There is obviously more to handicapping than just the numbers, but statistics are the most valuable tool we can use, and are a key ingredient to picking winners. One method you can use as a great starting point to handicapping a game is creating power rankings.
Regardless of how you set up your power rankings, it is suggested that you use median instead of average. The reason for this is that averages can skew your data based on one “off” performance, which will make your power rankings less effective.
For example, let’s say that you are trying to set up a power ranking for the Indianapolis Colts’ offense. In five games this season, the Colts have scored 31, 28, 35, 3, and 27. If you add these five scores together and divide by five to get the average, you will project the Colts’ offense at 24.8.
This is too low, as that game in which they scored only a field goal looks to be an anomaly. To find the median, list all of the scores in order and use the one in the middle. In this case: 3, 27, 28, 31, 35. The median is 28, which looks to be a much more realistic indicator of this offense.
Since the median score per team in the NFL is about 21 points per game, this number should be used as an indicator as to how well an offense or defense will do this week.
For example, let’s say the Indianapolis team above is playing Houston this week. Defensively, Houston has surrendered 14, 21, 24, 28, and 45 points in their last five games. That’s a median of 24.
Since we know that the league median is 21 points, we see that the Indianapolis offense scores 7 points above the median, and Houston’s offense gives up 3 more points. Therefore, we can project Indianapolis to score 31 this week; 21 (league median) + 7 + 3. If you do this for each team offensively vs. defensively, you have established a power ranking for the game that you can use as a starting point for your wager.