One of the more popular options on the betting board is the NFL Season
This year they were released earlier than ever and we have already
seen some significant line movement.
One of the essential aspects of finding value is looking at each
team’s strength of schedule (SoS). This can easily be found from a national
media site like ESPN, but this is where we need to put on our critical thinking
The typical SoS is derived from last season’s win-loss record. As we
all know, that isn’t very accurate whatsoever. Teams go through many changes in
the offseason and not all wins and losses from 2011 are created equal.
What we need to do as savvy NFL bettors is create our own custom power
rankings and SoS.
Here are some important factors to utilize when coming up with your own sets of data.
2011 power rankings
This can be a lot of work and everyone is going to use slightly
different criteria for ranking each team. Personally, I look at as many
relevant categories as possible. This can involve everything from
offensive lines and defensive lines, pass/rush offenses/defenses, special teams, turnover
differential, penalties, injuries, etc.
One of the things I like to do in this process is evaluate how teams
did vs. last season’s schedule.
Simply looking at who they faced and what their win/loss record was
can be very deceiving. Facing the Chicago Bears in week 5 with a healthy Jay
Cutler is not the same as facing them in week 14 without. 'Tough' vs 'easy'
matchups need to be determined on a situational week by week basis in the
proper context. This will go a long way in determining who is potentially being
over/undervalued heading in 2012.
If you don’t keep your own power rankings, go ahead and find some from
a source you trust.
2012 power rankings
Evaluate which teams improved upon their weaknesses and which
maintained their strengths. This involves everything from drafted players, free
agency, players coming back from injuries, coaching changes, continuity, etc. This
again is a subjective process, but it should give you a general basis for some
preliminary 2012 power rankings.
Once you have an updated set of power rankings you are comfortable
with, you are now in a position to rank the schedule to come up with your own custom
SoS. At this point you can take things one step further and include situational
factors such as short weeks, travel, rivalry games, etc.
In the end you should have all you need to attack the season win
totals board. Customized power rankings and strength of schedule will give you
a significant advantage over the average bettor. By comparison, the SoS that
the national media use based off last year's win/loss records are essentially
useless and misguided.
Below is my custom strength of schedule (SoS) with the
easiest road at the top to the toughest road at the bottom. Feel free to
compare it with the "traditional"
SoS for 2012 and you’ll see how valuable this process can be for all your
NFL futures picks.
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Kansas City Chiefs
Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
San Diego Chargers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
In addition, don’t overreact to the early market moves on the season
win totals board. It’s always good to know where the early money is going, but
that shouldn’t be too influential in your own analysis.
A good example for season win totals is what happened with the
Cincinnati Bengals last year. Almost
every “sharp” on the planet poured money on the under and the season win total
dropped a full game or more in the process. The Bengals not only covered the
over, but they covered the opening line as well!
Preparation is key for the new season and the best way to find value
is to put in the research before things get started. The added bonus of betting
the early numbers allows yourself an exit strategy. Come the first week of September, you might be
in a position to buy off your original picks or identify a middle opportunity. Trust
your own skills and put in the work.