The punter or the bookmaker who can spot a base change in a sport and how it alters the make-up of a market gives himself a huge advantage. As a side note to this chapter, one of the most brilliant examples of spotting a change almost before it happened was highlighted by Paul Austin of IG. His firm had noticed that in the 2002–2003 season teams appeared to be using significantly more passing plays than rushing. The reason was unclear—perhaps because better passers than rushers had been drafted in the last couple of years, perhaps because the overall ability of rushers had slightly dipped.
But the effect was significant for spread bettors. More passing plays meant the clock was stopped more often during the game which meant significantly more downs were being played. The result was more possible scoring plays and an increase in the total points scored. IG deliberately raised their total points quotes on the back of the evidence. The statistics at the end of the season proved the theory spot on as a record number of touchdowns were scored during the regular season.
NFL Annual Record and Fact Book: The NFL’s official record book, containing detailed information on teams and players. Good section on the all-time record of every team. Statistics include teams’ record in specific situations such as on a Monday night and in particular months.