Week 7 NFL Pick’em Strategy: Time To Relax After Last Week’s Rally

posted in NFL, NFL Pick'ems

After a subpar Week 5, our spread picks took advantage of a crazy Week 6 to bounce back in the standings, and our game winner picks managed to tread water. Both types of picks were  helped by three of our five highlighted upset picks getting the job done. All six strategies are now in excellent position.

While last week seemed full of value, this week we do not see nearly as much opportunity to pick against the public. Consequently, this should be a good week to sit tight and defend your (hopefully) solid positioning.

Where We Stand After Week 6

Here is where our game winner pick’em strategies currently stand on ESPN (not confidence points based) heading into Week 7. Our game winner picks maintained their strong positions, with all three strategies remaining fairly consistent in the standings. All three are now in the top 6% nationally, and our Very Aggressive strategy in particular continues to excel in this topsy-turvy year:

  • Conservative: 94.9th percentile (+2.5 from last week)
  • Aggressive: 94.9th percentile (-0.7)
  • Very Aggressive: 99.7th percentile (-0.2)

Our against the spread picks bounced back after by far our worst week of the season in Week 5. All three strategies rose in the standings and our two more aggressive strategies are now in the top 5% nationally. Our Conservative strategy made the biggest move, gaining a whopping 25.7% percentile points after a big fall last week:

  • Conservative: 87.7th percentile (+25.7 from last week)
  • Aggressive: 98.3rd percentile (+4.2)
  • Very Aggressive: 96.4th percentile (+2.1)

(Keep in mind that we occasionally “flip” picks if the point spread listed on ESPN is significantly different than the point spread listed on our site.)

Last week we highlighted six games in which there was significant value in picking against the public. Four of the six came through with two near misses preventing a perfect 6-0.

Our favorite of the value picks was the New York Jets, to whom we gave about 2:1 win odds despite the fact that 60% of the public picked the Colts. The Jets dominated throughout and won 35-9.

We also pointed out that picking Cleveland, Seattle and Tennessee to pull upsets had value with respect to the public, and all three won. Preventing a perfect week for our value picks were Oakland and Dallas, who lost by a combined 5 points.

Our point spread value picks enjoyed similar success last week, as Tennessee, Dallas, Seattle and Oakland all covered with 75%+ of the public backing the other side. The Chiefs, however, did not cover the +4 spread. It should be noted, though, that Kansas City was the only one of the five listed that we gave less than 50% odds to cover.

Overall, five of these six pick sets are in the top 6% of ESPN and two are in the top 2%. Following any of these strategies in your pool should have you in superb position heading into Week 6.

Our Week 7 NFL Office Pool Picks

Here’s where you can find our computer generated picks for NFL office pools:

Also, if you haven’t read our NFL pick’em strategy series, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’ll ensure our choices here make a lot more sense.

OK, time for our handy Game Winner table, which summarizes a few teams that look like they could be smart picks for people that need to take some risks. It’s based on our detailed pick’em analysis page.

Week 7 Value Pick Highlights: Game Winners

TeamOpponentAdj Win OddsPublic %ValueSpreadValue Indicator
Clevelandat Indianapolis49.9%20.0%29.9%+1.0Low Risk Upset
Jacksonvilleat Oakland37.3%11.0%26.3%+4.0High Risk Upset
St. Louisvs Green Bay33.5%5.0%28.5%+5.0Long Shot Upset

This week there are no odds-on contrarian picks, which tend to be our favorite. Those occur when a majority of the public picks against our projected winner, and we see those as the best chance to gain ground against other pool competitors. There are, however, a few picks that could provide some value.

Most notably, we see Cleveland at Indianapolis as a relatively even matchup. The Colts are favored by just 1 point and we give the Browns 49.9% win odds, yet 80% of the public has sided with Andrew Luck in the battle of rookie QBs. Since we see this game is a tossup, and there’s value in picking Cleveland, the Browns look like a solid pick for any sized pool.

For those in bigger pools or looking to make up some ground, St. Louis and Jacksonville are both undervalued, since such a high percentage of the public picking each to lose. While we do see an imbalance there, in smaller pools we wouldn’t recommend picking either unless you have a lot of ground to make up.

Week 7 Against The Spread Pick’em Strategy

A lot of point spread based pick’em contests publish the games and associated point spreads at the beginning of the week, but give you until the end of the week (or close to it) to submit your picks. This means a great strategy is to look for a game where the official spread in your contest is different from the current spread offered at most sports books, and take the “free points.”

In general, the edge you get from those free points is going to be stronger than any lean you have on who is favored to cover, especially if the difference is more than one point.

Below are the biggest line movements from earlier in the week. Highlights can also be found on on the right side of our NFL odds page.

Point Spread Movement Highlights

TeamOpponentOpening LineCurrent LineMovement
Houstonvs Baltimore-4.5-6.52
Washingtonat New York Giants+7.5+5.52
Clevelandat Indianapolis+3.0+1.02

The other major source of value in ATS pick’ems is finding teams that a huge majority of your opponents are picking, and then taking the other side. Most Vegas point spreads are pretty efficient, so if a large majority of your opponents are picking a certain team to beat the spread, that team is probably overvalued. And that means you’ve got roughly a 50/50 shot of pulling ahead of a huge chunk of your opponents by picking against them, no matter what your personal opinion is of that game.

Here are five teams where the lines for the Yahoo! ATS pick’em are the within half a point of those found at Pinnacle sports book on Wednesday afternoon (or better), yet only about one-third or less of the public is selecting them to cover:

Point Spread Pick Imbalance Highlights

TeamOpponentPublic Pick%TR Cover OddsCurrent Line Spread
St. Louisvs Green Bay20%52%+5.0
Jacksonvilleat Oakland28%54%+4.0
Tampa Bayvs New Orleans33%46%+2.5
Clevelandat Indianapolis35%55%+1.0
Tennesseeat Buffalo36%56%+3.0

If the lines in your pick’em contest are the same or better as those shown above, and if you think your competitors will be picking teams in roughly the same manner as the general public (e.g., in line with the Yahoo! contest picking trends), we’d recommend playing all five of these teams, two of which are at home this week.

For advice on other games in your spread-based pick’em pool this week, check out our NFL office pool spread picks page, or our NFL ATS picks page.

As always, please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below. We’ll do our best to answer as many as possible, and we look forward to a fun and interactive college football weekly pick’em advice column this season.

  • http://twitter.com/wawarun Brian

    In the pick’em strategy, you mean Jax here, correct? “For those in bigger pools or looking to make up some ground, St. Louis and Oakland are both undervalued”

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

    Oops! Yes, thanks for catching that. Fixed.

  • geddy1001

    Hi David, with survivor pools done Ive decided to get back into the weekly pick em again. If Im not worried about picks cumulative for the season but just trying to win my pool week to week, which of the choices of “conservative”, “agressive” and very “aggresive” would I look at to use as a gauge? Thanks!

  • geddy1001

    Hi David, with survivor pools done Ive decided to get back into the weekly pick em again. If Im not worried about picks cumulative for the season but just trying to win my pool week to week, which of the choices of “conservative”, “agressive” and very “aggresive” would I look at to use as a gauge? Thanks!

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

    Assuming your pool is more than 10 or so people, I would look at Very Aggressive. That should have higher highs and lower lows. Since you don’t care how low the lows are, it seems like the right starting point for you.

  • Pat

    Dave — Perhaps you explained it in an earlier column, but why are your confidence picks not consistent with your other ones against the spread??

    For instance, you give some teams three stars in one column, but in the other column those three-star picks are not your 13,12 or 11 confidence pick

    You do a great job, but I was just wondering if I’m reading the columns wrong

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

    Because optimal strategy in office pools usually involves fading the popular choices to a certain extent. See the last section of this post for an explanation: http://www.teamrankings.com/blog/nfl/how-to-win-a-football-pickem-2-of-4-defining-success-avoiding-pitfalls

    So our office pool pages take into account win/cover odds AND public pick rates.

  • Bret

    “took advantage of a crazy Week 6 to bounce back in the standings”

    Wait, did I miss something? 6 of 14 in all three pick ’em columns is bouncing back?

    Fortunately in my pick ’em pool most everybody had a lousy Week 6, so I held position in our standings. The top performers of the week in our pool had 12 correct picks, while a handful of others had 10 correct. Most everyone else was in the 6 to 8 club.

    In our pool to keep it even more interesting, during bye weeks Monday night games are worth extra points to make each week a possible 16 total points.

    I do find the advice you offer helpful in making my picks each week.

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

    Yeah, that intro was a little overly rosy about the Game Winner picks, so I changed it. Thanks for pointing that out.

    As you mentioned, though, most everybody had a lousy Week 6, so the 6 wins don’t really hurt as much as they might otherwise. Our Conservative picks actually moved UP in the Yahoo standings, thanks to people near the top doing badly.

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

    Yeah, that intro was a little overly rosy about the Game Winner picks, so I changed it. Thanks for pointing that out.

    As you mentioned, though, most everybody had a lousy Week 6, so the 6 wins don’t really hurt as much as they might otherwise. Our Conservative picks actually moved UP in the Yahoo standings, thanks to people near the top doing badly.

  • riviera1992

    “four of which are at home this week.”
    I see only TB and St-L at home.

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

    Good catch, fixed, sorry.