Week 15 NFL Survivor Friday Update: Still Marchin’ With The Saints

posted in NFL, NFL Survivor Pools

One of our Tier 1 picks, the Cincinnati Bengals, took care of business on Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bengals were picked by only about 4% of Survivor contestants, so the end result probably had little impact on your pool, unless you had Cincy available and are now through to Week 16.

As far as the rest of the Survivor landscape, a couple line shifts have led to a slight re-ordering of our top Tier 2 teams, but there have been no high impact movements. Let’s review.

What Has Changed Since Wednesday?

Houston Texans — The Texans looks a bit safer than they did a couple days ago, as their money line has risen from -385 to -420. They looked like the best pick before, and they still do.

New Orleans Saints — The Pinnacle money line for New Orleans has edged up from -192 to -202, their consensus spread is up from -3.5 to -4, and their TR win odds have gained about 2%. Combined with New Englands’s drop in win odds (see below), the Saints now rank at the top of Tier 2.

New England Patriots — The money line and TR win odds for the Patriots have both dropped a bit, making them appear about 3% riskier than they did a couple days ago. That has cut the risk difference between New England and New Orleans in half, so you can save New England with taking on as much additional risk.

Detroit Lions — Like the Saints, the Lions have gained a couple percentage points in projected safety, according to the sportsbook lines and TR win odds. Before, they looked riskier than New England. Now, they look safer. So the Lions also pass the Patriots in our preference list.

Week 15 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
Houstonvs Indianapolis-9.0-420 / +36177%5.0%0.5
Seattlevs Buffalo-5.5-240 / +21466%5.1%0.3
Tier 2: Worth A Look
New Orleansvs Tampa Bay-4.0-202 / +18162%4.1%0.0
Detroitat Arizona-6.5-260 / +23167%21.0%0.0
New Englandvs San Francisco-5.0-225 / +20167%1.9%0.9
Oaklandvs Kansas City-3.0-158 / +14360%2.0%0.0
Miamivs Jacksonville-7.5-325 / +28576%52.4%0.0
San Diegovs Carolina-3.0-150 / +13661%0.9%0.3
Tier 3: AVOID
Green Bayat Chicago-3.0-155 / +13559%0.3%0.6
Denverat Baltimore-3.0-147 / +13361%0.1%0.9
Atlantavs NY Giants-1.0-124 / +11254%0.0%0.0
St Louisvs Minnesota-2.5-139 / +12648%0.7%0.0
Pittsburghat Dallas-1.5-116 / +10552%0.1%0.0
Tennesseevs NY Jets-2.0-123 / +11151%0.4%0.3
Washingtonat Cleveland-1.0--- / ---49%1.0%0.4

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), Pittsburgh Steelers (LOSS)

Official Week 15 NFL Survivor Pick: New Orleans Saints over Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As we reviewed in the “What Has Changed” section, there was some minor re-shuffling of the top Tier 2 teams. Now our Wednesday pick of New Orleans actually looks a tad bit better than it did previously. Of course, we don’t have Detroit or New England available any way, so the shifts are of little importance.

Because not much has changed, our official Week 15 NFL Survivor pick remains the New Orleans Saints. For our reasoning, check out our Wednesday Week 15 NFL Survivor post from earlier this week.

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 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 Texans, Dolphins, Seahawks, or Lions is probably your best option, as those four teams are in the safest couple tiers, plus have less future value than the Patriots. 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 Texans are the safest pick, but if you really need them next week, the Dolphins are a good choice as well. If you don’t have either available, Detroit or Seattler are the next most attractive, and then Cincinnati or New England, depending on whether you think you’ll need to use the Patriots in the future.

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.

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

    Just a quick heads up — We are swamped with wrapping up our bowl pick’em writeups and coverage, so it’s going to be tough for me to find time to answer questions this afternoon. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to them tonight or tomorrow!

  • SJH

    I’m in a pool that has 5 people remaining. All four others are going with Miami this week, and do not have Seattle or Detroit available (I have both). Who do you think is a better choice this week?

  • matt


    Haven’t posted in a few weeks but somehow I’m still alive. I’ve gone down from 3 picks to 2 and both of my picks now have 1 strike so it’s normal survivor pool for me. There are 8 other people in the pool in addition to my two entries. Two people have no strikes. There is no tiebreaker though for no strikes end of season or 1 strike – if you make it, you are entitled to the pot.

    Anyways, I’m so close. My picks are below. I still have SEA available in one pick as well as DET, MIA, and NOR (for one). Only 3 other people besides myself have NO available, 1 other person has SEA left, and everyone has DET and MIA.

    Since I am the only guy with 2 picks left, does it make sense to avoid the popular pick (MIA or DET) with both picks? I want at least one of them to go through and I”m nervous about betting on one of the teams with a smaller line to avoid the popular picks and the popular picks go through. So I’m asking with 2 picks, how would you structure them?



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

    Detroit is a bit safer (according to Vegas and our models) and has less future value, so I’d go DET.

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

    With only ten left, and you having two of them, I wouldn’t worry as much about avoiding DET, as any team you pick will already be nearly as popular as DET’s public percentage.

    Based on the way you are speaking in your comment, in sounds like earning any piece of the (presumable large) pot is more important to you than maximizing average value over the long run, so I’d go ahead and go MIA/DET. If, on the other hand, you’re OK with taking on some risks to try to maximize expected long term value, I’d avoid MIA, and go with DET plus either SEA or NO. Picking SEA will hurt you in Week 17, but hopefully you’ll have two entries still around, and taking a risky team on #2 won’t be so terrible. The alternative would be to go with NO, which is a bit riskier now, but you’ll keep SEA for later.

  • matt

    Thanks David, you rock. With 8 other entries and the pool stopping in week 17. I think I’m realizing it’s highly unlikely I can win it by myself with two guys still having no strikes so I think your strategy makes sense to maximize value.

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

    Nice Call, David. Well done.

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

    Thanks, Jack. I can’t take too much, credit though. Like I said, I just trusted the lines and the models. … Which didn’t work out so well last week, for example. :)