Week 6 NFL Survivor Final Update: Top Tier Teams Play Musical Chairs

posted in NFL, NFL Survivor Pools

Well, that was a nice start to the week for most of us.

Pittsburgh, the second most popular team of the week (picked by 20% of the public), and the second biggest favorite when Wednesday’s Week 6 NFL Survivor article was posted, laid a giant egg in Tennessee, falling to the Titans on a last second game-winning field goal by Rob Bironas.

For those in large contests, this is great news, as your pool just shrank, and you’re still alive. Way to go, Tennessee!

In very small pools, the news was good for most and bad for a few, as the smart choice according to game theory in small pools depends heavily on predicting who your foes will choose. In some cases Pittsburgh looked like a smart gamble; unfortunately for a few, the Steelers rolled snake eyes.

As for our Wednesday pick, are we sticking to it?

Nope; it looks like for the third time this season, line movements have changed the landscape enough to alter our pick. (Note to NFL: These Thursday games are really screwing with our Survivor blog schedule. Thanks for nothing!)

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? (Vegas Line at -110 payout odds & 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: the number of future games where the team is expected to have win odds of 75%+ from our NFL Survivor Tool, modified by some manual fudges for Week 17 and special-case weeks. Near Value: a modified version of Future Value that assesses near term value and is more relevant to players in very small pools)

Week 6 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
Tampa Bayvs Kansas City-4.5-200 / +18068%3%0.00.0
NY Jetsvs Indianapolis-3.5-180 / +16268%1%0.00.0
Tier 2: Worth A Look
Miamivs St Louis-4.0-200 / +18067%1%2.01.1
San Franciscovs NY Giants-6.5-260 / +23175%1%3.53.9
Arizonavs Buffalo-4.5-215 / +19363%8%0.00.0
Baltimorevs Dallas-3.5-190 / +17162%2%1.51.3
Philadelphiavs Detroit-3.5-181 / +16363%3%1.51.1
Atlantavs Oakland-9.5-390 / +33874%52%2.52.5
Cincinnatiat Cleveland-2.0-130 / +11851%1%0.50.5
Houstonvs Green Bay-3.5-190 / +17162%0%5.05.4
New Englandat Seattle-3.5-170 / +15363%2%6.06.6
San Diegovs Denver-1.0-109 / -10148%0%2.52.5
Washingtonvs Minnesota-1.5---- / ----34%0%0.00.0

Teams We Already Picked: Houston Texans (WIN), Cincinnati Bengals (WIN), Dallas Cowboys (WIN), Green Bay Packers (WIN), San Francisco 49ers (WIN)

What Has Changed Since Wednesday?

OK, remember on Wednesday, we said there was a group of four teams that were nearly interchangeable: the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, and Philadelphia Eagles. The advantages of Arizona and Philly were they were a bit safer. The advantages of Tampa Bay and the Jets were an utter lack of future value, and a bit less popularity.

Well, there’s been a reshuffling, and now a couple of that group seem to be a step ahead of the other two.

Philadelphia Eagles — The money line for the Eagles has dropped from -210 to -181, which is equivalent to about a 4% decrease in win odds. Partly as a result, the TR Odds have dropped by a couple percent. The Eagles no longer look like a good pick as they are riskier than Tampa Bay and have more future value, and are no less popular.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The money line for the Bucs has risen from –177 to -200, which is equivalent to about a 3% increase in win odds. Partly as a result, their TR Odds have improved by about 3%. They now look about as safe as Arizona — their money line is slightly lower, but our models actually give them a slightly better chance to win. Combine that with their lower popular and the fact they have zero future value, and Tampa Bay now looks like the best pick.

San Francisco 49ers — The 49ers spread,  money line, and TR Odds have all shifted favorably since Wednesday, yet they’ve moved from the top tier to the second tier. Why? Well, mostly because Tampa Bay and Miami’s profiles have improved — though San Francisco is still the safest remaining non-Atlanta option, the alternatives are looking a bit better than they were a couple days ago. However, there is an exception worth noting. In pools of around 10 to 15 people, where future value is less important but it’s still useful to look at public pick rates, San Francisco looks like the top pick. In large pools, saving their future value looks more attractive.

Miami Dolphins — The money line for the Dolphins is up from -180 to -200, and their spread has moved from -3.5 to -4. Their game against Tennessee in Week 10 now also looks like a tougher matchup, so their future value has gone down. Those improvements in their profile bump the Dolphins up into the second tier.

Arizona Cardinals — Nothing about the Cardinals profile has really changed. The Cardinals drop down from the top spot mainly because the alternatives are looking more attractive (particularly Tampa Bay). [**UPDATE** I just thought of another, hidden reason that Arizona dropped down. Public pick values are misleading now that the Steelers are out. The 8% listed above is more like 10% now, which seems like a small change, but does matter when you’re looking at teams with very similar profiles. **END UPDATE**]

Official Week 6 NFL Survivor Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Kansas City Chiefs

As a Chiefs fan, it pained me to type that official pick out. But I have accepted reality — the Chiefs are bad. Actually, I accepted it in the preseason, when we projected they would finish last in the AFC West.

Let’s take a quick spin through our reasoning on this pick:

  • Atlanta is obviously the safest pick, but with 52% of the public selecting them, there’s no way we’re taking them. Go Raiders! (Another thing it pains a Chiefs fan to type…)
  • San Francisco is the next safest, but A) we’ve already used them, and B) they have a lot of future value. It’s better to save them.
  • The next tier, in terms of safety, is Tampa Bay, Miami, Arizona, and New York Jets (who have lower Vegas lines, but are liked by our models).  Out of that tier, Arizona is the most popular, Miami has the most future value, and the Jets have a notch lower Vegas lines. That leaves Tampa Bay as our official pick in medium and large pools.

The Bucs are definitely a risky pick, but we went over the math for a very similar situation Wednesday. Atlanta is so popular that the downgrade in safety is worth it, because the benefits of an Atlanta loss are huge … but only if we don’t pick the Falcons.

Advice For Other Pool Sizes

Now, all this discussion is designed for large pools, where future value is still very important. If you’re in a smaller pool (under 20 or so people), then San Francisco could be a good choice, and Miami creeps up into the top tier as well.

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, the general strategy this week is to ignore future value, and try to take the team you think will be least popular out of our top two tiers plus Atlanta. Any tie in projected popularity goes to the safer team. If you’re having trouble predicting who your opponents will choose, you may want to just default San Francisco (if you have them available) or Tampa Bay.

There is one more special case worth mentioning — head-to-head pools, with only you and one other person left.

Strategy totally changes here, 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 recommend taking the biggest favorite you have available. For most of you, that’s probably Atlanta.

As always, feel free to ask questions about your specific situation in the comments section. 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 (or, failing that, who they have picked already), as those are the key factors in small pools. If you’re in a large pool, please include info on why you think your pool is different than the generic Yahoo! and OFP pools.

  • R Dog

    Bad news: I got knocked out last week with my GB pick. Good news: My competition has a secondary pool that plays for second place and second place money. Anyone who loses one game is knocked into the secondary pool, which is where I am. Lose one more game, and I am out entirely. I am one of 15 people in the secondary pool. There are 3 people left in the primary pool (once 2 of them are knocked into the secondary pool, the remaining person wins the primary pool, and only the secondary pool is still to be determined).
    Of the 15 people left in the secondary pool, 7 have chosen SF in previous weeks (I haven’t taken them yet). One person has already picked SF in a previous week in the primary pool. One person has picked Atlanta in a previous week in the secondary pool. No one has picked Arizona, the Jets, Tampa Bay, or Miami in previous weeks. I have no idea how many people picked Pittsburgh and thus lost this week. My question is should I pick SF given the size of my pool (15 in secondary, 3 in primary before we find out how many people were knocked out by Pittsburgh), or does future value matter enough given the structure of my competion (2 people in the primary pool still need to lose twice for me to have a chance for me to win the secondary prize) that I should go Tampa Bay?

  • Anonymous

    Hi David. I have two teams, taking Tampa with one. For the sake of argument, assume that I am in a small pool and no one else will pick the Fins or the Jets, and neither of them have any future value to me. Which one do I take? I know its a coin flip, but just pick one for me please.

  • Ravensfan

    Thanks for your help in this tough week! 4 People left, but I am pretty sure one chose PIT last night because it says 1 strike next to week 6 for him (yahoo doesn’t release our picks until 1 on sunday). My guess is one guy for sure take ATL the other guy has picked inconsistently (PHI, CIN, DAL, BAL, HOU). Do I play it safe and take ATL or go with TB and root for the upset? (Top 3 get money, so surviving this week would guarantee me at least 3rd place)

  • TheTinDoor

    Give me the Eagles – first week I’ve gone against recommendations here (other than Giants, the #2 pick, in week 2).

    First off, I don’t think the Eagles have any future value – this appears to be their highest expected win odds for the season, not sure why the chart above lists them as “1.5” FV.
    Second: gut call time. The math is pretty close for Tampa/Philly (I still see the line at 4 for Tampa some places); give me the team I “feel” best about when it’s nearly a toss-up. Good luck!

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

    Hmm, that’s tough. I’d lean TB.

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

    Haha, OK. Coin lands on … Dolphins.

  • chris

    hello, my question is about best way to handle multiple picks. i am alive in 4 pools of varying sizes, each with 2 picks still alive for me, They all still have enough people remaining that I would follow your basic pick strategy. In a week like this with a handful of similar teams all with some risk and uncertainty, would you recommend focusing on only a couple (2?) options and spreading them out across all pools, or go with more teams (4+?) across all pools? And I know you mentioned using Atlanta in some cases as a hedge when you have multiple picks, but i assume that advantage decreases substantially when you are talking about multiple separate pools (having 4 picks in a single pool has much more flexibility than having 4 picks total across 2 or 3 separate pools). thanks for your input.

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

    Hmm, your last sentence is interesting. Given that the one guy lost, I assume that even if you also lose, you’ll tie for third, right? So his loss puts you in the money already. However, a full 3rd-place share is obviously worth more than a split one. Anyway …

    Do you have SF left? If so, I’d pick them. If not, then:

    If you think there is a greater than 50% chance the last guys picks ATL, then go with MIA/TB (whichever you like better). … If you think there is a less than 50% chance he picks ATL, go with ATL.

    This all assumes the second guy is a sure ATL pick, as you say.

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

    They’re listed with future value because our ratings that take into account preseason projections (which are generally better early in the season) show them having some value. See table at right here: http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/team/philadelphia-eagles/projections

    But yeah, when it’s close I think it’s fine going with the pick that makes you feel better. The edges here are pretty small.

    Though I would look at money line rather than spread to determine which team is safer according to Vegas. I’ve been thinking of removing spread from the table, but I know some people don’t understand money lines, so I’ve left spread in.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffrouk Jeff Shaw

    Thanks for your site – by far the best advice on the web for survivor strategy – while I did not follow your advice 100%, it was a big factor in my winning a pool of 80 people last year, so I owe you. So I’m in the last 8 again this year (thanks partly to your help so far!) I am trying decide whether to play safe (Atlanta) or to take a risk (Tampa) – I’ve used SFO, so they are not an option, and I don’t like Arizona, the Jets or Miami as picks – I feel more nervous about them than Tampa Bay.

    So – I reckon that of my 7 opponents, 2 or 3 will take ATL (at least 1, maximum of 4). I know one other has taken PIT, and I can’t really predict the rest. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if no-one else takes the Bucs. So Atlanta or Tampa…? Thanks!

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

    I am a bit worried that the first guy will take ARI, given that he has chosen one of the three most popular teams every week, so I would probably avoid them.

    It seems like it’s possibly only one of those two guys will take ATL. In that case, ATL is a decent pick for you. Otherwise I’d go with MIA or TB (probably TB since you already lean that way).

  • Ravensfan

    Good point about already tying. I have a pretty good feeling they are both going to with ATL, so I guess I’ll go with MIA/TB (Used SF last week) whoever I feel better with Sunday morning!

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


    I’m not sure I see why the picks being in separate pools significantly changes the thinking here (since you said all the pools are still relatively large). It *does* make it more complicated, but the concept of spreading the risk around doesn’t seem to change much. But I am open to discussion on that point.

    I think with 8 entries, and a week like this, I might do something like 3 TB, 3 MIA, 2 ATL. I’d put the ATL picks in the smaller pools.

    To be honest, I don’t have a good system set up for analyzing multiple picks. I answer these kind of by the seat of my pants. I do definitely think you should split among at least 2 teams. But 4 seems like you are just asking to lose at least one of the games. 2 or 3 seems like the sweet spot, and if you’re going 3, I’d include ATL to minimize the additional risk.

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

    Given your assumptions, I’d say TB is a smarter choice.

    If 3+ people pick ATL, TB is definitely better. Even if 1 other person picks TB, being the 2nd person on TB is no worse than the 4th on ATL.

    If 2 people pick ATL and none pick TB, it’s a toss up.
    If 2 pick ATL and 1 picks TB, ATL is better. But you indicated this was unlikely.

    If only 1 person picks ATL, then ATL is the best choice (seems unlikely to me).

    My thinking is that 2 ATL is a toss up and 3 ATL is a clear TB pick (assuming no others pick TB), so the average should be leaning TB’s way.

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

    OK, good luck! It’s definitely the riskier path this week, but the average expected value is higher.

  • R Dog

    Cool, that’s what I went with. Thank you

  • http://twitter.com/jeffrouk Jeff Shaw

    Brilliant – exactly the sort of analysis I need. TB it is. Thanks!

  • Mark Hulett

    Thrilled with the Titans win … that brings us down to 7 left. When I posted on Wed I was leaning towards Arizona, but now i am intrigued about whether I should go with the safer Atl pick … so far 2 have taken Atl, 1 TB and 1 Ariz, of the two yet to pick one has already taken Atl, so could have 3 Atl picks. My read of your advice is probably switch my pick to TB from Ariz, and leave Atl for another day???

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.osborn.967 Christopher Osborn











    this is my situation, I am fishlips, and Sprox was eliminated last night with a Steelers pick. I am assuming you are going to tell me to take SF

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

    Got a question? :)

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

    Who are your opponents going to pick?

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

    Your rules change things a bit.

    1) You need to take the playoffs into account when considering future value.
    2) Relative future value (compared to other teams) is slightly less important since you deplete your resources slower.
    3) Your pool’s pick rates will probably be different due to the differing rules.

    What do past weeks look like, in terms of pick rates? Similar to Yahoo? http://football.fantasysports.yahoo.com/survival/pickdistribution What trends do you see (more people picking big favorites, less emphasis on future value, a strong tendency to avoid playoff teams, etc)?

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

    Wow, tough situation there, as those last 2 picks can swing things wildly.

    TB is preferred to ARI in big pools mostly because they are less popular. That’s not really relevant here. … Well, it could be, as you are probably less likely to have one of the 2 remaining guys pile onto TB. However, here’s the decision process for this one:

    1) Do you have SF left? If so, pick them.
    2) Do you think the guy that has ATL left will pick them? If so, pick MIA, as being the first guy on MIA is better than the second guy on TB/ARI or the fourth guy on ATL. (Even if the other remaining guy picks MIA, that’s no worse than if you had just picked TB/ARI/ATL).
    3) Do you think the guy that has ATL left will NOT pick them? In that case, pick ATL, because being the third guy on ATL is as good as being the first on MIA, and better than being the second on ARI/TB/MIA.
    4) If you’re not sure of the answer to 2/3, I’d probably lean MIA, as the only way that *really* backfires on you is if somebody picks MIA, and ATL stays at 2 people.

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

    No, I’m going to ask you to summarize your situation so I don’t have to go through and think about every person’s pick history. :) What do you think the likely pick distribution will be, or at least what do you think the main options are for each opponent?

  • Eddie Money

    Just curious as to your reasoning in choosing TB over Arizona. Neither of them have any future value, but Arizona is a bigger favorite (based on the money line). Are you leaning Tampa because of the pick percentages? Thanks again for your excellent insights.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.osborn.967 Christopher Osborn

    Based on past picks I think 5 of them will take ATL and 1 will take SF, the other 2 i am not sure about.

  • AL

    At what size pool would you ignore future value and just go with near value. And is there a pool size where you would even ignore near value?

  • ILJ

    In a pool with 8 left…past picks:
    4 (myself included) have chosen SF
    1 has chosen ATL
    1 has chozen AZ
    0 TB
    0 NYJ
    0 MIA
    My past picks – Det, Cin, Dal, Hou, SF
    I’m thinking Tampa Bay?

  • GB

    Fantastic posts every week – the sound, mathematical analysis is great.

    I am in a pool with three people left. I have followed all of your official picks, meaning I don’t have SF available.

    Opponent 1 seems to have gone conservative since the pool dropped to three; I have a slight hunch they will take ATL. They have taken DET, SD, CHI, BAL, SF.

    Opponent 2 is slightly wilder, but has already used ARI (taking MIN, CIN, BUF, ARI, HOU).

    My question is if I should remain with the official TB pick, or leverage the fact that Opponent 2 cannot choose ARI and select ARI myself. This assumes Opponent 1 goes ATL, or at least does not go ARI. Thanks!

  • Vince

    In one pool…there are 2 left. Me and one other. I am pretty sure he will pick Atlanta this week. I have them available. Do I say alive with Atlanta or try to be different.

  • Vince

    In my second pool. I have 3 picks left. 45 people. Thinking of picking SF, Atl and Arizona. Most will be picking Atl. Are TB a better choice than others.

  • Rick

    After a small pool that started with 256 people, I’m now head to head. I have followed your picks which is why I’m still standing. My opponent has taken Det,Hou,Chi,Atl,SF. I would blindly go with TB, but since he already used Atl, is picking now the safest pick on the board. I remember week 2.

  • Chris

    10 left in my pool. Based on their previous picks here are my best guesses to how they’ll pick:
    ATL (maybe SFO)
    2 not SFO, not ARI
    2 went BAL/MIN in weeks 4/5
    1 went DEN/SFO – assuming he took Pitt

    I can’t take SFO. I’m fairly confident the first 4 listed will go as predicted. The next 5 will have some distribution of ATL/ARI/TB/MIA/SFO I assume, with less likelihood on ARI/SFO due to previous picks.

    Does this make ARI the best pick for me?

  • joe

    my pool is down to 2 people – my picks have been Hou, Cin, Dal, Balt & SF … his picks have been Chi, Cin, Dal, Hou, Min …. should I play it safe w/ ATL or roll the dice? Thanks

  • L3

    OK – So we have 17 left in an original pool of 150.
    i have used – Houston / Cincy / Dallas / GBay / SFran.
    All but 2 have Atlanta left – so there will obviously be a high % taking them. not me.
    Everyone has Arizona / TB / Miami / Jets.
    Opposing picks aren’t published until noon tomorrow.
    Living in SoFla, the Dolphins are always scary – So is TB.
    After Indy knocked me out of another pool so…Jets make me nervous as well.
    The Cardinals back at home?

  • Chris

    If your opponent has already taken Atl and SF you have the easiest decision ever and just go with Atl.

  • Chris

    If you don’t pick ATL he has the better chance of winning the pool this week. Given the win odds I think you have to go with ATL this week, and hope to win it in another week. The only way you shouldn’t pick ATL is if he has way more future value left than you do, and picking someone else will allow you to both a) increase your future value by saving ATL, and b) give you a chance to win the pool this week.

  • Chris

    Yours is similar to mine. You have to assume most of the SF pickers will be on ATL. The non-SF pickers will prob be on a spread of ATL/SF and the others. So ATL isn’t a good pick for you, nor me I don’t think. It’s just a matter of figuring out what non-ATL/SF teams the others will take. The only info you have is that 1 has already taken ARI so maybe go with them because it lowers the odds others will be on them…unless your pool is all smart and uses this same logic and there’s an overabundance of teams on ARI. Just need to figure out what level of thinking your opponents are on.

  • Chris

    A new pool with a greater number of entrants should give you even more incentive to steer clear from ATL and pick someone else. Tampa is a fine option.

  • Chris

    Play safe.
    Here are the possibilities:

    You pick Atl, he picks Atl – your odds remain 50/50. He may have a very slight advantage since you’ve already used SF and Bal.

    You pick Atl, he picks someone else – You are in the best position.

    You pick someone else, he picks Atl – he is in the best position.

    You pick someone else, he picks someone else – Not knowing the odds it’s probably 50/50 but given he has SF remaining and could be on them, he’s probably at a slight advantage.

    You just gotta go with Atl this week.

  • Guest

    I am in a pool with 9 people left, after 3 took pittsburg on thursday night. This week at least 4 are taking ATL, 1 is taking ARI. I still have SF (CHI, CIN, DAL, BAL, NYG), but am leaning toward TB (as I think no one else is taking them this week). Any advice?

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

    Our models give TB higher odds to win. I average our models with the Vegas info. Plus Arizona is more popular, which is a negative.

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

    OK, basically it looks like if you can be the only guy picking MIA/TB/NYJ, that would be the best pick for you. Or, if you can be one of only two people on SF, that would be a good pick as well.

    I would probably guess that 2 guys end up on SF, so if I were you I’d go with MIA or TB, whichever you like better. (Or watch the money lines, and if some team besides ATL/SF moves above -205, go with them.)

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

    All I know about Quinn is that he was terrible for a few years, then didn’t throw an NFL pass for a few years. That doesn’t seem like much reason for optimism. But I’m not going to second guess the Vegas lines on that one, anyway.

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

    I’m pretty sure the people making and betting on the Vegas lines know that the Bucs are coming off a bye.

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

    There’s no real answer for this, it’s more of an art than a science. But around 15 or 20 people is probably the inflection point. Once you’re down to about 4 people, I wouldn’t pay attention to future value except as a tiebreaker.

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

    I would guess in a new people, fewer people are picking Atlanta, since more of them will have San Francisco available to pick this week. But I don’t think it would be enough to make a huge difference. The biggest difference would probably be more people picking SF, so the 49ers are probably not a great pick this week. I still think TB/NYJ seems fine in your spot (assuming there are a lot of people in the pool).

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

    Yeah, I agree with most of what Chris said. Given the past picks of your pool, I think your goal is to be the only person on one of MIA/TB/ARI/NYJ. Generally MIA & NYJ are the least popular out of those teams, but you’ll have to try to read your pool and figure out who people will choose.

    The fact that one guy has chosen ARI is interesting, but if it’s a guy who you think will be on ATL/SF anyway, then it is less relevant. And like Chris sais, may actually lead you to believe others will pick them this week.

    Tough call, pretty much a crap shoot.

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

    OK, if pick% is similar, then I think the main difference is that future value is less important.

    The reason we’re staying away from Miami is mostly their popularity, not their future odds. So they are still out. I think MIA or SF probably are best for you. I lean MIA so you have SF alive still for the playoffs. (Or TB, but MIA is slightly safer at this point. I opted for TB in the main post because they had less future value than MIA. That’s not as important here.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=21721315 Carlo Ferri

    Dave thanks for these articles. I’ve followed every pick of your’s and I will continue to. So Tampa it is! 1 quick question…
    Are teams coming off a bye week more prone to losing? ( I remember watching something on sports center saying of late teams coming off a bye week usually loses that’s why it’s better to be a wild card team for playoffs rather than getting home field advantage with round 1 bye.)

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

    Actually, with 3 people the strategy is a bit weird this week.

    If one of the other guys picks ATL, and another picks some other team, you don’t really want to be on ARI, as you would each be on a 33% popularity pick, but yours would have the lowest win odds. So in that case ATL is not a bad choice, even though you’ll be on a 66% popularity team. It’s a rough spot, but picking ATL makes the best of it.
    If they both pick ATL, then picking MIA/TB is a good choice. But it sounds like it may be unlikely that they both pick ATL. (In this case, picking ATL is actually OK, because it turns this week into a bye, effectively. You won’t be at a disadvantage.)
    If neither picks ATL, then ATL is clearly the best choice, by a mile.

    So, since ATL is the best pick in most cases, and isn’t that bad in the other ones, I think they are the pick in a 3-person pool.

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

    Yes, Chris is right.

    Though assuming you have already used SF, the drop from ATL to anybody else is large enough that I think it outweighs many future value concerns … unless it looks like they will come into play next week already.

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

    Yeah, with 3 picks, hedging one on the popular team isn’t bad. I think ATL/SF/other looks good. And really the “other” could be any of MIA/TB/ARI/NYJ. Pretty even in my book. With the most current lines, I lean MIA or TB.

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

    ATL is clearly the best option here. You have the safest team, he has a risky one. Pretty simple.

  • Bob Sanders

    Aqib Talib is now out for the TB game. Does that change anything?

  • Bob Sanders

    Teams off a bye week (that are favored) win ATS at a high rate. TB would fall into that category; and you just need them straight-up

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.busa.509 Robert Busa

    I have 3 plus myself left in our pool. One has pick ATL, I’m thinking the rest will pick ATL. Should I go with TB or status quo with AT

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.busa.509 Robert Busa

    I have used you first 5 suggestions so far.

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

    Hmm, tough. I think if you go by the Vegas money lines and ignore TR Odds, ARI seems like the best choice because they are slightly less likely to be chosen, as you said.

    However, if you average the Vegas numbers with the TR Odds, Arizona looks like a bit riskier pick than MIA or TB. I think that pushes the needle in the other direction, towards MIA/TB. It’s pretty close.

    In the end, being the only one on one of those teams is the most important thing. So … I guess I lean ARI as well.

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

    Thanks for answering a bunch of these questions, by the way. I agree with most of your answers.

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

    Please see what I wrote about head-to-head in the post:

    “There is one more special case worth mentioning — head-to-head pools, with only you and one other person left.

    Strategy totally changes here, 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 recommend taking the biggest favorite you have available. For most of you, that’s probably Atlanta”

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

    Nice job thinking this through. And great point about the regional bias. I would avoid TB & MIA, like you said. So yes, that leaves ARI & NYJ. I think because our models like NYJ better and because they have been less popular in the public pools, I’d lean NYJ. But it’s really close, so go with whichever makes you more comfortable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=21721315 Carlo Ferri

    I just seen that Miami money line on average in Vegas is -220 while Tampa is -210. David will you change you’re official pick to Miami based on the money line changes or are you sticking with Tampa?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=21721315 Carlo Ferri

    I’m a huge Bucs fan. I would say yes it does! I just seen that Miami money line is -220 on average compared to Tampa -210. I’m curious what David has to say.

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

    In terms of immediate value for this week …

    If you think at least 2 other people will pick SF, then being the only person on TB is better. However, if you think 0 or 1 other people will pick SF, then SF is better. It seems like, given the picks you laid out, it’s unlikely for 2 guys to end on SF.

    However, there’s that future value. I’d guess your pool lasts another several weeks, and SF could be valuable in week 7, 10, and 12. So if you are pretty sure nobody will take TB, I think I would lean their way this week. (Or if you are pretty sure nobody will take MIA, same deal there.)

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

    Yes, great answer.

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

    No, teams coming off byes are not prone to losing. And if they were, it’s an obvious enough thing that the Vegas line would probably account for it.

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

    I’ll let the Vegas money lines answer the main question for you, about Talib’s worth. But given the current lines, I’ll stick with TB.

    The pick of TB rather than MIA was partly due to MIA’s future value, and that hasn’t changed. If you ignore that, then MIA looks like a slightly better pick than TB.

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

    PS If the money line falls to around -180 / +162 at Pinnacle, I might switch to the Jets or Dolphins.

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

    Are you saying you think everybody else in the pool will pick ATL? In that case I would pick the safest team you have left: SF would be best, or MIA, TB, ARI.

    Or are you saying one has picked them in the past, and you think the other 2 will this week? In that case, you need to try to predict who that other guy will pick. Avoid that team (or those couple teams) and take the safest remaining team.

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

    Oh, I just saw this. So no SF available, shucks.

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

    If it gets down to about -180 at Pinnacle, there might be a change. But for now, no change. Miami has more future value than Tampa Bay, so a very slight money line edge isn’t enough to force a switch.

  • Guest

    hey guys! i’m in a pool going head to head. i know the other guy is on Arizona (he told me….what and idiot i know). what should i do? atlanta??

  • http://www.facebook.com/jayvillegas Jay Villegas

    hey guys! going head to head with one other guy. i think he’s on AZ. what should i do? atl?

  • Chris

    Here’s something I just wrote to explain Survivor pools to my friend. He thinks I’m stupid for not taking the most favoured team each week…my wording may not be the best, but it makes sense to me..

    Imagine this scenario…

    There are 100 people in your pool. The Packers are 95% to win. Everyone
    in your pool takes them. Every other team in the league is somehow
    favored to lose.

    You’d still be better off taking a team favored to lose because you can
    win the pool right there. Say the team you take only wins 48% of the
    time. The Packers lose 5% of the time.

    Your odds to win the pool in this scenario are 2.4% that week alone which is 2.4x what your odds would be if you took the Packers like everyone else.

    As an added bonus if your team wins and the Packers win as well, there’s
    still 100 people in your pool, but you’re the only one with the Packers
    remaining that means in future weeks you’ll have an option that they
    all don’t. So you’re probably slightly above the 1% just looking at the people remaining would dictate.

    If you take the Packers like everybody else, a 1 in 100 chance to win
    the pool makes you have a 1% chance to win the pool. You’re more than
    doubling your chances to win by taking an underdog while everyone else
    in your pool takes 95% favorite.

    That is an extreme example! No team is ever 95% to win, and never is
    every other team in the league going to be favored to lose. That means
    you’ll be even better off than just 2.4x your odds to win by not taking
    the heavily picked favourite.
    However it’s also very unlikely everyone else in your league will pick the same team, but this is the basis you have to crunch your numbers from. If your league lets you see the other people’s picks ahead of time, you should be in a position to always make the most optimal pick.

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


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

    That is a great hypothetical scenario! It really illustrates the difference between trying to survive the week (which most people try to do) and trying to win the pool (what we’re trying to do).

    Mind if I use it in a future post? (with credit, of course)

  • Chris

    Ya for sure you can! Probably want to touch it up and fine-tune the language a bit though. :)

  • Chris

    If you use this logic then you should be making BIG side bets every week on favored teams ATS coming off bye weeks. This information is readily available and if Vegas lines didn’t account for, Vegas should be getting crushed each week not only by sharps but also by squares with this easily accessible info.

  • Chris

    I also wouldn’t say you KNOW he is on Arizona simply because he told you. Could some devious ploy by him that makes no sense to make. But this week, when it’s head to head, no matter what team your opponent tells you they are taking, even if it’s provable, you should be taking ATL in probably close to 95% of scenarios.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesm.morck James M Morck

    hi daivd how does money line affect who you chose in survivor the higher the number the better??

  • oldmate

    does the Talib suspension change the pick?

  • Justin Geoghegan

    11 players remaining in my pool, we’re in KC which means one of two things and I can’t figure out which way they’ll go. Either they all deep down want to still root for KC and will feel bad rooting for the other team … or they all accept reality (especially with a new QB this week) and realize TB is a great survivor choice.

    I can’t figure out which way the pendulum will swing! I guarantee in my KC pool they will either massively undervalue the chiefs or massively overvalue them.

    Thanks for the article … go TB!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506829205 Eric Haase

    I have two entries left in a pool of originally 2200 that is now (thanks to Tennessee) down to 217. Tampa is one of my picks, but I don’t like to put all of my eggs in one basket. Who to go with in the other — Jets or Miami? Want to stay away from Atlanta.

  • Ragtop

    I have the same question

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesm.morck James M Morck


  • Steve

    Spreads and lines have moved for both AZ and MIA in their favor while TB has remained the same. Curious if a last minute switch will take place. I’m locked into TB since we picked Thurs (thanks for talking me out of a PIT!) but was just wondering if that kind of line movement affects anything.

  • bonehead

    2 strike pool with 43 left w/o a strike 112 more with. I have 1 entry w/o a strike and 1 with and I have plenty of FV left for both entries. If I go with TB amd MIA, which team do I place with which entry? Thanks

  • bonehead

    2 strike pool with 43 left w/o a strike 112 more with. I have 1 entry w/o a strike and 1 with and I have plenty of FV left for both entries. If I go with TB amd MIA, which team do I place with which entry? Thanks

  • Chris

    Ugh. Incorrectly read what level my opponents would be thinking on.

    10 left.

    3 picked Pitts – yeah!!
    2 on NYJ
    1 on CLE
    1 on SFO
    2 on TAM – I’m 1 of them.
    Only 1 on ATL – so sick. this guy is loving it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.busa.5 Bob Busa

    2 picked ATL and the ome who picked ATL 1st week picked NE. So I picked TB

  • Justin Geoghegan

    Update: nobody in my league picked TB other than myself. And 2/3 of them picked ATL (who are currently losing…)

  • Mark Hulett

    Went with Miami (phew – close one …). In the end 2 went with Atl, 2 with Miami, 1 TB, 1 Phil (yeah Lions) and 1 Ariz. Happy with how things have played out as i now still have Atl left.

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

    Awww. ^%#@ Atlanta.

  • gus

    we need to put our plays in weekly by wednesday at noon cst…can we glet more info by then each week? i know things can change but would love to see more info early
    thanks and love your work

  • gus

    We are in a league where the picks are due by Wed morning.Is there a way to get more information by then?I know things change but anything would be helpful.Love your work and thank you!

  • Bob Sanders

    Nice job, David. TB cruised to an easy win. I was skeptical and went with ATL and really had to sweat it out lol. Never again will I doubt you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=21721315 Carlo Ferri

    Thank you Tampa….. Damn you Palmer for throwing that pick that resulted in a ATL touchdown!

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

    Thanks! I may not use it this week — probably later in the season when there is another supermassive public favorite.

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

    For a few years they did. It’s true that over the past decode or so, teams coming off a bye have beaten the spread overall, though they aren’t crushing it (see data below). Of course, our TR Odds take that into account.


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

    Funny, as a KC fan, I would have been in the the “accept reality” camp. Good thing I didn’t chime in yesterday, or I might have given you the wrong impression!

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

    Sorry, I did not get to this in time. Hopefully you went with the Bucs, based on reading my other answers here.

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

    Ha, thanks for answering this for me. :)

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

    To eliminate confusion, we’re not going to change the official pick after Friday unless there is a MAJOR change in the lines that makes another team head and shoulders above the rest. For marginal cases like this, we’ll be sticking to the original pick. I didn’t get a chance to do detailed analysis on the new lines, but I’m guessing MIA may have moved up to even with TB after the line movements. I doubt Arizona did, as our models were pretty down on them (with good reason, it turns out!).

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

    Sorry about not getting to some of these comments, but FYI for the future … in general it’s doubtful I’ll be able to answer questions on Sunday in time to get your pick in.

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

    WOW. That is crazy. Looks like it worked out in your favor, though — you’ve got ATL left, and he doesn’t.

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

    Sorry, I’m not going to be able to move the blog schedule up in time for you to make your pick. However, if you leave a comment Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, I will try to reply with a *very* preliminary pick on Wed morning.

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

    Ha, thanks, but I wouldn’t overreact to our luck — the lines and odds all implied that Atlanta would have an easier time of it than Tampa Bay, and I didn’t really disagree with that. I just thought the increased risk with TB was worth it, because the potential reward for an ATL upset was massive. The fact that it almost happened definitely made for a fun afternoon, but I can’t take much credit for that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Hambone09 TJ Hannon

    Dave 8 left out of 75. Would have won entire pool of ATl would have lost. Unfortunately they did not.
    Player 1: Texans Bengals Bears Ravens Giants Falcons
    Player 2: Bears Bengals Cowboys Texans Giants FalconsPlayer 3: Eagles Bengals Bears Caerdinals Vikings Falcons
    Player 4: Lions Bengals Bears Broncos Giants Falcons
    Player 5: Texans Steelers Cowboys Packers Giants Falcons
    Player 6: Eagles Giants Cowboys Ravens 49ers Falcons
    Player 7: Eagles Giants Bears Ravens 49ers Falcons
    Player 8 ( ME): Texans Bengals Bears Packers 49ers Bucs

    I would really like to win the 3k and put it toward my wedding in April. I’m thinking early on of taking the Giants this week as most of the other have used them already. Picks have to be in wed by 9pm est if you select the thursday game and 9pm saturday for the Sunday and Monday game. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  • Dave

    Another crazy week of survivor. 6 of the top 10 favorites based on money line bets lost, only exceptions were Atlanta, Miami, Tampa Bay and NYJ. Unfortunately I picked Pittsburgh who lost. In my pool, out of 30 or so players 25 of them picked Atlanta, so they would have been dead in the water if the Raiders had pulled the upset – amazing that the Raiders blew that one, thought they had it. My pool is double elimination, so I’m still alive, but it would have been way better if Atlanta had lost (then I’d only be facing off with 4 other players I think).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=21721315 Carlo Ferri

    TJ I took the same picks you have so far. That New York game is tempting but it is a divisional game. In my opinion money lines and spreads are irrelevant in tough fought divisional games like this. Not to mention RG3 looks pretty stellar. Might be a trap. GL.

  • Bob Sanders

    Prediction: NYG is the pick this week. I’m already scared to take them LOL

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

    I actually think the official prediction will be the Vikings. Decent win odds, low pick percentage, low future value. Can’t wait to see though.

    Giants win odds seems to have dropped from a few weeks ago, maybe cause of RG3.

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

    We’ll post preliminary analysis on Wednesday, as usual.

  • gus

    Thanks Dave.Have 2 left out of about 160…thinking about pats and niners…everyone will be on new england though so i welcome your”preliminary”thoughts

  • Greg Saiki

    Prediction of tomorrow’s official pick: Minnesota Vikings. Survivor tool lists them near the top plus they are unpopular and a 6.0 point favorite. Kolb is out and the offensive line is terrible. I’m thinking Minnesota at home is a good play.

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

    Yeah, based on a quick 30-second look, Minnesota seems like the frontrunner.

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

    Based on a really quick, look, I’m thinking Minnesota and … hmm tough to say on #2. Maybe NYG/CHI/SF/NE/OAK

  • http://www.facebook.com/Hambone09 TJ Hannon

    Yea I know it’s going to be tough from here on out. Just have to hope I have enough luck left in me to get through this competition.

  • gus

    Hi David,I have 2 entries left and was considering the following:green bay on both-jax is terrrible and we may not see a bigger spread all year than this oneorgreen bay and chicago-although i worry about cam newton -he could explodeor green bay and minnesota-although tampa bay is pretty good versus the run ,i believei welcome your preliminary thoughts again this week-we have to turn in picks by noon tomorrow (cst)thanks Subject: [teamrankings] Re: Week 6 NFL Survivor Final Update: Top Tier Teams Play Musical Chairs