Here’s a quick rundown on upgrades we made to our NFL Survivor Pool picks product this summer.
Before we dive in, it’s worth noting what happened to us in survivor last season. After ripping off a 29-week survivor win streak across the two previous two seasons, we hit a bit of rough patch during the first few weeks of 2013. This was especially frustrating for two reasons:
- Our analysis was sound, but our luck was bad. The teams our survivor algorithms categorized as “Top Options” and “Worth A Look” during Week 1 and Week 2 of 2013 won even more often than we expected. Combined, those teams went 13-3 compared to an expected 11-5 based on our pre-game win odds. Unfortunately, we just happened to settle on two of the losers as our Week 1 and Week 2 picks for people playing one entry in a pool.
- The rest of the season went fine. Toward the end of last season we began hearing from customers who, despite our rocky start, were still cashing in their survivor pools. These were people who played three, four, or more entries in their pools, which is often a good idea for survivor, especially in larger contests. They had lost entries early on, but stuck with our analysis and still ended up profiting.
We spent the summer figuring out how to dominate football pick’ems and NFL survivor pools.
This post is going to explain what we did and why we did it.
And why you’re missing out if you don’t pay attention.
If you hate to read and just want to cut to the chase, here are the links to sign up for our groundbreaking new picks and analysis packages for football pools:
Welcome to the Week 17 installment of our NFL Survivor contest advice column. We apply a data-driven strategy to get an edge in Survivor pools, using analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models, public picking trends, future team schedules, and other data.
As the season progresses, Survivor pool elimination rates usually increase. People use up all the good teams at the beginning of the year, and their choices over the last few weeks become more difficult.
Week 16 bucked that trend, as over 98% of Yahoo! contestants survived. It was the second safest week of the season, behind Week 11. Our pick, the Denver Broncos, breezed past the Cleveland Browns by a 34-12 score.
We’re now entering the final week of the season. The decision-making process becomes much simpler this week, as there is no future value to consider. If you’ve got a big favorite available, it’s now or never.
Well, it’s December 21st, and there have been no signs of an alpacalypse (though it may feel differently if your $200K Survivor prize pool was just seized by the feds). That means you still need to make a Survivor pick this week.
There have been quite a few shifts in the money lines and win odds since Wednesday. If, like us, you’ve still got one last trump card that you’re using this week, then those changes probably won’t make a big difference to you.
On the other hand, if you’re dipping into the Tier 2 pot, you’ll probably want to pay close attention.
Welcome to the Week 16 installment of our NFL Survivor contest advice column. We apply a data-driven strategy to get an edge in Survivor pools, using analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models, public picking trends, future team schedules, and other data. This article presents our preliminary Survivor pick of the week; we publish our final, official pick on Fridays.
While the Miami Dolphins’ victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15 advanced over half of Survivor contests on to Week 16, the next most popular team, the Detroit Lions, couldn’t manage a win in Arizona. Their loss knocked out around one fifth of the public.
Our pick, the New Orleans Saints, laid a 41-0 whipping on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That ends our two-week losing streak and gets us back in black for the close of the regular season.
This week’s choice is probably obvious to those of you who have been following the blog all season, but let’s review the data before we make it official.
One of our Tier 1 picks, the Cincinnati Bengals, took care of business on Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bengals were picked by only about 4% of Survivor contestants, so the end result probably had little impact on your pool, unless you had Cincy available and are now through to Week 16.
As far as the rest of the Survivor landscape, a couple line shifts have led to a slight re-ordering of our top Tier 2 teams, but there have been no high impact movements. Let’s review.
Welcome to the Week 15 installment of our NFL Survivor contest advice column. We apply a data-driven strategy to get an edge in Survivor pools, using analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models, public picking trends, future team schedules, and other data. This article presents our preliminary Survivor pick of the week; we publish our final, official pick on Fridays.
When it rains, it pours.
After our 29-game regular season winning streak came to a close last week, we’re now on a 2-game losing streak. Hopefully we’re getting all the bad mojo out of our system now, in one big burst.
Do we regret switching off our Wednesday pick of Cleveland? Well, based on the results, sure, a little. But given the closing lines (-350 for the Steelers, -305 for the Browns), Pittsburgh still seems like the smarter choice. Sometimes you make the right choice and get the wrong result.
And there is one silver lining here. Given that we were going to lose in Week 14 anyway, we can stop kicking ourselves over flipping the Week 13 pick from Denver to Detroit.
For those of you who survived, Week 14 was a fairly uneventful week. There were several minor upsets, but none knocked out more than a few percent of the public. Overall 13% of your opponents likely bit the dust, slightly boosting your chunk of the pie.
As expected, the Broncos took care of business on Thursday against the Raiders, advancing about 7% of the public on to Week 15. Though it would have been nice to be in that group, or for Denver to have taken a surprise loss, at least their win means another 7% of our opponents won’t be able to take them in Week 16.
As for our official pick, it looks like we’re going to be flipping it for the second week in a row, and the third time this year. The first time we flipped, our original pick lost while our new pick won. The second time, our original pick won while our new pick lost. Let’s hope this time we get a repeat of the former … or even a “both win” scenario.
Welcome to the Week 14 installment of our NFL Survivor contest advice column. We apply a data-driven strategy to get an edge in Survivor pools, using analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models, public picking trends, future team schedules, and other data. This article presents our preliminary Survivor pick of the week; we publish our final, official pick on Fridays.
Well, it had to end sometime.
Since the start of the 2011 season, we made it through a run of 29 straight regular season weeks without a Survivor loss. Even taking solid favorites each week, the odds of that are pretty slim.
Taking a quick glance back at the last five weeks, the average TR win odds for our Survivor picks has been 73%. If we pretend that was our chance of being right in each of the previous 29 weeks, then our chance of actually making it through unscathed was 0.01% … that’s 1 in 10,000. We’ll take it.
Unfortunately, our Luck finally ran out (sorry, couldn’t resist), as Andrew tossed a game-winning TD with no time left on the clock to complete a 12-point 4th-quarter comeback by the Colts, handing both the Lions and our Survivor column a loss. If you watched the Lions’ strategy in the fourth quarter, you probably have some serious questions for Coach Schwartz, but alas, that’s just how it goes sometimes. I’m sure we’ve been on the other side of this coin as well at some point during The Streak, so there’s no point in moaning about it.
At least we can take solace in the fact that we weren’t alone. Week 13′s most popular pick, the San Francisco 49ers, fell to the Rams, knocking out roughly a quarter of Yahoo! contestants. The Ravens and Bears also were upset, knocking out another 12% between the two of them. Altogether, over 40% of the public was eliminated.
We know not all of you have followed our official picks each week, particularly last week when we faced such a close call. So we’ll continue to make Survivor picks for the rest of the year, even though our chance at a second straight perfect season is busted.
Let’s get to it.
Wow, it’s been a while, but we’ve finally got an interesting Friday update on our hands … or at least, one that can’t just be handled by a robot bartender.
There hasn’t been any earth shaking line movement over the past couple days, but there have been a couple shifts in our decision-making process:
- First, it has come to our attention that the Yahoo! public pick data may be contaminated. Apparently Yahoo! lets you start Survivor pools at any point in the season, and allows you to restart after everyone is eliminated. This means that their published pick rates are probably not a good proxy for those in a normal pool. As a result, we’re switching to using only data from OfficeFootballPool.
- Second, some great discussion in the comment section of Wednesday’s post convinced us that when we plan out our future path, we need to be giving more weight to how popular a team will be. This changes the value of the possible future picks we laid out Wednesday, and makes us lean more towards saving some teams with high future value.
Our Wednesday decision was a very close call, so these changes, along with line movement in the Detroit game, have led us to reconsider our official pick.