View TheLines’ NFL Power Rankings each week throughout the 2023 – 2024 season. TheLines staff ranks all of the teams remaining and currently has the San Francisco 49ers in the top spot heading into the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Eli Hershkovich and Nate Weitzer were the only members of TheLines staff to not have the Niners in the top spot as they both opted for the Ravens.
Check out TheLines’ consensus rankings for all of the remaining playoff teams below.
NFL Power Rankings
How the rankings are created
The sports betting experts at TheLines file individual NFL Power Rankings each Monday morning throughout the pro football season. Brett Collson, Matt Brown, Nate Weitzer, Matt Burke, Stephen Andress, Brett Gibbons, Bill Gelman, John Haslbauer and Mo Nuwwarah rank all 32 teams each week and we post the consensus rankings above.
Each person on staff at TheLines files their rankings based on week-to-week play in the NFL, providing a weekly snapshot as to how “powerful” each team is at certain points throughout the season.
Stay tuned for updates to our power rankings all season long! These can serve as a valuable tool for placing NFL futures bets or planning how to bet on NFL games.
Of course, you have to account for factors such as travel time, home field advantage, and injuries as the season progresses. Yet early in the season, it’s possible to go against the betting public by sticking to your own process.
Bettors tend to overreact to recent results and are very reactionary in an “update league” like the NFL. Therefore, the betting market shifts to these reactions.
If you stick with the raw data, i.e. metrics on offensive line play, a quarterback’s record at home, and turnover differential, you might be able to cash big early in the season before oddsmakers and the betting public adjust. Trust your data and stay one step ahead with a comprehensive Power Rankings system.
How to handicap NFL games
What does it mean to “handicap” a game? At first, it might seem that you’ll be running advanced metrics and spitting out numbers and point spreads. In reality, handicapping is a fancy bettor’s term for preparing and researching. There’s dozens of game factors that need to be taken into account like injuries, matchups, and metrics but also market factors like line movement and public biases.
First are the surface-level factors that can determine a game like home field advantage (though in 2020, that was severely diminished), key injuries, and the weather. For injuries, don’t just browse the fantasy football injury report– a diminished offensive line or defensive secondary can be devastating to a team’s performance.
Traditionally, the home team is given a 2- or 3-point advantage for playing in their home city in front of their home fans. Even without fans in attendance, travel takes a toll on visiting teams and has some (albeit diminished) effect on the line. Also needed for consideration is the weather: rain, wind, and snow can hurt a pass-heavy offense and cold weather might hurt warm-climate teams. Teams playing at altitude (Denver) may also have an advantage over teams that don’t frequently play at altitude (Miami).
Strength of schedule is useful when looking at futures bet. The Patriots and Raiders have the most difficult schedules in 2023, based on the combined 2022 record/winning percentage of their opponents. NFC West teams will have it rough in 2023, as they will face AFC North teams. Most prognosticators predict that the AFC North is going to be a monster of a division with no easy outs. Be sure to factor in all division vs. division matchups when surveying the NFL landscape.
Beyond those easily-identifiable factors are matchups, schemes, and metrics. If you aren’t a film junkie, don’t worry – there’s plenty of Twitter follows and websites that can help you break it down and make it easily understandable.
Look for size advantages in receivers and defensive backs; players like Mike Evans can make life difficult for a 5’ 8” corner and the Buccaneers might gameplan to exploit that advantage. Other positional advantages to keep in mind: pass rushers against inexperienced/struggling offensive tackles and athletic pass-catching tight ends against linebackers who struggle defending receivers.
Advanced metrics can be telling and expose weaknesses in teams, but with thousands of metrics out there, it can be difficult to tell which are really helpful. FOX Sports’ Warren Sharp is a great resource for finding advanced metrics that make significant differences in outcomes. A quick tab on stats worth paying attention to:
- Yards per play (rather than total yards)
- Expected points per drive (rather than points per game)
- Air yards per attempt (rather than passing yards thrown)
- 3rd down conversion
These numbers will break down the efficiency and effectiveness of an offense (or defense, if you’re going with allowed) and remove the “garbage time” numbers plenty of players can pile on. Contrary to the belief that stats never lie, stats can actually be the best liars when used incorrectly.
If you’ve really got a handle on the NFL game, a popular focus recently has been on coaches’ understanding of analytics and their willingness to utilize probability factors in their gameplan. Failing to use analytics and probability can cost teams victories. Examples include rushing on third and long, hoarding timeouts, settling for field goals inside the three yard line, etc. Older coaches who’ve rejected the use of modern analytics can move lines (especially over/unders) and are worth keeping tabs on.
Outside of the game itself, bettors should understand how lines move and react to sharp bettors and the general public. One thing to remember about public betting: they are easily and drastically influenced by recency bias and non-sequitur trends.
Sharp bettors (professionals and those who prepare correctly) can take advantage of moving lines and get better odds for their wagers.
Power Rankings vs. Power Ratings
Everyone sees Power Rankings just about everywhere you look – SportsCenter, the Herd, just about every website – and those are useful in their own right. The concept is simple, just a 1-32 list of the best team to the worst team. Maybe it’s based on metrics, maybe it’s based on the eyeball test, maybe it’s both.
Power Ratings differ quite a bit despite sounding similar. Ratings quantify the numerical advantage one team has over another based on past scores and season performance. Ratings are drawn exclusively from quantifiable metrics (though those metrics may differ person to person) and are used to help predict future scores and outcomes, rather than saying Team X is just better than Team Y and should win.
How to build your own Power Rankings
For those looking to rank teams 1-32 based on last season, the games ongoing this season, and looking quickly at the depth chart, you can do just that. However, it likely won’t serve as a useful tool when it comes to betting, especially against the spread; you’ll want to build (or find) a set of power ratings first. That way, you’ll have a more accurate and quantifiable justification to your rankings and remove potential biases.
To create these power ratings, begin with ranking the teams according to projected number of wins. This will give you a base to work with rather than working from scratch. Assign a number to each team, starting at the top with 16 and running down to the bottom where the last ranked team receives -16. From there, adjust the numbers– 16 through -16, with zero being the middle– based on projected point totals, defensive ranks, and personnel. If interested, look up formulas on expected point differentials to create a more pinpoint rating for each team.
Putting it together
Once you have your numbers, compare two teams (numbers in parentheses are hypothetical power ratings): Indianapolis (12) @ Los Angeles Chargers (-8).
The difference between these teams ratings, 4, is now your theoretical point spread. Add in a 2.5-point advantage for the home team (Los Angeles) for an adjusted point spread of 1.5 in favor of the Colts.
Now add in your factors (injuries, metrics, etc.) to fine-tune your spread. Derwin James is out for the season and creates a massive disadvantage for the Chargers’ defensive secondary (the numbers on this are worth looking up) and should benefit the Colts at least half a point. Your final spread for this game comes out to Colts -2 (-110) @ Chargers.
Now, take your projected spread of -2 and compare it to the Vegas lines. Say the opening line comes out to Colts -4.5 (-110) @ Chargers. That should be an easy bet, since our projected point total is -2 and we would take the Chargers to cover. The process will take some refining and new factors will emerge as the season goes on, but this is the basic process in handicapping your own NFL games.
Not only will this help you quantify point spreads and decide on feasible spreads, but it will help you dig deeper and find new metrics that create a new dimension of understanding for betting on the NFL.
Latest NFL News
NFL Pre-season Power Rankings 2023 – 2024
Here were our initial 2023 – 2024 Power Rankings accompanied by their Super Bowl odds from September 6.
|Super Bowl odds