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Handicapping Inconsistent NFL Offenses

There is nothing that can drive an NFL football gambler crazy faster than a wildly inconsistent offense. One week they come out an pile up a pile of yards and score points almost at will. Next time out they seem to have forgotten everything they knew about football, and they are totally useless. After that inconsistency happens for a while all you can really do is guess what is going to happen because it doesn’t seem like there is any order or predictability to things. Inconsistent offenses might drive you crazy – or force you to start drinking before kickoff – but if you look at them properly you may actually find that they aren’t nearly as unpredictable as they seem. To be aware of important conditions so you can make winning NFL picks, here are five factors to look at as a NFL handicapper when trying to find consistency in an inconsistent offensive unit:

What do the stats actually say? – Sometimes it might seem like an offense is very consistent, but when you really look at what is actually happening – and not just what it looks like on the surface – you’ll find that the actual performance isn’t that inconsistent, but rather the circumstances affecting the football team has changed. For example, a team could have roughly the same yards per attempt in two games but they could have wildly different passing totals based on the number of times they get the ball, how well their running game is working and how often they pass as a result, and so on. If you didn’t look closer then you might see the 350 yards of passing one week and the 150 yards the next and think that they have a problem when really they might not.

What defenses have they played? – Any offense is affected by the quality of defense they are facing, and the more average an offense is the bigger that impact can be. Sometimes the simple explanation for inconsistency is that they have shone against weak defenses and struggled against better ones. You need to look at the defenses closely to really see how good they are, either. The media will look at stats like total defensive yards or sacks to grade defenses, but those are basically useless. You need to look closely to see what a defense is really capable of. A defense could actually look pretty good overall if you looked at total yards, but that could hide a horribly deficient pass defense that is covered up by a very good run defense.

How has the quarterback played? – If an offense is inconsistent then the first place to look is the quarterback. It might not be his fault, but you have to start there to assess if it is or not. Is the quarterback as inconsistent as the offense? Are his yards per attempt basically consistent from game to game, or are there wild swings in his performance? Does he complete a whole lot of passes in one game and then a very low percentage the next time? Does he throw a lot of interceptions one week then none for two weeks? If the quarterback isn’t consistent then it’s no wonder that the offense struggles to maintain an even keel.

What is their injury status? – Some football teams don’t handle change very well, so the inconsistency could be explained by players leaving and rejoining the roster due to injuries. One type of player than can have a huge impact on the consistency of a quarterback and a team is the escape valve for the quarterback – the receiver they are very comfortable with and look to when they can’t find anyone else. If that guy is missing then the quarterback will likely struggle because the chemistry is the most important factor to success.

What changes were made in the offseason? – Casual NFL sports bettors see changes that were made in the offseason and automatically assume that their full impact will be felt right away. That’s obviously not the case. New players have to get familiar with their teammates, their surroundings, and the new system. New coaches have to get a sense of the talent they have, figure out how to use that talent, and teach and refine their systems. Sometimes an offense will look like they are really grabbing on to a new system, but then they’ll take a step backwards as the football coaches try to broaden the play book and add needed wrinkles. The more changes that have been made, the more rocky the road could be in the short term for the NFL team.

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