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Week 4 NFL power rankings

We use point differential against the spread to see where the value lies in our Week 4 NFL power rankings. Some surprises, but not at the very top and very bottom.

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores greets New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after their Week 2 contest at Hard Rock Stadium. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL wrapped up Week 3 with a stinker of a matchup on Monday Night Football. The Chicago Bears rolled Washington 31-16 thanks primarily to Case Keenum’s three interceptions and two lost fumbles. He’s an abysmal quarterback so I suppose my decision to bet on Washington +5.5 was not a particularly great idea from jump.

Whatever the case, the week is complete, and there is plenty to draw from it. You’ll see plenty of NFL power rankings heading into Week 4, but we wanted to try something a little different and a little more objective. Rather than arbitrarily decide who will top our power rankings — well, it’s going to remain the Patriots for most, but you get the point — we’re using a points differential mechanism. However, not basic points scored minus points allowed. Instead, we’re looking at points differential against the spread.

Generally, 16 teams are favorites and 16 teams are underdogs — with pick ‘em games occasionally mixed in. We’ve taken the point spread and subtracted the score difference to come up with a differential against the spread. If team A is favored by 6 points over team B and team A wins by 10 points, then team A is +4 for the game and team B is -4 for the game. If team B in that situation won by 3 points, team A would be -9 and team B would be +9.

We’re then adding that together each week for a total differential against the spread. This has not been tested for statistical significance, but it’s a fun way to consider how teams are performing as betting options.

It’s no surprise the New England Patriots are at the top and the Miami Dolphins are at the bottom. The San Francisco 49ers are currently second thanks in part to a big outright wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals. They head into their bye week after which the schedule starts to get a little meatier. We’ll see how valuable they remain at that point.

It’s interesting to note that the the first three unbeaten ATS teams don’t appear until the Los Angeles Rams show up at No. 6. They are 2-0-1 ATS, followed by the 3-0 Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. The Rams have had a particularly difficult schedule, opening in Carolina, hosting New Orleans, and then traveling to Cleveland. They get what should be a relatively easy contest with Tampa Bay, but then head to Seattle and host San Francisco. With San Francisco unbeaten straight up, the next month will likely have a big impact on the NFC West standings.

It really is impressive how awful the Miami Dolphins are by almost every metric. Their traditional win/loss record and point differential are awful, and they’re among the worst all-time in advanced metrics. Now we can add atrocious performance against the spread. They looked like they might cover against Dallas in Week 3, and then quickly proceeded to fall apart int he second half. They’re an abject disaster and if they don’t end up with the No. 1 overall pick, it will be the flukiest of flukes.

NFL standings ATS heading into Week 4

Rk Team Record ATS Pts ATS Record +/-
Rk Team Record ATS Pts ATS Record +/-
1 New England Patriots 2-1 42.5 3-0 +89
2 San Francisco 49ers 2-1 37.5 3-0 +42
3 Baltimore Ravens 2-1 36.5 2-1 +50
4 Kansas City Chiefs 2-1 21 3-0 +37
5 Minnesota Vikings 2-1 21 2-1 +31
6 Los Angeles Rams 2-0-1 20 3-0 +28
7 Dallas Cowboys 3-0 17.5 3-0 +53
8 Green Bay Packers 3-0 16 3-0 +23
9 Tennessee Titans 1-2 15.5 1-2 +15
10 Buffalo Bills 2-1 13.5 3-0 +19
11 Carolina Panthers 1-1-1 13 1-2 +9
12 Jacksonville Jaguars 2-1 11.5 1-2 -2
13 Detroit Lions 2-1 11 2-0-1 +6
14 Indianapolis Colts 2-0 8 2-1 -1
15 Houston Texans 2-1 7.5 2-1 +6
16 Chicago Bears 1-2 -0.5 2-1 +11
17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-2 -9 1-2 -9
18 Atlanta Falcons 1-2 -9 1-2 -15
19 Washington 1-2 -9.5 0-3 -31
20 New Orleans Saints 1-2 -10.5 2-1 -10
21 Arizona Cardinals 2-1 -11 0-2-1 -24
22 Oakland Raiders 1-2 -11 1-2 -30
23 New York Jets 1-2 -11.5 0-3 -37
24 Seattle Seahawks 1-2 -13 2-1 -3
25 Denver Broncos 1-2 -14 0-3 -21
26 Los Angeles Chargers 0-3 -15 1-2 -4
27 New York Giants 1-2 -15.5 1-2 -31
28 Philadelphia Eagles 0-3 -19 1-2 -2
29 Cleveland Browns 1-2 -26 1-2 -17
30 Pittsburgh Steelers 1-2 -27.5 0-3 -36
31 Cincinnati Bengals 2-1 -31 0-3 -29
32 Miami Dolphins 1-2 -69 0-3 -117