Power Ratings: NFL Week 6

My power ratings come into the sixth week of the NFL season off a fantastic 9-3 week five. This is a high point for my ratings, and my confidence in them continues to grow week after week. I have now made an adjustment on 30 of the 32 teams in the league with Buffalo and San Francisco the only teams at the same level currently as they were at the beginning of the year.


To date my power ratings are 39-29-2 ATS (57%) overall. Top bets (advantages of 3.5 or more) are 17-9 ATS (65%). This week there are three advantages of more than a field goal, they are, San Diego, Buffalo, Oakland and Seattle.


Power Ratings: NFL Week 5

I wanted to address something before this weeks posting of my power ratings.

This is my first year doing these ratings, following the outline I set in place in the opening week of the season. This is something that is new to me as it is to all of you. Along the way there have definitely been errors made on my part. These errors were certainly not intentional, and happened due to time constraints and mainly an overall learning curve to the process. Displaying the information in an efficient manner to get the point across, along with answering questions each day can cause a mind to make poor decisions. I have been tinkering each week to make the ratings easier to use and decipher for all bettors, and this has added to the confusion. After receiving a few emails from readers, I have made what I feel to be the easiest, and best way to display this information, and manage from my end. This is a format I want to stick to moving forward as I believe it illustrates the idea of having a set starting and managing the ending point for each team, and generating weekly point spreads along the way.

Here are my power ratings for Week 5:

Power Ratings Week5.png

As readers can see, I have each team displayed down the left with their preseason expected wins total which combined the market win total and Pythagorean expectation. I have adjustments which I have made to each team in the past 4 weeks displayed in the third column. The fourth column is the current expected win total for the end of the year. Next I have home field advantage along with the power ratings spread. The power ratings spread is determined using the end of the season expected win total and not the pre-season win total. The difference from current spread is the advantage generated from the ratings. This figure is the sum of the home field advantage and current ratings spread minus the current market spread.

To date my Power Ratings are 30-26-2 ATS overall. Advantages of more than a field goal (3 points) are 14-8 ATS. This week there are four advantages of a field goal or more, they are, Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Dallas.


Power Ratings: NFL Week 4

Last week I talked about not getting overwhelmed with information as the season moves further away from the beginning and closer to the middle. This week, there is not a big lesson to be taught as many principals from last week still apply. The only advice that can be passed along is remembering to stay in lane. The shore that was the beginning of the season is gone, and maintaining pace and staying true to mechanics is the key to continuing on as things head towards the midway point.

Last week, the power ratings had their first losing week of the season, going 7-9 ATS. When creating the ratings, the temptation was definitely there to attempt to skew ratings in order to warrant bigger bets and make up for the losing week. As I was going down my spread sheet creating my ratings for this week, I had top stop myself from keeping one eye on the end column as I was doing my adjustments just to see how big the bet would be. This is natural and comes with gambling, but it important to fall back on the basics and stick with the mechanics that have led to successful results in the past.

I made adjustments for the JJ Watt injury. His consensus value to the point spread was between 1 and 1.5 points, which spread out over the course of the season equates to 1 win. I had them neutral coming in, and have since adjusted them -1.

I have adjusted the Bears down a win after another horrific performance in prime time. I still think that other ratings and the general perception are too low on them as they have skill players in the right positions, and Hoyer is much better than the average backup. This difference in opinion shows as they are among the biggest differences this week.

I have bumped the Pats up a win on the season, although I think that would be considered low if compared to other ratings. I actually believe they are in for somewhat of a let down with Brady coming into the picture next week. Guys on this team have stepped up in all positions to account for his suspension and then injury to Garoppolo. With Brady back in, we may see guys take it for granted and the level of play on the Pats dip slightly and performance ATS lack what is has been.

Minor adjustments down on New Orleans due to their defence, San Diego due to their injuries and Jacksonville to poor performances. Minor adjustment up on Atlanta due to their strong start offensively. Other than that all teams remain level with where they were entering the season.

The overall record of my ratings entering Week 4 is 25-19-2 ATS. Advantages of more than 3 points are 10-5 ATS. This week there are 7 teams with advantages greater than 3 points. They are, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Tampa Bay, San Diego, Dallas and NY Giants. Other advantages this week include, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Tennessee, Cleveland and Pittsburgh for a total of 12 bets.


Power Ratings: NFL Week 3

Last week I talked about maintaining balance within power ratings, and not over reacting by making rash adjustments that are not warranted. While this is something important to keep in mind throughout the season, it is becoming equally important to being paying attention to where things started, and where they are likely to end up.

The best way to illustrate the ideal mindset bettors need to begin developing at this time in the season is to compare weeks three, four and five of the NFL season to running into an open water lake and trying to swim to the other side. At first, there is a ton of excitement running down the beach and diving into the water. That initial excitement leads into a quick and frantic start until it wears off further and further into the water. Soon after beginning swimming, the shore behind disappears and there is a wait for the shore in-front to appear over the horizon. This is often followed by fatigue and a need to get to shore, fast. Often it seems like the last few breaths one can muster get spent trying to make it to a spot where one foot can finally be put down to touch the ground.

The beginning of the NFL season is like running on the beach and crashing into the water. There is a deep understanding of where each teams started and a rash of confidence from bettors was sent into the betting markets with the security of the starting point near. Week three, four and five of the NFL season is when the shore behind disappears and bettors are forced to become increasingly independent. As bettors get further and further away from the shore that was the beginning of the season they are forced to make quick decisions on the spot with no safety net to fall back on. The common beginning of the season handicapping situations (1-0 vs 0-1, teams avoiding 0-2, home openers etc.) are all used up. If strong power ratings are not established, bettors can quickly get lost and disorientated and begin making poor impulse betting decisions which take them off course. The bettors who will stay afloat financially are those who can maintain their pace, don’t panic in rough tides and take the most efficient route from start to finish with the big picture in mind.

Being submerged mentally in the body of water that is the NFL season can cause many bettors not just to make rash adjustments (as we saw last week) but can also cause bettors to get swept into waves of misconception in general. With so much focus and media coverage on each and every game, it can become difficult for bettors to keep their heads above the water and avoid drowning in the perception.

After four quarters of praise from Jon Gruden and the ESPN team on Monday Night, many bettors are now crowning Carson Wentz as the best young quarterback in the league. Nevermind that his success has come against the Browns and an injury riddled Bears defence. The quarterback dilemma which plagued the Broncos throughout the preseason is no longer a worry for most bettors and the defending Superbowl Champs are rated extremely high by most. The fact that both wins were unimpressive despite having a large home field advantage does not factor in.

Bettors swimming in the waters of the NFL season are also very quick to accept anything along the way to keep them afloat temporarily and often refuse to let go despite whatever the fact that whatever they are holding on to may be weighing them down.

There is no example better of this than the Oakland Raiders. Bettors were in love with Oakland at the beginning of the season and continue to back them an extremely high rate (more than $7 of every $10 bet this week is on Oakland at Tennessee). The fact that they have given up 500+ yards in their opening two games of a season is not enough to make bettors let go. Those hanging on long enough may soon sink to the bottom. The same can be said for Andrew Luck and the Colts. The constant unwarranted praise of Luck from sports media continues to cause bettors drifting through the season to swim off course and attempt to grab what appears to be a safety buoy floating in the distance.

All analogies aside, what I am trying to say is, everyone reading this knows where teams started two weeks ago, and everyone has a very good idea of where each team is going to finish at the end of the season. As the season continues, it is important to keep everything in line with the path the teams were set on and not divert their course based on perception. With each week that passes, it becomes easier and easier to become short sighted. Each week that goes by, the markets become stronger and bookmakers become more accurate. This can be used to the bettors advantage. Prices are rarely set based on what a team has done, especially over just a one or two-week sample. Prices almost always get set on what a team is worth. It is better to adjust ratings closer to the markets to keep them accurate, then to move them away to search for a reason to make a bet.

If bettors do not think and act this way, they do not have a chance to make it to the other side. If extra attention gets put into where a team started, and where they are supposed to finish, it is easy to connect the dots in between to keep power ratings accurate and make smart rational betting decisions.

Don’t get caught treading water in during the season grasping for anything within reach.

My ratings went 10-5-1 ATS in week one and 8-6-1 ATS in week two. Advantages greater than 3 points went 3-2 ATS in week one and 3-1 in week two. That leaves my ratings 18-11-2 ATS overall and advantages of more than 3 points 6-3 ATS entering Week 3. This week there are six teams with greater than a field goal advantage (New England, Minnesota, NY Giants, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Kansas City).


Power Ratings: NFL Week 2

Week two of the NFL season is a difficult week for bettors and bookmakers alike. Each year there is a six-month football hiatus between February and September which culminates in an unloading of finances and emotion on the opening Sunday. This football betting overload almost always results in over analysis and reaction. Bettors over react to what they saw in the opening week and bookmakers over react in judging what they think the bettors saw. Because of this games in week two become hard to price and lines move quickly and often.

This is true again this year as just one game this week has remained static with its price. The average line move per game is a very high 1.5 points. This is understandable considering that last week 11 of the 16 games were decided by 6 points or less – an NFL record. Also, the fact that more than 1/3 of the entire league has quarterback uncertainty (first time starter, new team, injury, suspension) is not doing anyone any favours either.

If you are looking to avoid over reacting and keeping your ratings steady throughout the season, it is important to remember that every adjustment must stay within the boundaries of the season. For most bettors, rating teams from week to week is focused solely on the match-up at hand, and not taking into account the bigger picture. Moving teams within the bigger picture was a lesson I learned very quickly in my time working at Paradise Games. The first time I created a futures market, I priced each team in the NFL based solely on how I thought about how each would perform. I ended up extremely top heavy and priced the market to 175%!

The easy way for bettors to adjust teams accurately and fairly is to stay in line with the seasons win market. This was something I went over in detail last week. The main point in the article was that half a win is worth one point on a neutral field. The reason for this is that an average team without margin priced in would be priced at EV each game, which has an implied probability of 50%. Over the course of 16 games, a team with a 50% chance in each would be expected to win eight games. One point in a margin free price would move the line to -115 (1.87) and leave an implied probability of 53.44%. A team with a 53.44% chance in each would be expected to win 8.5 games (16 * 0.5344 = 8.5).

With that in mind, unless there is an injury or significant change within a team, no adjustment in power ratings from week to week should be more than 1 to 1.5 points at the maximum. It is very rare that a case can be made that a team becomes a full win or a full loss worse based on the performance of one game, especially early in the season.

I weigh week one very lightly. If a team performs poorly in their first game in over six months, it is not time to raise any flags. From week one to week two, I have adjusted the ratings of just five teams in the league, moving each a half win up or down.

The two teams I adjusted down are Kansas City and Seattle. This may be a surprise to many considering that both won their games in week one. However, just because a team won does not mean their rating must go up, likewise, just because a team lost does not mean their rating must go down.

Seattle entered week one as the highest projected team when combining season win totals with the Pythagorean expectation at 12.5 wins. As a double digit favourite they needed a last second score to beat the Dolphins. While their defence looked strong, it was their offence, particularly their offensive line which made me sure this team was not a full win and a half better than second highest rated Pittsburgh. With five starters on the offensive line playing in new positions, the Seahawks dynamic offence will be severely limited for weeks to come until continuity is developed.

The worry in Kansas City is on the other side of the ball. KC is rated tied for the fourth highest projection in the league combining win totals with the Pythagorean expectation at 9.5 wins, the Chiefs were listed as 6.5 point favourites at home to San Diego. While the Chargers do have a strong offensive line, the absence of Justin Houston and Sean Smith was glaring. The Chiefs, who rely on their pass rush and shut down secondary suffered, failing to generate any QB pressure and allowing the Chargers to put up 27 points. KC still has to find someone to fill the spot of Smith and wont have Houston back until Week 8. Tough times ahead for this typically strong defence.

The three teams I adjusted up were Houston, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. All three have their quarterback situation sorted and played the three best all around games of the opening week. Pittsburgh made their case to be the highest rated team in the league with a big win on the road Monday Night. Tampa Bay showed that they have a ton of continuity on offence and should be at worst considered a league average team. Houston met their above average expectations and showed that their defence is as strong as ever and eliminated any uncertainty about their quarterback and running back.

My ratings in the opening week went 10-5-1 ATS with teams listed at a difference of 3 points or more going 3-2 ATS. This week there are four teams with a difference of more than a field goal, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Indianapolis. I have bet two of these games myself and advised clients to do the same. If you are not a client, you can become one here.


Power Ratings: NFL Week 1

An interesting article was posted by Benjamin Cronin regarding using win totals to predict week one winners. I thought I would take his information a step further and create a league wide power ratings chart that can be maintained throughout the entire season.

Market efficiency is a term in sports betting which relates to how accurate the prices in a market are. The more efficient a market is, the harder it is to beat as a bettor. A market can be more or less efficient based on how much of all available information has already incorporated into the price.

While you can never be certain a market is 100% efficient, NFL season win totals are among the most efficient markets bettors will encounter during a calendar year of betting. This high efficiency is because bookmakers have had north of three months to adjust their prices based on team information and react to how bettors have bet themselves.

For most bettors, the minute the NFL season kicks off, team win total markets disappear in their minds. Ignoring win totals once the season starts is a foolish practice. Because of the high efficiency in the team win total markets, bettors can use this to their advantage during the season by creating accurate power ratings based off the numbers.

Power ratings are something that all bookmakers use to evaluate teams and quickly come up with a starting line for weekly matchups. Each team begins the season with a rating and it is adjusted up or down each week based on team performance. Instead of coming up with a brand new opinion for each team each week, bookmakers collectively build on their past opinions throughout the season.

Power ratings are something that all bettors should create for themselves. By creating power rankings, bettor can focus on making their rankings more accurate as the season goes on. It is easier to be accurate in grading what a team has done rather than being accurate in predicting what they will do. When bettors have their power ratings, they can compare the rating prices vs the market price and make bets without emotion playing a factor.

Creating power ratings for a league can seem a daunting task. Building confidence in power ratings can also take a long time to earn, especially if the season starts off on a losing note. However, as I mentioned above, bookmakers have already done all the hard work for bettors.

Here is a quick method to use the highly efficient win total markets to create power ratings.

First, open an excel spreadsheet and list all 32 teams in the league with their current win total price.


Second, add in the Pythagorean Expectation for all teams based on their 2015 performance. I have included the values below to save time calculating.

In short, the Pythagorean Expectation is a calculation uses to generate an expected win total for each team based on their points scored and points allowed. Teams that won more games than their expectation can be expected to regress this season. Teams that won less games than their expectation can be expected to improve this season. Factoring the Pythagorean Expectation difference into the already efficient win total market makes the power ratings even more accurate.


Third, the final step is simply adding the two columns together and create the expected wins column for 2016 which you will use for creating point spreads. Then create a fourth column to round each figure to the nearest half win.


Now that each team has their adjusted win total determined, the ratings can be used to generate point spreads. A general rule to follow is that for each half win a team is better than their opponent, they should be favored by 1 point on a neutral field.

The reason for this is that a moneyline for a typical 3 point favourite in the NFL is -145. The implied probability of a -145 moneyline is 59%. If an average NFL team is expected to win 8 games over the course of the season, then a team favoured by 3 points in each game would be expected to win 59% of their 16 games, or 9.5 games. If you subtract 9.5 wins from a team valued 3 points better than the league from an team considered average at 8 wins, you get a difference of 1.5 wins, or 0.5 wins per 1 point.

Here is what the point spread looks like for all 16 games this week using these power ratings.


There are six teams in week one, Denver, Tennessee, NY Jets, Jacksonville, Seattle and New England which have a difference of more than field goal compared to the current point spread. These will be considered “Top Bets” and will be tracked each week throughout the season.