Introducing The World’s Most Intelligent Football Pool Picks
August 28, 2013 - by Tom Federico
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:
So…Where The Hell Were You Guys?
Before we get going, let’s clear something up quickly. You haven’t heard from the TeamRankings nerds in a while.
In fact, we’ve been radio silent since March Madness ended. No emails with dumb jokes, no blog posts, no news about preseason football projections. What the heck is going on?
One dude even asked if we were shutting down the site!
We can explain.
After March Madness ended, we challenged ourselves to come up with something BIG for football season — a project that would push the limits of our collective sports + math + engineering skills.
So we locked ourselves in a subterranean concrete bunker and vowed not to come out until we built something new and awesome and smart. Deprived of functional plumbing and fresh water, we subsisted for months on nothing but freeze dried goat’s bladder and Chuckles.
It was a long four months.
We Built Something To Help You Win
In the end, we narrowed our list of summer project ideas down to three:
- Project TeThrow. Build a replacement bionic throwing arm for Tim Tebow that can actually hit a cutting receiver at 10 yards at least 50% of the time.
- Project ManziFart. Release a mobile app that makes a farting noise and screams “I AM SO TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT THIS!!!” whenever anyone within 100 feet of you says “Johnny Manziel.”
- Project Crush Your Enemies And Hear The Lamentations Of Their Women. Help people like you win money and beat their friends in football picking contests.
The last one was the obvious choice. (Thanks for the inspiration, Governator.)
Why was it so obvious? Well…
If you like the idea of exploiting inefficient markets,
you need to get serious about playing in office pools.
After analyzing sports, predictions, and betting for over a decade now, we’ve learned that football pools, and office pools in general, present outstanding investment opportunities, especially compared to other sports-related contests and betting markets.
Most people don’t realize this.
Most people think of office pools as fun little games to play against friends and colleagues — games on which it’s silly to spend much time or energy.
At the same time, most people tend to view Vegas-style sports betting as a much more serious undertaking. Thanks to a mass media that is willing to believe what any self-proclaimed “Vegas insider” tells them, betting games at a casino is often perceived as a market that offers the potential for great financial returns, if you only spend enough time to learn how to beat the bookies.
Most people are wrong.
To illustrate why, let’s compare football pools with sports betting:
- Betting on sports. You compete against a highly informed Vegas sports book that stacks the odds against you (since you usually have to bet $110 to win $100) with the full blessing of the Nevada government. Oh, and if you actually start winning consistently, the casino can simply refuse to take your action, because it’s perfectly legal to do that and they’re not in business to lose money.
- Playing in office pools. You compete at fair odds against a group of inherently biased human beings, some of whom are diehard Jacksonville fans convinced that this is the year the Jags make their run to the Super Bowl. Even beyond the numbskulls, though, the vast majority of competitors in sports pools don’t have any clue about the optimal picking strategies to use.
It doesn’t take Gordon Gekko to figure out which of the two options above offers an easier path to success and winnings.
Is it possible to beat Vegas consistently and over the long term? Yes. But it sure as hell ain’t easy. You’re fighting a tiger with one hand strapped behind your back. It’s a lot easier to outsmart a bunch of folks who largely form their opinions of teams by listening to the likes of Skip Bayless and friends.
Sure, sports pools have downsides too. The most popular types of pools (NFL pick’ems, NFL survivors, March Madness bracket pools, college bowl pick’ems) only run once a year, so you need to have patience. Finishing at the top of a sports pool takes both skill and luck, and even with our help, it may not happen for you this year.
Or next year.
Or the year after that.
But over the long term, if you play sports pools intelligently, you can generate a huge edge over your typical opponent.
And if you play in pools often, it’s quite feasible that your percentage returns will outperform almost any other type of investment.
Wait…Doesn’t TR Already Do Football Pool Picks?
By this point, some of our loyal users are probably thinking:
“Hold up, bro. Either I’ve been caught in a reverse time vortex for the last three years of my life, or you’re trying to pull the wool over my eyes here. I already follow TR’s survivor and pick’em picks via your blog posts! What’s going on here?”
Don’t worry, and please — stop dumping that freezing cold water on your head and slapping yourself in the face. You’re right. For the past few years, we have published blog columns about football survivors and pick’ems.
Here’s how we’ve done, by the way.
Recent Football Pool Picks Results
- NFL Survivor. Our official weekly NFL survivor picks went on a 29-game winning streak, putting up a perfect 17-0 season in 2011-12 and opening last season 12-0. Over the past two seasons, our final NFL survivor picks have gone 32-2.
- NFL Pick’em. Our conservative pick sets for weekly NFL pick’em pools finished in the top 2% and top 5% nationally on ESPN for game winner based pools in 2011 and 2012, respectively. For point spread based pools, our conservative NFL pick sets finished in the top 2% of the nation in both years.
- NFL Pick’em, Part 2. Competing against some of the brightest minds in sports, we won the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference NFL pick’em contest in 2011, and followed up with a third place finish last season.
- College Football Pick’em. For point spread based pools, our conservative pick set for college football pick’ems finished in the top 1% of the nation on Yahoo! last season, the first year we tracked it. Our game winner based picks ended up in the top 7% nationally on ESPN in both 2011 and 2012.
To recap, that’s nine recent pick’em contests we’ve tracked, and our worst result would have been expected to take first place in a 10-15 person pool.
Our best results won survivor pools outright and landed top-three finishes in pick’em pools up to and over a hundred people — and that’s not even considering pools that offer weekly prizes for best score.
We’re very proud of that performance.
But we knew we could do even better.
So over the summer, we took the solid foundation we had established for football pools and built a shiny new house on top of it.
We’ve now turned our football pool advice into full-featured products, powered by more sophisticated analytics, new designs and improved technology.
Here’s an overview of what’s new this year feature-wise:
New NFL Survivor Pool Features
- Survivor Report Card breaks down every team, every week
- Thursday and Sunday Pick Sets based on when your picks are due
- Multi-Entry Pick Sets designed to be played simultaneously
- Season Planner Tool for analyzing future win odds for all teams
- Optimal Path Tool shows picks that maximize season survival odds
New Pick’em Pool Features (NFL and college)
- Custom Picks optimized for your specific pool characteristics
- Win The Week Picks designed to capture weekly prizes
- Support For Custom Point Spreads you enter to match your pool
- Elegant Handling Of Early Picks like the Thursday night NFL game
When it comes to objective and intelligent football pool strategy, no other site comes close to TR. You can’t get this level of analysis and features anywhere else.
We Gotta Eat Too, Ya Know
One last change related all this investment of our time and effort may not come as a surprise to you. Or maybe it will.
Whatever the case, starting this season, our football pool picks aren’t going to be free anymore, and we will no longer publish our weekly survivor and pick’em blog columns.
In short, we’ve proven our approaches to football pools work well, and that we’re not just some lucky one-hit wonder. We published years of free football pool picks in the public forum and answered hundreds of reader questions to demonstrate our skill.
Along the way, we’ve received a stream of communications from users who have won serious amounts of money following our advice.
Now it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the cost.
We’ve done our best to come up with what we feel is fair pricing for what you get, but we also recognize that for several reasons, the decision of whether to pay for our advice this year won’t end up being “Yes” for all of the followers of our former blog columns.
Some people are in very low stakes pools. Others just hate paying for stuff. A few spend all of their disposable income on vintage WWF action figures and have no money left over for food or football pool picks.
To all of those people, we simply want to say thanks. Your readership over the past few years motivated us to keep raising the bar for our football pool analysis, and your questions and comments helped us learn. We would not have gotten to where we are now without your engagement.
At the end of the day, though, TR is a business. Generating revenue is what enables us to continue to expand and improve the site. It also funds the thousands of pages of free content we currently offer. To keep this ship sailing, we need to find stuff we’re really good at, build great products, and get people to pay for them.
What To Expect
So what should you expect if you sign up for one of our new football pool picks packages?
- Picks. The only football pool picks on the web that are 100% objective, driven by sophisticated mathematical models, and computer optimized to give you the best chance to win your specific pool. Again, no one else comes close.
- Tools & Data. Access to analysis tools and the raw data underlying our picks.
- Integrity. Honesty and transparency in all dealings.
- Improvement. A commitment to continuous improvement.
- Personal Touch. Friendly customer service from the people who actually run the site.
And what should you NOT expect?
- Guaranteed Results. Any sort of promise that you’ll win your football pool (or even do well in it) with our picks, because that would be deceptive and idiotic for us even to suggest. Unless you’re playing in a tiny contest, even with our help you should never expect (math geek definition: having 50%+ odds) to win any one particular pool.
That point is worth expanding upon:
We almost never expect to win any one particular pool. But over time, our skill edge means we win a lot more often than most people do.
Ideally, you’re signing up for our office pool picks because you’re attracted to the opportunities pools present, and you’re committed to playing for the long term.
In addition, you recognize that thanks in part to luck, our picks are going to have some awesome years, some pretty good years, and some not so great years. But you’re still confident in the final outcome.
(On that topic, here’s what some of our loyal customers have to say.)
Emphasizing the long term mindset is also why we offer such an incredible discount on our All Contests Bundle package. We know that if you stick with TR for multiple cycles of pools, the odds that you’ll be thrilled with our service will go up significantly.
Nevertheless, if you just want to take it one contest at a time, that’s OK too. Just be realistic with your expectations. Recognize that you’re leaning on lady luck a lot more if you’re only giving us one shot to help you win, and banking on it being an “awesome” level year.
Time To Get Picking!
To wrap up, we hope you’ve enjoyed learning about what we did this summer, and hearing our perspectives on why you should take football pools seriously.
Football pools aren’t just games — they’re investments too, and very attractive ones to boot. So we’ve doubled down on our goal to help you profit from them more often.
Now that we’re launching our new football pool products, we can’t wait to hear your feedback. We hold ourselves to high standards when we build new stuff, and especially products we intend to sell.
So to let all of our users kick the tires, we’re happy to announce that we’re making all three of our new products free to use through Week 2 of college football season (College Pick’em) and Week 1 of NFL season (NFL Pick’em and NFL Survivor, which is slated to go live on Friday 8/30). Enjoy checking them out.
If you’re ready to sign up now for the 2013 season right now, here are the links again, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.