The name of the game among pro sports handicappers and so-called “Sharps” is to sniff out mismatches where the betting public leans heavily one way (typically on a favorite or an Over, but not always) thus creating additional value on the other side of a bet.
So how do we sniff out this “value”?
One of the most reliable tools is using a Power Rating where all 32 teams are ranked in order from best to worst with a key number attached to each team. The lower the number, the stronger the team. By taking the key number of each team in a matchup then adding or deducting three points (occasionally 3.5 pts) for home field advantage we get a key number of what the spread “should be” based on each team’s ACTUAL strength. When this number differs greatly, say by 3 or more points, to the point spread then we have successfully sniffed out “value” and a potential mismatch to exploit.
In effect, we set our own line then compare it to the oddsmakers in Vegas for weaknesses (to find a “crease” in the line).
Week 14 offers up five value teams based on our PR. Surprisingly, two of which are proven winners and likely playoff teams. The other three are more predictable losers; SEA, PHI, HOU, DEN and WAS.
Seattle offers great value on the backs of JAX righting their ship with a win last week. Philly making the value list is based on a typical overreaction to last week’s loss in Seattle. The biggest surprise is the Seahawks getting 3 points at the Jags despite an impressive upset against Carson Wentz and Co (we have that line at a PK or Sea -1).
Houston had a cover stitched up (was never out of the money in a tight loss to Titans) but choked a garbage time TD when Tennessee was just trying to run out the clock. Epic mishaps like that are etched on gamblers minds for awhile. Denver laid a huge egg as a road chalk at Miami and got blown out. And the Skins got manhandled on TNF primetime by the Cowboys. Most of it makes sense, right?
Remember, it is the savvy bettor’s job to look past the spin and crunch the numbers, then go the other way for value. It is not just about current record and who won or lost last week, it is equally or more “how” and “what” transpired that determine each weekly “tweak” to these PR numbers.
Betting value is, of course, no guarantee to win, and often involves courageous backing of teams off a loss (or multiple losses), or fading a popular and overinflated favorite off an impressive outing, but in the long run you will end up in the plus column when shopping for value. Of course, many other factor are in play, but this simple starting approach has netted me tens of thousands in profits over three decades.
I will post an updated Power Rating every week during the season, and continue to chart the outcome of these mismatches Use my Power Ranking or create your own, but do your homework if you want to win consistently.
POWER RATING (OFF WEEK 13):
Rank Team PR
- NE -8.5
Just wins – every week! Mammoth game vs Steelers in week 15 will decide top seed and home-field in the AFC playoffs. Probably a preview of the AFC final.
- PHI -7
Found out how hard it is to play in Seattle. Another huge test at L.A. Rams on sunday. Needs to protect home field advantage in NFC Conference here.
- PIT -5.5
Wins ugly and often. Dodged another scare in Brutal Bowl vs Bungles. Ravens on deck, plus AFC-championship prequel vs NE in week 15.
- MIN -5
Keenum continues to impress. Gritty win over ATL, now 10-2 and adjusting sites for homefield advantage (neck to neck with Eagles). CAR on the road next.
- SEA -5
Huuuge win over Philly last week. Tied with Rams for NFC West title. Tough slate left; JAX, Rams, Dallas and Arizona.
- NO -4.5
Critical win over Carolina. Equally critical road game at ATL on TNF. If they best Ryan’s boys they have a hammerlock on the South.
- LAR -3
Every game seems big now. Two straight on the road vs Seahawks and Titans.
- ATL -2
Left a big W on the table vs Minny. Now facing 4 straight division foes, including the front-running Saints twice! Last hoorah for a wild card vs NO on TNF.
- DAL -2
Tricky spot for the Boys, with a fragile 6-6 record (wild card longshot) and the angry, embarrassed Eli Manning with nothing to lose on deck. This might be their Alamo.
- CAR -2
Playoff bound, but can they keep pace with or catch the Saints? I say #5 seed wild card, but it’ll all be on Cam’s super powers…
- BAL -1.5
Good but not great. Playoff game at PIT on Sunday. Somehow 7-5 and currently a #6 seed wild card in the AFC. Still the most boring team above .500.
- DET -1.5
Stafford is questionable, and with it Detroit’s season. Soft slate leaves Lions hopeful.
- JAX -1
Righted the ship with solid 30-burger vs hapless Indy. AFC South title likely decided in week 17 at Tennessee.
- KC -1
KC demise off a 5-0 start is the biggest mystery in the NFL. Big test vs archrival Raiders on Sunday.
- LAC 0
From 0-4 to 6-6 and co-div leaders. Wow! Now everyone’s fave to win the West. Unless KC wakes up or Oakland surprises.
- WAS 0
Fading from competition. Cousins pending mega-deal (or trade) now the big talk in D.C.
- TEN 0
Quietly 8-4. Neck and neck with JAX for AFC South. NO ONE is talking about this team – just the way they like it.
- OAK 0
Sailed by Geno Smith-led G-men. Contender or pretender? Real test comes this week at K.C.
- CIN 1
Choked Brutal Bowl late to Steelers. As is customary in Bungle-world. Hosting CHI.
- BUF 1
Spanked by Brady as per tradition. 6-6 and still alive. Tyrod Taylor questionable vs Indy
- GB 1
Road faves behind Hundley-led offense? It can only mean they’re playing the Browns.
- HOU 1.5
Choked the cover in garbage time. Disappointing season. Time to rebuild.
- TB 2.5
OT loss to GB was last nail in 2017 coffin. 4-8 and time to plan for the draft.
- NYJ 2.5
Road chalk at Denver?! This season has it all. Could be entertaining Also-Ran Bowl.
- DEN 3.5
Solidified last place in the West with another loss. Tanking for a high (desperately needed) QB pick perhaps?
- ARI 3.5
Tennessee should hand ARI fatal blow on 2017 come Sunday. Palmer retires.
27 NYG 4
G-men finally fired coach McAdoo – that alone should be worth a points boost. Hosting hated Cowboys with angry Eli at the helm. Tune in!
- MIA 4.5
11-point home pups to red-hot NE on MNF where they are 0-8 ATS. Blood Bath & Beyond.
- CHI 6
Lost Stupor Bowl to SF. Rebuild, rebuild, REBUILD!
- IND 6
The suffering never ends in Indy, now 3-9. Luck’s shoulder is a more interesting topic.
- SF 7.5
Finally won a close one. Still a dumpster fire. Garoppolo provides hope for future.
- CLE 9.5
Can the Brownies crack the bagel? As a small home pup to a shitty Packers team, this might be their best chance for a first W all year. Fail on Sunday and it’s CHI on the road in wk 16…