NFL Win Totals using the Pythagorean Theorem and Turnover Margin

Written By Billy Attridge

Football season is back and with that comes our annual NFL Win Totals article.  Here we look to find value with a math formula most of us are familiar with by now (If not, here is an article detailing how we arrive at the numbers below).  We utilize the Pythagorean theorem to help us better understand prior season performances of all 32 NFL teams, and potentially uncover wagers that could lead us to the window come January.

A quick synopsis of the Pythagorean theorem: Combine last season’s point differential with turnover margin and you have an expected win value over the course of 16 games.  While I do use this method as a starting point for each team, it’s just the very beginning.  Strength of schedule, coaching strategy, personnel changes, travel and optimal market entry ALL need to be considered before placing bets.

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Here are the top five teams that played above or below expectation.


Buffalo Bills  Expected Wins (5.868); Actual Wins (9)


Pittsburgh Steelers  Expected Wins (10.037); Actual Wins (13)


Philadelphia Eagles  Expected Wins (10.744); Actual Wins (13)


Minnesota Vikings  Expected Wins (10.854); Actual Wins (13)


Carolina Panthers  Expected Wins (8.902); Actual Wins (11)



Cleveland Browns  Expected Wins (6.141); Actual Wins (0)

Houston Texans  Expected Wins (6.832); Actual Wins (4)


Denver Broncos  Expected Wins (7.151); Actual Wins (5)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers  Expected Wins (7.031); Actual Wins (5)


New York Giants  Expected Wins (4.842); Actual Wins (3)


Focusing on teams that overachieved last year, Buffalo was an easy target for professional bettors with their win total opening 7 at most shops (a few 7.5’s did exist), and settling in around 6.5 juiced to the under (-120 through -150).  More recently, the Bills have fallen to 6 wins with juice shaded to the under.  Due to the massive movement, most of the value is gone on the boys from Orchard Park, so let’s focus on the Carolina Panthers.


The Panthers finished last season 11-5, losing to the Saints in the opening round of the playoffs.  Taking a peak into Carolina’s 2017 season, they went 8-1 in one score games (4-0 in games decided by a field goal or less), faced a relatively easier schedule of opposing defenses than they will this year, and lost both coordinators from last year.  Carolina’s defense will face arguably the toughest slate of offenses this season, and keep in mind All-Pro linebacker Thomas Davis will miss the first 4 games with a PED suspension.  Finally, training camp has not been kind to Carolina, losing starting DB Ross Cockrell to a torn ACL, and potential starting OL Daryl Williams has a torn MCL, which may cause him to miss the start of the season.  It’s also worth mentioning the Panthers lost their best lineman Andrew Norwell in free agency to Jacksonville.  This number opened 9 (-130) to the under at BetOnline.AG, and this past week we’ve seen an appetite in that direction with most books moving to 8.5 (+115) or 9 (-145).  Under 9 (-145) is worth an investment if you don’t mind tying your money up for 5 months.