NFL Power Rankings
One of the most popular weekly NFL articles you’ll see is a power ranking. Each week, almost every major outlet and many smaller blogs come up with an NFL power rankings list. This is essentially a rating that ranks the entire league from the best team to the worst team. While it’s useful to an extent – especially for bettors or new people to the sport – it’s really just a subjective ranking based on someone’s opinion.
Let’s take a closer look at NFL power rankings, how they are compiled and talk about their usefulness. We’ll start off with a quick guide on how to bet on football, in case you’re new to the popular pastime.
How To Bet On Football
If you’re new to betting on the NFL, let’s go through a quick walkthrough to introduce you to how the betting lines work.
When you first take a look at the betting lines, you’ll usually see a matchup along with odds next to each team’s name. Let’s use the following example:
Green Bay Packers -2.5
Detroit Lions +2.5
As you can see, this is a point spread and this is essentially a margin of victory. In this case, you see that the Green Bay Packers are favored. You know that because they have a minus sign next to their odds. When a team has a negative sign in front of the line, that means that they have to win by more than that margin to cover. In this case, the Packers have to win by at least three points to cover the spread. On the other hand, if you’re betting the Detroit Lions, you’re getting +2.5 points. That means that as long as they lose by two points, by one point or win the game, then you win your bet on the Lions at +2.5.
What Are NFL Power Rankings
NFL power rankings are essentially a ranking of the teams in the league from top to bottom. That means that the team that’s No. 1 in the power rankings is viewed as the best team in the league while the team that’s No. 32 is viewed as the worst. Power rankings are viewed as an important tool in establishing a pecking order in the food chain. Everyone from fans, bettors and medias keeps a close eye on these as this impacts the matchups on a weekly basis. If a team is perceived to be No. 27 in the power rankings and they beat the team that’s No. 3, that’s a big upset.
Power rankings are also a useful tool as they can help track a team throughout the season. These rankings are usually released weekly, so this allows you to see which way the teams are trending. If a team was No. 20 in Week 1, No. 14 in Week 3, No. 7 in Week 6 and No. 3 in Week 10, this gives you an idea that they are playing better and better as the season progresses.
Remember that in the NFL, teams play in different divisions and different conferences, so it’s not always easy to stack them against each other. The power rankings puts everyone together and sorts the teams in order from best to worst regardless of where or who they play.
How Are Power Rankings Compiled
One important thing to keep in mind with power rankings is that these are not official. Power rankings are usually compiled by either analysts or members of the media, so this tends to be either one person or a group’s perception of the landscape.
In terms of how the rankings are made, that’s usually up to the person doing the article. They may have different formulas or statistics that they take into account. For example, the team that ranks first in points per game scored and points per game allowed would probably be viewed very highly. Beyond that, win-loss record is taken into account as well as strength of schedule.
But remember there can be flaws in power rankings. This is someone’s opinion. That means they can be way off at times – especially the preseason power rankings where a lot of it is based on what happened last year.
Sports Betting Power Rankings
While power rankings tend to deal with how teams are playing overall, you’ll often find sports betting power rankings, which are slightly different. In the NFL, bettors usually play the point spread versus the moneyline, which means that performance against that margin versus how a team performs outright is important. For example, a team might be 10-0 overall, which is ideal in the real world, but they might only be 2-8 against the spread, which means they’ve been one of the worst teams in the league to bet on.
When you see an against the spread power ranking, this focuses on the teams that are best to bet on throughout the year. So if a team is in the top of the ATS Power Ranking, they would be the team that’s performed best against the spread so far. While regular power rankings tend to involve a lot of pundit opinions, ATS Power Rankings are strictly based on the numbers, so there is far less room for conjecture. The best team is the one that has been the most profitable for bettors and the worst team is the one that has the lowest winning percentage against the spread.
From time to time, you’ll also see power rankings in terms of totals. Although these are harder to find, what these do is rank the teams from best to worst in terms of overs and unders. This is often more useful to bettors as it gives you a clear idea of who is playing lots of overs – I.E. high-scoring games – and who is playing more unders – I.E. low-scoring games. This is not as frequently covered in the main stream, so that’s what makes this type of article more useful and more informative than the generic power rankings, which can be found almost everywhere each week.