We're officially in the final stretch of the NFL season and teams in contention are looking to lock up their spots in the NFL playoffs.
Now that we have a good sample size of data to use, we have a solid idea of what teams are for real, and what teams are frauds. The Vikings top the list of potentially fraudulent teams, at least that seems to be the case when you look at net yards per play.
Net yards per play takes the average amount of yards gained per play on offense, subtracted by the amount of yards given up per play on defense. The number that you're left with is net yards per play.
It's important to remember that net yards per play is a good stat to begin your handicapping process, but it shouldn't be the only thing you look at. It doesn't take into consideration things like third down conversion rate, red zone efficiency, and turnovers.
At the conclusion of Week 12, let's take a look at the latest standings in net yards per play.
Vikings 30th in Net Yards per Play Ranking
The Minnesota Vikings are the second seed in the NFC at 9-2, but yet their stats don't back up their impressive record. Heading into Week 13 of the season, the Vikings rank 30th in net yards per play at -0.8.
A big reason for their low ranking is they rank 31st in opponent yards per play. Their defense has struggled all season, and they've allowing 6.9 yards per play over their last three games which is the worst mark in the NFL by a wide margin.
As I wrote above, net yards per play doesn't tell the whole story. A big reason for the Vikings success is they rank third in the league in average turnover margin per game at +0.5. Not turning the ball over and getting takeaways on defense can flip a game on its head, and that's what the Vikings have been able to do.
The Vikings are 3-point favorites against the New York Jets in Week 13.
Saints Turnover Issue Cost Them Dearly
The New Orleans Saints are a complete opposite example of the Vikings. They're 4-8 on the season, but rank seventh in the league in net yards per play at +0.5. The reason being is they rank dead last in average turnover margin at -1.2. That's the worst in the league by 0.4.
If they can learn to limit their turnovers on offense and force more takeaways on defense, they have a chance to go on a late run and contend in the NFC South. They're 3.5-point underdogs on Monday Night Football in Week 13 in a pivotal game against the Buccaneers.
You can track Iain's bets on Betstamp here.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.