Power Ratings – Should You Have Them?

Power ratings are nothing more than numerical strength numbers which are assigned to teams, whether they be college or pro teams. What they do is constitute one of the bases of the pointspread put out by the Las Vegas oddsmaker.

Are they necessary? Yes. Either you must make up your own power ratings or make use of a good source of power ratings from somewhere else. The Gold Sheet is a good place to refer to if you’re looking for solid power ratings.

I don’t have power ratings of my own right at the beginning of the season. But after a couple of weeks, I can formulate my own and then start to adjust them from week to week depending on my perception of changes in the strength of the teams on the list.

A theoretical pointspread is derived using power rating numbers. Let’s illustrate with an example. Let’s say Oklahoma is your highest rated team with a rating of 99 (the highest is 100). They’re playing host to Colorado. Let’s say Colorado has a rating of 85 in your system. That would constitute a difference of 14 points. Now factor in the home field advantage. Most teams have a home field factor of 3 or 4 points, but Oklahoma's may be extremely strong, one of the best in the country, somewhere around a 6. If we use that figure, we come up with a theoretical line of 20 on the game where Colorado visits Oklahoma. That may be adjusted according to any key injuries in the game, along with other factors.

Now we’ll look at the line if the roles are reversed – let’s say Oklahoma is going to Colorado to play. The difference of 14 points is now going to be reduced. It just so happens that Colorado’s home field advantage is not that tremendous – only 2 points. Therefore, Oklahoma would check in as a 12-point favorite in this one – at least as a basis for your subsequent adjustments. If a team was playing on a "foreign" surface, you’d probably want to take a point or so away, since they have been known to be less productive on grass fields than on natural turf. Of course, that’s another handicapping factor altogether. The point is, now you know how to come up with a theoretical pointspread based on power ratings.


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