Week 13 NFL Survivor Friday Update: Maybe We’ll Keep That Last Ace…

posted in NFL, NFL Survivor Pools

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.

What Has Changed Since Wednesday?

Let’s go over how a few key teams have been affected by our new ways of thinking, and by other changes.

Baltimore Ravens — News reports indicate that the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger will almost certainly miss this weekend’s game, and sportsbooks have responded by making the Ravens -7 or -8 point favorites. They now seem like a very good play, rather than a big question mark, and we’ve moved them to the top of Tier 2. (As an aside, our models do not explicitly take injuries into account, so we’re not downgrading Baltimore as much as usual for their relatively low TR odds.)

Denver Broncos — Our pick from Thursday was based on laying out a possible future path that didn’t include the Broncos, and deciding it had decent survival odds. However, some of those future picks will be very popular, and we’d like to avoid that, so we’re now leaning more towards saving the Broncos looks (at least in big pools where your pick doesn’t make up a large portion of the pick percentage).

New England Patriots, Houston Texans — These two teams also have a lot of future value, and have been used by most people, so saving them also looks like a better decision now.

Detroit Lions — First, there was some line movement here, as Detroit’s money line rose from -215 to -225, and their spread went from -4.5 to -5. In addition, their TR Odds improved from 68% to 69%. Finally, the fact that choosing Detroit lets us save Denver (or another strong future value team) makes them a more attractive choice than before.

Buffalo Bills — The Bills saw their money line, spread, and TR odds rise slightly, and are also the beneficiaries of our increased appreciation for the future value of elite teams. So, like Detroit, they look more attractive than they did previously, and we’ve bumped them up from Tier 3 to Tier 2.

San Francisco 49ers — Because of our switch to using only OfficeFootballPool public pick percentages, San Francisco’s Pick % in our table drops from 18% to 11%. This means that avoiding them (and rooting for an upset) is less important, and they climb several spots in the rankings.

Dallas Cowboys — The switch to using OFP public pick rates means Dallas now seems more popular, which is a negative. However, their lack of future value is still important enough that the Cowboys remain the clear best choice if you have them available.

Week 13 NFL Survivor Decision Factors (Updated)

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 that’s among the safest of the week, and a half a point for a game that seems borderline playable, with only partial credit for games in Week 16 or 17 when teams may be resting players. 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].)

Teams are listed in order of how attractive we think they are as a choice this week in big pools (more than 20 people). 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 Val
Tier 1: Top Options
Dallasvs Philadelphia-10.0-525 / +44276%22.5%0.0
Green Bayvs Minnesota-7.5-380 / +33075%4.9%1.1
Tier 2: Worth A Look
Baltimorevs Pittsburgh-8.0-333 / +26564%*8.4%0.0
Detroitvs Indianapolis-5.0-225 / +20169%3.5%0.3
San Franciscoat St Louis-7.0-335 / +29373%11.5%1.3
Denvervs Tampa Bay-7.0-325 / +28579%6.8%2.2
NY Jetsvs Arizona-4.5-215 / +19366%6.9%0.4
New Englandat Miami-7.0-350 / +30579%8.0%2.8
Buffalovs Jacksonville-6.0-255 / +22767%16.9%0.2
Houstonat Tennessee-6.0-270 / +23969%1.3%2.1
Tier 3: AVOID
Chicagovs Seattle-3.5-178 / +16068%5.3%1.0
Carolinaat Kansas City-3.0-148 / +13453%2.1%0.5
NY Giantsat Washington-2.5-143 / +12952%0.5%0.8
Cincinnatiat San Diego-1.5-121 / +11051%0.3%1.1
Oaklandvs Cleveland-2.5-149 / +12529%*0.2%0.0

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), Atlanta Falcons (WIN), New England Patriots (WIN)

Official Week 13 NFL Survivor Pick: Detroit Lions over Indianapolis Colts

Just a quick reminder, to make it extra clear — if you have Dallas available, they still seem like the clear best choice, as long as they won’t be picked by more than a third of your pool. We used them way back in Week 3, so we’re forced to look elsewhere.

In Wednesday’s preliminary Week 13 NFL Survivor post, we quickly narrowed down our options to Denver and Detroit, and then dove a little deeper to ultimately give a slight edge to the Broncos. Here was the money quote:

“Based on looking at projected future odds on our site and other sources, it seems like the projected win odds [taking into account both this week and future weeks] for both options are roughly the same. In other words, the penalty for dropping down to Detroit now is basically cancelled out by the bonus of moving up from Carolina to Denver in Week 16. In a case like this, we generally like to take the route that is safer up front, and risky later.”

Two things have led us to change our mind:

  • Line movements and TR odds changes make Detroit look a little safer than they did Wednesday, so the immediate value penalty for choosing Detroit has lessened.
  • We now think we should be placing a bit more emphasis on future popularity during this end game phase, which makes saving Denver (who most have already used) a bit more attractive.

That second point about future popularity may need an explanation.

Before, we determined that the choice essentially boils down to taking Detroit now and Denver in Week 16, or Denver now and Carolina in Week 16. The relative safety of those two options seems roughly equal, so we originally leaned towards Denver.

However, the value of a pick depends not only on safety, but also on popularity, and Carolina projects to be more popular than Denver in Week 16, because many more contestants ought to have them available. So, we now lean towards taking Detroit this week, and saving Denver for later, so we can avoid the more popular Panthers in the future.

So, in light of the line change and our increased attention to future popularity, we’re jumping teams. Our official Week 13 NFL Survivor pick is the Detroit Lions over the Indianapolis Colts. Keep in mind this is still a very close decision, so there’s nothing wrong with going the safer route, and taking Denver, if that’s what you’re more comfortable with.

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 — At this point, it seems likely that many pools of this size will last the rest of the year. So the strategy here is basically to follow the order outlined in the main data table. The one caveat is that your pool’s picks may be quite different than the public, so if one team projects to be much more or less popular than in the general public, you’ll want to adjust your ranking of them accordingly.

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 pool. In very small pools this week, the least popular out of the Cowboys, Packers, and 49ers is probably your best option, as those three teams are in the safest tier, plus have less future value than the Broncos or Patriots. If you’ve got none available, then working your way down from safest to riskiest (by money line) and taking the first unpopular team (only 1 or 0 people picking them) may work.

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, with future value only playing a role win there are multiple good options. This week, the Cowboys clearly have the best combo of safety and future value, so they are the ideal pick. If you don’t have them available, Green Bay or San Francisco are the next most attractive, and then Denver or New England.

There is one thing to keep in mind here. If you’re trying to decide between two 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 OfficeFootballPool.com pool.

  • Ryan

    Are you guys taking into account that some of these future value teams may not be playing their starters in weeks 16 and 17?

  • rcc22

    good question…..

  • Tommy (NY)

    Obviously if you had Baltimore you would be going with them over the Lions, correct?

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


  • Chris

    I’m pretty sure he’s ALWAYS taking whatever his top available team is based on the list he posts above

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

    Yes, we’re discounting future value in weeks 16 and 17. However, it seems like there’s a decent chance Denver could still be playing to get/keep a first round bye.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    Well, I am hoarding NE and GB this week and using Detroit/Buffalo and Detroit/Jacksonville on my 2 entries this week. I am saving New England and Green Bay for week 16. I will take my chances the Pats and GB will need or want to win in week 16:)

  • OPK

    If pick% was totally ignored, is DET still a pick over BUF after the line movements?

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

    Ignoring pick%, I’d say those two are essentially a toss up. Vegas prefers BUF, our models prefer DET. So … I lean BUF.

  • Paul

    For clarification, I’m in a pool with five remaining and no one else is picking DET or BUF. Is BUF a better choice? I’m saving DEN for later. Thanks!

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

    For clarification, “I’d say those two are essentially a toss up.”

  • Gargoyle

    Well here is a vote of confidence. I’ll trust your model more then vegas, and select Detroit. You’ve taken us this far.

    I’m H2H and burned Den, Bal, San, Dal, GB, NE

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

    Turns out Vegas has come around, and now Detroit’s money line is higher than Buffalo’s, so we’re in agreement.

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

    FYI the lines have changed, and now DET is favored by both Vegas and our models. So I’d go DET.

  • Paul

    I ended up wimping out and choosing Denver this week, which worked out. Can’t thank you enough for your analysis so far this season — much appreciated. Hope you continue these posts in the coming weeks!

  • rcc22

    im confused..which isnt too difficult..:)
    but…Buf over Det?
    You picked Det?

    which is it…and thanks ahead of time….

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

    I’m not sure what your question is here…

  • rcc22

    sorry…you said Buf was your pick over Detroit?

    Which one is it?

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

    There have been even more line movements since then. So as of now, DET looks safer according to both Vegas and our models.

  • rcc22

    ok…thanks…for the info….:)

  • jmike718

    Funny, but right after I saw your pick, I switched over to Pinnacle and saw the Detroit ML jump from -225 to -231. Coincidence?

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

    Haha, I am pretty sure that’s a coincidence. :) But thanks for the flattering idea.

  • ML

    Great analysis as always. Thanks David!

    10 left in our “three strikes” pool. Me and one other with just 1-strike, the other eight have 2-strikes. I have Balt, Den, Det still available. The other player with the 1-strike has only Det of these three.

    Of the eight with 2-strikes, two have Balt available and two have Den available. Seven have Det. I like the idea of saving Denver, but I’m trying to decide if Baltimore or Detroit is the better play this week? Can’t see using either of them after this week. Leaning Balt as I’m having a tough time going with a 4-7 team vs. a 7-4 one… but I can be influenced!! Thanks.

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

    Based on the lines, I think BAL is safer there, so I’d go with them.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    Geez, I always thought everyone knew that Yahoo numbers were meaningless and only OfficeFootballPool.com’s numbers were relevant. And of course Future Value is only based upon two factors: Highest odds of winning combined with lowest percentage of pool players still having the team available. The teams with the most future value are week 14: San Francisco; Week 15 Houston Week 16 New England, Green Bay, Denver.

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

    If you knew Yahoo was meaningless, it would have been nice to point out that earlier. :)

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    Well, I just read your column for the first time a day ago. Had no idea that you were in the dark :) I used to write a survivor pool blog.

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

    Ah, OK. I recognized your Disqus icon and thought it was from a previous week. Must have been Wednesday. … Yeah, this public pick% thing is a problem. How did you deal with it when writing your column? And do you have a link to you old posts? I’d love to take a look.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    I used to write a blog for my brother’s handicapping site. He goes by the moniker Big Al McMordie. His website is bigal.com However, I asked him to take the posts down because I was also managing a large pool that ended up being over the radar. Espn The Mag mentioned my pool, and I was getting calls from complete strangers. I wanted to shut my pool down and walk away. The only way to read the posts is to Google “Potato Kmish Big Al Survivor Pool Advice.” I am sure a number of posts will come up in search engines.

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

    Thanks, I’ll check some of your old stuff out when I get a chance.

  • Tyson

    I am in an ofp that started in week 6. Not sure if our picks count towards the overall numbers or not.

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

    Oh, dang. There may be NO good sources.

  • jacklenenberg

    OFP is HIGHLY accurate for large pools.I have used the site for years.

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

    Thanks for the endorsement. Good to know.

  • Wilbur Wright

    Really look forward to reading your articles each week and thanks for all your great work and insight. More so than any of your other picks, you’re really sticking your neck out with DET but I’m a believer in your new line of thinking about future value and the end game.

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

    Well, we’re assuming you’ll need to survive to the end to get a share of the pool. So it’s either take a slightly riskier Detroit now (-5 vs -7) or a much riskier CAR later (maybe -7 vs -11?) … plus CAR will be more popular than DET is now. … So I would not say we’re sticking our neck out. This seems to be the slightly safer route, it’s just that we’re taking the risk now, rather than later.

  • Chris

    I’m sticking with DEN. Just 5 left in my pool and I’ve already used the 5 teams you have ranked ahead of them. Future value worth less, and I don’t think many, if any, others in my pool will be on them.

    Almost positive the picks will be DAL, DAL, DET…and the last manager deciding between DEN and DET.

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

    Yeah, in your case, DEN makes sense. Good chance you won’t need them in Week 16, plus DET is more popular in your pool.

  • Chris

    Was pretty much right.

    2 on DAL, the guy who basically had a choice between Det/Buf took BUF (woohoo), and the other guy who could pick between Den/Det/Buf unfortunately took DEN.

  • Scott

    Thanks for all your hard work David.

    Five people left in my league, no tiebreaker so it goes into the playoffs if necessary.

    I’ve used…


    Of the four other players remaining, no one has used Buffalo, 1 has used Detroit, everyone has used Dallas, everyone has used the Packers, 3 have used the Broncos, 1 has used the 49ers, 2 have used the Bears.

    My questions are, since at most only 1 other person could pick Denver this week in my league, do I pick them or save for later? Odds are based on the other guys pick history that two will probably go with the 49ers so I don’t think Buffalo will be ultra popular. If I had to guess, 2 will go for the 49ers, 1 for Buffalo, and 1 for Detroit. If pick % is still equal, is Detroit still a better pick over Buffalo?

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

    Oooooh, with your pick percentages, I think DEN becomes the best choice. Part of that is simply because with 5 people there’s no guarantee that Week 16 will even matter.

    And as for the DET vs BUF questions, if pick% is equal I’d lean BUF simply because over the past few years Vegas is slightly more accurate than our win models. That hasn’t been true this year (we’ve got a better W-L record than Vegas this year), but that’s a small sample size. Since Vegas prefers BUF and our models prefer DET, it’s really close.

  • Andrew

    I wanted to say thanks, This is the one website I consistently follow for my survivor pool.
    Right now, there are 13 other people in my pool. I am the only person who’s not taken Denver yet. I was wondering if it would be smart to take them over Detroit who seems risky. By week 16, it seems like popular vote wouldn’t matter nearly as much, so taking Denver now would be smart. It seems like 3 or 4 would choose Detroit this week, becasuse a lot of people have burned Dallas. I was wondering if because of the circumstances I should choose denver over Detroit, and then just use popular vote later, instead of going riskier this week.

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

    Ooh, if you think a quarter of your pool could be on DET this week, then I think you’re right that it’s probably a good idea to burn DEN. Part of the reason I opted to save them above is because it let’s us have two unpopular teams (DEN this week, DET in Week 16), but in your case that’s not true.

  • Ian

    I just can’t buy into the Lions. I know the Colts aren’t great on the road, but this game is too much of a toss-up. I’d prefer not using Denver, but I’d be on pins and needles if I picked the Jets this week. Peyton Manning is going to pick the Bucs secondary apart…seems like the right pick this week.

  • Ian

    Told you Detroit was too risky!!!

  • Eddie

    From the beginning of the season I decided to pick the same picks as your official picks. You were 17-0 last year. Can’t fight that. Well you have gotten me down to 4 from 110. Thanks… This week I was glad you were picking Bronco’s. I am the only one that can pick them. Then the change to Detroit. Now what do I do. I just don’t know if I should go against your official pick. It has gotten me this far. This week most likely one will pick San Fran, one will pick Patriots and the other will pick either Detroit or Buffalo. After this week all the favorites will be gone for the other 3. I will have NYG left. So do I go with the no brainer and pick Denver or go with the guys that have gotten me this far?

  • Chris

    I think if you feel you have the advantage going forward, you should go with the safer pick this week. That is Denver. Not to mention it means you could also win it this week, as opposed to if you are on Det with one of the other managers.

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

    From the article:

    “In very small pools this week, the least popular out of the Cowboys, Packers, and 49ers is probably your best option, as those three teams are in the safest tier, plus have less future value than the Broncos or Patriots. If you’ve got none available, then working your way down from safest to riskiest (by money line) and taking the first unpopular team (only 1 or 0 people picking them) may work.”

    So my recommendation from the article is Denver. And given the situation you laid out, I’d stick with that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.simmons.75098 Matt Simmons

    Hey David

    So I talked to you on we’d. I don’t have det. left and only 14 people (out of 81) have Denver left. I also have to pick two teams this week. You suggested that I take Denver and ny jets. I am one out 81 people left out of 2979. I know nothing is for sure but do you think that is the two best plays this week? Thanks for your help!

  • David

    Keep up the great work David, I really appreciate your insight into your choices and rationale.

    I’m in a pool of 15 left of 351. I’ve burned HOU, NYG, DAL, BAL, MIN, ATL, NE, GB, CHI, PIT, NO, and CIN.

    I’m strongly considering San Francisco this week (5 others have them still), but would I be better off saving SF for next week and taking Detroit this week, or keeping SF for this week, and then choosing between Tampa Bay or Seattle (both at home)?

    Here are the picks left for other entries: 3 have NE left, 3 have DAL, 4 have BAL, 12 have DET, and 2 have DEN (including me), so it looks like a mixed bag for what will be picked.


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

    Good question.

    This week, SF is slightly safer, but also slightly more popular, so SF and DET have roughly equal immediate value.

    Next week, SF will probably be roughly as safe as the better or TB/SEA. However, SF has been used by most people, so I’d guess they’ll be less popular. So I think SF will have more value next week than TB/SEA.

    So, I’d go DET now, SF next week. I think it’s slightly riskier, but should make up for it by avoiding popular teams.

  • Vince


    I won with you last year. This year I went off a bit but I still am alive in a pool with 23 left. Started at 285. Got bad picks this week.

    Lions, Jets, Bils, Browns, Panthers…..thats what I got left. How would you rank them.


  • Chris

    scroll up. looks at sheet. dallas #1, green bay #2, baltimore #3, etc.

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

    Yeah, Chris is generally right, that the table ranks the teams. There has been some line movement, but not enough to change the order of the teams you listed.

  • DCB

    5 teams left in our pool and we’ve tried to follow your picks the best we could. We are however the only team that can take Dallas (we didn’t take them the week you did). From what I’m reading you would probably take them if they were available to you, but we don’t want to go against your official pick. Is it safe to say you would take Dallas over Detroit if you knew you were the only one with Dallas and others could take Detroit?

  • Chris

    lol yes.

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

    “In very small pools this week, the least popular out of the Cowboys, Packers, and 49ers is probably your best option”

    “Just a quick reminder, to make it extra clear — if you have Dallas available, they still seem like the clear best choice, as long as they won’t be picked by more than a third of your pool.”

  • Mike

    Great site Dave!

    One of 20 left now. I’m 1 of 4 who have Denver left and 1 of 11 who have Detroit. Of the 4 with Denver, 2 actually have Dallas as well and both have already used Detroit so I would expect both to go Dallas this week. That puts me as 1 of 2 who can use Denver. I really don’t know what to expect from the group and won’t know until Sunday. Nobody has used buffalo so I would think almost everyone who has used Detroit will go with them, although I need to check still to see what those without Detroit or Denver still have available. We also have the possibility that we may need to pick 2 teams in a future week at the league commissioners discretion (no set rule and he said he’s never had it get to that point, seems like it could happen unless a lot of people go out this week tho). I’m torn between wanting to save Denver for a future week and going Detroit or buffalo this week or just going with Denver since I know at most there will only be a couple people with Denver left if I do use them.

    Thanks for your help!

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

    Wow, that commissioner’s discretion rule is really patently unfair. I would never play a league where the rules could change on one person’s whim.

    Tough call, there. If you knew for sure you’d need 2 team in Week 16 (or maybe next week), saving Denver would probably be the right move, so I’d lean DET. Even though quite a few can choose them, I don’t think they’ll be super popular, as a lot of people seem to be opting for BUF or NYJ instead in many pools.

    I guess I’d go DET, since they are a decent choice in a normal pool, and clearly a better choice if you need to pick 2 n the future.

  • adam

    11 left in my pool. 2 can pick NE and 3 den. I have both teams available. NE can clinch their division this week, so doesnt that make their future value not as good? Would it be better to use one of them here or go by the order of your list. I think others will be on dal and det. Thanks.

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

    Byes are pretty valuable. As long as they’re alive for a bye possibility, I wouldn’t expect them to rest many starters. But still, decent point about their incentive going down after this week.

    With TWO solid teams left, I think using one of them now becomes more attractive. Still … DET is only roughly 7% riskier than DEN/NE this week, and has NO future value. I guess it comes down to planning out your future path, and taking a look at what future week safety/popularity hit you’ll be taking by using one of them now.

  • Adam

    i took the risk and had Det today. I don’t know who choked more, me or the Lions. For one, i didn’t follow your your smaller pool advise “future value means less”. Let this be a lesson for those of you left in smaller pools. I was on NE all week until I changed my mind with the money line going up on DET and Dave switching the pick based on too much talk this week about future value. This one hurts. Look forward to next season and followiing from Week 1, as i joined in mid-seaon. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tgoeden Travis Goeden

    Nine people left in pool, self included. I have followed your choices to the letter so far. Everyone else has used Denver, and they have used all the popular picks as well (everyone has used Green Bay, New England, etc). Once it gets down to four people, in years past, they usually split the pot. (so odds are low it will go to week 17). Would you still take Detroit, or go with Denver.

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

    Oh, interesting about the split.

    “they have used all the popular picks as well (everyone has used Green Bay, New England, etc)” … GB and NE are not popular this week. Have people used DAL? SF?

    This is pretty borderline. It seems like there’s still a decent shot you’ll make it to Week 16, when DEN seems most valuable. Heck, DEN would be valuable next week, too. But if you’re looking for a split, maybe just surviving ought to take a slightly higher importance, so … I lean DEN here.

  • Jack Straw

    David, this continues to be great work. Have been down to only 6 participants for the last few weeks now. I have used: NE, SF, CHI, BAL, MIN, ATL, OAK, GB, HOU, PIT, NO, CIN. I am among 1 other participant who has DAL available, and i am the only one who has DEN available. 0 participants have GB left, 1 team has BAL, 5 of us have DET, 1 has NE, 0 have SF, all 6 have NYJ, all 6 have BUF, 0 have HOU available. Planning to roll with DAL — still the right move with this distribution available in now a small sized pool?

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

    Yeah, I think so. Even if you are one of 2 on DAL, that’s not much worse than being the only one on DEN, since DAL has better win odds. And then you obviously save future value with DAL. So I’d go DAL.

  • Dave O

    I feel like Detroit’s future value is being discounted too much in your ratings. They look like one of the better plays available in Week 15, especially considering I’ve already burned Houston and Miami. If I use New England this week, I still have Tampa, Carolina, and Washington to use in Week 16. Just wondering if in my specific situation, it makes sense to go with New England over Detroit?

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

    I guess we’ll just have to disagree that DET looks valuable in Week 15 (@ ARI). Teddy Covers has them -2.5, our two odds projection variants have them at 54% and 62%.

    As for your situation, you didn’t really give any information about it that differentiates from the generic case, so I’ll stick with what I wrote in the post.

  • Stomp

    7 left out of 115. I am one of two with DEN left. I have been following your picks except I took DET instead of SEA in week 9 so I have a tough decision this week. I have been very good at guessing what others are going to pick for the past several weeks. Everyone has burned HOU, GB, ATL, DAL, NE and CHI. Picks are likely 4 on Balt, 1 on SF and 1 on BUF. I don’t think the guy with DEN will burn them this week given they have SF. I think I need to take DEN this week. Thoughts?

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

    Wow, 4 on BAL? Interesting.

    If your picks are right, then I guess your choice comes down to DEN or NYJ, as you don’t want to be the second on BUF. DEN is quite a bit safer here, and I think with your pool size you have to discount the future value some, so I’d go DEN.

  • james morck

    hi dave unfortunately i i picked detroit in week 9 instead of seattle so would i go with denver i dont see any information on the ny jets are they not a consideration this week they have no future value so wouldnt they be a better pick than denver

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

    Keep in mind this is an update post. Nothing really changed about the Jets profile, so I didn’t talk about them. If you want to read about all the options, see Wednesday’s post: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/week-13-nfl-survivor-strategy-should-we-get-risky-now-or-later

    The Jets are an OK pick, that’s why they are listed right after the Broncos in the table. They’re riskier than DET, though, which is why they are lower.

  • james morck

    yea if i want to safe denver is that the next best pick or should i go safe with denver since i still have seattle for next week

  • Sadiepoo

    Dave, i have 2 entries left in a pool down to 30 people. I am one of the few with Baltimore left. I have tried to avoid doubling up on my picks but would it make sense to take Baltimore x2 this week?

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

    It obviously depends on who else you have available, but yeah, this might be a week where doubling up makes sense.

  • Lolo

    Teams Picked:
    Other entry :HOU, NYG, CHI, DEN, MIN, MIA, OAK, SF, GB, SEA, ATL, NE

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

    Oh, you have Dallas available … So, it’s really kind of a subjective choice, but here are my best estimates of the possible outcome probabilities, given the Vegas lines and our TR odds.

    BAL/BAL: 77% 2 left / 23% 0 left

    BAL/DAL: 62% 2 left / 34% 1 left / 4% 0 left

    Since DAL is a bit bigger fave than BAL, splitting would give you a slightly higher *average* survival rate. However, it would mean that a DAL upset now lowers your overall expected value rather than raises it.

    Tough call, but I would lean towards going both on BAL.

  • Marc

    Would you grade a double pick with the similar ranks from above?
    I have pats, buff, det and jets left. More than 2/3 of the pool have taken the pats, and virtually no one has taken the other three teams. Would you suggest going Pats with one to avoid two risky teams and root for the upset on the other risky games I dont take?

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

    If you need to make double picks going forward, then future value becomes much more important (for obvious reasons), and popularity becomes a little less important (since some of the people picking a popular team will be eliminated by their second pick anyway, the marginal value of rooting for the upset goes down).

    Given the line changes since this post (DET now -260), I’d probably go DET/BUF. Though depends on pool size, too, of course. If it’ll last to the end, then I’d try to save NE. Unless you have a ton of awesome teams left, but doesn’t seem like you do.

  • cheef

    David, I’m in a little different pool in that I have to pick once throughout the playoffs (no repeats.) I still have two entries left. The first is a little bare with SF, NE, and BAL remaining as far as quality. My second has SF,HOU,GB,NYG,BAL,ATL,DEN remaining. I’m a little confused as to the lack of love for the Ravens. They surely don’t have much future value left…even in the playoffs IMHO. I suppose I could give the Lions a shot with my first entry. But for my second, I’d sorta like to save DEN for the wild card round and use either BAL or GB. Thoughts?

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

    “I have to pick once throughout the playoffs (no repeats.)” … I’m not sure what you mean here by picking “once throughout”? You mean you continue through the playoffs and have to make a pick each week, as usual? That’s what I’m assuming in my answer.

    I don’t know why you think I have a “lack of love” for the Ravens. They were listed as the third best choice above, and I called them a “very good” choice.

    I am also confused why you think the Ravens don’t have much playoff value. They are on course for a bye and a home game. Obviously that’s not guaranteed, but a home game is at least very likely at this point. And I don’t think any AFC road playoff team is going to be favored in BAL.

    At any rate, assuming your pool is large enough that you’ll have to survive all the way through the Super Bowl to win, then you seem to be already in terrible shape with the first one, and there’s no way you can use BAL there. For the second entry, you are looking much better. It seems like GB or NYG (or ATL, but too late) have the least playoff value, so I’d probably go with GB there.

  • cheef

    Thanks for the reply and sorry for being obtuse. I was trying to keep my options open for the wild card weeks. What I meant was I don’t think the Ravens are that much better than any of the remaining AFC playoff teams and I don’t like them in many remaining regular season games. Anyway, thanks again!

  • rcc22

    I see there has been some line changes with the Jets game…Is Detroit still a better option?

  • Gus

    Thanks for your work. What’s your take on Jets moving ahead of Detroit odds-wise and Carolina with today’s events?

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

    Looks like the Lions are back ahead of the Jets. DET is up over -300 at Pinnacle now.

    I hate to talk about the Survivor impact of a player’s death, but since you asked … I am personally staying away from that game for any type of contest or betting, just because for once this is a case where I don’t think the market will be much smarter than any random person (as opposed to an injury, where I would trust the market’s judgment). Teams can react to tragedy in various ways. One way is to decide the game means nothing in the grand scheme of things (advantage: CAR), but another could be to rally together in solidarity (advantage: KC) and perform well. So I don’t think this makes Carolina particularly more attractive than they were before. … Plus I really don’t want to root against the Chiefs today.

  • EB

    still alive with 20 people left we are one of 2 teams that had NE and Den left. about 12 have Det left. at first I considered Buff but now not so sure. I really wanted to save NE and denv but would it be wise to just use them now and hope for the upset in buff or det? or should we go Det. I assume most guys eill b on Det or Buff. thought?

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

    Part of my DET pick reasoning is that they don’t seem very popular. If they *will* be popular in your small pool, and DEN won’t, then I would lean DEN.

  • Frankie G.

    They were the most picked team in my pool.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericwais Eric Wais

    Last minute and all, but I’m still wrestling. 3 people left, the only really good card I have left is Denver. I have a feeling this is going to go to the playoffs barring some upsets because one of the other guys left still has Houston, Denver, NE, and Green Bay. I could burn Denver this week and hope for a Philly upset, but I’m leaning more towards saving them for Week 17 if I have to. That leaves me picking between Buffalo and the Jets. I’m leaning Jets on 10 days rest versus Buffalo facing a team that just pulled a win against a similarly mediocre tennessee team. Thoughts?

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

    Sportsbooks like BUF a bit better than NYJ. Our models have them basically tied.

    With that other guy having so much more future value, I think your main goals are 1) avoid picking the same team as him [so you have a chance to win now, rather than facing his future advantage], and 2) conserve future value [so you reduce his future advantage]. So I would save DEN.

  • Frankie G.

    Better luck next year folks.

  • Chris

    :( tough break.

  • Tony

    So sick over how that game ended. I hate Jim Schwartz right now. Luckily you get two losses before you’re eliminated in the pool I’m in, so I still have a shot.

  • Chris

    What did Schwartz do? I think he’s made a lot of boneheaded moves, but not sure what he did there. I hate prevent defense in general. Why do teams at the end of games always let the other team march up the field 10 yards at a time? Just stop them normally like you did the rest of the game.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    Cost me $440,000. Probably. I had Niners, Texans, Packers, Patriots still available. Worst loss ever for me. Up 12 points with ball 4 minutes left and you call 2 passes on 2nd and 3rd down. How do you not run the clock down? I cant even explain how I feel.

  • Frankie G.

    Ouch. How many were left in the pool?

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    252 going into today. Double Picks. It’s impossible to win a large pool if you are just playing the same games as everyone else:
    My board the rest if the year would have been 14: Niners/Seahawks 15: Texans Dolphins 16: Packers Patriots 17 Steelers. I had all the big chalk in each week left, and nobody else had my teams. I will go grab a bucket now and throw up.

  • Manny

    440k!!! What’s the buy in and how do I sign up for 2013

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg


  • Bob Sanders

    Tough breark. With those teams left, I’m surprisedy ou didn’t take the Packers at home off a loss.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    Initially I used Green Bay and New England on one of my entries; Detroit and Jets on second entry. Decided I wanted Green Bay New England Hammer in week 16. Switched to Detroit/Buffalo and Detroit/Jacksonville so I could have all of the hammers.
    I have never lost a game like this before, and likely will never lose one like this ever again. Not when I would have been such a huge favorite to win the pot.

  • Dave

    I’m curious – were you able to hedge at all considering the massive amount of money that was on the line if you ended up winning the pool? Though with 2 entries and multiple picks it would have been hard to hedge I guess unless you placed 4 separate bets against each of your teams.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    Yes, it was very easy to hedge. Because I had 2 entries and I used Detroit with BOTH sides of a game Buffalo/Detroit & Jacksonville/Detroit I only needed Detroit to win to pass a dominant entry through. So, I hedged with Indy Money Line +240.

    If Detroit had won, our pool would still have been in double picks in week 14. My 2 games this week would have been Seattle and SF. Each are 10 point favorites. Thus, I am going to use the Indy Money Line profit to play SF/Seattle this week in round robin 3 team 10 Point teasers with both sides of every game. (Generally will ultimately receive better payout than just Seattle/SF ML Parlay).

    If SF/Seattle both win, i will roll the winnings into Houston ML week 15, etc. If Houston wins, I will roll into GB/NE week 16; If GB/NE wins, I will roll everything into Steelers ML week 17.

    Thus, I will be compensated somewhat if my remaining board comes through. If one of my intended games loses over the next 4 weeks I can sleep easy having zero regrets whatsoever knowing I would not have won the pool. Probably will be very happy.

    Or, of course I can quit now, and use my Indy ML winnings to buy 100 entries in the pool next year :) I can’t see how I would not benefit if I started with 100 entries at my disposal.

  • Bob Sanders

    I hope you continue to write these articles for the rest of the year. They are very helpful. Thanks!

  • ThaddeusB

    Congrats on a great season. Obviously the odds of winning 17 straight are almost zero. Based on the closing lines, Detroit was clearly the second best pick to Dallas, so the call was correct. Making the best choice and hoping it works out is all anyone can do. Again, congrats on a great season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667456521 Justin Miller

    Duuude, got so lucky. Read the injury report, Cards without the starting center of an already bad line, west coat traveling east for 10am start time, so I chose the Jets…regretted the decision after every Sanchez INT. But somehow they won. In the drivers seat now…DEN/HOU/NE still left. Did I ever get lucky

  • Frank_Elways

    Damn. I wonder if TR didn’t have to make their pick until Sunday, they’d still be alive. Denver went to -9.5 at pinnacle. Maybe enough of a difference over Detroit’s -7 to make saving them not worth it. (Also, sorry for starting the discussion about future value. D’oh!.)

  • Frank_Elways

    Bummer. That was a good run.

  • StevenB

    Damn… Sorry guys… Luckily for me, I had to make my pick by Thursday, so I went with DEN, based on your preliminary analysis. I also was very close between DEN and DET, and probably would have switched on Friday, if it was allowed. Anyway, I hope you continue with the same level of analysis through the rest of the season. I’m 1 of 35, out of 1000, so don’t abandon me now :). Your posts have been, besides incredibly helpful, very educational and entertaining. Thank you.

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

    Tough break with Detroit. Luckily I’d gone with Chicago back in Week 3 and still had Dallas available. As someone else mentioned, I sincerely enjoy reading these articles and hope you continue for the rest of this and future seasons.

    Week 14 should be another interesting one. Every single person in my now somewhat small (15) pool still has Seattle available. I would imagine Seattle will be the overwhelming majority pick for most pools. Even those with SF or DEN still available will likely want to save them for the final weeks. And the win odds seem to drop dramatically for most other possibilities (CLE, IND, GB, NYG). Tampa Bay would then seem to be the best pick (slightly less win odds, less popular, small future value), but like you, I have used them already.

    At this point in the season, I question the value of separating from the crowd vs sticking with good (-10) win odds. If it looks like you will win some money by surviving all 17 weeks, then maybe it’s better to ignore popularity and just pick the best teams you have. This assumes you’re ok with splitting the pot a bit, but better to win something than to get greedy, right? Especially if you have some good teams saved up for the last couple weeks.

  • Chris

    Imagine 10 ppl left in your pool. $10,000 prize pool. It’s the last week.
    You all have the only 75% favourite left.
    All the other teams only have a 50% chance of winning.
    If you all take the favourite, win or lose, you split the prize pool. $1,000 each.
    If everyone else takes the favorite, and you take a 50% team…

    37.5% of the time they win, you lose. Result for you $0.
    37.5% of the time you both win. Result for you $1000.
    12.5% of the time you win, they lose. Result for you $10,000.
    12.5% of the time you both lose. Result for you $1000.

    It’s clearly better to differentiate. You just have to be comfortable with the fact there’s a greater chance you’ll lose and get nothing.

  • rcc22

    Chris…you still alive in your pool?

  • Chris

    Ya there’s 5 of us left. Been that way for a while. I took Det in Week 9, otherwise there’s a good chance I would’ve been on them this week. Looking at Seattle this week. 1 person already used them, and I imagine others could be on Denver, Indy, Tampa, SF so I’m not too worried about all being on the same team. I’m going to look closer at the possible options later in the week. I’ve used all the above anyways so Indy or the Giants are really my only other options, and I like NYG for week 17.

  • rcc22

    good for you…i went with Denver..than switched to Detroit…however..im alive in another one…i used Dallas.

    Whats your thoughts on Pitt this week? They are playing a bad chargers team at home…everyone has used them already…im leaning Pitt …Jacks…and Seattle

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


    I see what you’re saying, but I think the scenario changes if you imagine you are in the second-to-last game of the season and you’re the only one who saved an elite team for that last week (say NE for week 16, NYG for week 17 in my case) and you think you have better-than-average odds for that future week… But need to survive to that point to take advantage.

    Will do the math when the odds and pick distribution are more finalized, but I think I’d kick myself if I took an unnecessary risk now and lost with an easy(?) win on the table. Would probably need to drop from -10 Seattle to a team around -5.

  • Frank_Elways

    If you have an ace in the hole, and no one else has similar win% in 16 and 17, sure. Take a hit in win % now. But keep in mind, the Giants have no chance of a bye and will have locked up the division (i.e., they ain’t playin for anything in week 16). They are also wildly inconsistent. Philly has a resurgent running back and a QB fighting to prove that he is the starter for the future. Not that big of an ace if you ask me.

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

    Fair point, But survivorgrid currently projects Giants as -13.5 point favorites in Week 17, and the majority of the pool has already used them. Things may change by then of course, and a better pick may present itself, but for now I’m thinking maybe:

    Week 14: SEA v ARI
    Week 15: MIA v JAX
    Week 16: NE @ JAX
    Week 17: NYG v PHI

    Using this site’s #s, these are the top choices i have available each week and gives a .74 * .73 * .89 * .85 = 40.9% chance of surviving to the end of the season and guaranteed money. Not too bad.

    Using say CLE this week instead of SEA drops those odds to 35.9%.

    Do you think there’s a better pick than SEA this week, assuming you’ve already burned DEN, SF, GB, and TB?

  • Frank_Elways

    If close to everyone else in your pool is taking Seattle, and more than a few still have GB and DEN to use later, I would think about Cleveland long and hard. According to TR, CLE has 69% win odds (avg. of survivor tool and projections page). SEA will be 72%. Depending on how these numbers adjust this week, 3% less win percentage, means you can greatly increase your avg. share of the pot, and you still have all your cards in place of SEA does win, so nothing lost there.

    BTW, Survivorgrid.com is horrible. They rely on one random blogger guy does his power rankings based on a scale where zero is the average team, then survivor grid just takes a teams power ranking number and nets out with their opponent. For instance, if Teddy Covers rates NE -8 against the hypothetical average team, and they are playing a team that is -5, SG.com will throw out a -3 spread, and then maybe adjust it a 2 points for home field. Very cheesy.

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

    Thanks for the info. Noone has GB left, but 4 of 15 still have DEN.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    I agree with Frank. Survivor Grid is horrible to rely on future numbers. Use power ratings on DonBest.com.

    I would pick Seattle this week. By far. Seattle is -600 on the money line; Cleveland is – 280. You have to keep in mind it is not just the pointspread, but the total. Seattle is a 10.5 point favorite with the over/under of 34.5. This game would be very close to being off the board in 10 Point teasers. Circled at the very least. When line multiplied by 3 equals total Sportsbooks won’t let you tease it to pickem in 3 team teasers. Thus, if Seattle was 11 and total of 33, Sportsbooks would pull the game off the board for 10 point teasers. Vegas is not going to circle Denver/Oakland or Sf/Miami.

    For my taste, Seattle would not be the game to avoid. Even when Pinny releases ML odds, Seattle will be 5-1. Much higher than 72% win odds.

    Looking at your above board, I would just play it through with Seattle, Miami, New England and NYG. You could always take a stand in week 15 when everyone takes Miami too. Miami could be upset by Jacksonville. Dolphins will be off 2 big games vs. Patriots and Niners; might be off 2 losses. Could be flat. Chad Henne will be focused. Wait a week to take your stand.

  • rcc22

    good advice…but why is no one mentioning Pitt this week?

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

    With Roethlisberger questionable, there’s no Vegas line yet. Also, this site has them only as 62% odds. Seems if you were to go against the crowd, there are better options.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    With Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh will be higher than a 4 point favorite, thus higher than 62% win odds. As a 7 point favorite, win odds are 75%. Daniel, let me tell you how I lost a big pool once. It was week 14, I think about 4 years ago. I started a year in a very large pool with 8 entries. In week 14, I still had all 8 of my entries alive. We were down to 107 people. 80 guys in the pool that week were on Tennessee over the St. Louis Rams. Tennessee was a 14 point favorite. Vince Young was at his peak. St. Louis was awful. I was only guy left out of 107 people that had Pittsburgh left to play. Pittsburgh was favored by 10.5 points on a cold frigid below zero night at Cleveland. I avoided the masses on Tennessee and dropped down to Pittsburgh. Not just with a few entries. I went all in with 8 entries on Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh lost. Seattle won, something like 44-13. The Titans might still be scoring, that is how bad the blowout was. So, the lesson I learned is sometimes you can’t be the guy to put the rope around your neck. Sometimes, if a layup is truly there you take the layup. Seattle has good corners that can take away Fitzgerald. Seattle has a significantly huge home field advantage. And Seattle has a QB that can make plays. It is a tough game to take a stand against, at least with Cleveland. Cleveland does not have more talent than Kansas City. It could be argued Kansas City has more playmakers than Cleveland. Wait one week, and if you want to get aggressive against everyone picking Miami in week 15 (-6.5) vs. Jacksonville, you will have much better odds in your favor.

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

    Makes sense.

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

    Thanks for the advice. I was definitely leaning SEA (and still am), though after crunching the numbers I’m starting to second guess myself. CLE odds have crept up a bit and SEA seems to have gotten more popular. The math seems to clearly favor CLE if you assume half the pool takes SEA and noone takes CLE. This ignores the benefit having good teams for later though. For now I think I’m with you. Thanks.

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

    I’m also glad that their resurgent running back could not hold onto the ball last night with the game on the line. :-p

  • rcc22

    David…damn..that sucked with Detroit…Lost out with one of the pools with that one (Had denver, but switched on Friday)…uggghhh…anyways…the other 2 pools…Jets pulled one out (they really..really are bad w/ Sanchez)…and the Cowboys eeeked one out in the other pool…so…on that note…hope you continue with this for the rest of the season…just 4 more weeks….c’mon…

    i got NY Giants, Pitt,Indy, cleve and Jacksonville this week..also…i hate late games, after the days games are over ..have tooo stress out in the evening…lol

  • zz2008

    Glad I have to lock in on Thursday. I locked in with Denver and I am still alive – whoo hoo.

  • Dave

    Wow that Lions-Colts game was insane. Schwartz definitely botched that one by not running the ball to take the clock down on the 2nd to last Detroit drive. Colts were also involved in the other crazy game of the year earlier (Colts-Packers). I got off track from the TR picks early on, so I picked Dallas, but I could have easily been eliminated this week too. I know all of us appreciate the weekly analysis posts.

  • Greg

    The Lions find yet another way to lose a game. They do it like no one else. I went to the Thanksgiving game and they did the same thing. Up by a score with 6 minutes left and they run three passing plays, incomplete of course. Didn’t even attempt to run the ball and run down the clock. That’s just bad coaching.

  • http://twitter.com/the_acylum Ace Woogie

    phew.. glad I went with Chicago in week 3 and had Dallas left.

  • Frank_Elways

    I have two teams left in a small pool. We go to the playoffs with a clean slate if more than one team survives. We’re not head to head, but one guy has a team that will not lose unless there is just a massive upset. The rest of us also have clear paths to the finish, but not locks across the board like him. Should I just ignore pick percentages and play for the tie? In the playoffs, his advantage will be gone and I will have two teams, doubling my odds. I think I should just pick the highest win % teams available without regard for popularity. Sound right?

  • Tony

    I’ve been thinking about you dropping Yahoo from the stats… Understandably, to use data from a pool that allows “re-upping” skews the data. But doesn’t using such data also provide a better “public view” than only using pools where many people have already eliminated the best picks? In a “fresh” pool, you’re going to have more pople on teams like Denver and New England than in a pool that’s been going several weeks. Isn’t this aspect of your stats model an attempt to read the public, and thus might it be better to keep the “fresh data” in the mix? I’m not saying bet the farm on the Yahoo data, but I’d think including it would provide a good counter-view to what’s going on in pools that have become smaller and smaller.
    Whatever your thoughts, it doesn’t matter for me this year any more since (for the first time this year) I took your advice and burned my last pick on Detroit. If you’d kept the Yahoo data in, how did Detroit look? That, too, is hypothetical, but it would be interesting to see if it helps the end-result advice, of for nothing else than bettering your process for next year.
    For me, I’m adding this rule to my selection process: Avoid teams with losing records playing teams with significantly better winning records no matter what the spread/popularity. Taking a 4-7 team over a 7-4 team… Good grief! There is no better guage of a team’s desire/ability to win nor of it’s propensity to lose than record. I should have (we all should have) known better than to be so stupid.

  • Dave

    The team rankings guys have been undefeated at predicting survivor teams since 2011 (I remember that 2010 they missed a couple times). Not everything can be perfect. I ended up going with Dallas, but not sure that I could have gone with Detroit this week. Likely I would have gone with Denver, but you never know.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    Tony, I have managed large survivor pools, won a large survivor pool; and have wriitten survivor pool columns. I only found this blog a few days ago; i picked Detroit myself independently of this column before I ever read this column. Detroit was not popular; was likely to win; thus high expected value. Survivor pools are about picking unpopular likely to win teams with no future value. 62% of public was betting Detroit. Line opened 4.5 and was not bet down, but was steamed up to 7 by sharp syndicate money. This is known as reverse line movement (RLM) which wins significantly. To mention teams win-loss record is an inexperienced comment of a novice. Records are meaningless. Top 20 college rankings are meaningless. Handicapping pros don’t care what a ranking or a record is. Detroit was a legitimate 7 point favorite. It outplayed the Colts for 57 minutes and could have been winning 44-21 instead if 33-21. The selection wasn’t bad. It was good. Sometimes the gambling Gods get you. Move on.

  • Tony

    I don’t think of myself as a novice (cheap shot), but no, I’ve never run one of these pools. For reference, I split with just one other guy last year in a pool which had close to 600 people in it. Two years ago I got scared off another game by how strongly an opponent was playing and lost out in the 16th week, same pool, about a dozen people still standing. I’m just curious about the move to toss out the Yahoo data on the week that (coincidentally) the pick comes down wrong. I’d just like to understand more about why the “Yahoo general public” is “completely” useless– it may very well be, I’m an inexperienced statistician. I bet horses a lot more than football; And I do know that the Derby has been won the last several years by horses that are strong closers–Detroit is not, and their record hints at this.

    For the Detroit pick, I’d used similar logic to Tyson. The popularity of a pick always influences me, I’m sure, though not in any quantifiable way — mostly I use the Sagarin lines (with emphasis on ELO) and plan the whole season fairly early — “the path” I’m not supposed to get emotional and vary. I’m not saying that Detroit was a completely bad pick–my math I had them as a five point favorite–but they also have a propensity for losing. I had stepped off Buffalo (eight point favorite by my math) because of how well Henne had been playing.

    As i understand it, for several years, TeamRankings has been adjusting the pick algorithm based on Yahoo data inclusion. Had it been left in, would the pick still have been Detroit? I’m sure this has been considered, and the simple answer may be YES. But if the answer would have been NO, how does that change things for the future?

    Being a horse gambler, I understand that it’s not always the best that win. But a horse that likes second should never be your key against a horse that likes first, regardless the weakness of the other horse’s former races.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    The bottom line is that Yahoo data is not accurate, at least for players in pool for real money. OFP has pools for big dollars using its site. The players are serious. Yahoo is more social. The Yahoo numbers are considerably more “square” and “Joe Q. Public” sides. They will not be relevant to real pools for real money with players that can handicap. The Yahoo numbers will be skewered. Take a look this week. Probably a ton of people playing Andrew Luck cos he is ESPN’s darling.

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

    Yahoo had like 1% on Detroit. If anything, it might bump the choice ever so slightly more towards Detroit.

    “But if the answer would have been NO, how does that change things for the future?”

    It would not change anything. Getting a good result from bad data would not mean we suddenly want to start shoving bad data into the model.

  • Tyson

    I thought the same thing about picking a 4-7 team over a 7-4 team, but did it anyways. I took a look at their games thus far this year to help convince me of the pick. Here’s a few reasons I liked DET looking at their performance, I put stars next to bad outcomes, pluses next to especially good outcomes:

    Week 1: beats STL. At the time, it was ho-hum, but we now know STL is at least decent.
    Week 2: Lose to a good SF team.
    *Week 3: Lose to the Titans in OT, a game DET was lucky to get to OT
    *Week 4: Lose to the Vikings at home. Subtract some points for this loss.
    Week 6: Beat Eagles on the road. This was before the Eagles completely imploded.
    Week 7: Lose to a good Bears team.
    +Week 8: Beat SEA, a playoff team.
    Week 9: Beat JAX, a game they should win.
    *Week 10: Another loss to MIN.
    Week 11: Play GB close but lose.
    +Week 12: Play HOU close, but lose. Now coming off 10 day break due to Thurs game.

    So in my book, they played well outside of the games against MIN who aren’t terrible. And that Titans game, But they haven’t been blown out by anybody yet.

    Lets look at the Colts:

    *Week 1: Blown out by Chicago.
    +Week 2: Beat the Vikings.
    *Week 3: Lose to JAX
    +Week 5: Beat GB
    *Week 6: Lose to the Jets
    Week 7: Beat the Browns, but could have easily lost that one.
    Week 8: Beat TEN by 6 points.
    Week 9: Beat MIA
    Week 10: Beat JAX
    Week 11: Blown out by NE
    Week 12: Beat BUF

    5 of Indy’s victories were against teams ranging from truly awful to fairly awful.

    I still think it was the right pick, it just didn’t pan out.

  • Tyson

    One more data point on pick percentages. I am in 4 pools on OfficeFootballPool, none of which use standard rules. One goes through the playoffs and lets you pick a team twice during the season. Another uses those same rules, but started in week 6. One forces you to pick 2 teams in weeks 13-17. And the 4th one started in week 6, you pick 2 teams each week, but it is quadruple elimination. I suspect that all these picks are used in the global data, but I don’t know.

    I don’t know if there is currently a good way to get accurate pick percentages for a standard rules pool.

  • http://www.longtermcareinsurancepartner.com Jack Lenenberg

    OFP is accurate. The vast majority of large pools are standard rules with such an extremely large sample size. You have hundreds and hundreds if thousands of picks with standard rules. The oddball pool rules DOES NOT move ghe needle. Only if your pool has odd rules (pick a team twice, season rolls into playoffs, etc) )would you not look at OFP.

  • Rich

    Hi David, my pool of 186 is down to 49. I am choosing between Seattle and San Francisco this week. If I take Seattle, I could save San Fran for week 17. Wanted to get your thoughts. Possibilities for the rest of the season are WK 14-Seattle/SF WK 15- Miami, WK16- WASH, CAR or CHI, WK-17 SanFran/Seattle

  • cybergolf1

    Looking for opinions for this week on INDY/PITT/CLEV or even TB as the choices I have that are viable. Thanks!!!

  • dawgma

    Another good run to the elite 8, but I went with Detroit hoping to save New England for week 15 or 16….Thanks for all your help this year!