It’s clear from studying estimated “market” power ratings in the NFL that the composite intelligence driving point spreads is having a heck of a time tracking erratic teams.
— The New York Jets recently covered three straight games by double digits, seemingly establishing an ability to dominate bad opponents. Then, last week, a disaster against previously winless Cincinnati that missed the market 18¹/₂ points in the other direction.
— Their opponent Sunday, the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m., CBS), have been more erratic for longer. Miami has recent outright victories as double-digit ’dogs over Philadelphia and Indianapolis. The Dolphins also have covered six of their past eight games. That after losing their first four games by a combined 163-26.
— Buffalo looked like a pretender in late October home games vs. Philadelphia and Miami (when a fluke TD inflated victory margin). The Bills haven’t lost a game against the spread since.
— Buffalo’s Sunday opponent, Baltimore, lacked consistency through the first six weeks, then suddenly started playing like the best team of the decade.
Elsewhere in the league, perceived juggernauts started staggering, perceived tankers refueled their enthusiasm, and a slew of first-time starting quarterbacks cashed tickets despite their inexperience.
With all that turmoil in mind, here’s the latest look at VSiN’s estimate of “market” power ratings as compiled by Jonathan Von Tobel (“The Edge”) and I. We’ve been running these every Sunday. The numbers are keyed by settled late-week point spreads, adjusting three points for home-field advantage:
— AFC: Ravens 88, Patriots 86, Chiefs 86, Texans 82, Titans 82, Bills 80, Chargers 80, Colts 79, Steelers 79, Browns 79, Raiders 77, Broncos 76, Jets 75, Jaguars 74, Bengals 74, Dolphins 72.
A fair representation of a market snapshot. But, what a mess. The Patriots haven’t looked Super Bowl caliber for a while … the Titans turned the tide when Ryan Tannehill became quarterback … the Bills aren’t getting respect even though they keep winning … the Chargers keep getting respect even though they keep losing … the Steelers are surging … the Raiders regressing.
— NFC: 49ers 86, Saints 85, Seahawks 84, Vikings 84, Packers 83, Cowboys 83, Rams 81, Eagles 79, Buccaneers 79, Bears 77, Panthers 76, Falcons 76, Cardinals 74, Lions 74, Giants 73, Redskins 73.
A great litmus test Sunday with the first two on the list squaring off in the Superdome (days after the next two played a wild Monday nighter). Throughout the list, percolating pretenders keep bubbling up and down the ledger. The Panthers just fired coach Ron Rivera after looking like an 80-something for a few weeks before losing to Atlanta and Washington by a combined 58-24 score.
We’ll talk more about the NFC Monday when the Eagles host the Giants (8:15 p.m., ABC).
Spend some time before the early kickoffs making a scale based on your team own evaluations (talent and health). You may find some edges worth betting.