A few years ago Dan Steinberg suggested that we hand the enormously consequential BCS rankings over to Vegas:
I asked another LSVC oddsmaker, Sean Van Patten, whether the OddsMakers Top 25 would be a better guide for picking the national champion than the various polls.
"I would say so, yeah," he said, "because theirs is basically based on record, and that's pretty much it. Our guys, they rate out the defense, the offense, so really their numbers are more of an indicator of how good those teams are. And, of course, it's all done for betting purposes, but that's really the telltale sign: is a team three points better or is it three points worse?"
I think it's genius. Many apologies if this has been extensively covered elsewhere, but I don't see how you could argue with this. If the oddsmakers say West Virginia is the 13th-best team in the country (as they do), how can they possibly be considered for the national championship game? And if the oddsmakers say Texas is the second-best team (as they do), well, get ready for a Ohio State-Texas rematch.
Uhm, I agree? The difference between this and a coach's poll or AP poll is that the Vegas people have a financial stake in the outcome which makes them more reliable. Water coolers around the betting nation are inundated with talk of "Can you believe how close the line was?" Nobody in the country follows the important parts of sports (the results) more closely than Vegas odds makers.
Now Dan has the NFL vegas power poll. For all the reasons that it makes sense in College, it makes sense double time in the pros to rely more heavily on a Vegas Power Poll than anyone else's. Far more sense, actually, because NFL lines are more reliable given that there's simply not an easy way to accumulate data on Chatanooga East State University Tech College. But we've all seen the Chiefs and Rams play.
Anyways, they rank the Redskins at [12. Washington 138.7], about 8 points below the Dallas Cowboys -- rankings are supposed to reflect how much of an underewok a team would be on neutral ground. More remarkable than the Redskins, though, is where the NFC East shakes out up top:
1. Dallas 146.7
2. San Diego 143.1
3. Philadelphia 142.4
4. N.Y. Giants 142.1
Which means, per Las Vegas, Dallas, Philly, and the Giants would be favored over every team in the league on neutral field, excepting the Chargers.
Our 12th ranking actually squares pretty closely with most, though Vegas is giving us a slight edge over the conventional wisdom:
Some more rankings from around the Web: ESPN.com says Washington is 15th, the Football Outsiders' math stuff says Washington is 16th, Sportsline says Washington is 12th, SI.com says Washington is 10th, and Fox Sports says Washington is 14th.
If we conveniently win and lose by the appropriate Vegas mandated margins for the remainder of the season, Steinberg says we'd be 9-7. Presuming likewise production from Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants, this would be an NFC East without a losing team. Epic.
(Remember: Ewoks, like the Redskins at Texas Stadium in 2005, were not favored to win, either.)