your NFL picks. Penalties are different, though, so if you see a team that has committed a number of penalties during the early part of the year, then you can bet that this will continue later in the year.

But just how much does penalty yardage matter? You probably remember those important penalties that change a game, but penalty yardage ends up being a small thing in the context of the bigger game. The difference between the most and least penalized team will be thirty or forty yards at most. This means that it will amount to a couple of first downs. This is not a major thing, so you should not put too much emphasis on penalties. Choose good teams regardless of how often they are penalized.