If there was one right way to bet on sports then everybody would do it. While not every strategy is successful, winning handicappers are all looking for the same thing, a way to finish with a strong ROI (and, of course, a trusted sportsbook at which to place their wagers).
Tiering teams is a tactic my dad has used for years. It helps bettors fit each squad within the big picture of the league as a whole. When teams in the same tier face each other, you should consider taking points if the spread is more than a field goal. When teams in different tiers match up, you should strongly consider laying points if the spread is under a touchdown.
As for the tiers, themselves, that is where the work comes in. Each week, minor adjustments are made from the week prior so that we have as firm a grasp as possible on all 32 teams.
If indeed the NFL’s dream scenario is complete parity, a league full of 8-8 teams, it sure feels like they are closing in on that goal. Indeed, parity is here, however, that doesn’t mean our tiers are failing. There is a temptation to lump everyone in one giant group, but most observers would agree there is still a wide discrepancy in certain matchups, like Week 5’s tilt between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville.
For the first time this season, we have multiple teams in the top tier. New England has simply been average for too long to justify being a cut above everyone else. They are still significant favorites to win the Super Bowl, but on a neutral field, they would no longer be laying more than a field goal against several squads.
The AFC West continues to look like the strongest division, and it is pretty difficult to separate the first three teams. Oakland may end up moving down if Derek Carr’s injury keeps him out for an extended period. Atlanta and New England reached the Super Bowl last year, while Green Bay and Pittsburgh are always a major threat.
Several of these clubs could argue they are as good as the top tier, but for a team like Seattle, beating the Colts isn’t strong enough proof that they’ve solved their problems. It’s great the Panthers won at New England, but they lost in Charlotte against New Orleans, too. Three NFC East teams fit in this group; they all have looked very good at times this year, but that division is not the AFC West.
Many of these squads have been disappointments thus far, while others are dealing with significant injuries that do not seem as though they are going to be resolved soon. Inconsistency reigns supreme in this tier, though on any given day, they can compete with the best clubs, particularly at home.
These teams aren’t necessarily noncompetitive, but they are far from contending, and in some cases, not even really trying to win. The Colts were respectable for much of their game against Seattle in Week 4, but fell to 1-3. The Jets are now 2-2, but both wins were at home against mediocre opponents, and the plan remains to build through the draft. Winning now doesn’t help that plan.
Best bets of Week 3:
Philadelphia (-6.5) vs. Arizona
Detroit (-2.5) vs. Carolina
Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) at New York Giants
Featured photo: Aaron Rodgers (by Mike Morbeck (CC License)]
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