NFL Handicapping: Third Down Conversion Rate
by MTi Sports
If you are going to use betting trends to handicap the NFL, it is important to have football trends that are not general knowledge. NFL Trends that everyone – including the linesmakers – knows about are not going to provide any line value.
One of the greatest opportunities for uncovering new betting trends and hence new investment opportunities, involves third down conversion rate. In NFL betting, third downs are crucial. Converting third downs not only means that the offensive drive keeps going, it means that the opponent’s defense has to stay one the field for another set of downs and the their defense gets to rest another set of downs.
On the average, an NFL team converts only 5.15 third downs per game. This makes the average number of third down conversions a game greater than the average number of punts per game, which is 4.80. Consequently, when a team has a very high or very low offense third down conversion rate, their mood and hence their performance in their next game can be significantly affected. Similarly, how a team’s defense performs can be a strong function of the third down conversion rate they allowed the previous week.
More importantly, NFL betting trends
involving third down conversion rate are not widely used and thus will offer full line value.
What follows are six examples of NFL team trends involving third down conversion percentage. The trends are generated by our own Sports Data Query Language.
The Ravens are 13-0 ATS (+11.3 ppg) since 2002 on the road after converting fewer than 33% of their third down attempts as a favorite.
The Bears are 9-0 ATS (+12.6 ppg) since November 2003 as a dog off a road loss in which they failed on at least ten third down attempts.
The Bears are 0-8 ATS (-9.3 ppg) since December 31st, 2006 when they are off a win as a favorite in which they held their opponent to a third-down conversion rate of less than 25%.
The Packers are 8-0 ATS (+13.3 ppg) since December 2002 on the road when they are off a game in which they held their opponent to a third-down conversion rate of less than 25%.
The Texans are 0-7 ATS (-10.4 ppg) in franchise history on the road after a home game in which their defense stopped at least ten third down attempts.
The Falcons are 9-0 ATS (+11.9 ppg) since 2002 as a favorite when they are off a road game in which they stopped at least 10 third down attempts.
The Dolphins are 0-16 ATS (-9.4 ppg) since December 29th, 2002 as a favorite when they are off a road game in which they converted fewer than 40% of their third down attempts.
The Seahawks are 12-0 ATS (+9.3 ppg) since October 22nd, 2007 the week after a game in which their defense allowed at least a 50% third down conversion rate and did not stifle three or more red zone attempts.
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