December 7, 2012 - by David Hess
As expected, the Broncos took care of business on Thursday against the Raiders, advancing about 7% of the public on to Week 15. Though it would have been nice to be in that group, or for Denver to have taken a surprise loss, at least their win means another 7% of our opponents won’t be able to take them in Week 16.
As for our official pick, it looks like we’re going to be flipping it for the second week in a row, and the third time this year. The first time we flipped, our original pick lost while our new pick won. The second time, our original pick won while our new pick lost. Let’s hope this time we get a repeat of the former … or even a “both win” scenario.
There has been one big news item since we posted our preliminary pick, and other than that only a few very minor line shifts. Let’s start with the big news:
Pittsburgh Steelers — The Steelers have announced that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play this weekend. As a result, Pittsburgh’s spread, money line, and TR win odds have risen, and they now look much safer than they appeared Wednesday. In fact, they have a safer profile than every remaining team other than San Francisco and Seattle. Combined with their low popularity and marginal future value, that means Pittsburgh is now a great pick this week.
Seattle Seahawks — The Pinnacle money line for Seattle has fallen from -550 on Wednesday to -468 this morning, which is equivalent to a win odds decrease of about 2% to 2.5%. That’s not a huge drop, but it’s the biggest one of the week. The Seahawks were already rated as STAY AWAY due to their popularity; this just makes the choice a little bit clearer.
The rest of the money line shifts this week made only a 1% difference or less in equivalent win odds, so they didn’t affect our preferred ordering of teams at all.
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.
|Team||Opponent||Spread||Money Line||TR Odds||Pick %||Future Val|
|Tier 1: Top Options|
|San Francisco||vs Miami||-10.0||-520 / +439||81%||12.1%||0.3|
|Pittsburgh||vs San Diego||-7.5||-370 / +322||79%||2.2%||0.3|
|Tampa Bay||vs Philadelphia||-7.0||-345 / +301||75%||12.8%||0.2|
|Tier 2: Worth A Look|
|Cleveland||vs Kansas City||-6.5||-280 / +248||69%||4.4%||0.0|
|Green Bay||vs Detroit||-6.5||-290 / +256||74%||0.6%||0.5|
|Indianapolis||vs Tennessee||-5.0||-235 / +210||61%||5.8%||0.2|
|Atlanta||at Carolina||-3.5||-175 / +158||63%||0.5%||0.2|
|NY Giants||vs New Orleans||-5.0||-230 / +205||66%||0.3%||0.3|
|Tier 3: AVOID|
|Buffalo||vs St Louis||-3.0||-150 / +130||60%||0.2%||0.0|
|Chicago||at Minnesota||-3.0||-144 / +130||56%||0.1%||0.2|
|Cincinnati||vs Dallas||-3.0||-164 / +148||58%||0.1%||0.5|
|Seattle||vs Arizona||-10.0||-468 / +399||78%||52.9%||0.4|
|Washington||vs Baltimore||-2.5||-139 / +126||56%||0.1%||0.3|
|NY Jets||at Jacksonville||-2.5||-138 / +125||49%||0.1%||0.0|
|New England||vs Houston||-3.5||-180 / +162||68%||0.0%||1.7|
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), Detroit Lions (LOSS)
Two days ago, it looked like we were facing a tough decision between Denver (representing a much safer path now, a much riskier one later) and Cleveland (much riskier now, much safer later). We ultimately opted with Cleveland, mostly because we thought our expected value would be higher in the long run.
However, there was another benefit to passing on Denver that we didn’t discuss Wednesday. Because we didn’t have to lock in our pick before last night’s game, we were able to wait for Pittsburgh’s situation to become clearer. In our preliminary Week 14 NFL Survivor post we said:
“By Sunday morning, the Steelers may look like a very good pick, but for now there is enough uncertainty that we’d be cautious”
Well, it turns out that by Friday morning they look like a very good pick. Out of the teams we have remaining, Pittsburgh now has the biggest spread, best money line, and highest win odds. They are also being picked by only about 2% of the public.
The only (slight) negative is that they do have some future value. However, that comes mainly in Week 17 (vs CLE), when we should have a couple other options available (NYG vs PHI, SD vs OAK), so we’re not particularly worried about saving them.
Put it all together, and it’s an easy choice. Our official Week 14 NFL Survivor pick is the Pittsburgh Steelers over the San Diego Chargers.
We hope that compression pad you’re wearing Sunday doesn’t hinder your movement, Big Ben.
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:
For an expanded discussion on these points, see the Week 4 NFL Survivor post.
Here is our Week 14 small-pool advice. There are a few minor changes since Wednesday, mostly related to the Steelers.
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, and the tips covered in the pick discussion above. 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 49ers, Seahawks, Steelers, or Buccaneers is probably your best option, as those four teams are in the safest couple tiers, plus have less future value than the Packers. If you’ve got none of the above 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 Seahawks or 49ers have the best combo of safety and future value, so one of those is the ideal pick. If you don’t have either available, Pittsburgh is the next most attractive, then Tampa Bay, then Cleveland.
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. (Though note that this week is particularly busy, with us prepping the site for college bowl season, so we’ll have a lower response rate than usual.)
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.
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