What are Power Rankings?

What is the best system to gain an edge against the oddsmakers? It’s the question sports bettors try to identify in their incredibly difficult quest to earn a profit wagering on athletics. While there are plenty of strategies to lean on, many professional bettors will work tirelessly to find the numbers and statistics that will turn their knowledge into consistent gambling winners. Some of them will develop their system and evaluate their power rankings before placing their next wager. Some may rely on power rankings formed by others.

Utilizing a power rankings system is simply a ranking of teams, typically in a particular league. It could be as easy as watching what you see on the field, court, or rink, and it could be a much more advanced way of ranking teams before making a sports wager.

In the more advanced technique, sports bettors may use mathematical formulas that will set the value of a particular team in the sport you intend to bet on. Power rankings are used to compare teams before going into a matchup. The teams assigned with the best value are put at the top, while the least valued team are set at the bottom. Some bettors are strict with their power rankings numbers and stick with them for long periods by trusting their system.

While some will stick with their power rankings no matter what, other bettors will use their numbers as a baseline to make a more informed decision.

Power rankings can be used in any sport or event whether it’s betting teams or individuals. In this post, we will explain more about power rankings and what to look for in developing your system.

What do power rankings mean?

Power rankings rely on certain aspects of a particular sporting event the system’s developers deem to be most important. Strategies vary from expert to expert which statistics, metrics, or factors matter the most, and power rankings determine the value of teams over a certain period.

Why are sportsbooks typically very successful going against the betting public?

There are several reasons for that, but a big reason is oddsmakers will likely use their own set of power rankings to know exactly where to place the point spreads and point totals. Because of this, it takes a lot for a power rankings system that will consistently be able to beat the books at a respectable rate.

Sports betting is a difficult way to make money, and it’s because oddsmakers have become so good at setting their numbers for the public to bet on. Power rankings have a lot to do with this.

What do power rankings tell us?

Power rankings are used by sports bettors to find value in point spreads, so some power rankings numbers will show how many points a team should be favored by.

Say you are deciding to bet on an NFL game this Sunday and the Denver Broncos are favored at home over the Las Vegas Raiders by 2.5 points, according to the sportsbook you place your bets with.

In our made-up example, let’s say you plug the formula for the Broncos and Raiders to see how the spread should be valued based on your power rankings. After the calculations, the Broncos have a power ranking number at 24.0, while the Raiders come in with 22.5.

The power rankings say the Broncos are exactly 1.5 points better than the Raiders. However, oddsmakers will typically add 2.5-to-three points to the home team. Since Denver is the home team, we can add three points to their score to give them a 27.0 power ranking number, which is now 4.5 points better than the Raiders.

The power rankings say our numbers are better than the point spread, so you would be more inclined to bet on the Broncos to cover the 2.5-point spread.

Creating power rankings for teams

It will be a difficult process but if you are somebody who likes numbers and diving into analytics, you might be willing to try and create your power rankings.

How would you go about doing this?

Well, this is up to the creativity of the person creating the power rankings. Depending on the sport you decide to create power rankings for, you will need to determine what you think is important when evaluating a particular team. If you think there is a metric or statistic out there that leads to a successful team, utilize that heavily in your formula.

Another way to go when creating your power rankings numbers is to separate teams into specific tiers based on your metrics. The teams in the top three of your power rankings might be very close to one another, making it difficult to decide between them. The team you have slotted into the fourth spot may be a few steps below the top three, so you could separate them into specific tears in your rankings system if there is a bit of a gap.

After you have decided on your power rankings formula, evaluate whether it is working overtime and feel free to adjust the numbers on the fly. Teams, coaches, and athletes adjust all the time and so should sports bettors and oddsmakers.

Where to find power rankings

If you head to your go-to search engine and look up power rankings for your particular sport, you are likely to find plenty of articles as a result. Many of them will by and large reflect what the standings look like with the opinions on each team from the writer.

Some power rankings can be found with much more of an analytical approach that would likely be more useful in sports betting. There are plenty of free options available in addition to those who offer options users may need to subscribe to and pay for depending on what sport you prefer to bet on.

Be sure to do your research and do your due diligence when relying on a set of power rankings, especially if it’s a subscription-based site that charges money.

Power rankings will differ

No matter what power rankings numbers you are deciding to choose from, just know the rankings will likely fluctuate from expert to expert. Whether it’s a slight or significant difference in the power rankings, it just means the person or group who created them have different theories on what makes a good team or player.

Some may value a certain statistic or metric more than the others involved in creating power rankings for the betting public to see. There is no set of power rankings that will be 100% accurate so it might make sense to immerse yourself into a variety of rankings updates. The more perspectives you have, the less likely you will be caught looking at one single factor when you know many items go into who ends up winning a particular game or event.

Also, if the publisher of the power rankings reveals what goes into the formula and you agree with the statistics that are most heavily valued in the system, be sure to utilize their numbers more often to try and confirm what you think is the correct way to evaluate a particular matchup.

Rely on large sample sizes

Especially when trying out a power rankings system for the first time, it might make sense to wait and see if the formula is working. If you decide to utilize your power rankings or go off of somebody else’s work, the numbers will fluctuate greatly with going up and down the power rankings the first few weeks of the season.

On the other hand, when it gets later in the season, you have a much clearer picture of where teams stand with larger sample sizes and less movement in the power rankings. The more data you have to make an informed decision, the better.

Power rankings metrics 

Every sport has certain sets of data that will help determine the prowess of a particular team. There is no one true way that will be 100% accurate, but here are some of the metrics to look for in a variety of sporting events.

NFL power rankings

Football is by far the most bet on sport in the US. Naturally, most discussions on power rankings will likely land on the NFL, which remains the king sport in the country.

Whether you’re betting college football or the pros, there are several stats and factors that gambling experts may use as a part of their power rankings formula.

  • Yards per play
  • Third down conversions
  • Yards per attempt
  • Home/Away splits
  • Red zone efficiency
  • Strength of schedule
  • Injuries

This list could go on forever, but it’s up to you to determine which statistic or factor matters the most to you in setting your power rankings numbers.

NBA power rankings

Just like betting on football, placing a wager on the NBA or college basketball has plenty of areas to identify where sports bettors may find an edge over the sportsbooks. It’s difficult to determine which will be the most important factor, but there is value to be had if you identify the right combinations of data.

  • Points per possession
  • Pace of play
  • Record on back-to-back games
  • Turnovers per game
  • Defensive efficiency rate
  • Three-point percentage

Which of these would make for the best determinations of a good team? That’s for you to decide which is the most important, and it might be something that doesn’t even appear on this list.

MLB power rankings

Known for its importance on numbers more than any other sport, baseball has so many different metrics to check out that it can be difficult to track them all. But here are a few options to look for when betting on the MLB.

  • On base percentage
  • WHIP
  • Strikeout-to-walk ratio
  • Fly-ball rate
  • Left-handed pitcher/right-handed pitcher splits
  • Earned run average

Baseball might be the most innovative when it comes to sabermetrics and determining what is important for a team to win. You can spend plenty of time looking up advanced stats to determine what strategy may provide you with a consistent winning bet.

Pros of power rankings

One of the pros of utilizing power rankings is taking emotion out of the equation. Instead, those who use power rankings rely solely on what the numbers tell them. It is an objective way to operate with no bias involved. It is difficult to not to go for or against your favorite team or teams you see often, but power rankings stick with the formula to determine the better team without any of the added emotion. Instead, you look at your preferred system and power rankings to determine where to go with your next wager.

Another power rankings pro is that sports bettors may use it simply as a tool to use as a baseline before you place your wager. You do not necessarily have to stick to the strategy 100% of the time if you determine you have a better chance of winning by going outside the power rankings numbers. Power rankings can be used as a guide and show you which categories a particular team will have an advantage over another team.

Cons of power rankings

It’s difficult to find one that works consistently. Just like the best sports bettors who win consistently by developing their power rankings formula, oddsmakers work to squash a popular trend before the strategy takes over and the betting public takes advantage.

Power rankings that rely strictly on a mathematical formula typically will not factor in other factors that may play a significant factor in the outcome. For example, the data may not reflect on varying items such as injuries, weather, and a team’s motivation heading into the game.

It’s also possible you may follow a flawed power rankings system. If you are not willing to trust what the numbers say in the long run, it’s best to find a new power rankings system with different sets of data points and formulas to track.

Key takeaways on power rankings in sports betting

  • Power rankings put a value on each team to compare against others.
  • Power rankings can be based on opinion or a mathematical formula.
  • No power rankings will be 100% accurate.
  • Feel free to adjust the power rankings formula throughout the season.
  • Rely on a large sample size to increase consistent winning bets.