By Steve Rieder
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"The difference between sharps and squares is that sharps bet numbers and squares bet teams."
Most successful sports handicappers use a quantitative standard for assessing the game. In order to do that, it is imperative to use power ratings, also known as 'power rankings,' to identify the point differential between opposing teams. By comparing two teams’ power ratings and accounting for home-field advantage, the bettor can objectively determine what the point spread should be and take advantage of any difference in the actual line.
NFL WEEK 5 POWER RATINGS
We went 7-3 last week on our Best Bet. Although we are winning on the season at an incredible 59% clip, our closing line value has been even more impressive. Past performance doesn’t necessarily correlate to future results, nevertheless, let’s hope it is a harbinger of things to come.
The three teams at the head of the NFL class all won and maintained their status as the league’s elite. Tampa Bay, who underwhelmed in their victory in New England, stays status quo because of the emotional nature of the game. On the other end of the spectrum, the Texans have been holding firm, further cementing their status as the worst team in the NFL. While the Jaguars put up a fight on Thursday Night, their head coach put up little resistance at the bar. The ½ point upgrade I made for their performance against the Bengals was apparently rubbed off in Meyer’s lap dance as their Power Rating remains unchanged this week. Not to be outdone, Detroit is making their case for the NFL's most inept team. Seeing their share of injuries and poor performance has thwarted any idea of improvement. The only thing the Lions did this weekend that was impressive was making Justin Fields look serviceable.
Regarding the construction of each team's power rating, I make adjustments independent of other teams. I may eventually go back and look at two teams that have the same Power Rating and make an adjustment afterward, but ultimately, my decisions are based exclusively on whether they exceeded or underperformed based upon expectations from one week to another. I clearly factor in health, continuity, and a variety of other factors to ultimately derive my final rankings. This is why I’m so fascinated that I have 6 of the 32 NFL teams all lined at -2.5. The Dolphins, Steelers, Bengals, Football Team, Colts, and Giants are evenly rated. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. When I try to parse fact from fiction and separate these six, I keep coming back to the same conclusion: they are fairly equivalent below-average teams.
Looking back at our best bets from last week’s NFL Power Ratings article:
- Miami Dolphins Moneyline (-125) - LOST
- NE +7 parlayed to UNDER 49.5 (+268) - WON
- MIN +8 Teaser (-120) - WON
Home Field Advantage Note:
Home Field Advantage (HFA) is not the standard 3 points it was once assumed to be. After analyzing the data, I adjusted my HFA coming into the season. However, early returns suggest I didn’t lower them enough. You will notice an adjustment for most teams from last week to this week.
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