Week 11 NFL Survivor Friday Update: Falcons Still Gripping Us

posted in NFL, NFL Survivor Pools

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.

  • matt

    Hey David, I think all of your readers would be happy to bring you drinks by the pool in exchange for how great your analysis is each week. So I haven’t posted in a few weeks but am still surviving strong. I still have an incredible 3 entries alive in a two-strike pool which is how my pool differs from the average pool. There were 55 entrants and there now are 15 with 11 having 1 strike and 4 having no strikes. I have two out of the 4 no strikes picks and 1 pick with 1 strike. Here are my picks so far:

    1. HOU, CIN, DAL, GB, SF, TB, MIN, CHI, SD, BAL,

    2.CHI, CIN, NOR (1 strike), BAL, SF, ATL, NE, GB, SD, PIT


    For picks 1 and 2, I am thinking ATL and HOU since I’ve saved those both and this seems like a good week to use them. For my 3rd pick, I’m assuming best choice is Denver. Following your advice, I don’t like spreading my picks across 3 but I don’t see another good option here right?

    Do you have any general advice going forward regarding the two entries with no strikes? If I play my cards right I should be able to keep one no strike entry alive the week where a big favorite goes down and hopefully leave me with one more strike than everybody else. I assume each week I should always use one pick to mirror everybody else and another to try to pick opposite the other 2 guys with no strikes. The past few weeks they have picked the heavy favorite each time (GB, SD, PIT).

    Thanks for your help – with 3 entries I feel like I have a good shot to outlast everyone and win this thing!

  • http://twitter.com/hung8489 Hung Nguyen

    David, thanks for all your help this season. Down to 6 in my pool. I’ve used Houston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, San Fransisco, Atlanta, Oakland, Chicago, Seattle and Pittsburgh.

    I’m pretty sure that two are going to select Houston and two will select Atlanta. Should make a riskier pick with New Orleans, St Louis or Baltimore or should I play it safe with New England?

  • Mike

    Hey David, fairly new to this site so I’m not too familiar with your thinking. I have 2 picks in a pool of around 50. I’ve used the top 3 choices for both picks. So would you advise using Dallas for both picks, or go Dal/Den or Dal/ NO ? Guess I’m wondering how you feel about doubling up on 1 team. Thanks

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Man, pretty complicated situation.

    I do think your strategy makes sense for the no strike entries — use one to go opposite the other guys if possible, and use one to stay ahead of the main pack by taking the popular team. Unfortunately, it looks like DAL will be most popular in a lot of pools, and you’ve already used them with the no strikes, so I guess that strategy is out this week.

    For the 1-strike, I think you’ll want to avoid both the popular-with-no-strikes and popular-with-1-strike teams. So HOU does seem like a good pick there. And agree that ATL makes the most sense for entry 1.

    For entry 3, you might think about going NO instead of DEN to conserve future value. Though, I guess if you have DEN saved on the other 2 entries, that’s not so bad.

    OK, apparently I agree with you! ATL/HOU/DEN

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Got any idea what the other guy will do? I guess either way, dropping down to NO is a *huge* immediate value hit. I think in such a small pool, where you may not even reach Week 16/17 (where a lot of NE’s value is), it’s smarter to use NE now rather than get risky and save them for later.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Generally I recommend splitting over 2 teams if you have reasonable options, which it sounds like you do. Check out this comment for some math on why splitting is beneficial:


    As for the actual picks, I’d go DAL/NO rather than DAL/DEN so you can save DEN for later … though, if you have DEN available for *both* entries, maybe DAL/DEN isn’t so bad, as you’ll have them available on one entry still…. Generally I do think going more conservative (higher win odds) on the second pick is a good idea, as the whole point is to ensure one entry survives.

  • Justin Pugliese

    Little bit of a situation haha so far this is what I have:
    My picks: Texans, bengals, cowboys, broncos, niners, falcons, Vikings, packers, Seahawks, ravens
    My opponents:lions,chargers,cowboys,falcons,niners,dolphins,raiders,packers,texans, steelers
    I’m thinking my opponent will probably take NE, at least that’s what I assume. Should I do the same? Or go for Saints or Rams instead?

  • Oleg

    36 people left down from 500. I took San Fran last week and luckily my pool rules allow me to move on. Don’t have Atl or Ne left but have Houston, Dal, NO, Den


  • MC

    I win my pool and I’ll make sure the pretty waitress brings you as many drinks as you want poolside, as long as you wear water wings if you go into the pool!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    See Head-To-Head section above.

    “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.”

    So yeah, I’d go NE.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Don’t see anything here that would differentiate your pool as unique somehow, so I’ll stick with the order in the table.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Why do I need water wings? Is it a liability issue? Freakin’ lawyers.

  • Scott

    119 left in my pool. I have the following teams left that could be considered: NE, DEN, NO, STL, CIN, TB. I know you don’t really do this on gut feel, sticking to the numbers and trying to remove any bias.

    Based on what I’ve seen from the teams involved over the past few weeks, I have to really like STL and CIN, but the low spreads have me thinking I can’t risk it. The public is super heavy on those teams and the lines aren’t moving. Vegas isn’t in the business of giving money away.

    On the other hand, the public is heavy on the Colts after some wins against crappy teams, but the line is holding strong. This is exactly what I’d want to see if I was betting.

    Anyway, if you’re in my shoes do you go with the Patriots here and just not over-think it, or do you decide it could be worth taking more of a chance on the Rams or Bengals in order to save the Patriots?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I think you already know the answer to this. I’d go with the Patriots.

    By the way, what’s your preferred source for public betting info? Just curious.

  • Shawn

    3 left in my pool. I have NE left, one guy has HOU left, and 3rd guy has SF/CHI as his best remaining picks. I’m pretty sure HOU will be one pick but I’m not sure what the 3rd guy will do. We all have DAL left. He may go DAL. I’m torn between saving NE and going with DAL as well. Not that I trust DAL more than NE, but I’m also not as confident in NE vs IND this week as I am about NE’s future matchups. Am I overcoaching here? Just go with NE? The voice in my head is saying DAL is a strategic pick but on the other hand I couldn’t live with myself if I pick DAL and they put up a stinker.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com TeamRankings.com

    FYI, your comment got flagged as spam because of the links in it. I just approved it. I’ll add one personal comment (this is Tom) too…I’m never sure exactly how much to trust published public numbers like those. It would be a good topic for a future investigation/blog post.

  • Chris

    Dave, I don’t Have Atlanta left I have Houston left but I want to save them for week 15. is it safe to use Dallas now or should I go the safe route and take Houston? about 200 people left in my pool. Thx so much for this blog!!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    If the third guy only has SF, CHI, or DAL to choose from, I imagine he he’ll pick DAL. Then again, I haven’t looked at his past picks.

    At any rate, if he picks DAL, then NE maximizes your immediate value. The downside is obviously that you lose NE’s future value. SO I’d check out thenext few weeks and figure out if using NE now will totally screw you. If it doesn’t, I’d go NE.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    With 200 people left in your pool, it’s not really a matter of Dallas being safe. It’s that 35% to 40% of your opponents will probably be taking them, so you’ll want to root for them to lose. I think despite the future value hit, HOU is still a better pick in your situation.

  • Office Pool King

    Thanks again,David! Hope your intro was in chronological order ; )

    Really weird situation in what is now a head-to-head situation. I have HOU, NO, & DEN and he only has NO & DEN. I’d like to take your advice,mirror his picks, and hold onto HOU for Week 13 since he has SF in his arsenal, (also looking good for Week 13). But I have no clue whether he’ll go NO or DEN this week. NO has way less future/near future value but I’m also scared I could shoot myself in the foot with HOU available…

    Should I run with the Saints (riskiest of the 3 options), or look at HOU/DEN

    (Btw, we’ve each taken similar teams. Notable differences available remaining for him are SF & PIT. For me, it’s CHI (Cutler?), HOU, and NYG.

  • Shawn

    Yeah, I checked out the schedules up to week 13 and that’s what’s making me wonder. Week 13 is nasty and having NE vs MIA would be probably one of the better options since I’ve (and they’ve) used all the other good teams who will be favored. The 3rd guy would probably use SF vs. STL then. Week 12 DEN vs. KC is probably going to be one of the better choices since we all have DEN left. So if I can get by with DAL this week (even if the 3rd guy goes with DAL also), I feel like I’ll have a leg up for week 13 with NE, assuming we all go with DEN week 12…I know that’s a lot of IFs but that’s how I’m trying to look at this. So I guess when you ask “Does picking NE this week screw you?”, I’m not quite sure. I think it sort of does, because I think if we all make it through this week, I think week 12 DEN will be a no brainer. Then Week 13 I’m looking at BUF vs. JAC (gulp…)

  • StoneyPA

    In a second chance pool for those that got knocked out early or wanted another pool to join. Anyway, started with a clean slate in week 5 and must carry into playoffs IF it goes that far. Down to only 8 players though. What are the chances that 2 or more make it into the playoffs math-wise? Just trying to balance whether to take Houston or save ’em and take the less playoff likely Cowboys. Atlanta already used and saving NE since Indy can be dangerous.

  • Frank_Elways

    Had Dallas and Atlanta. Pretty sure I had a small heart attack during the 4th quarter of the early games. Christ that was intense!

  • Dave in Delaware

    Survived this week with N.O. as did the other remaining competitor. We have virtually the same teams left. How much stock should I put into planning out a few weeks vs. just going with the absolute best game every week? So far, my competitor has not made any crazy picks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    No kidding! Atlanta managed to scrape by with 5 interceptions. They tried their hardest to give the game away, but Arizona wouldn’t let them. :-p

    I am also getting tired of half the pool ALMOST getting knocked out every week. Seems every game is a near-upset, but noone gets knocked out – At this rate, I’m thinking we’ll have to survive all 17 weeks to win anything.

    Week 12 should be interesting. As Chicago, Dallas, and Cincy are all off the official pick table, I’m guessing the official pick will be New England. TeamRankings is very high on Carolina, but this conflicts with early Vegas numbers that have them as an underdog.

    I’ve been mainly following the official picks, but still have Cincy & Dallas. I originally had NE @ NYJ penciled in for Week 12, but CIN v OAK is starting to look interesting. Slightly higher Vegas odds. More popular, but marginally so as over half of pools will be picking Denver. No future value as compared to NE, which might be useful @JAX in Week 16. Plus, NE is a divisional road game playing on a short week along with Dallas (I know, I know – odds should already account for this) :-p.

  • Matt

    Hey David, Thanks in advance for this. I am in a survivor pool that started with 1400…down to 55…essentially all those remaining have Cincy available this week and I have to beleive they will be (overwhelmingly) the most picked team. While I see better spots for NE in coming weeks…I have yet to use them and understand there is some value to avoid being on a majority pick like Cincy. Question is, is that value greater or less than the value of having NE in future weeks. Can you help shed some light on how to weight this decision? Amazing site. Thanks.

  • rcc22


    ok…6 weeks left (stating the obvious)…

    Is Cin or Denver the top pick?

    Now the stress level is up a notch…lol…

  • Frankie G

    CIN already used. Top pick will be Patriots.

  • rcc22

    damn..already used…

  • Tyson

    Will be an interesting week, that’s for sure. Right now, a whopping 7 games have spreads under 3.

  • Hamburgler

    Ill post here since the new post isn’t done til Wednesday and our picks are due by 5 on Wednesday which doesn’t give me much time. In a pool with 8 people left. Three people picked Denver last week, no ones taken Cincy this year, and only me and one other has the pats left. I think those are the only relevant options left. I’m torn between taking Cincy and saving den for a tough week 14 or going Denver cause they seem like slightly safer pick and also knowing at least 3 people won’t be on them. Thoughts?

  • StevenB

    Gotta make my picks by Wednesday evening. Got any early Week 12 hints for us?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I haven’t done any math at all, so this is just a gut pick. But given that Denver is an option literally every week from here on out, and is probably going to be popular, seems like it’s down to CIN or NE. I’d lean CIN, mostly for future value reasons.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    See below.

  • rcc22

    what if i used Cin & NE. i have Denver…but holding off to later…whats a good 3rd choice….or should i say 4th?

  • Chris

    Based on vegas lines, Dallas, Houston, Indy are the next best options….and they aren’t very good options.

    If your pool is small you may want to roll with Denver. If it’s bigger you can take one of those riskier options.

  • rcc22

    im leaning Indy…and maybe other Denver….uggg…thanks for the advice…

  • Danny

    5 person pool. An educated guess of my opponents picks is 3 on DEN and 1 on CIN. Is it safe to say NE is the pick to go with between NE/DEN/CAR/PIT/IND (teams available to me above 60% win odds).

    Also, could you explain why Carolina is the underdog per the spreads, but a favorite per your rankings? There is no money line yet so it’s tough for me to understand.

  • Tyson

    I would go with NE.

    I don’t know if they have updated the pick percentages. Carolina seems over-valued not only this week, but for future games as well. I’d expect the line next week for CAR at KC to be around 3 points, but the 78% win percentage suggests it will be closer to 6.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    With Cincy spiking a bit in popularity, I’m wondering now if NE is the better bet after all.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    New post is up: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/week-12-nfl-survivor-strategy-the-lesser-of-three-evils

    Take a look, and if you still have a question, feel free to ask there.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Our game winner odds take spreads into account, so they can be kind of skewed when there is no line yet. There’s a note about that CAR prediction in particular in this week’s post:


    And yeah, I think NE is the choice here.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    It’s really close between those two. At this point I’d lean CIN despite the popularity.

    New post is up: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/week-12-nfl-survivor-strategy-the-lesser-of-three-evils

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    I think that’s the way I’m going. Thanks. If our pool does go the distance, I’ll be happy to have NE in week 16.