December 3, 2019 - by Jason Lisk
Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans are rolling as we enter December (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)
Four weeks to go in the NFL season, and we are getting down to crunch time in football pools. As we noted last week, you may start to see some bigger differences across our pick sets for pools with season prizes (Maximize Profit, Win Something, Avoid Bad Finish).
Please read our article on Early Season versus Endgame Strategy in office pools for a more in-depth explanation. The bottom line is that your picking strategy should potentially shift to maximize your chance of winning based on your standings. If you are ahead, you will want to play it more conservatively. That could mean defending your position by leaning toward extremely popular choices. If you are trailing, you need to take some calculated risks to make up ground.
Last week, we highlighted five games. Three of those games ended up with the favored team being unpopular. While the Browns struggled against Pittsburgh, both Tampa Bay and Tennessee won. As a result, the public averaged 1.26 wins across those three games, while taking all three unpopular favorites netted two wins.
The other two games we highlighted were a wash. The Baltimore Ravens were mentioned as favorite that provided reasonable value by sticking with them. The Minnesota Vikings were noted as a potential value gamble. The favorite won, and the underdog lost, both in close games that came down to the end.
There were a lot of upsets in Week 13, including two big ones with Washington over Carolina and Miami over Philadelphia. Overall, the team that we projected with the higher win odds went 9-7 in Week 13. While that may not seem like a great record, it outperformed the public, who registered 8.46 wins on average.
Our confidence pool recommendations also did well in Week 13. For example, our “Tomlinson” Quick Picks* scored 78 points. That’s a pretty good score in a week where half of the most popular public choices lost.
*”Tomlinson” is a set of confidence point picks that we track to help us monitor the product. It assigns picks and confidence points based purely on our model win odds, ignoring public pick data and making no standings-related strategy adjustments.
Using Vegas odds, data-driven predictions, and pick popularity data from national football pick’em contests, we’ve analyzed the entire NFL Week 14 slate and identified the best value picking opportunities. This week, early pick popularity numbers show several games where the public is strongly on one side in matchups that the oddsmakers think are far closer to even.
Keep in mind that we are not saying that you should make all five of the picks below. The best Week 14 picks for your NFL pool depend on characteristics such as its size, rules, and prize structure; our Football Pick’em Picks product will recommend weekly picks for you based on all those factors.
What we are saying is that the teams mentioned in this post either offer some of the best opportunities to differentiate your Week 14 picks from your pool opponents, or they serve as prime examples of when picking against the crowd is most likely a bad idea.
Note: Win odds and pick popularity estimates below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.
Week 14 features a favorite that the public is picking at a lower rate than their chance to win. These types of teams are as close as you can get to “no brainer picks” in NFL pick’em contests, since both win odds and value are on your side.
The Tennessee Titans have won five of their last six games, corresponding with the team benching Marcus Mariota at quarterback and going with Ryan Tannehill. Oakland has lost their last two games by a combined 62 points, and have now been outscored by 97 points on the season.
So it’s a little surprising that the public is still somewhat enamored with the Raiders, picking them 61% of the time this week. Oakland is a deceiving 6-6 (most teams that get outscored by that much have far worse records) and the public may be slow in responding to Tennessee. Our 2019 NFL predictive ratings have the Titans at No. 12 and Oakland at No. 26, separated by 7.7 points on a neutral field. Tennessee is favored by 3 points, and our models give them a 64% chance of winning.
You can take the betting favorite, and a team that is playing much better of late, and gain ground on about 60% of your pool if the Titans win.
Tennessee is not the only value favorite this week, and there are two more teams that present a similar opportunity on the road.
Get all of our premium articles, tools and picks for only $19/week.
Printed from TeamRankings.com - © 2005-2019 Team Rankings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.