NFL Week 4 betting market report: How bettors perceived all 32 teams
We all could've used some better information before Week 4. It'd help if those whose job it is to find out who's healthy and able to play each week would do so, especially regarding the quarterback position.
Derek Carr wasn't supposed to play. He did. Jimmy Garoppolo was a maybe, supposedly replaced by Brian Hoyer, only for rookie Aidan O'Connell to get the call. Then Deshaun Watson developed a shoulder issue that jeopardized his status late in the week, forcing a seemingly unprepared rookie, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, into action.
Carr's availability didn't help the Saints, the Raiders managed to push the closing line and probably deserved better, while the Browns didn't have a chance offensively - and there's only so much they could do on defense.
Of course, it doesn't help that objectively awful quarterbacks like Zach Wilson randomly play well enough to hang with the defending champion Chiefs. Could somebody have given us a heads-up on that?
How ratings work
Every week, we'll look at what the betting market thinks of each team based on the closing lines from that week's games. The "rating" column is an educated guess at the oddsmakers' rating to create a point spread, with the specific number being the percentage chance that the team beats an average opponent on a neutral field. Ratings aren't rankings. The closing line is considered a better reflection of a team's value than one 60-minute game.
The range column is my evaluation of what each team is capable of. It's our job as handicappers to determine where within its range a team will play based on factors like on-field matchups and roster/injury issues. The earlier it is in the season, the wider the range a team may have.
Market ratings and our range
One of the most vexing point spread moves of Week 4 was the Jets taking respected money to move a line that made sense at Chiefs -9.5 down to as low as -7.5. Someone with market influence saw something in that matchup, but was it based on moving the Chiefs down or the Jets up? We'll assume that it was more about the latter since the Jets were competitive in New England a week earlier.
For the second straight week, the Bengals' rating is the most curious. With a hobbled Joe Burrow in Week 3, Cincinnati being 3-point favorites at home against the Rams indicated a huge rating downgrade. The team pushed the spread, and Burrow didn't look healthy.
Closing 2.5-point favorites on the road against the Titans indicated that the Bengals are right back to where we estimated them to be before the season. If that move didn't make sense to you, you likely won as easily with Tennessee. Looking ahead to Week 5, the higher-end rating would make the Bengals -7.5 against the Cardinals, and the lower rating (like the one versus the Rams) would suggest a line of -4.
Of course, Arizona's rating might be too low. Even though it didn't cover for the first time this season against the 49ers in San Francisco, it was down just five points heading into the fourth quarter. The Cardinals were a Zach Ertz drop away from getting the backdoor cover late. Bumping them up for that would get you to the current -3 line in Bengals-Cardinals this week.
Losing to the Cardinals in Week 3 sent the Cowboys back down to the mid-60s, which is why they went from -7.5 in the look-ahead lines to a closing line of -5.5 against the Patriots. The issue is that there's a good chance New England is terrible, making its league-average rating laughable. The Pats are one of many NFL teams with a quarterback who's not a viable long-term option.
Cleveland went from 55/100 to 46/100, as the favorite flipped when Watson was ruled out. Evidently, that wasn't enough of a drop.
O'Connell wasn't great against the Chargers, but I'm not sure he was that much worse than Garoppolo would've been, so the dip in the Raiders' rating was probably too far. They probably remain merely below average instead of horrendous.
Hand up - I was wrong. As 2.5-point home underdogs to the Seahawks, the Giants' rating fell so far that they were comparable to the Panthers. That was hard to swallow for a playoff team last year. It might be fair. The Giants are terrible in all three phases.
We have a new worst team in the NFL. The Broncos and Bears both plummeted after getting crushed in Week 3, but it's Chicago that fell past the Cardinals for the bottom of our estimated market ratings. Now, the Bears are featured on Thursday Night Football.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.