We will talk about power rankings all season long, and for the most part, they are entirely arbitrary and just a step above picking names out of a hat! However, there are some power rankings to consider that hold at least a little more value than me rankings teams 1-32.
ESPN gambling writer Dave Tuley compiled a Vegas power ranking. They are similar in nature to Super Bowl futures (odds for each team to win the Super Bowl) you can find at sports books, but they feature slight differences. Tuley compiled the rankings as follows:
The NFL Vegas Rankings are compiled by taking the average of the power ratings of ESPN Chalk handicappers, including Erin Rynning and yours truly and ESPN's Football Power Index, and are used to compare two teams as if they were to meet on a neutral field (after which most teams get 2.5 points for home-field advantage) and can be used to compare to the current point spread.
The San Francisco 49ers slot in at No. 32, just behind the Cleveland Browns. Here’s what Tuley had to say about the 49ers:
Chip Kelly inherited a mess and it doesn't look like thing will improve anytime soon for the 49ers (plus they play in the division with our No. 1 and No. 2 teams). Blaine Gabbert beating out Colin Kaepernick, who not too long ago was being proclaimed as leading the evolution of dual-threat quarterbacks, isn't a good sign for the coming season either. The defense, led by Navorro Bowman, tends to keep the 49ers in some games, but it doesn't look like the offense will be consistent enough to take advantage.
Professional gamblers and the public are down on the 49ers in a big way. When the Los Angeles Rams are giving 2.5 points on the road against the 49ers, that’s telling you something. People are going to fade this team as long as they can. It is probably the safe play, but I also think the 49ers could end up being undervalued on the betting market. Maybe they won’t win a lot of games, but as they say, “good teams win, great teams cover.” From a gambling perspective, if they win five games but cover nine or ten, I would be pleased. It might not happen, but again, there could be some value with an improved offensive line and defense.