Armed with statistics and knowledge of the game, NFL bettors can make educated decisions on which team will win or cover instead of just leaving things up to blind luck. One of the tools at your disposal are NFL Power Rankings.
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How Are NFL Power Rankings Calculated?
When you look at the betting odds for any given NFL game you wish to wager on, you may wonder what the chances are of your team covering. This is a valid question, and one that the betting public asks in the 18 weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. With a Power Rankings system in place, you can make smart NFL picks.
Here at Odds Shark, we have the tools and the talent to understand how to calculate power rankings. Our team rankings take into account different factors like points scored, strength of schedule, roster moves, and how a team has done in the past ATS.
Historical Spread Coverage
When we rank teams, we want to see how they’ve measured up in the past. To do this, we use our odds and handicapping NFL database. This allows us to see a team’s history of covering against certain opponents, home/road splits, as the favorite, as the underdog, and the month the games were played in.
Let’s say we want to see how the New Orleans Saints stack up against the Atlanta Falcons in September as a road favorite in their last 30 meetings. Our Odds Database tells us that since 1988, the Saints have covered once, in 1991. These stats indicate that in their next game against Atlanta, there’s a strong chance that they won’t cover.
Strength Of Schedule
A team’s opponent can help us determine where they should sit in the rankings. A team like the Green Bay Packers is a dynamo because they have an elite quarterback and a prolific offense, but they also play against lesser teams, which eventually leads to a playoff spot and an easier path to the championship game.
Their division consists of the Chicago Bears, the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions. The aforementioned teams may not give the Pack much of a fight on the field. They are also going to face their division rivals many times during the regular season, probably leading to huge wins every time.
On the other hand, a team like the Seattle Seahawks could find themselves rising in the rankings because of who they’re playing against. They share a division with the Los Angeles Rams, the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers, who are all considered tougher teams.
A team that constantly plays against tougher opponents will rise in the rankings if they unfailingly win. A team that frequently faces off against lesser squads will not shift their position in the rankings unless they have the offense and defense to back it up.
NFL Standings and winning percentage will only tell a part of the story. The Dallas Cowboys could be in first by Week 4 of the regular season because they’ve only played against teams who are still finding their groove, whereas the Pittsburgh Steelers may be in third place but have faced teams that have given them a run for their money like the Baltimore Ravens.
During the offseason, the Indianapolis Colts could find themselves acquiring the best free agent running back in the league. Because of this move, they will climb in the NFL Power Rankings. But, the team that lost the best RB in the league will descend unless it was able to acquire other tools like a first-round draft pick to fill that roster void.
Teams will rise and fall in the rankings if star players succumb to injuries, especially if it’s a quarterback, and even worse if it’s long term. This is a key position that can make or break a game. The same goes for a strong running back or wide receiver. Injuries to the offensive line or defensive line can also cause a team to drop a few notches in the rankings.
Using The Numbers
Each team has two scores: defensive (touchdowns and field goals they give up) and offensive (what they earn). One mistake that some sports bettors make when trying to predict scores is simply taking the average of a team’s O-scores in previous weeks. If the Los Angeles Rams have scored 31, 28, 35, 3 and 27 over the last five weeks, their average score would be 24.8 points per game.
In reality, this projection is putting too much weight on the game in which the team only scored 3, which seems to be an anomaly. The reason they were held to only a field goal in that matchup could range from the weather to the strength of the other team’s defense to injuries.
Instead, find the median score another way by listing the totals from highest to lowest: 3, 27, 28, 31, 35. This gives us a median, or more accurately, a middle score of 28 which makes a lot more sense.
So, should we gamble on the Rams to score 28 this week? That depends on the defense they are facing. NFL teams average about 23 points per game, which LA, on average, beats by five.
If LA 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 average. To calculate what the Rams are projected to score, you would take the league average of 23 plus their offensive extra 5 points minus the Seahawks’ D-score loss of 10 (23+5-10) = 18 points.
However, against a Kansas City Chiefs team giving up a median of 28 points per game, the Rams will project to score 23 + 5 + 5 = 33. Because football scores are based on increments of 3 or 7 (field goals and touchdowns), that score of 33 will probably look more like 31 or 35.
You can build your own system to give yourself some reprieve this football season, or use ours. Most of the NFL betting public use professional systems like the one we’ve created at Odds Shark. Moreover, how we rank teams can be used as a starting point to handicap your football bets. From there, you can make savvy picks by checking the NFL odds and NFL Betting News.
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