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NFL's Roughing Penalty and Its Impact

   by ASA - 10/02/2018

We’re four weeks into the regular season and much has been made of penalties in the NFL, namely the roughing the quarterback calls. So how has this heightened sensitivity around QB’s impacted Over/Under wagers and Totals in the NFL this season?

Let’s first examine points scored. In 2017 through the first four weeks of the season the average total points scored in an NFL game was 43.73 points per game. The yearly average points scored in 2017 ended up at 43.55PPG, which is slightly lower than the first four week average. Thus far in the first four weeks of 2018, the average points scored per game is a hair under 48 at 47.95PPG. That’s a jump of over 4-points per game compared to the first four games last season.

Now let’s look at penalties. This year we have seen an average of 7.1 flags dropped per game for 61.5-yards per game. Last season for the entire year the league average was 54.7 penalty yards per game on 6.6-flags per game. In the first four weeks of 2017 there isn’t a big difference compared to the 2018 numbers. There were an average of 7.07 flags thrown per game for an average of 59.5 yards per game in 2017. Barely more flags and penalty yards than the first four weeks in 2018 compared to 2017.

Yes, scoring is up this year in the NFL, but so is the average Total set by Vegas. So far in 2018 the average O/U set by the oddsmakers on a game is 45.67. In 2017 through four games that average was 44.2 so you can see how Vegas is adjusting for the higher scoring games. The correction in the Totals has kept the Over and Unders in check with a 34-29 record to start the season. In 2017, through the first four games the Overs were 32-31, and in the next four weeks they remained near-equal at 29-27.

So we’d have to make a case that, in general, penalties (roughing the QB) haven’t had a dramatic impact on Overs and Unders through the first four weeks, even though the average points scored per game is up in 2018. Again, that’s because the oddsmakers weren’t born yesterday, and they’ll continue to adjust to any and all rule changes the NFL may make.

Best of luck with all your wagers this weekend,


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