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The NFL Bettor's Power Rankings

For those of you who followed my articles and/or blog last year, I'm back with a venegence this year.  After a major overhaul of my NFL statistics system, I've cracked the illustrious 60 percent win mark and am looking to see if I can keep it up.

This week will begin the weekly NFL Gambling Power Ranks, where I'll give you the team rankings and rank each game in terms of "best bets."

But before I get into the rank, I'll give the brief overview of how the rankings are formed. The three basic components for the power rankings are: performance, predictability, and importance.

The primary driver of the ranks, the performance-based metric, is "expected points."  Based on the work of Football Outsiders, plus the addition of my own statistics, "expected points" represents the expected team performance against a league average opponent.

In the first few weeks, "expected points" (ExP) are weighted to a greater degree, and are lessened as statistics start accruing during the course of the season.

The second component is volatility (or "predictability"). What good is performance unless it's predictable? Using volatility algorithms from a career in finance, I've applied multiple volatile metrics to measure each team's predictability.

These don't really kick in until Week Three, as it's hard to measure volatility without data points, but as the season goes on, it gets much more useful.

The final component, and a new addition for me, is importance of the game. Last season, this was not a factor, and the ranks were skewed as a result.

A team with nothing on the line can afford to be more unpredictable in their performance. For instance, last year, Cleveland was on the cusp of making the playoffs. When I remove the game value from the equation, Cleveland's performances, despite the volatility, put them squarely in the mix with playoff contenders.

When I add in the game value, Cleveland's inability to perform when it mattered drops them back into the has been category.

 

All of these measures (and others) are used in determining the best bets every week.  Without any more lip from me, here are the ranks and best bets:

 

Power Ranks ▲▼
1 PHI ▲1
2 GB ▲1
3 NE ▼2
4 SD  
5 MIN  
6 DAL ▲4
7 TB ▲1
8 IND ▼2
9 PIT ▲2
10 DEN ▲6
11 BAL ▲2
12 NYG  
13 JAC ▼4
14 SEA ▼7
15 CAR ▼1
16 ARI ▲2
17 NO  
18 CHI ▲1
19 TEN ▲2
20 NYJ ▲2
21 BUF ▲4
22 HOU ▼7
23 CIN ▼3
24 WAS ▼1
25 KC ▲1
26 CLE ▼2
27 MIA  
28 DET  
29 SF ▲2
30 ATL ▲2
31 OAK ▼2
32 STL ▼2

 

And this week's best bets:

Rank Pick Vs Spd
1 NE @ NYJ +1.5
2 GB @ DET -3
3 TEN @ CIN +1
4 BAL @ HOU +4.5
5 NO @ WAS -1
6 PHI @ DAL +7
7 MIN v. IND +2
8 SD @ DEN -1.5
9 CHI @ CAR +3
10 OAK @ KC +4
11 BUF @ JAC +5.5
12 MIA @ ARI +6.5
13 TB v. ATL -7.5
14 SF @ SEA +7
15 CLE v. PIT +6.5
16 STL v. NYG +9

 

I love the NE pick, and I think there's a definite overreaction to Brady's (tragic—I am a Pats fan, after all) injury in Vegas. Not to mention the Jets BARELY beat last year's worst team.

I also love the GB pick, but I'm not in love with TEN. Kerry Collins is a little too cromagnum for my tastes, and I think Carson Palmer will be out to prove he's still got an ability to win, even with Senor Ocho Cinqo.

BAL is another good pick in my opinion, and as long as Flacco remains marginal, they should have a solid season ahead of them.

WAS is another team I just don't get, I think Jason Campbell is totally overrated, and Jim Zorn is totally confused. Big money has poured into PHI after the STL thrashing, but it'll be a tough contest in DAL.

I hate the MIN pick, and I think IND will crush them, but the stats do the picking, I just do the cringing.

Look for more commentary here and more articles on Bleacher Report to come.

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