Pythagorean Theorem, Turnover Margin, and how they Correlate to NFL Win Totals

By Billy Attridge

August 10th, the first real day of action-packed NFL preseason games is here!  For those finally getting a chance to dig deep into NFL Win Totals, you’re behind professional sports bettors when it comes to digesting and analyzing the numbers.  However, there’s still opportunity in the market to capitalize on potential investments.  When analyzing the regular season wins total market, the Pythagorean Theorem is a decent starting point in identifying value.  Correctly utilizing this formula in conjunction with turnover margin will allow you to be ahead of the game as it pertains to future bets.

As detailed in this article, one can use a teams’ point differential across an entire season to come up with an expected win total.  In order to make this number more accurate, we also factor in a teams’ turnover margin.  Now, I cannot emphasize enough that this is just a starting point, and there are a plethora of factors that should be analyzed before making a wager (strength of schedule, scheduling spots, travel, personnel changes, market entry, etc.).

Here are the top four teams in each category of playing above or below expectation.


Oakland Raiders – Expected Wins (7.57); Actual Wins (12)

Kansas City Chiefs – Expected Wins (8.66); Actual Wins (12)

Dallas Cowboys – Expected Wins (10.19); Actual Wins (13)

Miami Dolphins – Expected Wins (7.49); Actual Wins (10)

[BetOnline.Ag Bonus Codes: 75BTB first time deposit (75% Bonus); 50BTB for reloads (50% Bonus)]


Jacksonville Jaguars – Expected Wins (7.36); Actual Wins (3)

Cleveland Browns – Expected Wins (4.95); Actual Wins (1)

Chicago Bears – Expected Wins (6.80); Actual Wins (3)

Los Angeles Chargers – Expected Wins (8.18); Actual Wins (5)

As seen above, the Raiders were expected to win 7.57 games last season, but actually won 12.  They were +16 in turnover margin, and went 8-1 in games decided by 7 points of fewer.  Outside of the New England Patriots, it’s rare to see teams consistently perform well in one-score games over the course of several seasons.  Their current season win total at BetOnline.Ag sits at 9.5 Under (-105), if one was inclined to look that way.  In what should be a competitive AFC West, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders fare this year in both turnover margin and one-score games.  Oakland has six trips combined to the eastern and central time zones including Philadelphia and Kansas City in December.  Yes, Vegas has made the Raiders “look-ahead” favorites in 10 of 16 games this year, but once you get past the projected 4.5-win Jets and 6.5-win Bills, the remaining 14 games do not include a team with a win total less than 7.5 – just a brutal schedule.