Week 11 NFL Survivor Friday Update: Falcons Still Gripping Us

I’m going to get a robot to start writing these Friday updates. Here are his instructions:

  • Mention that the Thursday game involved two mediocre teams, and that neither one was picked by many Survivor contestants, so the result didn’t matter much
  • Point out that there were no important line movements or power rating shifts since Wednesday
  • Hit “Publish”
  • Put Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco, salt, pepper and ice cubes into highball glass
  • Add 6 parts tomato juice, 3 parts vodka, and 1 part lemon juice
  • Stir gently; garnish with celery stalk
  • Bring to me, by the pool

As hinted at above, Thursday night’s win by the Buffalo Bills was pretty meaningless from a Survivor standpoint. It knocked out a whopping 0.1% of our competitors.

On top of that, the line movement over the past couple days has been confined to lower-tier games. None of our top options were affected. Still, let’s review the relevant info once more before locking in our pick.

Here’s a look at the updated Survivor data table. As a reminder, this helps us answer the three main questions we ask ourselves about each team when making our Survivor pick.

1. How likely are they to win? (consensus sportsbook Spread at -110 payout odds, Pinnacle Money Line, and TR Odds from our NFL win picks page)

2. How popular is this team? (Average public Pick % from sites like Yahoo! and OfficeFootballPool)

3. Should I save this team for later? (Future Value: a quick rating created by giving 1 point for a future game with 75%+ win odds and half a point for a game with 65%+ win odds, with only partial credit for games late in the season when teams may be resting players; Near Value: a modified version of Future Value that places more emphasis on near term value and is more relevant to players in very small pools. Both are based on averaging projections from our NFL Survivor Tool [which uses data from only this season] and our NFL Season Projections [which incorporates our preseason team projections].)

Week 11 NFL Survivor Decision Factors (Updated)

Teams are listed in order of how attractive we think they are as a choice this week. They’re also separated into rough tiers. If two teams are in the same tier, you may want to choose among them based on which pros and cons are more important to your particular situation.

TeamOpponentSpreadMoney LineTR OddsPick %Future ValNear Val
Tier 1: Top Options
Houstonvs Jacksonville-15.0-1200 / +86584%14.7%3.33.2
Atlantavs Arizona-9.5-420 / +36177%10.0%0.50.3
Tier 2: Worth A Look
New Englandvs Indianapolis-9.0-400 / +34677%5.1%3.43.4
Dallasvs Cleveland-8.0-357 / +31176%38.6%0.81.2
New Orleansat Oakland-4.5-218 / +19564%7.0%0.50.2
Baltimoreat Pittsburgh-3.5-180 / +16268%0.4%0.50.6
St Louisvs NY Jets-3.5-186 / +16762%1.3%0.00.0
Denvervs San Diego-7.5-325 / +28574%17.3%4.24.2
Washingtonvs Philadelphia-3.5-190 / +17155%0.7%0.00.0
Tier 3: AVOID
Cincinnatiat Kansas City-3.5-179 / +16162%2.5%0.81.0
Green Bayat Detroit-3.0-155 / +14067%0.2%2.32.3
Tampa Bayat Carolina-1.5-113 / +10252%0.8%0.80.6
San Franciscovs Chicago-5.0---- / ----40%0.2%1.41.3

Teams We Already Picked: Houston Texans (WIN), Cincinnati Bengals (WIN), Dallas Cowboys (WIN), Green Bay Packers (WIN), San Francisco 49ers (WIN), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (WIN), Minnesota Vikings (WIN), Chicago Bears (WIN), Seattle Seahawks (WIN), Baltimore Ravens (WIN)

What Has Changed Since Wednesday?

Like last week, there haven’t been any major changes in the lines, pick percentages, or future value outlooks for the top options. However, we’ll discuss a couple small shifts:

  • Our TR win odds projection for Baltimore has risen a bit, from 63% to 68%. This is mainly due to a shift in the spread. It’s now at -3.5 at most sportsbooks, whereas it was -3 still at quite a few Wednesday morning. This increase in safety has boosted the Ravens up from Tier 3 to Tier 2.
  • The Green Bay money line has dropped from -177 to -155. The Packers were already a bad pick due to their high risk and high future value. Now they’re even worse.

That’s it. And, given that nothing has changed, neither has our official pick…

Official Week 11 NFL Survivor Pick: Atlanta Falcons over Arizona Cardinals

For a longer discussion of why the Falcons are our official pick, we’ll refer you to Wednesday’s Week 11 NFL Survivor preliminary strategy post. But the basic idea is that pretty simple. Atlanta checks off all three boxes:

  • How likely are they to win? The Falcons are the safest team we have available to us, according to both the Pinnacle money lines and our own projected win odds.
  • How popular are they? Atlanta is only the fourth most popular team, picked by 10% of the public. That’s not too bad.
  • Should I save them for later? They don’t have very much future value. They could be borderline options in Week 14, 15, or 16, but are a lot more valuable now.

For some of you, there may be a safer team available — the Houston Texans. The Texans, however, will be very valuable in future weeks, especially Week 15. So unless your pool is so small that it’s unlikely to reach Week 15, we’d recommend saving Houston for later.

Advice For Other Pool Sizes

Remember, all the discussion above is designed for large pools, where future value is still very important. Many of you are probably in pools with only a few people left. It’s important to remember that in small pools, the correct strategy can change considerably. Here’s a refresher on key three points about Survivor end-game tactics:

  • It’s less likely that your opponents’ picks will closely mimic the national public picking averages.
  • Future value means less.
  • Resist the urge to play overly conservative just because you’re close to winning.

For an expanded discussion on these points, see the Week 4 NFL Survivor post.

Here is our Week 11 small-pool advice. Nothing has changed since Wednesday:

Pools With 9-20 People — While future value is less important here, Houston looks like such a valuable option in Week 15 that we’d still recommend saving them and using Atlanta. If you’ve got neither left, New England is the next best choice, and then Dallas, despite their popularity. After that, it’s a tough call on whether to save Denver (and take the Saints), or burn the Broncos now. Using the Saints is probably the right move, as anybody making this decision obviously doesn’t have many great options in future weeks.

Pools With 3-8 People – If you’re in a very small pool, where you can take some rough guesses about who your opponents will choose, all bets are off. Our picks are made based on the assumption that these public pick percentages roughly match the pick rates in your pool, and that won’t be true for your poolHowever, in very small pools this week, Houston is generally going to be a good pick. Unless several people in your pool have all managed to save Houston until now, we’d recommend taking the super safe and super unpopular Texans, and hoping your pool is over before Week 15.

Head-to-Head Pools – Strategy totally changes here again, as the pick percentages will always be 50% or 100%. It’s impossible for you to pick an unpopular team, because you are half the pool. And future value means very little, as the pool may be over this week. In those cases, safety becomes the number one priority. So in head-to-head pools, we generally recommend taking the biggest favorite you have available, unless burning that team is going to leave you with no good options in one of the next few weeks. This week, that means you should take Houston.

However, there is a caveat here. If you don’t have Houston left, and you’re trying to decide between to teams that are roughly equally risky, you may want to consider which teams your opponent has left. If he looks like he may have the upper hand in future weeks, it’s wise to try to pick a different team than him now. You’d be hoping to win or lose this week (with equal chances of both), rather than waiting for the future (where he has the advantage). On the other hand, if you have the upper hand in the coming weeks, you should try to pick the same team as him, so he doesn’t get the chance to win now, and must fight against the odds later.

As always, feel free to ask questions about your specific situation in the comments section.  However, please note that the volume has gotten high enough that we can’t commit to giving everyone a detailed answer. But we’ll do our best.

If you’re in a small pool, be sure to include information about pool size, who you have available, and who you think your opponents will choose, as those are the key factors in small pools. If you’re in a large pool, please include info on if and why you think your competitors may be picking differently than contestants in a generic Yahoo! or OfficeFootballPool.com pools.