LAS VEGAS -- Who is the No. 1 NFL team, according to the oddsmakers and bettors here? If you look at the future books, that would be the Denver Broncos, as they're the 5-1 favorite to win the Super Bowl at the LVH SuperBook with the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers at 7-1. But does that make Denver the league's best team? Not necessarily.
The 49ers are actually ranked a half-point better than the Broncos, according to ESPN Insider's Vegas NFL Bettors' Poll that consists of professional handicappers Teddy "Covers" Sevransky, Sal Selvaggio and yours truly, Dave Tuley. The poll is a combination of our individual power rankings that we use in our own handicapping. My rankings go from 26, which is what I had the 49ers at in my top spot, down to 15 for Jacksonville. I take the other handicappers' ratings -- Teddy has 22 as his top ranking while Sal starts at 100 -- adjust them to fit my scale and average them out so they're not representative of any one handicapper, but rather the group as a whole.
The 49ers were also our consensus top team the day after they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl and have maintained that spot during the offseason. In that time, the Ravens have dropped three points in our rankings, and the Patriots have fallen a point and a half. The chart below reveals where teams ranked at the end of the last season and where they stand now.
The ranking of the NFL's top teams is all open to debate, but that doesn't mean it isn't valuable. How do we put this into action and find value for Week 1 lines?