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NFL Power Rankings Explained

What separates NFL betting and sports betting from the majority of casino games is the fact that bettors have a chance to beat the house.

Armed with statistics and knowledge of the game, NFL bettors can make educated decisions on which team will win or cover the spread instead of just leaving things up to blind luck.

And one of the tools at the disposal of smart football bettors are Power Rankings.

Solving for Power Rankings

One mistake that some bettors make when trying to predict scores is simply averaging a team's scores in recent weeks together. If Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts have scored 31, 28, 35, 3, and 27 over the last five weeks, their average score would be 24.8 points per game.

But in reality, this projection is putting too much weight on the game in which the team scored three points, which seems to be an anomaly.

Finding the median score (the score in the middle) by listing the totals from highest to lowest (3, 27, 28, 31, 35) gives us a median score of 28, which looks a lot more accurate.

So should we pencil in Luck and the Colts for 28 points this week? That depends on the defense they are facing. The league averages about 23 points per game, which the Colts on average beat by five points (+5).

If Indianapolis faces a Seattle Seahawks team with a median defensive score of 13 (allowing 3, 10, 13, 17, and 30 over their last five games) that is 10 points below the league average, the Colts project to score 23 (league average) + 5 (Colts offense) – 10 (Seahawks defense) = 18 points.

But against a Jacksonville Jaguars team giving up a median of 28 points per game, the Colts will project to score 23 + 5 + 5 = 33 points, which in football scoring would probably look more like 31 or 35.

Using Power Rankings to Your Advantage

Power Rankings are just one piece of the puzzle. By solving for each team's offense and defense by their recent form and using it against the league's average in scoring, bettors can project out a score for each game on the schedule on Sunday.

This projection can be used as a starting point. From there, the savvy NFL bettors can factor in matchups, injuries, emotions, and other factors to make solid decisions and pick some winners.

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