You don’t need some made-up power rankings tweeted out just to get a rise out of the public. We have one of the most liquid markets in the world establishing the value of each team in the NFL. While we try to make the best guess at all 32 valuations based on how that market treated these teams before their last game, it’s always nice to get a hint.
Jeffrey Benson is Circa Las Vegas’ sportsbook operations manager, and Circa Sports takes some of the largest bets in the world on a weekly basis. He would know.
We know why the Bills’ rating dropped in the short term, only to be bumped back up with a healthy-enough Josh Allen. Assuming the two teams ahead of the 49ers are the Chiefs and Bills – which is the best team in the league as of today?
How ratings work
We look at the betting market’s assessment of each team based on the closing lines from the previous week’s games, and then we estimate what each club is capable of going forward. The “rating” column is an educated guess at the oddsmakers’ rating to create a point spread before their most recent game. The number itself represents the percentage chance that a team beats an average opponent on a neutral field.
The range column is my evaluation of each team’s potential after seeing them play this season. Obviously, clubs don’t perform at the same level every week; they play within a range. It’s our job as handicappers to predict how they’ll perform based on things like the situation, on-field matchups, and roster/injury issues. The earlier it is in the season, the wider a team’s range may be.
Rating before Week 11 kickoff
When the Bills visited Kansas City earlier in the season, they were much healthier and boasted a very difficult-to-achieve rating above 80/100. They’ll need to get much healthier on defense and get back to their peak offensively to return there.
If the Eagles want to lay claim to a top-three spot again, they should probably cover a point spread, which they haven’t done in their last three games. Meanwhile, the curious thing about the Cowboys’ visit to Minnesota was that they got an upgrade before the game, and the Vikings a downgrade, despite Dallas having lost the week before and Minnesota beating Buffalo. That tells us that oddsmakers really thought the spot favored the Cowboys. Turns out they were right.
The Dolphins didn’t play, but with a week off to get rested and a blowout win before that, go ahead and pencil them in for a decent-sized boost into that spot between Dallas and the Bengals. The Patriots finally saw their rating drop, and despite a miracle cover, they showed little to prove that incorrect.
Speaking of drops, we actually laid points last week with the Saints because we didn’t believe the Rams were downgraded enough without Cooper Kupp, and we were rewarded for that. Look for them to fall through 40.
It might be time the market gives more credit to the Titans. Before Thursday’s game, the Packers took money, moving the line from -2.5 to -3.5. That’s a big move in NFL betting. You could argue that Tennessee’s getting its toughest test this week against the Bengals – a rematch from last year’s divisional round.
For the first time in weeks, the Raiders dipped below the Broncos in time for their Mile High visit. The stats were nearly as even as the scoreboard through 60 minutes, right up until Las Vegas won in overtime on a Davante Adams touchdown.
Arguably the most interesting Week 12 ratings move will be what happens with the Bears and Jets. Clearly, what’s holding the Jets back from matching or exceeding rating expectations is Zach Wilson. The Jets’ record is good enough to have them thinking playoffs, so a QB change should be imminent. Meanwhile, after another close loss, it seems foolish for the Bears to put Justin Fields on the field at MetLife Stadium, given his injury issues. Those potential quarterback changes should bump the Jets up and the Bears down, but how far for each? We’ve already seen a move beyond the field goal that the Jets should probably be favored by, but how high will it be too high?
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.