Every week of the NFL season, pundits from across the Internet compile power rankings to assess the quality of each team in the NFL. Power rankings generally provide a vehicle for discussion, as nobody is going to agree on the exact ranking of 32 NFL teams.
Our own Ryan Van Bibber compiled his Week 8 NFL power rankings and, aside from ranking the undefeated Atlanta Falcons No. 1, it is safe to say there will be no agreement on the rest of the rankings. Well, except maybe the now MJD-less Jacksonville Jaguars. I think we all can agree they are in a world of hurt.
I thought it was time for a different kind of power ranking structure. Rather than provide my subject opinions of how each team is performing to date, I have decided to provide a weekly ranking of how teams are doing against the spread. This will not tell you which is the the best team in the NFL, but it will give a hint at which teams would have earned you a little extra scratch to date.
Accordingly, I have put together a ranking of each team based on its record against the spread. For teams that are tied, the tiebreaker is point differential. For our one tie in point differential (Rams and Jets), let's just say my NFC West preference, and my strong anti-Jets allegiance, may have gotten in the way.
1. Houston Texans: 5-2 (+88)
2. Seattle Seahawks: 5-2 (+10)
3. St. Louis Rams: 5-2 (-11)
4. New York Jets: 5-2 (-11)
5. Chicago Bears: 4-2 (+84)
6. Atlanta Falcons: 4-2 (+58)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-2 (+12)
8. Minnesota Vikings: 4-2-1 (+36)
9. San Francisco 49ers: 4-3 (+65)
10. New England Patriots: 4-3 (+54)
11. Washington Redskins: 4-3 (+1)
12. Denver Broncos: 3-3 (+32)
13. San Diego Chargers: 3-3 (+11)
14. Miami Dolphins: 3-3 (+3)
15. New Orleans Saints: 3-3 (-6)
16. Dallas Cowboys: 3-3 (-20)
17. Indianapolis Colts: 3-3 (-41)
18. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-3 (-76)
19. New York Giants: 3-3-1 (+68)
20. Cleveland Browns: 3-3-1 (-33)
21. Green Bay Packers: 3-4 (+29)
22. Arizona Cardinals: 3-4 (+6)
23. Buffalo Bills: 3-4 (-56)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-4 (+8)
25. Carolina Panthers: 2-4 (-38)
26. Oakland Raiders: 2-4 (-58)
27. Kansas City Chiefs: 2-4 (-79)
28. Tennessee Titans: 3-4 (-89)
29. Detroit Lions: 2-4 (-17)
30. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-4-1 (-21)
31. Baltimore Ravens: 2-5 (+13)
32. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-4-1 (-22)
Following this weekly ranking, I will be taking a look at some of the more notable games of the weekend from a gambling perspective. Virtually every week, at least one game has a crazy ending, resulting in some folks making a lot of money, and some folks losing a lot of money.
In our first week of the gambling power rankings, we had a couple tough endings for some folks. Of course, a tough ending for one gambler usually means a fantastic ending for another. Each week we'll take a look at the bad beats of the week. "Bad beat" is a term used in poker when a strong hand that is a sizable statistical favorite loses to a much weaker hand that hits a lucky draw. The term has expanded to cover tough-luck losses, which is something we see almost every week in the NFL.
Bad Beat of the Week: 49ers (-7 1/2) 13 - Seahawks 6; Bears (-6 1/2) 13 - Lions 7
49ers (-7 1/2) 13 - Seahawks 6
I have to imagine a sizable chunk of America is not pleased with Jim Harbaugh and Ryan Broyles. The 49ers defense dominated the Seahawks in the second half of their Thursday Night Football contest. With less than a minute remaining, the 49ers had the Seahawks pinned at their 4-yard line. Russell Wilson dropped back into the end zone on fourth down and fired a pass that ended up inches short of the first down. At the same time, Paul McQuistan committed a chop block, which normally results in a safety. Jim Harbaugh instead elected to take the turnover on downs so he could take the QB kneel-down to end the game.
According to Bovada Sports Book manager Kevin Bradley, the game was fairly evenly bet. While this led to little chaos for the bookies, fans were apoplectic on Twitter. With the money swinging back and forth, Coach Harbaugh at least endeared himself to half of the betting public.
Bears (-6 1/2) 13 - Lions 7
It was fitting that the Bears and Lions book-ended this weekend with their own crazy gambling finish. The Bears thoroughly dominated the Lions on defense, but their inconsistent offense struggled once again. The Bears' defense set Jay Cutler and company up on numerous occasions but, other than some passes to Brandon Marshall, Cutler could not get on track. However, they led 13-0 deep in the fourth quarter and the game seemed well in hand. And then the Bears punted.
The Bears punted away with just more than two minutes remaining and, as any gambler would expect, the Lions, sitting as 6 1/2-point underdogs, finally got their offense in gear. Matthew Stafford drove them 46 yards to the Lions' 12, and then connected with Ryan Broyles for the touchdown. The Lions were unable to recover the onside kick, and that was the game. Everybody understands the Lions had to play for the win, but that does not make some bettors hate them just a little bit.
Week 8 Sure Thing***
Green Bay Packers (-13 and coming off the board) over Jacksonville Jaguars
In a game where I would have taken Green Bay with most any spread, this one may be coming off the board soon. Maurice Jones-Drew has been ruled out, which means perennial fantasy bridesmaid Rashad Jennings will get the start. Blaine Gabbert may or may not play through a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. I almost prefer he plays but, even if it is Chad Henne taking the snaps, I would jump all over this one.
***As sure a thing as there is in the wild world of the NFL
Have your own "sure thing" pick for the week? Got a brutal story of a bad beat? Hit me up on twitter @davidfucillo to share your wisdom or agony with the world.