Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 Week 8 NFL Power Ratings

Before diving into the updated power ratings for Week 8, I wanted to debunk a common fallacy that exists amongst the masses in regards to the sports markets.

There is a common misconception amongst the general public that opening numbers are set by Las Vegas oddsmakers. While that was the case twenty years ago, nowadays this assumption could not be further from the truth. Granted there are some exceptions, for example, Johnny Avello from the Wynn releases the world College Football openers for the upcoming week every Sunday, but that's about it.

Generally speaking, Vegas books will either open their own numbers with extremely low limits and wait for offshore outfits like Pinnacle or CRIS (Costa Rica International Sports) to post their numbers so the Vegas shops can mimic them, or they simply won't release a line until the aforementioned organizations put their opinions on the board. In Lehman's terms, "Vegas" does not set the numbers anymore; virtually every opening line originates offshore.

Although there isn't a ton of viewership on the site, I wanted to outline this important point in hopes of educating the average person who may know a thing or two about sports, but not so much about the markets.

P.S. It's in an oddsmaker's best interest to set accurate point spreads and totals, considering their job security and financial well-being basically depends on it. These guys truly have a vested interest in the outcome of games.

So the next time you turn on ESPN and listen to the 'experts' give their predictions, just remember that those talking heads will still collect their annual salary and continue to appear on television, regardless of how wrong their analysis and/or opinions are.

In hindsight it seems like an absolute no-brainer, but I will admit there was a time when I followed ESPN and other mainstream media outlets as if it were the be-all and end-all gospel without paying any attention to point spreads or oddsmakers' opinions. Talk about being young and naive!

The moment I snapped out of this irrational funk and realized mainstream media 'analysts' have essentially no skin in the game when it comes to making predictions or giving insight, the more knowledgeable I started to become regarding sports.

To be frank, oddsmakers know sports better than any of the talking heads on television, as well as the writers amongst the mainstream media, and it's not even close.

Without further ado, here are the Week 8 NFL power ratings...

99.5 Denver
   97 Dallas, Seattle
   96 Indianapolis
95.5 San Diego
   95 Green Bay, Baltimore, San Francisco
   94 Philadelphia
93.5 Detroit, Kansas City
   93 New England, Arizona, Cincinnati
   92 New Orleans, NYG, Miami
   91 Chicago, Carolina, Pittsburgh
90.5 Houston, Buffalo, St. Louis, Cleveland
   90 Washington, NYJ, Atlanta
   89 Minnesota
   88 Tampa Bay
87.5 Tennessee
86.5 Oakland
   86 Jacksonville  

Here's a few quick-hitters...

Denver is the best team in the NFL until I see otherwise. In a league full of teams with visible flaws from top to bottom, the Broncos appear to be the most complete squad. The defense looks to be much better than it was last year, while the offense hasn't seemed to miss a beat. Additionally, Denver has played a much tougher schedule thus far through seven games compared to 2013, which is another reason why I'm a believer.

Albeit the Packers beat Carolina, Chicago and Minnesota by a wide margin, but I don't view any of those teams as above-average, to say the least. I understand that teams can only beat the opponents on their schedule, but so far I don't think the Packers have beaten any good teams. Green Bay's W/L record looks good on the surface, but after digging a little deeper it appears this team is overrated and the offshore opener of New Orleans -1 supports that notion. Granted the Saints at home in a primetime game has been a profitable proposition for years, but the fact that this game opened up above a PK should tell you something about how oddsmakers feel about this matchup.

Quite frankly, Seattle outgained the Rams by nearly 200 yards, and St. Louis needed a miraculous special teams return touchdown, coupled with the ballsiest fake punt I've ever seen in order to defeat the Seahawks. I'm not ready to write off the defending champs yet (although it appears the mainstream media has done just that). The Seahawks have played a difficult schedule thus far and have marquee wins over Green Bay and Denver. It's amazing how quickly the general public gives up on a team as good as Seattle after just a few poor showings. Granted, the Seahawks haven't looked like a top team during the past two weeks, but they are still the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl as far as I'm concerned.  

Projected Week 8 Point Spreads
San Diego @ Denver (-7.5)
Detroit (-4) @ Atlanta*
Minnesota @ Tampa Bay (-2)
Chicago @ New England (-5.5)
St. Louis @ Kansas City (-6.5)
Seattle (-4) @ Carolina
Buffalo @ NYJ (-2.5)
Miami (-6) @ Jacksonville
Houston (-2.5) @ Tennessee
Baltimore @ Cincinnati (PK)
Philadelphia @ Arizona (-2)
Indianapolis (-3) @ Pittsburgh
Oakland @ Cleveland (-6.5)
Green Bay @ New Orleans (-1)
Washington @ Dallas (-9.5)

*game played in London

Thursday, October 2, 2014

2014 Week 5 NFL Power Ratings (October 2, 2014)

Here are the updated power ratings for Week 5:

 100 Seattle
   99 Denver
   96 Cincinnati
   95 San Francisco, San Diego, Arizona
94.5 Green Bay, Detroit
   94 Indianapolis
93.5 New Orleans, Philadelphia, Baltimore
92.5 Chicago, Dallas
   92 Atlanta, Carolina, New England, Pittsburgh
91.5 Kansas City, NYG
   91 Miami, NYJ
90.5 Houston, Washington, Buffalo
   90 Cleveland, Minnesota
   89 Tennessee
88.5 St. Louis, Tampa Bay
   86 Jacksonville
   85 Oakland

Last week, I mentioned that I didn't want to write off San Francisco after just a few weeks of football. It turns out that was probably a good idea.

While the offensive unit as a whole looked relatively sloppy, the 49ers' defense stepped up and held Philadelphia to zero offensive points. Granted some of that defensive production may be attributed to the Eagles' porous offensive line, but nonetheless, San Francisco deserves credit for their defensive performance on Sunday. Overall, the 49ers surrendered a pick-six, as well as two special teams touchdowns, yet still managed to win the game outright, which is pretty impressive if you ask me.

I don't think there was ever any real animosity between Harbaugh and the players. I'm not exactly sure where those reports came from, but it looks like the media got that one wrong. If there's something to be concerned about in San Francisco, it's the relationship between Harbaugh and general manager, Trent Baalke, as well as Harbaugh's future prospects with the organization.

Admittedly, I came into the season too high on both New England and New Orleans. Through the first three weeks of the season, these teams clearly didn't look as good as I thought they were, but I continued to give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't like to overreact to a couple games of football, but it seems pretty evident to me that the Patriots and Saints aren't as good as I thought coming into the season.

With that said, I still have faith that the Saints will get their act together once they start playing some home games, and ultimately win the NFC South, but nonetheless, this is not the juggernaut that many of us envisioned prior to the start of the season.

New England still has a decent shot at winning the AFC East by default, considering how bad their divisional counterparts are. However, there are serious concerns with the Patriots' roster (specifically on the offensive line) that cannot be ignored.  

Week 5 Projected Point Spreads
Minnesota @ Green Bay (-8)
Chicago @ Carolina (-2)
Cleveland @ Tennessee (PK)
St. Louis @ Philadelphia (-6)
Atlanta @ NYG (-3)
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-9)
Houston @ Dallas (-5)
Buffalo @ Detroit (-7)
Baltimore @ Indianapolis (-3)
Pittsburgh (-6.5) @ Jacksonville 
Arizona @ Denver (-7)
Kansas City @ San Francisco (-6.5)
NYJ @ San Diego (-6)
Cincinnati (PK) @ New England
Seattle (-6.5) @ Washington