NFL Week 12 betting takeaways: Missing quarterbacks move ratings
Heading into Week 12, we weren't sure who the best team in the NFL was. We still don't know. Last Thursday morning, the Bills were the No. 1 team in oddsmakers' ratings. But nothing was learned from Buffalo's narrow win over the Lions, the Chiefs' victory over a depleted Rams team, or the 49ers' bend-but-don't-break triumph against the Saints (San Francisco collected its one touchdown off a deflection at the end of the first half).
This is our penultimate look at how oddsmakers rate teams before things get weird in the season's final few weeks. Assuming the playoff teams remain healthy, we have a pretty good handle on contenders' capabilities, even if their exact order - largely irrelevant to bettors - is uncertain.
How ratings work
We look at the betting market's assessment of each team based on the closing lines from the previous week's games, and then we estimate what each club is capable of going forward. The "rating" column is an educated guess at the oddsmakers' rating to create a point spread before their most recent game. The number itself represents the percentage chance that a team beats an average opponent on a neutral field.
The range column is my evaluation of each team's potential after seeing them play this season. Obviously, clubs don't perform at the same level every week; they play within a range. It's our job as handicappers to predict how they'll perform based on things like the situation, on-field matchups, and roster/injury issues. The earlier it is in the season, the wider a team's range may be.
Rating before Week 12 kickoff
The Eagles' rating fell again after they squeaked past the Colts in Week 11, and given their game against the Packers landed within a half-point of the spread, 65/100 is a pretty good rating for Philadelphia. That rating is the same as it was through much of their hot start.
The Buccaneers didn't live up to the boost they got from a win over the Seahawks in Germany and a subsequent bye week. Even the most basic head coaching strategy likely would have given them a win and a cover, but Todd Bowles' decision to take a delay of game penalty, punt on fourth-and-2 from the 37-yard line, and not use all of his timeouts late was malpractice. It's concerning that Tom Brady apparently doesn't have the power or wherewithal to overrule such decisions. The Buccaneers' rating should be heading back toward mediocrity.
The Dolphins-Texans game was more interesting before kickoff than it was after. Miami went up - off a bye and a blowout against the Browns - but it was Houston that went as low as we're willing to go, creating a 14.5-point spread it couldn't quite cover after trailing 30-0. Things only get more interesting in the market this week as the Browns get Deshaun Watson back for their trip to Houston.
We now have an understanding of the Rams' rating without both Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, and it's rough for the defending Super Bowl champions. The same goes for the Bears without Justin Fields, as Chicago was worse than the market imagined - even after a late drop following erroneous reports of a Nathan Peterman start. Mike White proved why the Jets' rating went up after they benched nominal starting quarterback Zach Wilson.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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