NFL elite cooling off and what it means for the ‘market’

Week 16 of the 2018 NFL season begins Saturday with a pair of games possessing playoff implications. The Redskins (7-7) visit the Titans (8-6) to kick off the doubleheader (NFL Network, 4:30 p.m.). That’s followed by the Ravens (8-6) at the Chargers (11-3) in prime time (NFL Network, 8:20 p.m.)

Currently, the playoff race is crowded because so many teams have a shot at wild cards. And the championship picture has become muddled because early-season superpowers have cooled off. Let’s see if VSiN’s estimate of “market” Power Ratings can provide helpful context.

Jonathan Von Tobel (co-host of “Betting Across America” from Atlantic City every Saturday and Sunday morning on VSiN) and I make a good-faith effort each week to capture how “the market” sees all 32 teams in relation to each other based on point spreads. We used three points as a standard for home field, then build a scale based on common sense and recent pricing. Let’s start in the NFC, where there’s an obvious disconnect at the very top!

NFC: Rams 88, Saints 87, Bears 83, Cowboys 82, Seahawks 82, Vikings 82, Eagles 81, Packers 80, Falcons 79, Buccaneers 78, Giants 76, 49ers 76, Lions 74, Redskins (with Josh Johnson) 73, Panthers (with Taylor Heinicke) 73, Cardinals 71.

The Rams are -14 at Arizona this week, which means they have to go 17 points apart on our “neutral field” scale. That’s the full “best-vs-worst” scope at the moment in the whole NFL, not just the NFC.

Oddsmakers and influential bettors keep showing massive respect to the Rams. Yet, the team is a woeful 2-8-1 against the spread (ATS) in its past 11 games! They haven’t played like an “88” very often over the past three months. Given losses the past two weeks to Chicago and Philadelphia, the Rams could well be an 84-85 (or worse) in reality come January!

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