What the NFL Emphasizing Illegal Contact Means for Bettors

The NFL plans to emphasize illegal contact more in 2022.
The NFL plans to emphasize illegal contact more in 2022. / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

NFL fans and bettors alike head a collective sigh this morning when a report was released, per Kevin Seifert, that the NFL has asked officials to emphasize illegal contact penalties in 2022.

As a refresher, this is what "illegal contact" means:

"Illegal contact refers to prohibited contact by a defender when the quarterback still has the ball and remains in the pocket. It is a 5-yard penalty and results in an automatic first down."

Listen, nobody wants MORE penalties in the NFL. It's frustrating and hurts the product. But, if that's the reality that we're going to live in, we need to accept it and figure out how to take advantage as bettors.

What More Illegal Contact Penalties Means for Bettors

There's a key aspect of illegal contact penalties that we need to be aware of, and that is that it results in an automatic first down. Who cares about five yards? Automatic first downs are absolutely key in keeping drives alive.

As Kevin Seifert points out in his article:

"Officials flagged illegal contact an average of 97 times per season between 2002 and 2020, but that number dropped to 36 last season. The decrease prompted the NFL's competition committee to include illegal contact among its "points of clarification," formerly known as "points of emphasis," for the 2022 season."

Is it a coincidence that only eight teams in the NFL last year had the OVER hit more often than the UNDER? If drives aren't being extended by penalties, does that lead to lower scoring?

I believe it does.

So, with the NFL admitting that they're going to increase illegal contact penalties, which result in an "automatic first down", we should bank on more points being scored, especially early on in the season.

More points, means more OVERs.

Just something to keep in mind as we inch toward the 2022 NFL regular season.

You can track Iain's bets on Betstamp here.