NFL Power Rankings Week 13
I’m not sure when it happened, how it happened, or why it happened, but home field advantage no longer exists in NFL football.
So far this season, NFL home teams are a putrid 89-90-1 straight up and 78-102 against the spread. That means that blindly betting on NFL road teams has produced a 57 percent winning mark so far this year.
This isn’t a one-off, either, as NFL home teams had a losing straight up record last season (127-128-1) as well.
Some of last season’s home field struggled can obviously be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Several stadiums were completely empty for most (if not all) of the season, and even the ones with the fans in them were never at capacity. Basically, there was plenty of weirdness involved in the 2020 NFL season, and this was just another aspect.
But this year things are back to a relative normal. So, what gives? I’m not going to play pop psychologist when it comes to this trend. Over the last 20 years, home field advantage has been a very real statistical factor in NFL performance, both straight up and against the spread. Two years is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to football betting.
However, a 20-year sample size really doesn’t help you handicap this week’s games. Consider this the coin flip corollary: over 1,000,000 flips, the odds of heads or tails should be 50-50. But over the next 14 flips, that 50-50 expectation doesn’t really mean much.
Bet things as they are now. And right now, home field advantage is nonexistent in the NFL.
Doc’s Sports offers NFL expert picks for every game on our NFL predictions page.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Green Bay Packers (9-3) – It is still kind of bizarre to me how many people were betting on the Rams last week. No, I didn’t take the Packers, so I can’t crow too much; I just didn’t want any part of that game. But Green Bay is now 10-2 against the spread this year, and they are a jaw-dropping 35-9 straight up over the last three regular seasons. Who the hell is betting against these guys? (Well, at least until the playoffs!)
2. Arizona Cardinals (9-2) – Kyler Murray will be back. DeAndre Hopkins should be back. But just because these two stars should be back in the starting lineup this week doesn’t mean that they are going to be playing at the same level they were at early in the season. They haven’t played in weeks. Also, it is supposed to be 38 degrees with possible wintry mix and 13 mile per hour winds in Chicago on Sunday. We’ll see how this warm weather bunch handles the elements coming out of a nice, relaxing, warm bye week.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) – Tom Brady is still The Man. I would never say he wasn’t. However, his home/road splits this year have been getting a little dicey. He is just 3-3 away from home this season, with half as many touchdowns and twice as many interceptions. The Bucs are just 1-5 ATS in their six road games this season, and the road team is just 2-7 ATS in the last nine in the Atlanta series.
4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3) – It is ridiculous that we have to consider this team among the best five or six in football, yet it is almost miraculous when they cover a spread. I was a Lamar Jackson skeptic, until I came across this great article breaking down his early career. It seems like ever since I have jumped on the bandwagon, this guy has reverted to being the turnover-prone “running quarterback” that I always feared he would be.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) – Andy Reid teams are 18-8 against the spread coming out of a bye week. Now, the Chiefs are only 7-5 ATS after a bye since Reid took over. But he was an automatic bet when he was in Philadelphia, going 11-3 ATS after an extra week of rest.
6. New England Patriots (8-4) – Let’s slow down with the talk about the Patriots as a Super Bowl contender. They are not. Not with those receivers. The Patriots are playing great. They have won six straight (both SU and ATS) by an average of 24.7 points per game. However, the only one of those wins to come against a playoff team was the shell of the Titans team that they beat last week in a game with a misleading final score.
7. Tennessee Titans (8-4) – The bye week is really coming at the perfect time for the Titans. If they get both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones (no, seriously, try not to laugh) back healthy, then the Titans will be a factor in the AFC race. If not, then they are just a bad football team.
8. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) – Much like the Eagles, who also lost on Sunday, the Colts completely abandoned the No. 1 thing that had led to their success over the past month: the running game. I get “take what the defense gives you,” but 26 passes in a row when you have a Top 5 running game and the best back in football is just stupidity. The Colts are 4-1 ATS after a loss but just 2-5 ATS as a favorite and 1-5 ATS in their last six divisional games.
8. Los Angeles Rams (7-4) – These guys are the latest example of what I talked about earlier this season: the bye week is overrated as an NFL handicapping tool. I was the only analyst in the country saying that the Rams were overrated heading into the season. They are 4-7 ATS on the season and on an 0-5 ATS slide. Their only wins over the last two months: Seattle, the Giants, Detroit and Houston. I’m telling you: these guys aren’t as good as everyone wants them to be.
10. Buffalo Bills (7-4) – I think we are going to find out everything we need to know about the Bills and their Super Bowl viability on Monday. The Patriots have absolutely owned the Bills over the last 20+ years, but Buffalo pulled off the sweep last season. The Bills are just 3-14 ATS in their last 17 games against the Patriots in Orchard Park, and the home team is just 9-23 ATS in the last 32 games the past 16 years between these two.
11. Dallas Cowboys (7-4) – The media is describing Dallas’ situation as a “COVID outbreak”. Maybe, technically, it is. However, to this point none of their starting players on either side of the ball have been placed on the list, and it looks like they may be getting Amari Cooper back from it. CeeDee Lamb is also on track to play Thursday against the Saints, and, personally, I think Dallas will be better out without head coach Mike McCarthy on the sideline.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – Good luck figuring these guys out. They almost lost to the Jaguars (at home) and did lose to the Jets. But they also blew out Baltimore (on the road) and Pittsburgh, and their last four wins have been by an average of 24.3 points per game. The Bengals are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games after a win.
13. San Francisco 49ers (6-5) – These games over the next two weeks – at moribund Seattle and at home against awful Atlanta – are exactly the types of games that good teams win. If San Francisco is legit – and if the Shanahan-Garoppolo pairing is sustainable – they will win both of these games. If not, then I think the Niners will get upset in at least one of these attempts.
14. Minnesota Vikings (5-6) – Lining up under the guard (instead of the center), then having to burn a timeout to avoid a penalty because of it, and then airmailing a key two-point conversion, is the most Kirk Cousins thing ever. On paper Cousins is having an MVP-caliber season: 3,013 yards, 23 touchdowns and 3 interceptions with a 68 percent completion rate. In reality, the guy is still a loser.
15. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) – Maybe everyone needs to accept that these guys just aren’t as good as everyone wants them to be. Defensively, this team is still kind of a mess, and Brandon Staley’s system hasn’t seemed to take. That’s the difference between Staley running his system as a defensive coordinator and as a head coach. The Chargers are dead last in rushing defense this year and No. 29 in scoring defense. They have allowed seven straight opponents to score 24 or more points.
16. Cleveland Browns (6-6) – You can’t pin all of the inconsistencies of this team on Baker Mayfield. The Browns defense has allowed 16 or fewer points seven times – but also given up 37 or more three times. The offense has failed to top 14 points in six games – but has also exploded for 40 points twice. These guys were erratic last year (but found ways to win), and they are erratic now. That’s not going to change with one bye week.
17. New Orleans Saints (5-6) – The good injury news is that it looks like Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Ryan Ramczyk and Taysom Hill will all be available for the Saints on Thursday against Dallas. The bad news is that Marcus Davenport and left tackle Terron Armstead are unlikely to play. I really think Sean Payton should roll with Taysom Hill and just try to run the ball down Dallas’ throat 50 times.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1) – It is obvious that it is over for this team and that the Big Ben Era is dying. It is still tough not to see this weekend’s game against rival Baltimore as a last stand, though. The underdog is an insane 20-7 ATS in the last 30 meetings (with three pushes), and an inordinate number of games in this series have been decided by four points or less.
19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) – So let me get this straight: Philadelphia’s offense had averaged 35.3 points per game and had revitalized the Eagles season over the last four weeks since committing to a strong running game (averaging over 40 rushes per game). So, the game plan against the Giants was to come out passing? Yes, Jalen Hurts deserves a lot of criticism for three ugly interceptions. He also had at least two touchdown passes dropped and suffered from being on the wrong end of a comical game plan.
20. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5) – So much for that Las Vegas home field advantage. The Raiders are just 1-5 ATS in their last six home games. They are also a pathetic 20-43 ATS in their last 63 games as a favorite. Those two numbers are why the Raiders are only a 2.5-point home favorite instead of a token three-point chalk. Las Vegas has beaten two of the three NFC East teams it has played this year, though.
21. Denver Broncos (6-5) – Just imagine what this team would be doing if they had not had to deal with the colossal number of injuries that they have had to navigate this season. The Broncos have had zero luck against the Chiefs over the last several years, going just 2-9 ATS against their division rivals. But they may catch Kansas City flat out of a bye week – that has been a theme all season long – and the road team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven between these two.
22. Miami Dolphins (5-7) – I have a superpower. It’s called the Kiss of Life. It is pretty much the opposite of the Kiss of Death, in that I rag on or criticize or call out a player or team and that player or team instantly does something amazing. I didn’t ask for this power. It certainly wouldn’t have been my choice of superpower. But it is there, nonetheless. Example No. 1,588,472 was my critique of Tua Tagovailoa last week followed promptly by him going 27-for-31 and having the best game of his career. You’re welcome, Dolphins backers.
23. Atlanta Falcons (5-6) – I know there are a lot of Atlanta fans that are excited about the prospect of playing meaningful football games in December for the first time in three years. I hate to be a wet blanket, but this team is awful. And just because they show up in the ledger on the “In The Hunt” graphic on pregame shows doesn’t mean that this team has a prayer of making a playoff run.
24. Washington Football Team (5-6) – I find it hard to believe that no one on the WFT could’ve kicked a 21-yard field goal to ice the game. Washington was at the 3-yard-line with 2:25 and had a 17-9 lead. Three points wins the game. I mean, I know for a fact that I – me, a random dude and not a professional athlete – could make 80-90 percent if you gave me 10 or 20 tries at that range. So how do football teams not have anyone (cough, cough, the punter, cough) that could step up in a pinch like this? Bizarre.
25. Carolina Panthers (5-7) – I watched way more of the Carolina-Miami game than I thought I would just because it was so much fun watching Cam Newton hump the dog. There is a reason that this guy was available! Also, it was cringey watching him try to orchestrate the touchdown celebration with his teammates early in the game. You could tell none of them knew (or cared about) what he was saying and doing. Good ol’ Cam.
26. Chicago Bears (4-7) – The reporting before Chicago’s Thanksgiving game at Detroit indicated that Matt Nagy would be fired after the game. Team ownership then allegedly assured the players that this wasn’t the case and Nagy would be their coach the rest of the season. Armed with the knowledge that their coach’s job was essentially on the line – either in this game or over the next seven games – the Bears responded by……………….going out and playing awful football. That kind of tells you where the locker room is on this guy.
27. Seattle Seahawks (3-8) – Russell Wilson was the only thing propping up this feeble roster. Now that Wilson’s play has gone in the toilet – I thought he would get better playing in his third game after surgery and a layoff; he was actually worse – it is apparent that this team really is one of the weakest in football.
28. New York Giants (4-7) – Giants fans felt vindicated after New York won its first game without Jason Garrett. But considering that the Giants scored only 13 points and gained just 264 yards, I feel like Garrett is the one who should feel vindicated. The ‘under’ is 21-6 in New York’s last 27 games. The Giants are 21-7 ATS in their last 28 road games and 23-8 ATS as a road underdog.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) – I can give the Jaguars a pass on losing games because of their inferior talent. They have a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach, so this year was never going to be anything but ugly. However, they gave the Falcons three first downs because of awful penalties, and that is unacceptable. One of the penalties came on a field goal attempt, which Atlanta converted into a touchdown at a juncture that changed the game.
30. New York Jets (3-8) – If the Jets had been playing in an even remotely meaningful game, then Zach Wilson’s butt interception would rival Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble as one of the most embarrassing plays of the 21st century for the Jets. (And that is saying something.) Also, hat tip to defensive end John Franklin-Myers. One week after he essentially lost the game for his team with a terrible roughing the passer call, he followed up with his best game yet. His interception of a Tyrod Taylor screen pass early in that game will probably end up being the most impressive defensive play of New York’s season.
31. Houston Texans (2-9) – And that, my friends, is why you don’t lay points with terrible teams.
32. Detroit Lions (0-10-1) – This offense has definitely gotten worse since Dan Campbell took over play calling. They are averaging just 13.3 points per game with Campbell making the calls. And considering how many game-management mistakes he’s made during those three games, it is obvious that he needs to relinquish that duty immediately. Then again, they are 3-0 ATS with Campbell pulling the strings, so maybe he should keep it going?
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