Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 Week 9 NFL Power Ratings

Here are the updated power ratings for Week 9...

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

Denver is clearly the best team in the NFL by a relatively wide margin. The rest of the order is debatable and open for interpretation, as there aren't many dominant teams in the league at this point in time. I'm sure many people don't think Seattle is the second best team in the NFL, and will point to Arizona's 6-1 record or reference their losses to San Diego and Dallas, and I understand that. However, every other team besides Denver has visible flaws, which makes it difficult to rank some of the upper-echelon teams, as I feel most of them are in the same tier. When it comes down to it though, Seattle would be favored over pretty much any of the 94's and 95's, regardless of what my opinion is.

I'm not completely sold on Arizona yet, considering they've been on the right side of three different coin flips (San Diego, NYG, Philadelphia).

Seattle is a tough team for me to get a read on. They obviously haven't looked as good as they did last year, but it's difficult for me to believe the Seahawks aren't a top five team.

New England has looked great since the embarrassing loss to Kansas City on national television, but I'm not a believer. The Patriots are missing key players for the remainder of the season (Mayo and Jones) and eventually it's going to catch up to them. This defense cannot stop the run but the offense has been able to temporarily camouflage this weakness thanks to the reemergence of Gronkowski.

Kansas City may only be 4-3, but two of those losses came against San Francisco and Denver in tight games. I'm not sure how good this team is, but I do believe they are better than most people perceive them to be. The Chiefs can't afford to sleepwalk through Sunday's game against the Jets though, considering they have plenty of challenging opponents coming up down the stretch.

Week 9 Projected Point Spreads
New Orleans @ Carolina (PK)
San Diego @ Miami (PK)
Jacksonville @ Cincinnati (-10)
Tampa Bay @ Cleveland (-6)
Washington @ Minnesota (PK)
Philadelphia (-1.5) @ Houston
NYJ @ Kansas City (-8.5)
Arizona @ Dallas (-2) (w/ Romo)
St. Louis @ San Francisco (-9)
Denver (-3) @ New England
Oakland @ Seattle (-13.5)
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (PK)
Indianapolis (-2) @ NYG
 



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 16, 2014

2014 Week 7 NFL Power Ratings (October 16, 2014)

Here are the updated power ratings for Week 7:

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

Week 7 Projected Point Spreads
NYJ @ New England (-7)
Cincinnati @ Indianapolis (-3)
Tennessee @ Washington (-5)
Miami @ Chicago (-3)
Cleveland (-5.5) @ Jacksonville
Seattle (-7) @ St. Louis
Carolina @ Green Bay (-6)
Atlanta @ Baltimore (-7)
Minnesota @ Buffalo (-5)
New Orleans @ Detroit (-3.5)
Kansas City @ San Diego (-4.5)
NYG @ Dallas (-5)
Arizona (-3.5) @ Oakland
San Francisco @ Denver (-6.5)
Houston @ Pittsburgh (-3)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

2014 Week 6 NFL Power Ratings

Here are the updated power ratings for Week 6:

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

Projected Week 6 Point Spreads
Indianapolis (-2.5) @ Houston
Denver (-8.5) @ NYJ
Pittsburgh @ Cleveland (-1.5)
Jacksonville @ Tennessee (-5)
Chicago @ Atlanta (-3.5)
Green Bay (-3.5) @ Miami
Detroit (-2) @ Minnesota
Carolina @ Cincinnati (-6.5)
New England (-2) @ Buffalo
Baltimore (-3) @ Tampa Bay
San Diego (-8.5) @ Oakland
Dallas @ Seattle (-10)
Washington @ Arizona (-3)* w/ Thomas
Washington @ Arizona (-7)* w/ Palmer
NYG @ Philadelphia (-1.5)
San Francisco (-4) @ St. Louis

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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

2014 Week 4 NFL Power Ratings (September 25, 2014)

With another interesting week of NFL football in the books, it's time to update the power ratings. 

Note: I decided to change up the scale for a couple of reasons, primarily because I was using '85' as an arbitrary number to represent the best team, which can be confusing and doesn't make much sense. As a result, '100' will be used as the benchmark instead of '85' from here on out.

Just to give a refresher, if Seattle played Cincinnati on a neutral field, the Seahawks would be about a 4-point favorite according to my ratings. By no means is this the end all, be all, but the ratings allow us to compare each team, and ultimately estimate how much better one team is than another.

Here are the updated power ratings for Week 4:

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

To give another example, if New Orleans played Dallas on a neutral field, the Saints would be favored by about 6 points according to the ratings.


Just a few quick hitters on some of the upper-echelon teams...

There wasn't really anything I saw from Seattle that concerned me, aside from maybe falling asleep at the wheel with a 17-3 fourth quarter lead. However, that type of stuff tends to happen in the NFL, and it's not always clear how to interpret these instances. To me, Seattle outplayed Denver for most of the afternoon, but went through the motions with a fairly large lead in the fourth quarter and allowed the Broncos to get back in the game, thanks to a textbook Peyton Manning drive. With that said, Denver showed us they can compete with the Seahawks, which a positive sign moving forward, and I didn't see a reason to upgrade or downgrade either team.

Cincinnati has been impressive this year, there's no doubt about it, but I'm not as high on them as most analysts, writers and math modelers. I believe that too much stock is being put into Cincinnati's home win against Atlanta in Week 2. Despite the Cincy beat down, it cannot be forgotten that Atlanta is a 'dome team,' meaning they are much better when playing at home as opposed to on the road. As a result, we can't confuse the Atlanta team that beat New Orleans and Tampa Bay at home with the Atlanta team that went on the road and got blown out by Cincinnati.

Additionally, Andy Dalton is still the quarterback of this team. Last time I checked, the quarterback is the most important player on the field and usually has the largest impact on the outcome of a football game. In the NFL, you're only as good as your quarterback, and I truly believe that. Hue Jackson appears to be doing a solid job with the offense, which should continue to benefit Dalton, but I'm still not sold on the erratic, fourth-year quarterback. However, I digress. If Cincinnati can win at New England next week, perhaps I will buy in and change my tune on this team.

There's no doubt that San Francisco hasn't looked like an elite team through the first three weeks, but I'm not writing them off yet. While I may be behind the curve with this one, the 49ers are currently installed as 4.5-point favorites in their matchup with the Eagles, which gives me some confidence that San Fran is still an above-average team. The 49ers are having problems specifically with the offensive line and defensive secondary, but with their backs against the wall versus Philadelphia, we should see an improved San Francisco team this week.

Philadelphia may be 3-0, but they are missing three of their five starters on the offensive line, which is a major problem that hasn't been talked about much by the mainstream media. Another concern is that the defense has looked pretty soft thus far, particularly in pass coverage. Kirk Cousins had all day to throw in the pocket, and as a result he lit up the defense for over 400 passing yards. Don't be fooled by the 3-0 record, as Philadelphia is very fortunate to be undefeated and has major issues on the offensive line that cannot be understated.

To their credit, Green Bay's defense didn't play poorly against Detroit last week, but overall I view the unit as soft. Dom Capers has overstayed his welcome in Green Bay as far as I'm concerned. They have trouble getting stops, as well as creating turnovers, which is a recipe for disaster on defense. Additionally, the Packers have a relatively weak offensive line, which has been a problem in both of their losses. It really makes you wonder what this team would look like if Aaron Rodgers wasn't running the show. Rodgers has held that roster together during the last couple of seasons and I would argue that he's the most valuable player to his team, as well as to the point spread.

The Vikings aren't an upper-echelon team, but I wanted to touch on their quarterback situation. It might take a few games to show in Minnesota, but Teddy Bridgewater is an upgrade over Cassel as far as I'm concerned. I wouldn't expect Adrian Peterson to return this season, and as a result, one would think offensive coordinator Norv Turner will start airing the ball out. Handing the ball off to Matt Asiata for three yards isn't going to win games in the NFL. Minnesota needs to become a high-variance team if they want a shot at the playoffs this year and I think Bridgewater will emerge as a competent NFL quarterback as he becomes acclimated to the league.

Week 4 Projected Point Spreads
NYG @ Washington (-4)
Buffalo @ Houston (-3)
Tampa Bay @ Pittsburgh (-8 )
Detroit (-1) @ NYJ
Tennessee @ Indianapolis (-7.5)
Carolina @ Baltimore (-3.5)
Green Bay (PK) @ Chicago
Miami (-4) vs. Oakland*
Jacksonville @ San Diego (-12.5)
Atlanta (-2.5) @ Minnesota
Philadelphia @ San Francisco (-4)
New Orleans (-3.5) @ Dallas
New England  (-3) @ Kansas City
  
*Game being played in London

Thursday, September 18, 2014

2014 Week 3 NFL Power Ratings (September 18, 2014)

Here are the updated power ratings for Week 3:

85.0 Seattle
84.0 Denver
82.0 New England, New Orleans, San Francisco
80.5 Green Bay
80.0 Cincinnati
79.5 Philadelphia
78.5 Indianapolis, San Diego
78.0 Carolina, Detroit, Baltimore, Arizona (w/ Palmer)
77.5 Chicago, Pittsburgh
77.0 Atlanta
76.5 Miami, Houston, Buffalo
76.0 Dallas, NYJ
75.5 Kansas City, Arizona (w/ Stanton)
75.0 Cleveland, Tennessee, Washington
74.5 Minnesota, Tampa Bay, St. Louis
73.5 NYG
71.5 Jacksonville
71.0 Oakland
  
Week 3 Projected Point Spreads
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-6.5)
Green Bay @ Detroit (-1.5)
Tennessee @ Cincinnati (-7.5)
Dallas @ St. Louis (PK -120)
Washington @ Philadelphia (-6)
Oakland @ New England (-13.5)
Houston (-1) @ NYG
San Diego @ Buffalo (-1.5)
Indianapolis (-6.5) @ Jacksonville
Minnesota @ New Orleans (-10.5)
Baltimore (-1.5) @ Cleveland
San Francisco (-3) @ Arizona (w/ Stanton)
Kansas City @ Miami (-3.5)
Denver @ Seattle (-5)
Pittsburgh @ Carolina (-3 -120)
Chicago @ NYJ (-1.5)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Week 2 NFL Power Ratings (September 11, 2014)

With the first week of NFL football in the books, it's time to go back to the drawing board and make some adjustments to the power ratings.

Most of the teams remain unchanged after the first week of games. However, there were a couple of squads that jumped out and got my attention, for better or for worse. While it may be dangerous to overreact to 60 minutes of football, it can also be detrimental to underestimate what occurred during Week 1. It's difficult to strike a balance between the two, and as a result I don't like moving any team too far up or down the spectrum based on one game of football. 

Here are my updated power ratings for Week 2...

85.0 Seattle
84.0 Denver
83.0 San Francisco
82.5 New Orleans
82.0 New England
81.5 Green Bay
78.5 Cincinnati, Philadelphia
78.0 Pittsburgh, Indianapolis
77.5 Detroit, Arizona, San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago
77.0 Carolina, Miami, Baltimore
76.5 Tampa Bay
76.0 Minnesota, Houston, Kansas City
75.5 NYJ, Tennessee
75.0 Buffalo, Washington, Dallas
74.5 NYG, Cleveland, St. Louis
73.5 Jacksonville
73.0 Oakland

Note: St. Louis has a * because they are down to their third-string quarterback. If Shaun Hill is available to start Sunday's game, then St. Louis would be more like a 76. 

Upgrades:
Detroit (77 to 77.5)
Atlanta (77 to 77.5)
Miami (76 to 77)
Minnesota (75.5 to 76)
Tennessee (75 to 75.5)
Buffalo (74.5 to 75)

Atlanta showed some resiliency in their comeback win against New Orleans, which definitely warrants some respect. In case we had forgotten, Matt Ryan reminded us that he is one of the upper echelon quarterbacks in the league (I'd take him over Foles any day of the week) after his 2013 campaign was sort of swept under the rug due to a poor performance by the team as a whole. I'm not sold on the defense, but boy did that Atlanta offense look impressive on Sunday. This team is nowhere near the 4-12 mark they put up last year, and it cannot be forgotten that the Falcons went 13-3 just two short years ago.

Minnesota looked impressive against St. Louis, although the final score may not give a true indication of how good each team is. Not only were the Rams forced to turn to third-string quarterback Austin Davis after Shaun Hill left the game due to injury, but St. Louis also committed 13 penalties resulting in 121 yards, as well as two turnovers. It was a sloppy performance overall to say the least. However, the Vikings averaged 6.1 yards per play and 6.0 yards per rush attempt against what is thought to be a stout, above-average defense, so you've got to give them some credit there. Overall, I was impressed with Mike Zimmer's debut and it's safe to say Minnesota proved to be the better team in this one.

Status Quo:
Seattle (85)
Denver (84)
San Francisco (83)
New Orleans (82)
Cincinnati (78.5)
Philadelphia (78.5)
Pittsburgh (78)
Indianapolis (78)
San Diego (77.5)
Baltimore (77.5)
Arizona (77.5)
Carolina (77)
Tampa Bay (76.5)
Houston (76)
NYJ (75.5)
Dallas (75)
Cleveland (74.5)
Jacksonville (73.5)
Oakland (73)

San Diego and Arizona are two teams to keep a close eye on during the next few weeks. Both teams looked fairly even on Monday night, but neither of them impressed me. San Diego had trouble moving the ball various times throughout the night and they could never really get into a rhythm. Similarly, Arizona's offense was mostly held in check, aside from a few big plays. Arizona's run defense was stellar, despite the absence of Darnell Dockett which was a positive sign. I was tempted to lower each team down to a 77, but decided to take the wait-and-see approach. It's tough to judge these two teams (compared to the rest of the league) based on that head-to-head matchup, and thus will keep my eyes peeled. 

Cincinnati's offense moved the ball with relative ease on Baltimore, but struggled mightily to convert in the red zone. The Ravens offense looked horrible in the first half, but nonetheless they still managed to spark a comeback and almost steal a game they had no business winning. Flacco threw the ball 62 times, which is absolutely ludicrous to me. The Bengals kicked five field goals (three of which occurred inside the red zone), which is obviously not a recipe for success. However, Cincinnati managed to scrap out a tight one, but the jury is still out on both of these teams as far as I'm concerned.

Philadelphia made survivor pool entrants like myself extremely weary after mailing in a first half clunker and finding themselves down 17-0 at halftime to a team that has been an NFL bottom dweller for years. Chip Kelly made some adjustments at the break and the Eagles ended up outscoring the Jags 34-0 in the second half. Despite the impressive comeback, Philadelphia's offensive line is decimated, and that 17-0 halftime deficit is nothing to gloss over. The division they play in might be terrible, but the Eagles are far from world beaters and I still have my reservations about this team.

Downgrades
New England (82.5 to 82)
Green Bay (82 to 81.5)
Chicago (78 to 77.5)
Kansas City (76.5 to 76)
St. Louis (76.5 to 74.5)
Washington (75.5 to 75)
NYG (75 to 74.5)

New England may have just come out flat in Week 1 and gone through the motions, but in the same token, Miami committed three turnovers so it's not like the Dolphins were sharp in this one either. Miami ended up blowing the game open in the second half, outscoring the Patriots 23-0. I was only able to see bits and pieces of this game, but I thought Bill Lazor's offense looked light-years ahead of the one we were accustom to seeing down in Miami.

Green Bay's defense couldn't have looked softer on Thursday night. Granted they had to face the Seahawks in Seattle, but the defense simply couldn't get stops and struggled to make tackles. We will find out more about the Packers as the season progresses, but the offensive line and defensive unit are two question marks that I would keep an eye on. After Brian Bulaga left the game with a knee injury, the offensive line fell apart once Derek Sharrod took over at right tackle. Aaron Rodgers was under all sorts of pressure, and as a result Green Bay couldn't move the chains on offense. I'm not a fan of Dom Capers and his defensive scheme and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers continue to struggle against above-average offenses.

Tampa Bay's offense couldn't have looked worse against Carolina. The Bucs were shutout for the first three quarters until they strung a few scoring drives together in the fourth. Some of Tampa Bay's struggles on offense could be attributed to the inexperience of their play-caller (offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was unavailable to call plays), but nonetheless, it's tough to feel good about this offense. The offensive line did not look good to say the least, and to make matters worse Logan Mankins was injured during the game. However, I will take the wait-and-see approach with this team for now because I have respect for the defense and head coach Lovie Smith.

Week 2 Projected Point Spreads
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-2.5)
Detroit @ Carolina (-2)
Miami @ Buffalo (PK -120)
Jacksonville @ Washington (-4
Dallas @ Tennessee (-3)
Arizona (-2) @ NYG
New England (-3 -120) @ Minnesota
New Orleans (-5.5) @ Cleveland
Atlanta @ Cincinnati (-3 -120)
St. Louis @ Tampa Bay (-6)
Seattle (-5) @ San Diego
Houston (-1.5) @ Oakland
NYJ @ Green Bay (-8)
Kansas City @ Denver (-10.5)
Chicago @ San Francisco (-6.5)
Philadelphia @ Indianapolis (-2.5 -120)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

2014 Week 1 NFL Power Ratings (September 4, 2014)

It's that time of the year again, folks. The NFL is back!

With the 2014 season set to begin on Thursday night, I figured it was time to post my Week 1 power ratings.

As a reminder, I do not look at W/L records at all when making these ratings. I noticed that sites like ESPN and Bleacher Report basically just rank every team in order according to win/loss record to create their rankings, and those media sites are extremely influenced by what happened the week before. I'm pretty sure my nine-year-old cousin is capable of ranking teams in order (1-32) according to their win/loss records. I prefer to take a big picture approach considering I understand you can't overreact to a single game of football. I also realize that every team plays a different strength of schedule, and thus raw W/L records don't really tell us much about how good a team is compared to another.

For my power ratings, I assign numerical values to each team in order to get a better estimation of how much better one team is than another. Seattle is the best team in the NFL according to my ratings, but how much better are they than teams like Denver, Green Bay and New Orleans? I look to answer those types of questions when constructing power ratings.

Note: San Francisco has an * because they are missing some key players due to injury and/or suspension. There is no doubt in my mind that the 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL, and thus they warrant a rating in the low-80's. However, at the beginning of the season, I wouldn't be surprised to see them struggle a bit out of the gate. With that said, I decided to keep San Francisco at an 83, realizing that teams like New England, New Orleans, and Green Bay may be better off as of now, but when it's all said and done, I expect the Niners to be right around that 83 mark. I didn't think it would be smart to move off of my number just because of the temporary absence of a few players. So please just keep that in mind when evaluating these ratings.

85.0 Seattle
84.0 Denver
83.0 San Francisco*
82.5 New England, New Orleans
82.0 Green Bay
78.5 Cincinnati, Philadelphia
78.0 Chicago, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis
77.5 San Diego, Baltimore, Arizona
77.0 Atlanta, Detroit, Carolina
76.5 Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Kansas City
76.0 Houston, Miami
75.5 Minnesota, NYJ, Washington
75.0 NYG, Dallas, Tennessee
74.5 Cleveland, Buffalo
73.5 Jacksonville
73.0 Oakland

Power ratings can be used to project the beginning stages of a point spread. For example, if Denver played Green Bay on a neutral field, my power ratings suggest Denver would be about a 2-point favorite. Other factors such as location, perception, schedule spots, etc. are then implemented into the number in order to create a more accurate point spread.

One thing that jumps off the page to me is the significant drop off between the top 6 and the rest of the aforementioned teams. While the NFL is known for it's competitive parity, and the playoffs are synonymous with underdogs getting hot and crashing the party, I don't see many viable contenders outside of the top six teams on this list.

I prefer to create my own numbers before checking out the Offshore/Vegas lines in order to avoid being influenced by the market. For example, when you go into a car dealership to buy a car, you want to have a price in your head before speaking with a salesperson. That way you can compare the sales price with your estimated price, and determine whether you are getting fair value or being overcharged. The same logic can be applied to the financial markets when trading stocks, commodities or futures. The trader usually has a predetermined price range in mind before exploring the market for opportunities. 

Projected Week 1 Point Spreads
Green Bay @ Seattle (-6)
New Orleans (-3) @ Atlanta
Minnesota @ St. Louis (-3.5)
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-6.5)
Jacksonville @ Philadelphia (-9.5)
Oakland @ NYJ (-5)
Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-2)
Buffalo @ Chicago (-6.5)
Washington @ Houston (-3)
Tennessee @ Kansas City (-4)
New England (-5) @ Miami
Carolina @ Tampa Bay (-2)
San Francisco (-4.5) @ Dallas
Indianapolis @ Denver (-8)
NYG @ Detroit (-5)
San Diego @ Arizona (-2.5)

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16 Power Ratings

With only 16 teams remaining in the Big Dance, I thought it would be appropriate to provide ratings and projected point spreads for the Sweet 16 round.

93.5 Louisville
92.5 Florida
92.0 Arizona, Michigan St.
90.5 Virginia
89.5 Kentucky, Michigan
89.0 Wisconsin
88.5 UCLA, Iowa St.
88.0 Tennessee
87.5 Baylor, UConn
87.0 San Diego St.
86.5 Stanford
84.0 Dayton

Projected Sweet 16 Point Spreads

SOUTH:
Florida (-4) vs. UCLA
Stanford (-2.5) vs. Dayton
EAST:
Michigan St. (-1.5) vs. Virginia
Iowa St. (PK -120) vs. UConn
WEST:
Arizona (-5.5) vs. San Diego St.
Wisconsin (-2) vs. Baylor
MIDWEST:
Louisville (-4) vs. Kentucky
Michigan (-1.5) vs. Tennessee

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Revised NCAA Basketball Power Ratings (March 19, 2014)

Haven't posted power ratings in a few weeks, so I figured it would make sense to provide them before the tournament games begin tomorrow.

Here is my top 50...

93.5 Louisville
93.0 Florida
92.0 Arizona
91.0 Michigan St.
90.0 Wichita St., Duke, Virginia
89.5 Villanova, Kansas*, Creighton, Michigan
89.0 Wisconsin, Syracuse
88.5 UCLA
88.0 Iowa St.
87.5 Oklahoma St., Cincinnati, VCU, UConn, Ohio St., Kentucky, Iowa
87.0 Memphis, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Gonzaga, New Mexico, SMU, San Diego St.
86.5 Saint Louis, Oregon, Tennessee, Baylor
86.0 Stanford, Texas
85.5 Oklahoma, Arizona St., Utah
85.0 St. John's, Providence, Kansas St., Massachusetts, George Washington, Xavier, Saint Joseph's
84.5 Nebraska, BYU*, Louisiana Tech, Harvard, LSU

*I dropped Kansas' rating down 2.5 points to an 89.5 due to the absence of Embiid.

2014 NCAA Tournament: Elite 8 Breakdown

While most people are probably filling out brackets and formulating Final Four selections in anticipation of tomorrow's tournament action, I've shifted all of my focus towards forecasting the Elite 8.

I'm participating in an Elite 8 selection contest, in which each entrant must select the final eight teams (two from each region) remaining in the tourney, and thus it doesn't make sense for me to analyze each individual bracket matchup or try to pick the potential champion. I just wanted to clarify that before diving into the Elite 8 discussion.

This is one of the better combinations I could come up with after looking at the matchups, but there are some teams I don't have much confidence in (i.e. Cuse, Creighton, Duke) yet they end up in most of my preliminary E8 projections.

South: Florida, Syracuse

It's tough for me to put Kansas into the E8 due to the uncertainty surrounding Embiid. I'm also not a Bill Self fan when it comes to in-game coaching. UCLA is another team I considered, but I just figured Florida would be 3 or 4-point faves if they met in the S16. I'm not sold on Syracuse at all, but I don't feel comfortable putting Kansas or Ohio St. in my E8. I thought about New Mexico, but I haven't seen them play much, and thus don't know if they would be able to handle the 2-3 zone.

Midwest: Louisville, Duke

This region is absolutely stacked. It's tough for me to put Wichita St. into the E8 considering they might have to navigate past Kentucky and Louisville to get there. I also figured Louisville would be favored over Wichita in a potential S16 matchup, and with the way the bracket is set up, I can't pick them both. Duke is a jump-shooting team that is soft on the interior which is obviously a concern. I narrowed it down to either Duke or Michigan, and went with Duke because I thought they would be short favorites if they met in the S16.

East: Michigan St., Villanova

Think the bracket sets up well for Nova and I like their chances against either UConn or Saint Joe's. I would make Nova small faves over Iowa St. on a neutral court, and that's basically the reason I have them in as of now. I feel like a potential Michigan St.-Virginia would be close to a PK, but the numbers show Michigan St. has a slightly better chance of getting to the final eight so I went with them.

West: Arizona, Creighton

This is definitely the weakest region IMO. I'm nervous about a potential Arizona-OK St. meeting in the round of 32, but it's tough for me to pick anyone else besides Zona to come out of that part of the region. As for the other section of the West region, I narrowed it down to either Creighton or Wisconsin. Creighton makes me a nervous because they rely so much on the 3 ball (although they do have a plethora of excellent shooters). I've watched this team closely throughout the year and they just aren't the same team away from home. Wisconsin hasn't fared well historically in the NCAA tournament, but their team appears to be structured differently than in previous years (much more offensive-oriented), which kind of throws me off.

Here's a breakdown showing each contender's chances of making the Elite 8, which is based off of projected point spreads and basic probability theory.

 

Elite 8 Chances

Team Region Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 E8 Chance
Florida South 0.98 0.67 0.62 40.7%
Louisville Midwest 0.93 0.72 0.60 40.2%
Arizona West 0.98 0.62 0.62 37.7%
Michigan St. East 0.92 0.65 0.52 31.1%
Villanova East 0.93 0.62 0.52 30.0%
Duke Midwest 0.92 0.62 0.52 29.7%
Creighton West 0.92 0.62 0.52 29.7%
Virginia East 0.96 0.62 0.48 28.3%
Michigan Midwest 0.94 0.62 0.48 28.0%
Wisconsin West 0.92 0.58 0.48 25.6%
Syracuse South 0.90 0.55 0.50 24.8%
Kansas South 0.90 0.54 0.50 24.3%
Iowa St. East 0.78 0.60 0.48 22.5%
Wichita St. Midwest 0.97 0.55 0.40 21.3%
San Diego St. West 0.76 0.58 0.35 15.5%
Ohio St. South 0.72 0.45 0.47 15.2%
UCLA South 0.85 0.52 0.33 14.7%
VCU South 0.74 0.48 0.30 10.5%
Uconn East 0.65 0.38 0.42 10.4%
North Carolina East 0.63 0.40 0.38 9.6%
Saint Louis Midwest 0.60 0.28 0.32 5.4%

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NCAA Men's Basketball Power Ratings (February 20, 2014)

I went back to the drawing board with my numbers and made some adjustments. I know a lot of sharp people have Louisville at the top of their list, but it's tough for me to put them number one due to their soft schedule. There are definitely some opinions built into these numbers, but I tried not to deviate too far away from the market consensus.

Here is my top 50...

93.0 Florida, Kansas
92.5 Louisville
92.0 Duke, Syracuse
91.5 Arizona, Michigan St.*
91.0 Iowa, Creighton
90.0 Villanova, Wichita St., UCLA, Iowa St., Kentucky
89.5 Virginia, Michigan, Ohio St.
89.0 Wisconsin, Cincinnati
88.5 San Diego St., Saint Louis, Pittsburgh
88.0 North Carolina, UConn
87.5 Memphis, Oregon, Texas
87.0 VCU, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Kansas St., Stanford
86.5 Arizona St., SMU, Oklahoma St.*, Tennessee, California, Utah
86.0 New Mexico, St. John's
85.5 Massachusetts, Missouri, George Washington, West Virginia, Baylor
85.0 Marquette, Xavier
84.5 Minnesota, Nebraska, Providence

P.S. Michigan St. and Oklahoma St. have * next to them because of injuries and it is difficult for me to assess each team in their current form. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

NCAA Men's Basketball Power Ratings (February 14, 2014)

With the NFL season finished, I have decided to shift my focus towards NCAA Basketball.

I never usually agree with the AP poll or Coaches poll, primarily because I believe the voters put too much emphasis on win/loss records. I also have a problem with simply ranking teams down the list 1-25. I'm pretty sure a fifth grader can rank the top 25 teams in order based on win/loss record.

For my power ratings, I assign numerical values to each team in order to get a better estimation of how much better one team is than another. Kansas is the best team in the nation according to my ratings, but how much better are they than teams like Arizona, Florida and Syracuse? I look to answer those type of questions when constructing power ratings.

Note: Michigan St. has a * because they have injury problems and thus are tough to assign a number to at the moment. 93 is where I think they ultimately end up come March, but their current form is tough to judge. Oklahoma St. also has an asterisk because they are another team that is tough to quantify at this point in time. This team hasn't been the same since Michael Cobbins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury and I just can't get a read on them.

Here is my top 50...

93.5 Kansas
93.0 Syracuse
92.5 Arizona, Florida, Duke, Louisville
92.0 Michigan St.*
91.0 Villanova, Iowa
90.5 Kentucky, Michigan, Creighton
90.0 Virginia, Wichita St., Iowa St.
89.5 UCLA, Ohio St.
88.5 Cincinnati, San Diego St., Wisconsin, Pittsburgh
88.0 SMU, North Carolina, Saint Louis, UConn
87.5 Texas, Memphis, Oregon, Arizona St.
87.0 VCU, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Kansas St., Stanford, Utah, Oklahoma St.*
86.5 California, Tennessee
85.5 West Virginia, St. John's, Baylor, Massachusetts
85.0 George Washington, Missouri, New Mexico, Minnesota
84.5 Florida St., Georgetown, Marquette, Xavier

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Revised NFL Power Ratings (Conference Championship)

Here are the updated power ratings and projected point spreads for the Conference Championship round.

84.0 San Francisco, Seattle
83.0 Denver
80.0 New England

Projected Conference Championship Point Spreads
New England @ Denver (-4.5)
San Francisco @ Seattle (-3.5)
 
It looks like some sharp money came in on Seattle this morning. The line is currently painted -4 everywhere after teetering between -3 / -3.5 throughout the week. I honestly think San Francisco is the better team at the moment, but it's extremely difficult to bet against Seattle at home. However, considering this is a playoff game with a low total, I'd take the Niners if I had to pick a side.

Denver is down to -4.5 at most places on the screen. According to my ratings, Denver should be -6 at home versus New England assuming the Broncos get three points for home field. However, the coaching mismatch between Belichick and Fox warrants at least a one-point adjustment, especially considering the magnitude of the game.