2023 Luck Rankings Primer: Get To Know Action Network’s NFL Betting Model

2023 Luck Rankings Primer: Get To Know Action Network’s NFL Betting Model article feature image

Action Network's NFL Luck Rankings are back for 2023!

Our Luck Rankings use a metric we call Luck%, which aims to represent the win probability difference between a team's overall performance and its actual winning percentage. We do this through our Expected Score metric, which identifies the score a team would score on average when facing the specific game situations it encountered.

As an example, let's say the Philadelphia Eagles have fourth and goal on the opposing team's 1-yard line. If we were to replay this scenario a million times, the Eagles are likely to punch the ball into the end zone quite a bit. But there's also a chance they don't.

By doing this on every play of a drive, and grouping those plays from that drive together, we can get the expected number of points a team would score on that drive. It's then adjusted for team strength to get the Expected Score for the full game.

By comparing all 32 teams' Expected Scores to their actual results, we can figure out which teams have been lucky or unlucky through this Luck% metric. We can then rank them by Luck% from 1-32 to get our Luck Rankings.

Also, this season in the Action App, you'll be able to find a "Luck" tab for every NFL game that'll give you the chance to analyze the luck-based trends for every matchup.

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Luck Rankings Updates for 2023

If you're a Luck Rankings veteran, you'll recall our 2022 Luck Rankings heading into Week 18. While those were very useful, we've made some adjustments to the Luck% calculation to have a better fit after a year of learning.

As a result, here are the new end-of-2022 Luck Rankings using our updated methodology.

Betting Spreads Using Luck Rankings

Last year, if two teams were separated by at least 16 spots in our Luck Rankings, the unlucky team went 39-22 against the closing spread for a 63.9% hit rate.

However, with the update to our method, we're going to look for even bigger differences this year.

For 2023 we're going to want to key in on games with at least 24 places separating opposing teams in our Luck Rankings. We call this the Luck Difference, so we'll want to key in on the unlucky team in games with a Luck Difference of 24 or more.

In addition, we can also use the difference in Luck% between the two teams. If we subtract the unluckier team's Luck% from the luckier team's Luck% that difference we call the Luck Gap. If the Luck Gap between two teams is at least 50%, that also warrants attention toward the unlucky team.

When combining both Luck Difference and Luck Gap, we found that unlucky teams that fit at least one of the two criteria are 96-54-4 against the closing spread for a 64% hit rate over the last five years.

Betting Totals Using Luck Rankings

We also found that our Expected Score metric can be used to bet totals.

By looking at the combined effect of how one team's offense and its opponent's defense have fared, and doing this for both teams in a matchup, we can determine if the teams have combined to score and allow more or less points than expected.

If teams combine to score and allow much more than expected, it's reasonable to believe regression would eventually set in and these teams would combine for the under if bookmakers are setting the line closer to the actual scores than the expected scores. The opposite is true if teams have scored and allowed much less than expected.

We found this effect to be true after Week 3 for very large differences. From Week 4 on in games where the teams have a combined Expected Score per game at least 10 points different from the actual score per game, a bet on the corresponding over or under would be 27-12 (69.2%) over the last five years.

These Luck Totals, as we call them, do tend to regress toward the Expected Score — 94% of games with a Luck Total at least 10 points off in either direction occur in the first half of the season.

That means if we want to continue to use Luck Totals late in the year, we'll need to look at smaller differences. Thankfully, there's still a significant edge with smaller differences.

After Week 11, we found that Luck Totals at least 5 points off in either direction are 53-35-2 (61.5%).

Luck Ranking Content for 2023

We'll have a ton of content in 2023 for our Luck Rankings.

Each Monday we'll review the Bad Beats of the week based on Expected Scores. On Tuesdays, our updated Luck Rankings will come out. On Wednesday, we can begin to preview the Luck Ranking matchups for the week and we'll have a Luck Ranking segment on our Wednesday Happy Hour show (5 p.m. ET).

After Week 3 we'll also look at any Luck Totals and Luck Team Totals that may stand out.

After around Weeks 6 or 7 we'll also use Luck Rankings combined with strength of schedule to project win totals for the rest of the year.

Finally, while our Luck Rankings record is compared to closing lines, we can use lookahead Luck Rankings to hop on early sides and totals to beat line movement.

Hopefully, you'll enjoy following all our Luck Ranking content in 2023, and good, ahem…luck…with your bets this year!

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