Inconsistent NFL teams test bettors' patience

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.

 

Some examples:

 

— The New York Jets recently covered three straight games by double digits, seemingly establishing an ability to dominate bad opponents. Then last week came a disaster against previously winless Cincinnati that missed the market by 18.5 points in the other direction.

 

— The Jets’ opponent Sunday, the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m., CBS), have been more erratic for longer. Miami has recent outright victories as a double-digit dog over Philadelphia and Indianapolis. The Dolphins have also covered six of their last eight games after losing their first three games by a combined 133-16.

 

— Buffalo looked like a pretender in late October home games, losing to  Philadelphia and beating Miami when a fluke TD inflated the victory margin. The Bills haven’t lost a game against the spread since.

 

— The Bills’ opponent Sunday, 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 me. 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 the starting 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 are 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 at the Superdome just 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 their coach after looking like an 80-something for a few weeks before losing to Atlanta and Washington by a combined 58-24.

 

We’ll talk more about the NFC on Monday when the Eagles host the Giants (8:15 p.m., ESPN).

 

We encourage you to compile your own ratings every week. It’s particularly great advice today! Spend some time before the early kickoffs making a scale based on your team evaluations (talent and health). You may find some edges worth betting.

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