NFL Power Rankings
Just about everyone who follows sports these days has come across power rankings. They’re most common in football, but many sites provide updated power rankings for every major sport. When it comes to the NFL, just about every sports publication, big and small, has their own set of NFL power rankings, including ESPN, USA Today, and the league itself, at NFL.com.
The NFL rankings at these sites may follow some sort of formula or may be the opinion of a particular staff member or team of writers. For betting purposes, using a single set of power rankings from a trusted publication alone probably won’t directly translate into betting profits, but there may be some value in using consensus numbers.
However, when it comes to sports betting, there is another way to look at power rankings or power ratings. Sports bettors can make their power rankings to determine their edge against the oddsmakers by creating their own point spread odds. These typically involve both subjective (opinion) and objective (statistics) criteria. Below you will find a step by step guide to how to make your own NFL power ratings system.
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Make Your Own NFL Power Rankings
There isn’t a consensus when it comes to making your own NFL power rankings. Many utilize different formulas, and it wouldn’t make sense for a sharp sports bettor to share his formula with the masses if he was crushing the sportsbooks with his power rankings.
There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to create your own NFL power rankings. They can be as simple as assigning each team a numeric value and creating your own point spreads from there, but they can also be incredibly complex.
Create a Basic Power Rankings
For instance, let’s say we rated each team based on their ability on a numeric scale. In this NFL ranking system, let’s say the best team would be rated as a 10 and the worst team a 1. Sure, this is simplistic, but it’s the simplest form creating your rankings before moving on into more advanced stuff.
The New England Patriots, coming off one of their elite seasons, we decide to rate as a 9 to start the year. The Cleveland Browns, a team that seems to be perpetually rebuilding, might be rated as a 1.
Using our extremely basic grading system, we see that the Patriots have an 8 point (9 – 1 = 8) advantage over the Browns. New England also happens to be playing at home, which is traditionally worth three points in the minds of the sportsbooks.
Our rudimentary power ranking system here tells us that the Patriots should be favorite by 8 points on a neutral field, but 11 points with their home field advantage.
Of course, this is a highly basic form of power rankings, but making it more advanced is simple. We can assign values for defense, offense, coaching, special teams and other categories, including advanced statistics.
Defense, Offense, and Coaching
Let’s start with defense, offense, and coaching. Our rating for New England, in this case, might be a 7 for defense, 8 for offense and a 10 for coaching. Love him or hate him, there is no doubt Bill Belichick is the best coach in the league.
And for the Browns, well, they’re at the bottom of the barrel offensively, but their defense has been better in recent years. We will give them a 3 for offense, 7 for defense, and a 3 for coaching.
How To Calculate NFL Power Rankings
Our NFL power ratings for the Patriots add up to 25 (7+8+10 = 25). The numbers for the Browns add up to 13 (7+3+3= 13). We can get our advantage by subtracting the team with the lower rating by the team with the higher rating. In this case, it’s 13.
Add in our three-point home field advantage and the Patriots are rather large 16 point favorites according to our power rankings. We can then compare our own set of odds versus the sportsbook’s odds to find advantages.
Advancing Your NFL Power Ranking Model
The above “formula” for power rankings could be utilized, but we suggest some more fine tuning and categories. Assigning letters grades for each aspect of a team and then having those letter grades be worth a numeric value is another route. Utilizing more advanced statistics is another consideration.
Your power rankings will need to be adjusted each week based on the performances of each team as well. This can add up to be a lot of work, but if you build a model that is strong, it could offer you an advantage, particularly when it comes to opening odds.
The other option is to let the larger publications do most of the work for you. For instance, you might take ESPN’s and USA Today’s power rankings and create a rating system that gives you the aggregate score.
Are NFL Power Rankings Essential?
Absolutely not. Although many of the top syndicates and professional level bettors do have betting systems, they’re far more advanced that most mainstream power rankings. You may strike gold with your power rankings, but do you truly think you’re smarter than the sportsbooks?
The better way to look at power rankings is to use them as another tool in your sports betting repertoire. Trusting your rankings against the line movements of betting markets is going to make your sports betting career a short one.
Making your own rankings or using others is entirely okay, but trusting it blindly is not something we recommend for pretty much anyone but the most elite sports bettors. You’re still going to make most of your money at sports betting by focusing on the right markets and line shopping.