Week 7 NFL Survivor Final Update: Sticking With The Vikings

This Thursday heralded another good start to our Survivor week, as one of the two top options from our preliminary post, the San Francisco 49ers, toughed out a victory over the Seattle Seahawks in a low scoring affair. We recommended the 49ers for many people in small pools who still had them available, so we’re glad they came through.

Our other top option as of Wednesday was the Minnesota Vikings, whom we recommended as the best choice for all large pools, and some small ones. Minnesota’s profile remains strong as of Friday afternoon.

The biggest change in the Survivor landscape since Wednesday came in the form of a boost to New England’s money line, which may have altered the optimal strategy in some small pools.

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: the estimated number of future games where the team is expected to have win odds of 75%+, 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]. Near Value: a modified version of Future Value that places more emphasis on near term value and is more relevant to players in very small pools.)

Week 7 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.

***UPDATE*** Friday night, there was some Raiders money line movement at Pinnacle, as it jumped all the way up to -267. The TR odds take these lines into account, and they have also crept up a few percent. Now that Oakland seems safer, they look like they belong up in the top tier, with Minnesota. We’ve updated the table below with the latest numbers, and moved the tiers around to reflect the current status. ***END UPDATE***

TeamOpponentSpreadMoney LineTR OddsPick %Future ValNear Val
Tier 1: Top Option
Minnesotavs Arizona-7.0-300 / +26473%8.4%0.00.0
Oaklandvs Jacksonville-6.0-267 / +23767%6.8%0.00.0
Tier 2: Worth A Look
Houstonvs Baltimore-7.0-300 / +26475%1.7%3.53.6
NY Giantsvs Washington-6.0-255 / +22763%3.1%1.81.8
New Englandvs NY Jets-10.5-537 / +43577%34.5%4.84.6
Buffalovs Tennessee-3.5-185 / +16658%1.7%0.50.1
Chicagovs Detroit-6.5-265 / +23566%6.1%3.34.5
Green Bayat St Louis-5.0-223 / +21066%19.2%3.03.5
New Orleansat Tampa Bay-2.0-120 / +10955%1.2%0.30.0
Dallasat Carolina-2.0-120 / +10952%1.0%0.00.0
Indianapolisvs Cleveland-2.0-128 / +11647%3.2%0.00.0
Pittsburghat Cincinnati-1.0-109 / -10152%0.4%1.31.7

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)

What Has Changed Since Wednesday?

It’s been a pretty tame week, in terms of teams’ Survivor profiles. There are a few shifts worth discussing, however.

Minnesota Vikings — The spread, money line, and TR Odds for the Vikings have all edged up slightly, probably partly due the news that Arizona’s starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb, will miss this week’s game due to injury. Combined with a drop in Houston’s money line, and the fact that San Francisco already played, this makes Minnesota the second safest team remaining, behind New England. They’ve still been picked by only 8% of the public, and still have no future value, so we’re now even more confident that Minnesota is the best choice this week.

New England Patriots — The money line for the Patriots has risen from –460/+393 to -515/+435, while their popularity on Yahoo! and OFP has dropped by a couple percent. The main effect of this is that in pools where future value matters little (very small pools, or pools where you can re-use teams), New England is looking like a more acceptable conservative alternative to Minnesota. Though we think the Vikings are still the optimal pick for maximizing expected value, if you are in a small, high-dollar pool where getting any piece of the prize pie is a life-changing event (meaning public pick percentage becomes less important), the Patriots may be a reasonable choice.

New York Giants — Similar to Minnesota, New York has seen all their lines and odds rise a bit in the last couple days. For those of you with multiple entries, the Giants now look like a decent second option to pair with Minnesota. Oakland has less future value, so are also a good second option, but the Giants are a bit safer.


Oakland Raiders — Friday night, there was some Raiders money line movement at Pinnacle, as it jumped all the way up to -267. The TR odds take these lines into account, and they have also crept up a few percent. Now that Oakland seems safer, they look like they belong up in the top tier, with Minnesota. We’ve updated the table above with the latest numbers, and moved the tiers around to reflect the current status.


Official Week 7 NFL Survivor Pick: Minnesota Vikings over Arizona Cardinals

As we mentioned above, Minnesota is now the second-safest team remaining, after New England. Given that the Vikings have zero future value and are being picked by only 8% of the public, this is an easy choice: we’re sticking with the Vikings as our official Week 7 pick.

The core logic hasn’t changed since Wednesday:

  • The clear safest team of the week (New England) is also very popular and has a lot of future value, so we want to save them for later, and hope for an upset to knock out a third of the pool.
  • Out of the next safest tier of teams, Minnesota has the least future value and is middling in popularity, so they are the most attractive option.
  • The only little-to-no-future-value teams that are less popular than Minnesota are much riskier.

Are the Vikings a guaranteed win? No, no team ever is. But the drop in win odds from New England is worth it, in exchange for the lower popularity and the fact that we get to save New England for Week 11 or later.

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 some specific advice for Week 7 for those in smaller pools:

Pools With 10 – 20 People — Future value is less important here, so Houston looks quite a bit more attractive, and New England is worth a look. If you expect your pool pick rates to be similar to Yahoo! and OFP, then we still feel Minnesota is the best option. But if you expect the Vikings to be much more popular, switching to Houston becomes an attractive option.

Pools With 3-10 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 poolIn 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 New England, Minnesota, and Houston. Any tie in projected popularity goes to the team named earlier in this list. If you’re having trouble predicting who your opponents will choose, you may want to just default to Minnesota.

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 usually 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 New England.

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, 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.