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Creating Power Ratings

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Power Ratings are a fascinating topic in my opinion. What exactly are they? How are they made?

They are the sports bettor’s tool of determining (through their own work) exactly how many points (if any) team A should be favored versus team B. And you compare your line to that of which the odds makers have released, hoping to see a difference between your number and the actual betting line. Remember, the odds makers are making a betting line hoping to split the action both ways. Your Power Ratings are made to determine what the line should actually be, not taking into account two- way action. There’s a difference. I design my own for the NFL, NCAAFB, and the NBA.

How do you make Power Ratings? Well I’ve read and seen a ton of “formulas” and they vary from as simple as just giving a team a numbered value (starting at 100 points for the best team and working that way down) to as detailed as grading each and every player and assigning them a numerical value. I have made countless “formulas” over the years driving myself crazy just looking for that perfect design to give me that edge. There are so many ways to make Power Ratings that there really is no right or wrong. It’s strictly up to the individual to come up with what they’re comfortable with.

Let’s discuss NFL Power Ratings. I’m not going to detail my exact formula, but will provide an example scale to better explain them and how they’re made.

When making NFL Power Ratings, you need to decide how you’re going to grade them, by team position or by each player. For the purpose of this article we’ll grade by position or unit if you prefer.

First off you need to make a “grading scale” which is entirely up to you. Let’s say your scale is based on a letter grade, A+ all the way down to an F.

We’re using letters to grade a player because everybody has gone to school, and realize that an A+ is the best, and a C is average etc, assigning a numerical value for each letter grade. For this purpose this scale suggests that the difference between the very best “unit” and the worse is 6 points. Again, you need to determine this yourself.

Here’s our sample chart:

Power Rating Chart
Letter Grade Status Rating
A+ Excellent 15.0
A   14.5
A-   14.0
B+   13.5
B Good 13.0
B-   12.5
C+   12.0
C Average 11.5
C-   11.0
D+   10.5
D Poor 10.0
D-   9.5
F Bad 9.0

Once again you can do it any way you see fit, a 1-10, 1-20 scale etc, or even use a different scale for each unit.

The first NFL matchup of the 2009 season has Tennessee at Pittsburgh on Thursday September 10th. Let’s go ahead and make a sample point spread.

We’re going to grade these units.

Quarterback, Running backs, Wide Receivers/Tight Ends, Offensive Lines, Defensive Lines, Linebackers, Secondary, Special Teams, and Coaching. As you see there are 4 offensive categories and 3 for the defense. You may want to separate the cornerbacks and safeties into separate categories so the offense and defenses have four grades each. How about special teams? Maybe you want to grade the return units, punters, kickers all separately. It’s entirely up to you.

Let’s grade the quarterbacks shall we. Here’s where your hard work and opinion comes in plain and simple. As we look at the Titans’ K. Collins, what type of player is he? He’s a journeyman who has salvaged his career as a “game manager” shall we say? I’d say he’s become an above average QB and I’m not sure he’ll match last year’s play and will give him 12.0 points as an Above Average player.

The Steelers’ B .Roethlisberger has now won two Super Bowls and I think he is the type who will garner many different opinions. My opinion is that he is a difference-maker late in the games when it counts most. And the system he’s in will not allow him to put the ball up 35-40 times a game (in which I believe he’d do very well) so I will grade him as a Very Good/Great player and give him 14.0 points.

So we have a +2 advantage at QB for the Steelers. Once again, you may think he’s worth a lot more, therefore make a different scale for QB’. Get my drift?

I went ahead and mock-graded all the aforementioned units to come up with our point spread.

Week 1 - Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee
Position Titans Steelers
QB 12 14
RB 14 13.5
WR/TE 12 13
OL 14.5 12
DL 13 13
LB 12.5 15
SEC 14 14
ST's 13 12
C 14 14
Total 119.0 120.5

Here we see that on a neutral field that the Steelers are 1.5 points better than the Titans. Since this game is at Pittsburgh we need to add points for the home field advantage. Let’s say we give the Steelers 3 points making our line Pittsburgh 4.5 point home favorites.

As of this writing has the Steelers as 5 point favorites. Indicating to us the line is right about where it should be with Pittsburgh a little too high.

But let’s say you didn’t reward Pittsburgh with 3 points home advantage at this point. It’s not a December cold windy day. It’s the first game of the year, playing a very good road team. Give the Steelers 2 points for home field.

That would now make the Steelers as 3.5 point favorites. Now with the spread at 5, we have crossed the magic number of 4 and are getting a 1.5 point advantage over the odds makers. A great amount of value showing after the work you put in.

You see it’s all about your preparation and opinion when it comes to grading. As mentioned earlier I gave quarterback B. Roethlisberger an A- grade of 14 points.

You may have a completely different opinion of him. He’s a product of the running game and just a guy who’s asked to not make mistakes. You give him a grade of B- for 12.5 points. You see a 1.5 point difference using the same scale as me.

Now after a game is played you are to adjust your power ratings. Here’s one example of a scale.

Power Rating Adjustment

0-4 = 0 points
5-9 = 1 point
10-14 = 2 points
15-19 = 3 points
20 and up = 4 points

Using our Tennessee Pittsburgh matchup as an example, let’s say that the Steelers win 24-7. Our line had Pittsburgh as 4.5 point favorites. That’s a 12.5 point cover. Looking at the scale you would add 2 points to the Steelers Power Rating, and deduct 2 points to the Titans.

Now I personally don’t use this type of scale. I hardly ever make more than a 2 point adjustment either way not allowing one game to drastically sway me one way or another. Anything can happen in one game. And I make my adjustments by ½ points.

You will take into consideration of how teams actually played. Was it a blowout? Was it closer than the score indicates etc? How about injuries to key players? How was the weather?

It’s up to you to decide these things and go with what you’re comfortable with.

I hope this helps with the understanding of Power Ratings. There are countless ways to develop them, and it’s up to you to decide how far you want to take it.

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