- Dave Tuley, ESPN Insider
LAS VEGAS -- There is plenty of gambling advice available on ESPN.com, but one thing that was missing was a power rating of 32 NFL teams from the perspective of handicappers. Now, there are similar polls out there on other sites and some have their merits, but one thing I've always wondered over the years is this: many polls include power ratings from oddsmakers and/or bookmakers, but why would bettors take advice from the people on the other side of the counter? These are guys literally trying to take their money. So, I figured why not do a Bettor Poll (see what I did there?).
The rankings below for the 32 teams in the NFL are derived from taking the power ratings from Ted Sevransky, Sal Selvaggio and yours truly, Dave Tuley. The numbers are averaged and rounded up or down to the nearest half-number to more accurately represent point spreads that you see every day.
The members of the panel -- and we might add one or two other handicappers down the line -- all have different scales, but I converted all our different numbers so that the midpoint would be 21. Why? Because 21 is a magical number in Vegas (sorry, it's really not more scientific than that). Another point about the numbers compared to other rankings out there is the comparisons will look more like football scores (except for the half-points, that is). However, a word of caution: the numbers are meant to compare the relative strength of the teams and not necessarily to predict the score. For instance, the Texans are the highest-rated team, but part of that 26.0 rating is because of their stout defense, which will be more applicable to holding down their opponent's score. We wanted to make this as simple as possible so we don't rate offenses and defenses separately.
The goal is to compare the numbers and find value against the lines at your disposal. Lines in the NFL are pretty tight, so sometimes the edge might be when landing on the right side of a key number such as 3 or 7.
ESPN Insider debuts the Bettor's Poll, a power rating of all 32 NFL teams by handicappers. The Houston Texans top the first ranking.